The NYT puzzle editor, Will Shortz, showed up in the comments section of Rex Parker's blog to say: "I don't usually read this blog, because I can't take the constant personal bashing" — but he just had to defend himself. He did so cagily — "The version [of the clues that the constructor] Jeff gave was not what I got" — and Rex called him on it — "That could mean anything" — and Shortz came back and essentially admitted that he'd changed the clues in a way that ruined the whole point of the puzzle.
If you didn't do the puzzle, the theme answers (the main long answers) were the titles of 2 different movies: FROZEN WATERWORLD, TITANIC SKYFALL, SAW THE DEPARTED, etc. These had clues beginning with "Double feature" and ending boringly: "Double feature about the Arctic Ocean?," "Double feature about baseball-sized hail?," "Double feature about attending a funeral?" But in the original version of the puzzle by Jerry Miccolis, the idea was that the clue referred to another movie: "Ice Age," "Armageddon," "The Sixth Sense."
Why did Shortz eliminate what made the theme interesting? As Shortz explains it:
[T]he constructor's clue for FROZEN WATERWORLD was "Remake of 'Ice Age' as a double feature starring Idina Menzel's voice and Kevin Costner?". The clue for TITANIC SKYFALL was "Remake of 'Armageddon' as a double feature starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Craig?". Etc.You'd think a man named Shortz would have a better sense of the meaning of "shorten."
I thought these clues were too long-winded. So I shortened them, as you saw. Whether the results are funny or not is for you to decide. Perhaps I should have kept the "Ice Age" and "Armageddon" angle instead of shortening the clues as I did.
Even then, tho, there are issues. I'm not sure, for example, that "The Sixth Sense" exactly equals SAW THE DEPARTED, as the latter is a verb phrase while the movie title is a noun. Further, getting the joke of the clue sort of assumes one knows the subject of "The Sixth Sense," which I wouldn't assume every solver does. That's something I try to avoid.That is, fun was sacrificed to inclusiveness and we were all subjected to getting included in something we wouldn't have wanted to do at all if we'd known how dumb it was going to be.