We have a really simple but fun Roundtable topic this week. Let’s call out our picks for some of the worst movie titles of all time. Regardless of whether the movies themselves are any good or not (though many of our choices stink), these films are burdened with lousy titles that turn us off from wanting to watch them.
- ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked‘ or ‘The Squeakquel‘ – For the horrible puns/wordplay.
- ‘Analyze That‘ – Screws up my alphabetical sort, due to ‘That’ coming before ‘This’. And it’s a cheap play on the original title. See also: Any ‘Focker’ film. Those fuckers.
- ‘Kill Zone‘ – Because rebranding a film is unnecessary in my eyes, even if the original title (‘Saat po long’, aka ‘S.P.L.’) has no meaning here and there’s a cultural divide on top of a language barrier.
- ‘Tyler Perry’s [fill in the blank]‘ – Is his ego so big that he has to include his name in every one of his movie titles?
- ‘Tomorrow Never Dies‘ – Honestly, there are quite a few James Bond movies that could make this list. This is just one of the worst.
Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)
Instead of just plain bad titles, I’d like to highlight a few that don’t seem to match their content, or are so bland as to not draw me in at all. If these are on the marquee, I’m skipping right past ’em without even an “I wonder what that one is about?”
- ‘John Carter‘ – Really? I keep thinking it’s about Noah Wyle’s young doctor character from ‘ER’. But when did he grow out his hair and exactly where did all those aliens come from?
- ‘The Shawshank Redemption‘ – This sounds like something for religious zealots that you’d see on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Yes, I know that it’s part of the original book title by Stephen King (‘Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption’), but that doesn’t make it right. Great film, terrible title.
- ‘Super 8‘ – Yeah, I get that J.J. Abrams based this partly on his own experiences growing up (with aliens, apparently) and shooting his own movies, but the title just doesn’t match this film. I think part of the problem is the crapfest that was ‘8MM’. Twelve years isn’t enough time for my brain to accept that a movie named after a recording format may not completely suck. After watching ‘Super 8’, though, I might just give ‘SD Card’ a chance.
My Top 3 worst movie titles are as follows:
- ‘Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever‘ – Who the fuck are Ecks and Sever? Do we even care? This terrible Antonio Banderas/Lucy Liu action flick is made even worse by the ridiculous title. I mean, ‘Ballistic’ was all right enough by itself, but the unnecessary addendum just makes it sound like we should know who the hell these people are and want to see them duking it out with each other (i.e. ‘Godzilla vs. Mothra’ or ‘Freddy vs. Jason’). Newsflash: We don’t.
- ‘How She Move‘ – This title doesn’t even make grammatical sense. It’s almost as if there’s a typo and someone forgot the “s” at the end. Every time I come across this awful dance movie, I’m reminded of the hilarious Engrish.com web site. Kids, this is why you should stay in school.
- ‘(untitled)‘ – I hate it when artsy-fartsy films try to be clever with their titles, and this one is the stupidest of the bunch. Yes, I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (or a movie by its title for that matter), but if you want people to actually be aware of your movie, then maybe you should call it something that doesn’t look like an incomplete data entry. It’s no wonder that barely anyone has heard of this comedy.
I’m gonna go with these two titles:
- ‘Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace‘ – I think I speak for everyone when I say that the announcement of this title was the first sign of trouble. I can still remember sitting in my college dorm room when the guy from next door came by and said, “Did you hear the name of the next Star Wars movie?” Me: “No! What is it?!!” “Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace.” Long silence… “That kinda sucks.”
- ‘Hope Floats‘ – I always read this title and think “Poop Floats?” I guess it does sometimes. According to the Google research I just performed, Oprah says this may or may not be a good thing.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
- ‘MVP: Most Valuable Primate‘ – I’m a sucker for ridiculous kids’ movies with outlandish titles, and you’ve gotta admit that ‘MVP: Most Valuable Primate’ is kinda eye-catching. Shamelessly trying to cash in on the success of ‘Air Bud’ and its basketball-playing Golden Retriever, ‘MVP’ revolves around a chimp that plays hockey. Alas, I’ve never seen the sequel, ‘MVP 2: Most Vertical Primate’, where the chimp learns to skateboard. Oh, and yes, that really is a thing that exists.
- ‘All the Boys Love Mandy Lane‘ – Slasher completists probably know ‘All the Boys Love Mandy Lane’ as that teen-body-count flick with Amber Heard that was released pretty much everywhere else across the globe in 2006 or 2007. If it were called, well, anything other than ‘All the Boys Love Mandy Lane’, maybe it would’ve gotten a release on these shores too, where it’s still MIA all these years later. I made the mistake of importing the Blu-ray disc from the UK, and if it’s any consolation, you’re not missing much.
- ‘Don’t Torture a Duckling‘ – There are so, so, so many other awful horror/thriller titles I could dig up here, such as ‘ChromeSkull: Left for Dead 2’ or ‘Midnight Meat Train’, but I think I’ll save my last choice for a movie I actually like. ‘Don’t Torture a Duckling’ is in the running as my favorite of Lucio Fulci’s sprawling body of work, and I believe it’s the only film of his I’ve seen without some sort of gruesomely supernatural bent to it. Ugh, but that title… It really does make sense in the context of the film, but who cares about that? Reportedly, ‘Don’t Torture a Duckling’ was such a poor seller on DVD that Blue Underground has no interest in giving it another look on Blu-ray, and I wouldn’t be even a little bit surprised if its oddball title bears a lot of the blame.
- ‘Dave‘ – Back in the early days of this blog, I explained that one of my biggest movie pet peeves is when movies are simply titled after the main character’s name. I’ll give a pass to bio-pics about real historical figures (such as ‘Patton’ or ‘Nixon’), but naming a movie after the fictional lead character is lazy and tells us nothing about the film. ‘Dave’ is one of the worst examples of this. Who the heck is Dave, and why should we care about him? The movie is actually a pretty funny satire about an average schlub who happens to be a dead ringer for the President, and gets recruited to step in when the real President is incapacitated. So why not call the movie ‘President Dave’? Look at that, already better, and all I did was add one word. Nobody at the time knew what ‘Dave’ was supposed to be about, and the title didn’t interest them enough to find out. No wonder the movie bombed.
- ‘How Green Was My Valley‘ – I’m taking on a classic with this one, the movie that beat out ‘Citizen Kane’ for the Best Picture Oscar, no less! I’ve never been terribly fond of John Ford’s nostalgic family drama about a Welsh mining village. Its terribly twee, romanticized title sets a tone that carries on through Roddy McDowall’s far-too-eloquent and highfalutin narration (enunciated like he’s trying out for the lead in a bad community theater production of ‘King Lear’). These are supposed to be blue collar, hardscrabble coal miners that the story is about. They’re not the sort of people who would ever write poetry or wax rhapsodically about their childhoods. Maybe the title and narration are meant to serve as counterpoint to the dreariness of the story, but the film has never worked for me, and the title grates on my ears.
What movie titles do you find ridiculous? Tell us in the Comments.