Weekend Roundtable: Worst Movie Titles

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.

Nate Boss

  1. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked‘ or ‘The Squeakquel‘ – For the horrible puns/wordplay.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Aaron Peck

  1. 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?
  2. 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?”

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Tom Landy

My Top 3 worst movie titles are as follows:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. (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.

Mike Attebery

I’m gonna go with these two titles:

  1. 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.”
  2. 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)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Josh Zyber

  1. 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.
  2. 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.


  1. August Lehe

    I THINK when I first heard that the latest Melanie Griffith Nazi “feel good” film of the summer was going to be titled: ‘Shining Through,’ I immediately ran into the bathroom and frantically searched for a rusty razor blade! Alas, no luck, but I managed to avoid the film anyway. As a toddler, I think I had the same feelings when Mom and her buddies dragged me to see Three Coins in the Fountain and Love is a Many Splendored Thing! I think I should be your guest critic, guys.

  2. JM

    ‘War Horse’ – Unless the horse carries a gun and wins a knife fight it’s a misleading title.

    ‘The Kids Are All Right’ – Should have been called ‘Julianne Moore Is A Cock-Sucking Lesbian’

    ‘Inglourious Basterds’ – Quentin Tarantino has earned the right to not be censored. For fuck’s sake, ‘Seinfeld’ had an entire episode of bastards.

    ‘Milk’ – Sean Penn’s Milk is about as sexy as Jodie Foster’s Beaver. They should have cross-promoted with some milk mustache posters.

    ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World’ – Patrick O’Brian gave you a perfectly good title. Why kill it with a mashup?

    • Josh Zyber

      “Master and Commander” was the title of the first book in the series, but the movie combined plotlines from several of the books, primarily the first and tenth (which was “The Far Side of the World”).

      The film was intended to be the first in a franchise of “Master and Commander” movies, but it didn’t make enough money to justify sequels. If it had, we might have seen “Master and Commander: The Fortune of War,” “Master and Commander: The Reverse of the Medal,” etc.

      • JM

        ‘Master and Commander: The Nutmeg of Consolation’ would have been great.

        But ‘Title Of The Brand: Subtitle Of Genericness’ is aesthetically ugly, and it’s getting slapped on everything.

        It’s like all of Hollywood was shocked by the success of ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ and then they all went out and copyied the wrong things.

        ‘M&C’ made $215M worldwide. How much were they hoping for? If they wanted a franchise, they shouldn’t have given it a $150M budget.

        Selling the Aubrey–Maturin series to Tom Rothman at FOX was the stupidest idea in the long sad history of stupid ideas.

        • “But ‘Title Of The Brand: Subtitle Of Genericness’ is aesthetically ugly, and it’s getting slapped on everything.”

          My personal pet peeve is “Rise” being used in subtitles. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, G.I. Joe: The Rise of COBRA, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj, Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther, Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior… “Rise of the ______” on the other side of that colon is practically a warning that whatever you’re watching is going to be terrible.

          It extends to video games too, even, such as Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects, Power Gig: Rise of the Six String, Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters, The Scorpion King: Rise of the Akkadian, Mushroom Men: Rise of the Fungi, and The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer (at least that’s a pun), all of which got mostly negative reviews.

          Rise of the Planet of the Apes gets a pass, maybe because there’s no subtitle there. I think the only Rise of the _____ I’ve liked even a little bit is Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.

          • Josh Zyber

            I meant to put Rise of the Planet of the Apes on my list. What an awkward attempt to shove the franchise name into the title. “Rise of the Apes” would have worked much better.

          • JM

            I blame ‘Gladiator’ for all the Rising.

            Their “A Hero Will Rise” marketing campaign pounded Rise=Courage into the minds of so many man tweens that a flood of copycat campaigns was inevitable.

            If ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ kills Batman in an act of heroic sacrifice, we’re in for another 15 years of all the variations of Rise! that the monkeys with typewriters can physically type.

  3. Ok I’m going to go with “Brazil” even though it is my favorite movie. Setting aside all the issues that plagued its release, I can’t help but wonder how many people were mislead by the title and decided to skip it. This is not to mention the ones who might have been disappointed that Brasil the country did not figure in the plot.

    • JM

      Now these are great titles!

      Too bad the movies were made by hacks.

      Reboot ‘Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid’ with the creative team of Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright and Nick Frost, and you’ve got sexy on a stick.

  4. besch64

    The first thing I thought when I saw a cardboard cutout for John Carter was how bad the name was. It sounds like a working title. Just terrible.

    Something about the name “Inception” has always bothered me as well, although I can’t really explain why.

    Speaking of Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises. Awful decision.

    Another lame movie title that just takes the previous movie’s name and adds something on the end is “Aliens.” Don’t like the name, don’t like the movie.

    I hope you do a Best Movie Title roundtable next week. I’d love to list some of those.

    • Ian Whitcombe

      I imagine the only reason they went with “Rises” was because “The Dark Knight Returns”, though not copyrighted, was still immediately identifiable with Frank Miller.

      “Alien 2″ doesn’t quite work…it promises more of the same…”Aliens” somewhat hints that the movie is different in tone.

    • JM

      John Carter is Charlton Heston’s birth name.

      If they had branded it ‘John Carter Of Mars’ and built the art design from Frank Frazetta’s legacy and given it a hard R rating and sold it like ‘300’…

      Why is this IP in the hands of the writer-director of ‘Finding Nemo’?!?

      Might as well just call it ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time 2.’

  5. I love the movie and the title “Ratatouille,” but as I remember, their marketing had a hell of a time selling that title to American audiences, giving a phonetic spelling beneath the traditional title.

    Though I thought the whole title “Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace” is too cumbersome, I actually thought the core of it – “The Phantom Menace” – was pretty good, a little too good for the movie. If I were to single out worst Star Wars title, it would be “Attack of the Clones.”

    I loved the title “You’re Going to Prison” and was excited when I heard it starred Will Arnett and was directed by Bob Odenkirk. Then I found out they changed the title to “Let’s Go to Prison” and immediately liked it a lot less.

    Also, Thir13een Ghosts. Thanks a lot, Se7en, for making it acceptable to replace letters with numbers. What an idiotic trend!

  6. Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Seems like there is a word missing in that title.

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Yes, because the whole movie leads up to the Goblet of Fire. We could have called it Harry Potter and the Quidditch World Cup or Harry Potter and SPEW or Harry Potter and the Noregian Ridgeback because, as minor as those events were, they got more book time (and largely more screen time, with the exception of SPEW) than the Goblet of Fire did.

    Breakfast at Tiffany’s – For years before I saw the movie, I thought it was a movie about a cafe. They don’t even go to Tiffany’s until the end of the movie, and they don’t serve food.

    If I felt like going through my movie collection, I am sure I could come up with some more, but I am going to be lazy and leave it at that for now.

  7. EM

    One of the lesser-known gems in my video library—fortunately coming to Blu-ray soon—is a movie I hate to evangelize out loud simply because of the title. It is The Asphyx. The title is appropriate in that it gives the name of the creature that is the crux of this horror story, but unfortunately it sounds like The Ass Fix, and I shudder to think what people think upon hearing that!

  8. Alex

    This topic reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Bart, Nelson, Martin, and Milhouse walk out of “Naked Lunch” and Nelson looks up at the marquee and says, “I can think of two things wrong with that title.”

  9. Ahh, another fun topic!!

    Two of my biggest offenders:

    Tuck Everlasting


    Girl, Interrupted.

    They make me want to vomit and then bang my head on a tree then scrape my fingernails along a chalkboard and pull all my hair out.

  10. Some more bad ones:

    Dr. T and the Women
    The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (long title much?)
    Bangkok Dangerous (trying to be cool but instead causing endless laughter from 13 year old boys)
    Black Snake Moan (oh puhleeezzzeee!!!)
    2 Fast 2 Furious (Triez 2 Hard 2 be Cool)
    Cradle 2 The Grave (totally gangsta, yo! DMX be a actor, word!)

    More coming!!