One of this weekend’s most anticipated new movies — or to put it more accurately, this week’s most anticipated new movie about motorcycle-riding police officers in California — is CHiPs (Cannibalistic Humanoid Police). The film stars world-renowned funnyman and husband to Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard, who also directed, wrote, and produced the film. We haven’t seen the movie yet, but we’re already plenty excited for obvious reasons. Co-lead Michael Peña is clearly the number-one reason, and the nostalgia factor for those of us over a certain age comes in at number two, but somewhere down the list there’s also the simple pleasure that comes with movies that have acronyms for titles.
I’m speaking specifically of ones meant to be spoken as a word, of course, as there’s obviously very little fun to be found in titles like S.F.W. or JFK. “Suffwa”? “Jaffk”? That’s nonsense and we’re not having it. Instead we’re here to look at the best acronym titles in regard to both how enjoyable they are to speak and the creative effort that went into their naming.
9. D.E.B.S. (2004)
As a Catholic-school survivor, I’ve long been on record as saying that the fetishization of schoolgirls in plaid skirts has gotten out of control. More often than not it’s either non-existent or pushed to the opposite extreme in unsavory ways — but where does that leave those of us who just like watching teenage girls break evil henchmen’s neck? D.E.B.S. understands and fills that need with a title that rolls off the tongue with implications of organized sass and femininity. The acronym stands for “Discipline Energy Beauty Strength” which is maybe a bit underwhelming despite being cool for young girls who want to grow up to be spies.
8. F.I.S.T. (1978)
It may stand for “Federated Inter-State Truckers,” but the image you get in your head while saying “fist” is one of powerfully clenched phalanges working in unison to fight organized crime and support independent unions across this great nation of ours. It sounds like it looks, and while I hesitate to make this a learning experience for you, I think that’s an example of onomatopoeia. Don’t worry about Googling that. Just trust me. Close your eyes, picture a fist, and feel those pro-union vibes coursing through you. And that my friend, is onomatopoeia.
7. D.A.R.Y.L. (1985)
There’s nothing smooth about “Data Analysing Robot Youth Lifeform,” but you have to respect a screenwriter who creates a robot boy and doesn’t just name it something simple like Sam (Synthetic Anthropoid Machine) or Niche (Number Crunching Humanoid Extrapolator). They fit a lot into the acronym, with each word feeling authentic in its purpose, and that’s no small feat despite its clunkiness.
6. H.O.T.S. (1979)
Don’t dismiss this entry simply because it’s a T&A-filled college comedy from the ‘70s. H.O.T.S. is the name of a sorority in the film, and you’d expect lazy filmmakers to have it stand for Hottie Omega Theta Sisters or Hands Off These Shakers. You’d be wrong ,though, because behind the film’s sexist script and abundance of naked female flesh is the sweetly empowering realization that the acronym actually stands for the four friends at the center of the story: Honey, O’Hara, Teri, and Sam. Isn’t that beautiful?
5. MILF (2010)
4. K-9 (1989)
To clarify right off the bat, this is not the movie where Tom Hanks is a cop partnered with an unruly but ultimately lovable canine partner. This is the movie where James Belushi is a cop partnered with an unruly but ultimately lovable canine partner. It’s also the better of the two if I’m being honest, despite Belushi’s presence, and if you search your own heart you’ll know that to be true. But I digress. While the rest of the titles on this list form words, or approximations thereof, this one takes the unique step of using just two characters to create the sound of a relevant word. That’s some Hollywood genius right there.
3. C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979)
Not only is this acronym fun to say, it’s also only the second on the list to work as a verb. (I’ll wait while you find the other one.) Credit is also due for the sheer ballsiness required to claim this is the acronym for “Canine Home Protection System.” Exempting an article or adding a vowel is one thing, but neither the O nor the M actually stand for a damn thing! Still, dogs bite, so it reigns supreme in dog-related acronyms for now, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Or at least not until we get the long-rumored Cujo reboot, and no I’m not making this up, called CUJO: Canine Unit Joint Operations.
2. B.A.P.S. (1997)
Halle Berry and Martin Landau as “Black American Princesses” is all the info you really need to care about this movie, but the pull of the clever title can’t be denied. See, it’s like JAPs but without the potentially misconstrued racial insensitivity. Does that count as irony? Probably not. But it’s still a witty turn of phrase and a fun thing to say. Baps. Baps. Ba-sorry, it’s come to my attention that I may have read the film’s IMDB page incorrectly. Natalie Desselle Reid plays the second BAP, not Martin Landau. My apologies.
1. C.H.U.D. (1984)
You knew this would be number one. And you know why. No, it’s not because “chud” sounds like “cud” and who doesn’t like saying “cud”? Well, not only because of that. This one earns the top spot because it’s the only acronym featuring two wholly different in-film explanations of what it means. Officially it stands for “Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal,” but for our hero John Heard and the street people being turned into dinner, it also means “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller.” Two different meanings, and they didn’t repeat a single word! That’s grammatical dedication, and it deserves your respect.
Rob Hunter lives in California, is a P.O.S.