Movie Math

Jul 31, 2014
Originally published on November 25, 2015 8:49 pm

If Pythagoras were alive today, we think he'd be a movie buff. Multiply your film knowledge by your math skills in this quiz that asks you to perform computations with the numbers in movie titles.

Heard in Episode 323: Smitten With The Mitten State

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Welcome back to ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR and WNYC's hour of trivia, puzzles and word games. I'm Ophira Eisenberg and let's say hello to our next two contestants: Dan Hirschman and Gina Calcagno.


EISENBERG: I know this sounds like an odd question but it will make sense. Gina, Dan, what is one thing that you'd either like to add to your life or subtract from your life. Gina?

GINA CALCAGNO: I would like to add more sleep.

EISENBERG: I am totally with you, yes. I'd have to subtract so much stuff for that, you too?



DAN HIRSCHMAN: Another kitten.

EISENBERG: You would like to add a kitten?

HIRSCHMAN: My partner and I have two cats. But one of them is just about turn one and not be a kitten anymore. And I'm kind of going to miss having a kitten. So sometime soon, add another kitten.

CALCAGNO: That's adorable.



EISENBERG: Is the kitten named of Oates?


HIRSCHMAN: Its named Kells, after the book of Kells.

JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: Think about it - think about two cats named Hall and Oates. I'm serious.


COULTON: It's a great idea.

EISENBERG: OK, we're going to work both sides of your brain here in a game called Movie Math. We're going to give you hints about two well-known movies, each of which has a number in the title. And your job is to figure out what those numbers are and then perform some mathemagic on them. So in each question, we're looking for a number as the answer. Feel free to do the math out loud. You can talk out the whole thing. And of course, the winner will move on to our Ask Me One More final round at the end of the show. Let's give it a shot. The number of miles in Eminem's Detroit hip-hop movie, times the number of dollars in Hillary Swank's boxer movie.



CALCAGNO: That is nine mile, times "Million Dollar Baby" - oh, "Eight Mile" - I'm not really from Michigan and it's showing and I'm sorry.

COULTON: Dan, would you like to steal?

HIRSCHMAN: I would. It's 8 miles times a million - so 8 million.

COULTON: That's correct.


HIRSCHMAN: Southfield.

EISENBERG: That was kind of like a rap battle in its own way.


COULTON: The number of senses possessed by Haley Joel Osment, plus the number of weeks in a Mickey Rourke, Kim Basinger thriller.



CALCAGNO: Six times nine and a half...

COULTON: Plus, plus.

CALCAGNO: Six plus nine and a half? That's so much easier.


CALCAGNO: 15 and a half.

COULTON: That's right.


COULTON: "Sixth Sense" and "Nine And A Half Weeks," that's right.

EISENBERG: I see sexy, complicated people.


EISENBERG: OK, add together both numbers from the 1980s workplace comedy starring Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin, plus the number of commandments delivered by Charlton Heston.



CALCAGNO: So the Dolly Parton - so nine to five - so 14, plus 10 Commandments. So 24?

EISENBERG: Yes, exactly 24.


EISENBERG: The year of Stanley Kubrick's space odyssey, divided...

COULTON: Oh boy.

EISENBERG: ...Yes, I know everyone's mad at just that idea - divided by the number of amigos in a 1986 Steve Martin comedy.



HIRSCHMAN: So it's "2001: A Space Odyssey..."


HIRSCHMAN: ...divided by "Three Amigos."


HIRSCHMAN: So that gives you...


HIRSCHMAN: Work with me here.

EISENBERG: A good idea for a sequel. You are correct.

HIRSCHMAN: Yes. So 600.

COULTON: Oh, it's so cute they're doing long division in the air.

EISENBERG: They're writing it...

COULTON: It's amazing.

EISENBERG: ...With their fingers.

HIRSCHMAN: Six-hundred...

COULTON: This should be the whole show.

HIRSCHMAN: Six-hundred and sixty-seven? 667.

COULTON: Yes, correct.



EISENBERG: How do you feel?

HIRSCHMAN: Not shameful having majored in math and not gotten that wrong.


EISENBERG: I like that you added that in. The stakes are higher for you for the rest of the game.


HIRSCHMAN: I know. I didn't want to reveal it too late, but...

EISENBERG: That's good. Congratulations.

COULTON: That's really a classic word problem. It's just, you know, tell me how much space there is per amigo.


HIRSCHMAN: The units would be odysseys per amigo.

COULTON: Odysseys over amigo.

EISENBERG: OK, this is your last question.

COULTON: The number of leagues under the sea in the 1954 Disney adventure movie, plus the age of Steve Carell's lovable virgin.



HIRSCHMAN: Twenty-thousand leagues, plus 40-year-old Virgin is 20,040?

COULTON: Absolutely correct.


JOHN CHANESKI: Well, instead of bringing a calculator to the movies, I'm going to bring Dan because he wins.

EISENBERG: Great game, thank you so much Gina. Dan, we will see you at our final round.


ARETHA FRANKLIN: (Singing) Let me see the action coming in from the crowd. And take these rocks by my hand and a little bit of soul and... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.