‘Shoot ‘Em Up’: At Last, Truth in Movie Titling!

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Editor’s Note: I hope you’ll enjoy a column from our newest writer, Eric D. Snider. Eric comes to us from a site cleverly named ericdsnider.com, but he’s been published in a number of venues including RottenTomatoes and EFilmCritic.com. His style is funny, yet classy (like San Diego), the perfect fit for our little gaggle of Film.com writers. I hope you’ll join me in welcoming him! – Laremy Legel 

I haven’t seen “Shoot ‘Em Up,” the violent action caper starring Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti that’s due out on Sept. 7, but I know one thing already: I love the title.

A “shoot-’em-up,” you see, is a type of movie. Any movie that is basically boiled down to people shooting at each other, that’s a shoot-em-up. Many video games belong to the shoot-em-up genre, too. Calling a movie “Shoot ‘Em Up” is like calling a movie “Murder Mystery” or “Western” or “Romantic Comedy.”

And I’m all for it!

I have long believed that consumer culture is far too complicated. For example, when I need to buy shampoo at the grocery store, I am assaulted by dozens and dozens of choices, most of which have names like “Herbal Essences” and “Prell” that provide no useful information whatsoever. This leads to confusion and annoyance. Sometimes I’ll shoplift something, just out of spite. I just want something that will get my hair clean. If there were a product called “Shampoo” — with the advertising slogan “Shampoo: It Gets Your Hair Clean” — I would buy it.

I think movies should be titled this way, too. I hate it when a movie’s title tells you absolutely nothing about the content, like that Anthony Hopkins/Ryan Gosling thing from earlier this year, “Fracture”. “Fracture”? What’s fractured? Is there a fracture in the movie? Is it literal or figurative? Why should I care? WHAT IS THIS MOVIE ABOUT?!!

Compare that to “Snakes on a Plane,” which was exactly what its title suggested it would be.

So there is no mystery about “Shoot ‘Em Up.” The movie apparently will be full of people shooting each other — so full, in fact, that the shooting is the only element even worth mentioning. The characters, the plot, the dialogue, all of that is overshadowed by the movie’s raison d’etre, which is shooting.

I would like to see this trend taken even further. After all, lots of movies are shoot-em-ups, but they obviously can’t all be called “Shoot ‘Em Up.” Likewise, the titles “Scary Movie” and “Date Movie” have already been used (by parodies, alas), so future scary movies and date movies will have to find different generic titles.

In the future, perhaps we will see movies with titles like these:

“Ill-Fated Comeback Attempt”

“Soft-Core Porn”

“Quirky Sundance Indie About an Odd Teenager”

“Comedy Where Tim Allen Falls Down a Lot”

“Drew Barrymore Being Cute”

“Things Blowing Up” (directed by Michael Bay)

“Oscar Bait”

Face it: A lot of people would go watch a movie called “Things Blowing Up,” and “Oscar Bait” would automatically get four-star reviews from the majority of the nation’s film critics.

Think about it, Hollywood. And you’re welcome.