Meet the parentheses: punctuation in film titles!!

Punctuation at the pictures. Period.

Peter Hill

Everybody Wants Some!! (2016) poster

When you leave punctuation to Van Halen, there will be blood.

So it proves in Richard Linklater’s songs-and-bongs charmer Everybody Wants Some!!, with its twin-screamer title lifted from the name of a 1980 Van Halen anthem.

The forgiving might wince at this OTT titular flourish and move on. Sticklers for style guides may not.

Does it matter? That’s subjective. There’s a lot more lacking from Two Weeks Notice than a plural possessive apostrophe, but that omission hints at a wider negligence. On the flipside, excessive punctuation can be an attempt to inject life into the limp.

With Everybody Wants Some!! now available to watch on BFI Player, what follows is a list of some of the most memorable (mis)uses of punctuation in film titles. This one will rage on and on.

Apostrophe catastrophes

Couples Retreat
Dont Look Back
The Ladies Man
Loves Kitchen
Two Weeks Notice
Womens Prison Massacre

Flamboyant full stops

Adaptation.
I’m Not There.
Ordet.

Extravagant exclamations

Airplane!
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
Girls! Girls! Girls!
Hail, Caesar!
Hatari!
Hello, Dolly!
Hey! Hey! USA!
“I Know Where I’m Going!”
The Informant!
Nativity!
O Lucky Man!
Oklahoma!
¡Three Amigos!
Tora! Tora! Tora!

Improper honorifics

[Note: British English says no full stop is necessary when the full word and the abbreviation end with the same letter.]

Dr. No
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Mr. Lucky
Mr. Holmes
Mr. Right
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie

Missing hyphens

Eight Legged Freaks
The 40 Year Old Virgin
Grown Ups
Hot Tub Time Machine
Law Abiding Citizen
Million Dollar Baby
The To Do List

Elaborate ellipses

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte
If….
‘……one of our aircraft is missing’

Confident colons

Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
2001: A Space Odyssey

Brackets (round and square)

(500) Days of Summer
Peepli [Live]
[REC]
[REC] 2

Conspicuous commas

Crazy, Stupid, Love
Drive, He Said
Life, above All
Love, Rosie
Lust, Caution
Same Time, Next Year
Tomorrow, When the War Began
White Hunter, Black Heart

Missing commas

Jeff Who Lives at Home

Striking slashes

Face/Off
V/H/S
V/H/S/2

Distinctive dashes

Danger – Love at Work
Martha – Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence

Missing question marks

Is Your Honeymoon Really Necessary
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done
What Just Happened
Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Assertive asterisks

****
B*A*P*S
Bat*21
*batteries not included
“Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know about Sex”*  *But Were Afraid to Ask
61*
S*P*Y*S

[Note: While Robert Altman’s MASH is commonly referred to as M*A*S*H, in fact the asterisks were used only on the poster and for the subsequent TV series.]

With thanks to the BFI Documentation Unit. All titles based on on-screen titles.

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