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The Art Of Movie Title Punning

Posted on Tuesday November 8, 2011, 17:40 by Ali Plumb in Empire States
The Art Of Movie Title Punning

Arthur Christmas is a pun, right? Because when you say it out loud, “Arthur Christmas” sounds like “Father Christmas”, doesn’t it? Kind of? Sorta? Maybe?

It’s got to be a pun. After all, they could have picked any other boy’s name, but instead they go for the most assonant one to “Father” they could find. It must be a pun. A very subtle, very weird pun.

With Arthur Christmas’s name hurtling about London on the side of buses recently, I only twigged that “Arthur Christmas” was a play on words a long time after I first heard about Aardman’s CGI Christmas film. About half a year, thinking about it.

It reminded me of the time when I realised that “Beatles” was also a play on words. I was too young, growing up, to realise that the “Beat” in “Beatles” was actually a gag – I just thought that was the way things were – the way “Beatles” was spelt by “The Beatles”.

Reading this totally frivolous little blog, by this point you’re probably thinking one of a couple of things. Either you’re thinking I’m a total moron for not realising The Beatles’s name was a gag, or you’re thinking I’m a moron because I think Arthur Christmas is a play on words, or maybe, just maybe, you can’t think because you’re mind has just been blown by my revelatory information about seminal pop groups’ names and Nick Park’s love of subtle punnery.

Of course, puns and movie titles have been closely intertwined since time began, from the basic (K-9) to the extremely forced (Austin Powers in Goldmember).

But other movie titles have also taken me a while to get. At first, Legally Blonde just seemed like a terrible title for an actually-kind-of-okay movie, but it turns out it’s a play on “Legally blind” and “Legally bound”, except she’s, you know, blonde.

Then there’s Toy Story, which I did genuinely feel dumb about not getting straight off the bat – I just thought it was piece of direct marketing for once – and Grosse Pointe Blank, a play on words involving a town I don’t know, the fact that he’s called Martin Q. Blank, the fact it’s an assassin movie, and the phrase “point blank”. I just thought it sounded cool.

Your Highness also took me a while – he’s a stoner, geddit? And a prince! HA HA HA HA! – and Blades Of Glory, too. Blaze, you see. BLAZE. OF GLORY.

So my question for you revolves around whether you’ve had the same thing happen to you. Ever read a movie pun, be it in the title or the tagline, and only got it days afterwards? Failing that, what’s the worst movie pun you’ve ever seen?

To get you into the mood, here’s a YouTube video compiling every last one of Arnie’s puns in Batman & Robin. Worth every cent of that $25 million paycheque, that performance. Plus, what a Bane! It makes you wonder, can Tom Hardy top that… Hmm. Perhaps a discussion for another blog.

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1 KingofallSamurai
Posted on Tuesday November 8, 2011, 20:33
How is Toy Story a play on words? I'm lost!

2 lloydiec
Posted on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 10:49
This is terrible as well as pointless

3 darkershadeofme
Posted on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 11:24
i'm confused about toy story too.. maybe it's because it sounds like "toy store"

4 Mikey.l
Posted on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 12:42
You're an idiot...

5 pendlebum
Posted on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 12:42
Oh God, how embarrassing. I didn't know any of this. I've gone back to that point when I was small when everybody in the class seemed to know about something and I had no idea and fearing everyone would see through my "of course I know that" act...
Thanks Ali.

6 omgitsgray
Posted on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 12:43
Maybe 'Toy Story' sounds like Tolstoy ? ...Or maybe darkershade is right with 'Toy Store' ? ...

7 organometallic
Posted on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 12:49
I am so glad it's lost on others as well.

Yeah it's exactly like Schindler's list, how the hell did I not get that one..

8 onlyjonesy
Posted on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 14:30
The Santa Clause. Only got this last christmas reading through the Radio Times!

9 djimi42
Posted on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 15:07
Tall Story.

I agree, a pointless blog.

10 djimi42
Posted on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 15:08
Although love the Mr Freeze montage.

11 Mikeduncan11
Posted on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 15:10
Con Air
Air Con(ditioning)

12 DarbyDaresYou
Posted on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 15:25
Why put this on here? SURELY if you've only just figured it out, everyone else would click on. I have just wasted a minute of my life on this waste.

13 C.C.C.P.
Posted on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 16:53
Live Free or Die Hard?

14 nucleargibbon
Posted on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 17:58
Toy Story? Nope sorry, you've lost me there.

15 dazzydee
Posted on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 19:05
what a lame blog post

16 andy333
Posted on Thursday November 10, 2011, 00:45
Toy Story is a good title because it is exactly what it says on the tin. Toy Story, none of this Tall Story, Toy Store. Its just a story about toys. I think you are over thinking it.

17 SuperShell
Posted on Thursday November 10, 2011, 10:04
Yeah Toy Story stumped me too but i think andy333 is right and its just a story about toys, because its for kids it works.

it does sound like toy store though

18 Invader_Ace
Posted on Thursday November 10, 2011, 12:37
In DOOM. The Rock gets the BFGun, the first time he fires it, he blows a huge whole in the wall of the bathroom taking a few toilets with it.
"Holy Sh*T!" he exclaims.

Half an hour later, I start chuckling.

19 Lewismarcus
Posted on Thursday December 15, 2011, 09:03
Toy Story just Toy story Nothing Else

20 florianbell
Posted on Friday February 10, 2012, 19:20
The Beatles has nothing to do with beats . It came to Paul in a dream. There was a man on a flying pie and he said Beetles with an 'a'.

21 lizziekate
Posted on Tuesday May 1, 2012, 03:54
The title 'Toy Story' is, indeed, a word play. It is mirroring the title of Japan's 'Tokyo Story'.

And '(500) Days of Summer' is also a film title pun. Upon first reading the title you think of the season, but Summer is actually the name of the lead female.

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