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5 for the Day: When Titles Collide

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5 for the Day: When Titles Collide

Mismatched plots, mixed motivations, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria! This is what happens when movie titles that share some of the same words come crashing together.

1. Aguirre, The Wrath of Khan: When the crew of the Starship Enterprise answer a distress signal originating in Machu Picchu, little do they realize that it is a trap set for them by Kirk’s (William Shatner) old nemesis Khan (Klaus Kinski), now a despotic conquistador with delusions of grandeur. As Khan leads his captives deeper and deeper into the Amazonian jungle, they all become slave to his lunatic quest, save for Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) who—with the aid of a pack of wild howler monkeys—makes the ultimate, tear-jerking sacrifice.

2. Bridget Jones’s Diary of a Country Priest: Culture-clash comedy ensues when everyone’s favorite wanton sex goddess (Renée Zellweger) renounces her hedonistic ways for the priesthood. Assigned a small parish in the French countryside, Bridget finds herself less than welcome by the stone-faced locals, who nearly drive the Brit diarist to an early, cancer-stricken grave. Things take a turn for the worse when her old flames Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) come to visit, a situation that begets much rom-com hilarity and some unexpected spiritual introspection. From writer/director Robert Bresson, adapted from the New York Times bestselling novel by Helen Fielding.

3. Crash Crash: James Ballard (James Spader), a racist Canadian yuppie with a horned-up car crash fixation, visits Los Angeles when prejudices are at their peak. He’s quickly indoctrinated into a liberal guilt “crash” cult—led by the heavily scarred, former TV writer Vaughn (Paul Haggis)—who plan on orchestrating a massive freeway pileup to show Los Angeleans the error of their intolerant ways. With Rosanna Arquette as Shaniqua.

4. Lost in Transamerica: Bobbie Harris (Bill Murray), an aging transsexual movie star, travels to Tokyo with her neurotic businessman brother (Albert Brooks) and sister-in-law (Julie Hagerty) to make peace with Charlie (Scarlett Johansson), the exchange student son she never knew. When Bobbie is offered a high-paying Suntory commercial, the foursome rent a Winnebago and drive along Japan’s scenic coastal byways to the studios in Kyoto. Along the way, Brit-pop songs are sung, life lessons are learned, and Bobbie begins to suspect that her feelings for Charlie are more than parental.

5. The Last House on My Left Foot: Paralyzed Irish author Christy Brown (Daniel Day-Lewis) unwittingly harbors the two killer-rapists (Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon) of his teenage daughters (Neve Campbell and Lindsay Lohan), wining and dining them until they drunkenly confess their misdeeds. Christy then proceeds to enact a bloody revenge, using sharp-bladed household appliances, lead-tipped writing implements, and the only body part he knows how.

What are your title collisions and their hodgepodge plots? A few suggestions to get things started: The Last American Virgin Suicides; Porky’s II: The Next Day After Tomorrow; Midnight Ran; Jaws the Revenge of the Sith; Oldboy in the Plastic Bubble. And an example in motion.

Keith Uhlich is managing editor of The House of Flying Daggers Next Door, a staff critic for Slant Magazine, and a contributor to a variety of print and online publications.