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'That's My Boy' Parting Question: Would You Keep The Name Han Solo?

Posted: 06/18/2012 12:33 am

han solo

Normally this spot is reserved for questions I have about this past weekend's new blockbuster film. That presents a problem this morning because (A) there were no new blockbuster films this past weekend -- both Rock of Ages and That's My Boy performed poorly -- and (B) both of these films are silly by design.

In other words: It makes no sense to try to break down the specific plot points of either film. But, strangely, a major plot point of That's My Boy did get me to pondering one question: If you were named Han Solo, would you change it? Sadly, I've put way too much thought into this over the weekend and the answer is complicated.

(If you want, you can also just skip to the comments and use this as your opportunity to praise or bitch about That's My Boy or Rock of Ages.)

In That's My Boy, Andy Samberg's character is named Han Solo Berger. As an adult, he changes it to Todd Peterson. What's interesting about the name change in the film is that Samberg's character changes his name after he turns 18. Sure, he probably didn't have the power to do so until after his 18th birthday, but, it would seem, that the worst years of having that name - namely, high school -- were behind him.

Since very few people saw That's My Boy, let's go ahead and stop talking about the events that happened in the movie and instead focus on the question instead. Now, it's hard for me to put myself directly in that situation because I was born three years before Star Wars was released. So, if I had been named Han Solo Ryan, at least I could mount some sort of defense that George Lucas somehow stole that name from me. But, for the sake of argument, let's assume that the person named Han Solo was either born after Star Wars or that his name was changed to Han Solo shortly after Star Wars was released.

The first question becomes if Han Solo would just go by "Han," or the full "Han Solo." I get the feeling that any rational child would not use the full Han Solo name. First of all, the name Han, alone, is reasonably cool -- especially in the early 1980s. "Luke Skywalker" would be tough, but "Han Solo" could be manageable. But, introducing yourself as "Han Solo" would be overdoing things and this would lead to ridicule by peers. It would be a lot more mysterious for the Solo part to be a rumor. Though, this would be difficult to hide at home. If a parent is going to name a child Han Solo, the chances are that the full name is going to be used by that parent relentlessly. Put it this way, many of my friends who knew me as Mike discovered my full name is Michael William Ryan as soon as my mother spotted me doing something wrong.

In college there would be more control. Sure, once introduced as "Han," people are going to naturally follow that up with a joke about Chewbacca or the Millennium Falcon. But no person in his or her right mind is going to assume that his full name is actually Han Solo. Then again, these types of jokes are probably going to get old when all you want to do is get drunk or meet girls (and learn things, I suppose), so perhaps this is the time in which serious thoughts about a name change would occur.

Though, it would seem that post-college is when having the name Han Solo would really be a benefit. People strive to have a resume with something that jumps off of the page; something that truly grabs the attention of the potential employer. If the name at the top of the resume starts with "Han Solo," do you think there's any chance that a qualified candidate wouldn't at least get an interview? Or that if everything else was equal, that Han Solo wouldn't get the position because, well, wouldn't it be great to have someone named Han Solo around the office?

And, socially, once a person gets into their 20s and 30s, he or she becomes much more comfortable with himself or herself. For every detriment that the name Han Solo would have to a person as a teenager, it would make that same person captivatingly unique as a younger adult.

But! When Return of the Jedi was released in 1983, Harrison Ford was 40 years old. Even Harrison Ford didn't appear quite as cool playing Han Solo as he entered his early 40s. (And it didn't help that Ford phoned in that final performance, but that's an entirely different and most likely more interesting subject.) Put it this way, as Ford approaches 70 (!) this year, would we really want to watch him play Han Solo again? My point is that, by age 45, the name Han Solo would start to look like a desperate attempt at youth. A midlife crises sort of name that that's no different than purchasing a new Corvette. All of a sudden, the name becomes sad.

And that doesn't even address the issue of having kids. If I'm in junior high school, I'd much rather be the kid named Han Solo than be the kid with the father named Han Solo.

So, my answer would basically be, "If my name were Han Solo, I wouldn't change my name." But, I would use the "Solo" portion selectively. I would hide it has a teenager, then flaunt it in my 20s and 30s. Then, once hitting something resembling middle aged, it would be time to never mention the Solo portion of the name again. (Also, let's hope this coming weekend's slate of new movies are more interesting.)

Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. He likes Star Wars a lot. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.

 
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