Sundance Pundit Poll: Which Films Desperately Need Renaming?

Do tongue-twisting, pretentious-sounding, or generic movie titles turn you off of a film even before you see it? Precious, renamed from the unwieldy Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire after its 2009 Sundance debut, we're looking at you. But every year yields a new batch of mildly nondescript-to-annoying-to-hard-to-remember film titles, and Sundance 2011 seems inundated with them, from movies from Win Win to Like Crazy to Martha Marcy May Marlene (which I dare you to remember correctly). And so, Movieline put it to our panel of critics and bloggers: Which of this year's Sundance movie titles would you rename if you could?


Eric Kohn, @erickohn

Lead Film Critic, IndieWire

I usually don't hold a movie's title against it, although Hobo with a Shotgun sort of turns me off because I feel like I've already seen the movie and the name spoils everything you're bound to get out of it. But I guess Hobo with a Mysterious Weapon doesn't have quite the same nifty ring to it. The Redemption of General Butt Naked is a powerful, harrowing documentary, but I'd probably re-title it Redemption to avoid crass expectations.


Katey Rich, @kateyrich

Managing Editor, Cinema Blend

Martha Marcy May Marlene -- a relevant and evocative title when you've seen the film, but a complete tongue twister that makes it sound like some kind of thriller about multiple personalities.


Ray Pride, @RayPride

Movie City News

I won't say the name of the movie but I would find appealing a redub as Mother Of Mercy Be Mindful Of Martha Marcy Cristina Barcelona. Or, or, V-O-D, A A Martha Marcy Mercy.


Ed Douglas, @EDouglasWW

Associate Editor, Coming Soon

The answer you'll probably get from everyone is Martha Marcy May Marlene, a series of girl's names that's easier to remember after seeing the movie but is impossible otherwise. I had no interest in seeing it based on the title and only caught it because I had a slot open. So far, it's my favorite movie to premiere here.


Peter Howell, @peterhowellfilm

Film Critic, Toronto Star

Yeah, I must admit, a dull name makes a movie sound like a government training video, at least going in. Whereas something Hobo with a Shotgun or I'm Having a Difficult Time Killing My Parents really gets the word out. Title I'd change at Sundance would be New Frontier piece ELEPHANT. Even with the all caps, its confusing -- hope nobody goes there expecting a reissue of Gus Van Sant's Elephant.


Alonso Duralde, @Aduralde

DVD Editor, Movieline

I really love Martha Marcy May Marlene, and while the title has meaning once you've seen it, the producers will need to sell tickets to people who haven't seen it yet. (It's a hard one to remember even after you've already seen it, actually.) I think it would be in their best interest to change it.


Fred Topel, @fredtopel

Entertainment Correspondent, Screen Junkies

Yes, Like Crazy sounded very generic and it's become my favorite movie of the festival. On the other hand, I kind of like saying Martha Marcy May Marlene, but I haven't seen it yet. Outrageous descriptive names like Hobo with a Shotgun are the best. You know what you're getting and can't believe it actually exists!


Kim Voynar, @kimvoynar

Movie City News

I tend to be more interested in who's starring, writing, or directing than what the title is ... it's not unusual for titles at a fest like Sundance to be working titles that get changed if the film gets distribution (thus Push played at Sundance two years ago, but the film was released as Precious, so I can't say I pay particular attention to it unless the title just makes no sense whatsoever. And sometimes, a tongue-twisting title -- say, Martha Marcy May Marlene -- not only has a relevance to the script, but actually assists in generating buzz because the name's such a mouthful that press just talks about it a great deal.

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  • Marlene Zimbal says:

    I love the title Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene since my name is Marlene. But aside from that, I'd like to see the movie since I've heard such good things about it.

  • John M says:

    Fred Topel seems like a real firecracker!