Saturday, June 27, 2009

[Movies] Same Title, Far Different Story

or, "Not to be Confused With"

I’m flipping through the channels one day, and on the schedule for an evening viewing is “The Walking Dead.” I am a classic horror film fan from way back, and any chance to see Karloff in a role during his prime is an opportunity I don’t pass up often. I schedule my day around the movie, making sure that I have nothing planned during the two hour block the movie is scheduled for. Imagine my surprise, then, when I find myself watching Eddie Griffin play himself in a Vietnam-era war drama about an abandoned clutch of black soldiers. Granted, that “The Walking Dead” was playing on BET should have signaled something amiss to me, but I digress.

Much later, I found myself anticipating a showing of the film “Gladiator.” I hadn’t seen this film since it had hit theaters, and Russell Crowe was pretty badass in it; the line, “On my mark, unleash hell,” still gets to you. However, the magic time for the film rolls around, and the scene fills with scenes of gritty urban decay. Hold on, though, I’ve seen this one before: This is 1992’s “Gladiator,” a tale of two streetfighters scraping by in the ghetto, not the multi-award winning Roman epic. Not nearly as disappointing as the “Walking Dead” debacle from before, but still, a shock to the senses of what I was expecting. But you can’t beat the 3rd Bass track for the former film.

These two events began to fester in my brain. I started wondering how many films out there had the same titles, although their stories were far different from each other. When I set out to research this, almost immediately I came upon a title that illustrated exactly what I was looking for: “Kicking and Screaming.”

“Kicking and Screaming,” filmed in 1995, is about disenfranchised college students who graduated, with nowhere to go but down. “Kicking and Screaming,” filmed in 2005, is a Will Ferrell mug-and-holler vehicle about a soccer dad. This pair illustrated my point exactly. I wondered, how many people go into video stores, or go online to their DVD rental venue of choice, and seek out “Kicking and Screaming,” and regardless of which one they may be looking for, find themselves sorely disappointed?

So I dug around online, in the DVD retailers and the video rental sites; on the movie information databases and the obscure trivia message boards. What made the search difficult were the number of remakes, sequels, prequels, “re-imaginings,” et cetera, ad nauseum that clouded my search. Those weren’t what I was looking for. Nor was I interested in cataloguing the numerous versions of classic literature interpreted for film; yes, Geoffery Wright’s “Macbeth” of 2007 is far different than the (far superior) "Macbeth" of 1971 as helmed by Roman Polanski, but a rose by any other name, ya heard?

For the next week, I’ll be presenting my findings on these types of films, and I’d almost submit that there are enough titles herein to suggest a new genre. Of course, maybe this will serve as a resource for anyone who might be looking for a film of one name, only to be presented with a film of another. Of course, there will be my usual run of commentary & geeking out on stats, but overall, of the thousands and thousands of films produced every year, sometimes you get titles to films that are the same, even though the films are very different. This is their story.

1 comment:

Rev. Joshua said...

I once flipped over to TMC to watch "Road House" expecting to see some Patrick Swayze-filled badassery and found myself looking at a 1948 film noir drama. There oughta be a law, I say. Although I enjoy old film noir and I think I watched and enjoyed the 1948 version.