The first time I heard about the movie Wild Hogs, I thought it might be about ... I dunno, a farm or something. Porcine invaders, run rampant! Farmers in peril! But no, it's actually about a bunch of middle-aged suburban guys who buy motorcycles (get it? hogs?) and hit the road seeking adventure. Waaait a second! This movie has nothing to do with pigs! I felt cheated, enlightened, confused and impressed. More or less.
Which got me thinking (always a dangerous prospect) about what other movies cleverly have animals in the titles ... but aren't about animals at all. There are tons, as it turns out. It's almost like a trend. For example, I'll be seeing a movie next week called Eagle vs. Shark, but it's not about an interspecies showdown; it's about two awkward misfits who fall in love (after dressing up in animal costumes). Here are some more:
Black Snake Moan
What It's Not About: A cobra in pain
What It Is About: A blues musician who attempts to "cure" a nymphomaniac of her sexual urges
What Does the Animal Represent? I've seen this movie, and I still have no idea. Maybe the nymphomania?
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
What It's Not About: A tabby trapped on top of a house ... in the summer
What It Is About: A Southern family in crisis
What Does the Animal Represent? Maggie "The Cat" Pollitt (Elizabeth Taylor), who tells her neglectful husband, "You know what I feel like? I feel all the time like a cat on a hot tin roof." (Ever the romantic, he replies, "Then jump off the roof, Maggie. Jump off it.")
What It's Not About: The running of the bulls in Pamplona, from the bull's point of view
What It Is About: The rise and fall of boxer Jake LaMotta
What Does the Animal Represent? LaMotta. He's an angry guy.
The Squid and the Whale
What It's Not About: An unlikely under-the-sea romance
What It Is About: A dysfunctional family living in Brooklyn
What Does the Animal Represent? The exhibit of a giant squid fighting a whale at the American Museum of Natural History (so yes, this one does have animals in it -- but not until the very last scene. Plus they're dead.)
The Pink Panther (1963)
What It's Not About: A wildcat with fabulous fashion sense
What It Is About: A bumbling French detective in search of a notorious jewel thief
What Does the Animal Represent? A valuable diamond with a flaw that resembles a leaping (pink) panther
What It's Not About: A day in the life of Babar
What It Is About: Two students go on a shooting spree at an Oregon high school
What Does the Animal Represent? Gus Van Sant took the title from a British film about violence in Northern Ireland, by director Alan Clarke -- who in term was alluding to the phrase "elephant in the room," i.e., a problem no one wants to talk about.
What It's Not About: A bunch of simians serving on jury duty. Or banging away on typewriters.
What It Is About: A convict, hoping to earn parole, who travels back in time to 1990 to stop a devastating plague
What Does the Animal Represent? A mysterious animal rights group called The Army of the Twelve Monkeys, which is wrongly accused of terrorism
Well, I don't want to have all the fun. Now it's your turn -- below are more animal titles that (psyche!) aren't actually about animals. What does it sound like they're about? And can you think of any others?
Along Came a Spider
Black Hawk Down
Bye Bye Birdie
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Dog Day Afternoon
Dogs in the Yard
Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai
The Cat's Meow
The Lion in Winter
The Truth About Cats and Dogs
Wag the Dog
What's New, Pussycat?
Wild Tigers I Have Known
Wings of the Dove