Hollywood movie titles lost in translation

By Aron Heller

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Feb. 28 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

Turkey also transformed "There's Something About Mary" into "Oh Mary, Oh Mary!" and "Erin Brockovich" into "Sweet Trouble."

Emrah Guler, who writes about cinema for Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News, said the distributor probably used the world "sweet" to describe Julia Roberts in her Oscar-winning performance. Had Gwyneth Paltrow played the part, he said, "the Turkish translation would probably be 'Elegant Trouble.'"

In Japan, George Clooney's "Up in the Air" was translated into "Mileage, My Life." In China, "The Full Monty," a comedy about a group of unemployed men who form a striptease act, was called "Six Naked Pigs" and "Boogie Nights," the story of a young man becoming a porn star, was renamed "His Great Device Makes Him Famous."

Yehuda Stav, a veteran Israeli movie critic, said that in Israel the names are actually less absurd than they used to be but the logic remains the same.

"It is done in a clear and decisive manner in order to draw people to the movie theaters," he said. "They are looking for something catchy or funny, even if it is ridiculous."

For example, the title of Paul Newman's 1978 comedy "Slap Shot," about a bungling minor league hockey team, was considered so obscure in Israel at the time that it was simply renamed "Paul Newman and his gang." Apparently, this kind of transformation is also common just north of the American border. In the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec, Woody Allen's 1973 sci-fi comedy "Sleeper" was turned into "Woody and the Robots."

Danny Warth, an archivist at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, a local art-house theater, took a more academic approach, saying the crude altering of titles was an insult to the genre.

"We are talking about a work of art here. No one would dare change the name of a novel or a theater production, but in film for some reason it is allowed," he bemoaned. "A ridiculous name is indeed humorous but I have a hard time being forgiving about this. It is not dignified."

Associated Press writer Lori Hinnant in Paris, Frank Jordans in Berlin, Benjamin Shingler in Montreal and Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.

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