Tuesday, February 17, 2015

12 Movie Titles That Are Acronyms

by Doug Schultz
With The DUFF (2015) -- which stands for "Designated Ugly Fat Friend" (HAHAHAHAHA!) -- being released in theaters on Friday, I figured I'd explore some other acronym movies (of which there are MANY).

But let's get something out of the way first. An acronym is an abbreviation that is a pronounceable word (e.g., . NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] and LASER [Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation]). An initialism, on the other hand, is an abbreviation that does not pronounce a word (e.g., FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] and DVD [Digital Versatile Disk]). For the simplicity of this column, I'm (incorrectly) calling them all acronyms. I'M SORRY.

1. C.H.U.D. (1984)
Or: Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller. HOWEVER, in the movie, a character also mentions "Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal," so you can see why I'm confused. I really like this movie. It's a silly little nothing from the mid-1980s (a decade filled with cheap, crazy horror films) that most have forgotten about (with the exception of its goofy title). It also features both John Goodman and Jay Thomas as cops before they were big stars ("big" being a relative term). It's a great, under-the-radar B movie -- low-budget and tons of fun.

2. I.Q. (1994)
Or: Intelligence Quotient. Informally, I'm guessing that 99 percent of you (dear readers) worked at Blockbuster at some point in your adolescent career. Well, I did too, and I distinctly remember the cover art to this really pretty bad movie. It features a typical romantic comedy setting (romcom darling Meg Ryan and prison escapee Tim Robbins gaze at each other all cute and stuff), and then someone just stuck ALBERT EINSTEIN in there too. Like, on an angle, too, smirking like an asshole. His presence on the poster makes me RELATIVELY angry. But I digress.

3. JFK (1991)

Or: John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I'm sorry. I really am. Because I can't even think about this movie without thinking about the hilarious Seinfeld parody (featured above) showcasing Mr. Wayne Knight (who also makes an appearance in the Oliver Stone film), Kramer and Keith Hernandez as the alleged "spitter." For a better analysis of the movie, I recommend reading Alex Lawson's entry for "My Favorite Movie of 1991." Regarding the real-life tragedy of the assassination of our 35th president, this movie is crazy fantasy. I recommend everyone watch the NOVA episode, "Cold Case JFK." Shit gets conclusive.

4. UHF (1989)
Or: Ultra High Frequency. Are you like me (DON'T ANSWER THAT)? I used to think Weird Al was pretty great, then I got too cool for him and now I think he's the best again. I think my young "hipster" indifference blinded me to this film's (I'll say it) brilliance. Weird Al has had a strange -- at times rocky -- but ultimately amazing career. I'm surprised that he hasn't had more starring roles in major motion pictures. Stanley Spadowski, on the other hand ...

5. M*A*S*H (1970)

Or: Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Yes, I know the film is great. Satirical, mordant, deep, whimsical. But I just can't help my most base, Pavlovian instincts. Whenever that theme comes on TV ("Suicide Is Painless"), my hand unconsciously changes the channel, Idle Hands-style. Same with Sanford and Son. The song's lyrics (e.g., "Suicide is painless; It brings on many changes; And I can take or leave it if I please") were written by son of director Robert Altman, Mike, who was only 14 years old at the time. One of Altman's stipulations was that it had to be the "stupidest song ever written." Mission accomplished?

6. Gattaca (1997)
Or: Guanine, Adenine, Thymine and Cytosine, the four nucleobases of DNA. Four "letters" make up the genetic code: G, A, T and C. Each of these letters represents a molecule called a nucleotide (the building blocks of nucleic acids). The human genome contains about three billion nucleic acids, and the sequence "GATTACA" occurs in the human genome roughly 180,000 times. In this dystopian future film, DNA information determines everyone's fate, and genetic engineering is used to breed an elite class. Gattaca is also the name of an aeronautics company in the movie. Before researching this column, I never knew any of these FUN FACTZ. But now we both do. And now you're welcome.

7. B*A*P*S (1997)
Or: Black American Princesses. I see M*A*S*H isn't the only movie out there substituting spaces with asterisks. What a weird, terrible little movie. Starring Halle Berry and Martin Landau (with crackling chemistry) and directed Robert Townsend (he of The Meteor Man fame), the tagline for this movie is, "These Pretty Women ... Are Clueless!" It's like they couldn't decide which better movie it wanted to remind you of (porque no los dos?).

8. S.W.A.T. (2003)
Or: Special Weapons And Tactics. Take your pick ... Samuel L. Jackson plays good cop, and Colin Farrell play hot cop. Or Sam Jackson plays the tough-as-nails, by-the-book leader, and Colin Farrell plays the maniacal pot-of-gold guarding leprechaun. Or Jackson plays the grizzled "I'm getting to old for this shit" veteran, and Farrell plays the bald-headed "I'm going to have sex with Playboy Bunny Nicole Narain and tape it" rookie. In any of these scenarios, WE ARE THE WINNERS.

9. WALL·E (2008)

Or: Waste Allocation Load Lifter -- Earth-Class. This is a delightful Pixar film, wholly original with minimal dialogue and compelling, empathetic characters. I really, truly hope that Pixar isn't running on fumes (I don't care about Finding Dory or [for as much as I loved Toy Story 3] another sequel to a tired property). I want something new and fresh -- something only Pixar was capable of producing. Like WALL·E. I would also love to see writer/director Andrew Stanton make the leap to live-action movies, like his brethren Brad Bird. But that's just the lack of earth oxygen talking.

10. CB4 (1993)
Or: Cell Block 4. Believe it or not, this is one of Chris Rock's lowest grossing movies. Lower than Down to Earth. Lower than Head of State. Lower even than Bad Company. Huh. Satirizing the rap world by featuring a parody of the hip hop group N.W.A. (and other artists of that ilk), you should probably watch this film before checking out the upcoming biopic, Straight Outta Compton. But only if you want to understand all the references. In his review of CB4, Roger Ebert stated, "If you're smart enough to get the satire, it's a joke, and if you're not, here's a sexy 'bitch.'" Huh.

11. PCU (1994)

Or: Port Chester University. But you already knew that, because OF COURSE you knew that and who didn't already know that? I mean, talk about a title miscalculation. Yes, I GET IT. It's playing with the abbreviation for "politically correct." Only in a confusing way that alienates audiences and makes hilarious (and handsome) movie bloggers ANGRY 19 years in the future. And it's not even the worst idea for a movie! It should be funny, but isn't. It should make a strong statement about college culture, but doesn't. This movie's a mess.

12. D.A.R.Y.L. (1985)

Or: Data-Analysing Robot Youth Lifeform. It's like WarGames meets Small Wonder. Only with a terrible title and zero stakes.

There are several other acronym/initialism movie titles out there, including RV (2006), D.E.B.S. (2004) and H.O.T.S. (1979). What's your favorite?


  1. Andrew Stanton has directed a live action film. It was called John Carter. Things did not go well for it.

    1. I know this is becoming a cliche viewpoint, but I really think John Carter got more hate than it deserved. It had its problems, but it was a fun-for-all-ages adventure movie which has pretty much become a non-existent genre these days.

  2. Love it! Definitely worked at Blockbuster when I was 17 and definitely remember that awful cover (and movie although Meg Ryan's glory days in all of her cutesy goodness).

    I got one - remember this P.O.S (acronym!) - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111048/

  3. Two other titles are D.O.A. and (sigh) R.I.P.D.

  4. I got a couple of more to mention here: S.O.B., F/X, K-9, LOL, S.F.W., TMNT, xXx, The VIP's

  5. Having finally seen a trailer for Inside Out...I think I'm not going to worry for the moment about Pixar running out of fumes (we also get The Good Dinosaur later in the year, so that's two original Pixars this year).

  6. UHF is my favourite from these! I have to admit I kind of like D.E.B.S it is really silly and I think it knows what movie it is so I have watched it more times than I probably should have because I enjoy myself haha. CHUD is now down for a watch over Junesploitation or SMM!