Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Homophones, not synonyms

I thought we were done using "too" as a synonym for "two" after Teen Wolf Too and Look Who's Talking Too.

But Tyler Perry has continued Hollywood's "everything old is new again" trend, dusting off this sequel-naming convention for Why Did I Get Married Too?

My friends and I used to laugh and laugh at Teen Wolf Too when it came out in 1987. Not only did it look like a terrible sequel to a movie that was not very good in the first place, and not only was Jason Bateman, at that time, as desirable a replacement for Michael J. Fox as Kirk Cameron or Ricky Schroeder would have been, but that title ... oh, that title! So silly. Okay, I get it -- "too" sounds like "two." And it works semantically as well: "The guy in the first movie was a teen wolf. Now this guy is a teen wolf, too!"

But then the Look Who's Talking series kind of legitimized it by also opting for "too" in the title of its second movie. And though it was still stupid, it was slightly less so, and made slightly more semantic sense: "The baby in the first movie talked. Now this baby talks, too!" (Though, to be fair, the babies don't actually "talk" -- we just hear their thoughts.)

Why Did I Get Married Too? is a little harder to parse. Granted, that could be because I didn't see Why Did I Get Married?, so I don't really know who it was that was regretting his/her nuptials. (I have in fact considering seeing it, but I shy away from it for the same reason I shy away from Chris Rock's I Think I Love My Wife. Now that I'm married, what would my wife think? In fact, I'm wondering if the box office of these movies has been hurt by their titles. If people who might ordinarily suggest these movies on date night are scared away by the title, worried their spouse will wonder why they want to see it so much.)

The thing that makes this one harder to understand, grammatically, is that for it to make any sense, the "I" in the two titles must refer to two separate people, one for each movie. Presumably, someone in the first movie was questioning his/her decision to commit. But "I" can't refer to this same person this time around, because then the word "too" would be totally superfluous -- the original question would still be in play, and would not need to be modified by the word "too." But if it's a different "I," it almost needs to be emphasized, like Why Did *I* Get Married, Too? But italics don't work in movie titles.

Obviously, it doesn't really matter. It's just fun to talk about. And the movie has made $48.5 million to date, so it appears that at least some husbands and wives have braved these symbolically dangerous waters together.

I suppose a piece about "two"/"too" as homophones would not be complete without mentioning another famously silly example, where the words were reversed. Instead of calling the 1995 Antonio Banderas-Melanie Griffith comedy Too Much, they called it Two Much, because Banderas' character is pulling a scam where he pretends he has a twin brother. One can only assume Banderas and Griffith haven't questioned why they got married after working together on that project, because they're still together, 15 years later.

By the way, this was not intentional, but today also happens to be my second wedding anniversary. Fortunately, I've got a terrific wife, so why I got married is never a question I ask myself.

If you're reading this, happy anniversary, C.


Mike Lippert said...

Leave it to Tyler Perry to do something that was basically uninspired in the first place. Seems to fit in with his overall career trajectory.

Don Handsome said...

the two/too phenomenon has always pissed me off. I guess it just always indicates that I'm not supposed to take the movie seriously. Maybe that's why it’s pretty much only used for comedies...is Why Did I Get Married Too? a comedy? Its probably a dramedy, but that's beside the point...I guess I'd just rather a film own its sequel status with a 2 or a II rather than try to trick us into thinking it could be a clever new movie all together.

By the way, it’s funny to imagine the use of the "too" in the title for sequels to more serious movies:
There Will Be Blood Too.

Vancetastic said...

Love it, Don. How about The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain Too?