A title is one of the essential and often overlooked parts of a film’s success. While the title of some movies were thought of before the script was even penned, other films have to change their title following release. Eye-catching and informative, a title must be striking without giving away the plot.
However, not all movie titles are unique. Over time, many movie titles have been used and reused by different movies. Spanning decades, actors, and genres, these movies may sound the same, but they are not to be confused with each other.
‘Bad Boys’ (1983) and (1995)
Along with movies like River’s Edge and At Close Range, 1983’s Bad Boys defined 80s crime movies featuring young, up-and-coming actors. A slight commercial success, grossing $9.2 million against a $5 million budget, Bad Boys stars Sean Penn as a teenage delinquent who faces challenges after he is sent to juvenile hall after killing the younger brother of a rival gang leader.
While 1983’s Bad Boys was a mild success, 1995’s was a major hit. Starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, the movie is about two cops who assume each other’s identity while investigating a drug deal. A huge success, grossing over $140 million and spawning two sequels to date, Bad Boys thrust Smith into mainstream stardom. However, 1983’s Bad Boys still retains the highest Rotten Tomatoes score, 90%, among all Bad Boys movies and sequels.
‘Night Moves’ (1975) and (2013)
An essential modern detective movie, 1975’s Night Moves is as cool as they come. Not a success upon release, the film has belatedly gone on to be considered one of the defining private eye and post-Watergate films. Directed by Arthur Penn and led by Gene Hackman, the plot surrounds PI Harry Moseby who is called to find the whereabouts of the daughter of an aging actress.
Similarly, 2013’s Night Moves was not a commercial success but has been favorably reviewed since its release. Directed by minimalist, realist director Kelly Reichardt, the movie follows two environmentalists who bomb a hydroelectric dam, but things get complicated when one hints at a change of heart. Although different styles of films, both are slow burns that reward viewers until the very end.
‘Missing’ (1982) and (2023)
Nominated for four Oscars including Best Picture, Missing was one of the best-reviewed films of 1982. Directed by renowned director Costa-Gravas, the biographical thriller is led by Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek as the parents of an American journalist who goes missing in Chile in the 1970s, and who search to find him.
Another mystery film, 2023’s Missing is in a similar genre ballpark to its 1982 predecessor. A standalone sequel to the riveting 2018 film Searching, 2023’s movie follows a woman who uses technology to search for the whereabouts of her mother when she disappears on vacation. Yet to have its worldwide release, 2023’s Missing has a lot to live up to from its title alone.
‘Twilight’ (1998) and (2008)
Known for penning Bonnie and Clyde as well as writing and directing the Oscar-winning Kramer vs Kramer, Robert Benton was one of the leading voices of New Hollywood. Going back to his roots, particularly 1977’s The Late Show, Benton’s Twilight is about an aging private detective who stumbles upon a murder trap while living with a celebrity couple.
Only 10 years later would the first Twilight movie, based on the Stephanie Meyer novels, be released. Set around the romance between a mortal woman and a vampire, the original film would become a phenomenon, grossing over $400 million. Although 2008’s was a huge commercial success and bred four sequels, 1998’s Twilight still holds the crown for the highest Rotten Tomatoes score at 60%.
‘Possession’ (1981) and (2002)
Neither a commercial success in Europe nor the United States, 1981’s Possession has only grown in stature. Now considered a cult film as well as one of the defining psychological horrors of the 1980s, the film is comparable to the work of Lars von Trier and David Cronenberg. Directed by Polish filmmaker Andrzej Zulawski, the film obliquely follows a couple who begin showing disturbing signs after one asks for a divorce.
In juxtaposition, 2002’s Possession, adapted from the A.S. Byatt novel, is an unlikely romance directed by playwright Neil LaBute. The charming movie surrounds scholar Roland who, along with an expert, unearths hidden love letters that belonged to a famous Victorian poet. Although they share the same name, these two films have little else in common, but may make for an eclectic double feature.
‘Rush’ (1991) and (2013)
1991’s Rush is an electric and incessant early 90s crime movie. Starring two of the best under-30 actors at the time, Jason Patric and Jennifer Jason Leigh, the film is about two narcotics agents who become addicted to the product they are supposed to be keeping off the streets. Although a commercial flop, the film was well-reviewed and contains an A-List, memorable soundtrack.
Conversely, 2013’s Rush was a box office triumph, grossing almost $100 million. Directed by the prolific Ron Howard, the film circles the rivalry between Formula One drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt. While the biographical film is certainly more well-known, both are intense movies that offer something different but worthwhile.
‘Heat’ (1986) and (1995)
Written by William Goldman and adapted from his own novel of the same name, 1986’s Heat was a Burt Reynolds star vehicle that ended like a car crash. Originally slated to be directed by Robert Altman, the famed director backed out after Goldman was unwilling to change the commerciality of his script. A box office bust, the film is about an edged weapons specialist who works as a bodyguard to support his gambling addiction.
In stark contrast, 1995’s Heat was a passion project for director Michael Mann for years. One of the biggest movies of its year, grossing over $180 million, the film concerns detective Hanna and his attempt to track down expert criminal Neil McCauley. Although these films are both in the crime-action genre, they couldn’t be further apart as far as quality is concerned.
‘Kicking and Screaming’ (1995) and (2005)
1995’s Kicking and Screaming is the right debut for Noah Baumbach. Along with Singles and Reality Bites, Kicking and Screaming is one of the defining Gen X movies, however, it may be the most authentic of the bunch. Witty and charming, the film follows a group of aimless college graduates who struggle to move forward with their lives.
Ten years later would Will Ferrell star in the sports-comedy film of the same name. Nominated for a Golden Raspberry, the film is about a middle-aged man who, haunted by the shadow of his competitive father, becomes a youth soccer coach. While often unfairly dismissed as one of Baumbach’s lesser films, Kicking and Screaming is bright and insightful, although its subjects may not appeal to everyone. Opposingly, 2005’sKicking and Screaming has been fairly dismissed as it is not a good film.
‘The Gift’ (2000) and (2015)
A supernatural mystery-horror-thriller, Sam Raimi‘s The Gift is an interesting blend of Southern gothic and standard whodunit. Headed by Cate Blanchett, the movie surrounds a woman with psychic abilities who has to solve the disappearance of a young socialite. While it possesses top-notch acting and the usual dizzying Raimi direction, the movie still only received mixed praise.
A similar genre to the 2000 film of the same name, 2015’s The Gift is a winning directorial debut from Australian actor Joel Edgerton. Exceptionally led by Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall, the film concerns a married couple whose life gets uprooted when an old acquaintance re-enters their life. While both offer something promising, 2015’s The Gift is the superior film for viewers looking for a moody, arresting mystery.
‘Crash’ (1996) and (2004)
Based on the J.G. Ballard novel of the same name, David Cronenberg‘s Crash was too overshadowed by controversy to get its due. Praised by directors from Martin Scorsese to Bernardo Bertolucci, the film surrounds a film producer who, following a car crash, gets involved with a group of symphorophiliacs who are aroused by car accidents.
Likewise, 2004’s Crash has been bombarded with controversy, notably for unjustly winning the Oscar for Best Picture. Co-written and directed by Paul Haggis, the movie covers a group of strangers in Los Angeles who are brought together following the attacks of September 11th. While each has its detractors, both are generally considered good films that are powerful in their own way.
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