On the Nov. 29 episode of 'The Daily Show', Jon Stewart dedicated a segment to various newscasters using the most deadly of segues to introduce their stories -- the pun. It was a glorious thrashing of cheap writing -- some of which outlined serious subject matter -- designed to make its mouthpieces appear clever. Except nobody looks clever delivering a pun without the wink-wink of its ridiculousness.
The film criticism side of journalism just waved goodbye to "The King of the Pun", Gene Shalit, who left 'The Today Show' just a few weeks before the above episode aired. Where would the medium be today without films like 'Blood Diamond' being referred to as "a gem of a movie," or that 'Bee Movie' "is an A"? Probably better off. Especially since Shalit's brand of criticism is not dead yet, since we can see in 2010 that it's flourishing all too often.
There are various kinds of puns to examine from the movie ad quotes. None particularly clever, but occasionally done with a little effort. For example, if you know the particular plots of each of these films, you are in on it.
"Movies as great as (this) are as hard to find as a hermit in the woods." ('Get Low') - Joe Neumeier
"... scales the heights of filmmaking." ('127 Hours') - Claudia Puig
"...held me captive!" ('The Disappearance of Alice Creed') - Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle
"...pulls off a big score."('The Town') - Los Angeles Times
"Affleck knocks it out of the park with this blazing heist film that comes on like gangbusters." ('The Town') - Peter Travers
Peter Travers is kind of mixing his metaphors there. Affleck, being the Red Sox fan he is, staged the final heist sequence in his film at Fenway Park. Coming on like gangbusters is an expression better suited for other sports with more of a pace to them, like, say, horse racing.
"A wire-to-wire smash." ('Secretariat') - Leonard Shapiro, WashingtonPost.com
"...wins by a length." ('Secretariat') - Mary Pols, Time
Thank you. Though not much of an endorsement by Miss Pols, especially considering the real Secretariat still holds the Belmont record with a 31-length victory. Any other sports-related connections we can make? Like Mark S. Allen calling Queen Latifah and Common "the perfect all-star team" for the basketball-related 'Just Wright'.
"Hard-hitting." ('The Fighter') - Liam Mayclem
"Hard-hitting." ('The Fighter') - Kevin McCarthy
"A hugely enjoyable knockout of a movie." ('The Karate Kid') - Jeff Craig
"A visual wonderland that is literally a knockout." ('Scott Pilgrim vs. the World') - Peter Travers
See, cause there's fighting in all those movies. Did Liam and Kevin both come up with that lame one or did the marketers confuse who actually wrote it? Someone should get a prize for that one.
"Hits the jackpot." ('Lottery Ticket') - Paul Perrello, Metro Networks Westwood One
"...a winner." ('Lottery Ticket') - Audrey Bernard, Radioscope
Not that kind of prize. Think bigger. Think cooler.
"Inception dreams big. How cool is that?" ('Inception') - Peter Travers
"A bolt of family fun!" ('Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief') - Stephanie Webb, WZZM-TV/ABC
"Cuter than your av-er-age film!" ('Yogi Bear') - Francine Brokaw
"I love Rock 'N' Roll and this movie!" ('The Runaways') - Jan Wahl, KCBS AM/FM San Francisco
That was the original title of the Joan Jett song, right? Like Tolstoy's "War, What Is It Good For?" When all else fails, I guess, make reference to another film.
"The jokes fly fast and furious." ('Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore') - Christy Lemire
"Tim Allen's directing debut is a great escape." ('Crazy On The Outside') - Jim McFarlin, Metro Times
"Chris Columbus waves his wand of fantasy again."('Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief') - Patrick Stoner
Except Harry Potter had the wand. Percy Jackson never had one. And Chris Columbus gave his to Alfonso Cuaron. Too much to process. Bring on the animal licks!
"A fish tale that will hook you." ('Ondine') - Marshall Fine
"A howl of a ride." ('The Wolfman') - Huffingtonpost.com
"A howling good time!" ('Alpha and Omega') - MSN Movies
"Purr-fect!" ('Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore') - Jami Philbrick
"An irresistible action comedy that's pure tail-wagging family fun." ('Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore') - Jeff Craig
"Two paws way up!" ('Yogi Bear') - Bonnie Laufer
Does Roger Ebert not have a copyright on "two paws up?" Honestly, doesn't a quote from a junket zombie just make you nuts?
"Rabidly entertaining!" ('Survival of the Dead') - Dennis Dermody
"There's infectious humor... "('Survival of the Dead') - Stuart Klawans
"The Crazies will get into your head." ('The Crazies') - Claudia Puig
"Insanely entertaining. "('The Crazies) - Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pioneer Press
"The Crazies is insanely scary...The suspense is mind-blowing." ('The Crazies') - Capone, AICN
"You'd be crazy to miss it." ('The Crazies') - Conor Nolan, The People (UK)
And finally, there are the ones that do not even attempt to disguise the fact. Those that will go to no extraordinary measures, frozen in the square fish tank asking us to please give them laughs for their oh-so-groundbreaking repartee. Little more than a splice from the title, we must wrestle with the killer inside us that these are actual grown ups and not a bunch of middle men (and women) taking a machete to film criticism to get a freebie.
Enjoy the worst of the worst, a true cop out if ever you saw. The bottom 15 puns of 2010.
15. (3-way tie)
"...will keep you on the edge of your seat." - Carrie Keagan
"...will keep you on the edge of your seat." - Pete Hammond
"It will keep you on the edge of your seat." - Scott Mantz
(all for 'Edge of Darkness')
14. "Truly, madly, wonderful." ('Alice In Wonderland') - The Hollywood Reporter
13. "You'll die laughing." ('Death At A Funeral') - Jake Hamilton
12. "Drop dead funny." ('Death at a Funeral') - James Thomas
11. "Sex is even better the second time around." ('Sex and the City 2') - Scott Mantz
10. "A mega-funny movie loaded with laughs, action and heart." ('Megamind') - Pete Hammond
9. "Megamind is mega, mega, mega funny!" ('Megamind') - Pat Collins
8. "Puts the A back in action!" ('The A-Team') - Sandie Newton
7. "Straight A's for Easy A." ('Easy A') - Claudia Puig
6. "A stands for awesome!" ('The A-Team') - Chris Hewitt
5. "A is for awesome!" ('Easy A') - Mark S. Allen
4. "Oh, what a fun Knight." ('Knight and Day') - Claudia Puig
3. "This movie kicks ass!" ('Kick-Ass') - Dennis Dermody
2. "Sex and the City 2 Has 2 Times the glitz and 2 times the glamour." ('Sex and the City 2') - Russ Simmons
1. "Oscar is now fair game for Sean and Naomi." ('Fair Game') - Patrick Stoner