I saw “Get Him to the Greek” this weekend, and I felt like a complete idiot when I bought the ticket. “I’ll have one ticket for ‘Get Him to the Greek’ please,” I said. It just sounded stupid. In what other context would a sentence like that exist, besides someone buying a ticket to see an unfortunately-titled movie? That got me thinking about other movies whose titles set them up for failure. You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but you can definitely judge a movie by its title. There are seven categories of horrible movie titles that I have determined:
1. Titles that include a character’s name. Movies included in the category are the critically acclaimed “John Tucker Must Die,” “I Now Pronounce you Chuck and Larry,” and the rhyming wonder, “You, Me, and Dupree.” My main beef with these titles is that the character names are completely made up and therefore 1) can be changed to accommodate asinine rhyme schemes, and 2) mean nothing to the audience (who the hell is John Tucker anyway? Why should I agree that he must die if I’ve never even heard of him?).-->
2. Titles that are hard to pronounce. This is just poor marketing. No one is going to see your potential blockbuster if moviegoers literally cannot ask for a ticket. This category is clearly the sole reason that “Gigli” fared so poorly. And what about “xXx?” How does one say that title? Did you know there was a movie called “Phffft” and another called “Sssssss”? “Hey I’m gonna go see ‘Phffft’ this weekend, wanna come with?” Is that the name of the movie or do you just have dog hair in your mouth?
3. Titles that are hard to say within a sentence. This is an offshoot of the previous category. The difference is that these titles usually have awkward punctuation, rather than phonetic/spelling disparities. Movies such as “But I’m a Cheerleader” and “Slap her…She’s French” fall into this category because it just ruins the whole flow of your monologue to put an unnatural ellipsis in your sentence. The worst offender is “To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.” This title encompasses an entire snail mail correspondence, complete with greeting and sign-off.
4. Titles that just state the movie’s premise. These titles are developed by the least creative people in-->
, people who are so tired and weary from making their edge-of-your-seat, tissue-in-hand, slice-of-life cinematic masterpieces that they couldn’t come up with a clever title. “Snakes on a Plane,” I’m looking at you. Or what about “Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire?” Most of that movie is an is-he-or-isn’t-he-a-vampire mystery, but the title clearly states that, not only is he a vampire, but he’s also got a date with mom. The same problem exists with “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” I’ve never actually seen this movie and I don’t know anything about, except that Jesse James is assassinated by a coward named Robert Ford. Thanks to this title, I don’t even need to read the imdb synopsis. “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is not only a horrific movie of MST3K proportions, but its title gives away the ending. Hollywood
5. Titles that are spoken sentences. These titles are actually sentences that are said by a character during the film. They could easily fit into category 3 or 4, because they are usually prosodically cumbersome to say and give away too much information. I’m thinking of “Dude, Where’s my Car?” and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” in specific. Also “You Got Served” deserves special recognition because it is both a spoken sentence and the inspiration behind a nation-sweeping, asinine catch phrase.-->
6. Titles that are dirty. Whether they mean to be filthy or the studio execs were just a bunch of cumquats, “Dick,” “Octopussy,” and “Snatch” are just plain embarrassing to say. “Freddy Got Fingered” is an intentionally dirty title with an intentionally dirty and stupid plot. Bonus points for being a full sentence, featuring a stupid character’s name, and giving away the premise of the movie.-->
7. Titles of sequels that are “clever.” I use the word clever loosely; clearly whoever came up with “Beethoven’s 2nd” and “2 Fast 2 Furious” thought they were being clever, but really they were just stupid. “Lion King 1 ½” doesn’t even make sense, nor does “Why Did I Get Married Too” or any other sequel that uses “too” instead of “two.”
What other terrible movie titles have you heard?