Taglines may not be the most important component of a film’s advertising, but having a good one can be beneficial. A good tagline should be something that is memorable, catchy, informative of the films’ plot or tone, and unique. Consider the tagline from Alien, “In space no one will hear you scream,” or Jurassic Park, “An adventure 65 million years in the making.” At other times, movie taglines have been famous quotes from the film. Examples are “One ring to rule them all,” from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, or “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy,” from The Shining. Simply put, having a solid movie tagline is worth the effort.
This is a look at a few films where the effort was clearly lacking or misplaced. Sometimes they are trying too hard. At others they didn’t try hard enough. In no particular order, here are ten movie taglines that are particularly putrid. (It should be noted that films typically have many different tag lines, we’re considering ANY tagline from official promotional material for a film.)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
“The man with the hat is back. And this time he’s bringing his dad.”
Indiana Jones is one of the greatest movie franchises of all time, and Indiana Jones himself is a staple of pop culture. All that being said….this is the best they could come up with? For all of the adventure, the lore, and the history that this film covers, the promoters ended up going as generic as possible. At least it doesn’t give away too much. this is one of those rare good movies with bad taglines.
Stick – It
“It’s not called gym-nice-tics.”
Ok, so a sports movie based around gymnastics is not a bad idea. This tagline IS a bad idea. By playing off of on the phoenetics of a word it sounds childish. You don’t want that as the first impression people have with your film.
Life Is Hot in Cracktown
“Be Cool. Life Is Cool. You’re so cool in Cracktown.”
This is not just one, but three taglines in one! And they’re all questionable at best as promotional material because it isn’t clear who these statements are directed towards. The audience? I don’t think we want to be cool in Cracktown. The characters in the film? Why is a movie poster directed towards them? This is a film that basically relegates itself to exploitation, and so some of its depictions are definately not cool. Questionable taste, questionable direction, and questionable attitude for this tagline.
“Not to be Confused with King Kong.”
If the tagline of your film has to be used to explain how your film is not another popular film, you have some serious problems. At this point, why not just own the similarity and play off of it? “Mightier than King Kong!” or “The biggest ape of them all.” But at least potential audiences know what they are getting into, i.e. NOT King Kong. Then again, maybe this one was a legal requirement…
I Was a Teenage Werewolf
“The most amazing motion picture of our time!”
That is quote the boast, and the fact that few people have heard of this movie today is proof of just how off-base the promoters were. However, I can’t really fault the studio for trying to play up its film. In many ways, that’s what taglines are supposed to do – make the film sound interesting. This one is just a blatant exaggeration.
“Great things come in bears.”
The poster and tagline combined have to go down in history as one of the worst promotional blunders of all time. The connotations of the taglne along with the connotations of the poster really make you wonder who is approving these things. The phrase that the tagline itself is playing off of is also not very strong. great things come in pairs is something that people say, but I would argue that “great things come in threes” is more prevelent.
Toy Story 3
“Be the first to meet fourteen new characters.”
This is the tagline from an international release of the third Toy Story film. I guess it doesn’t lie – audiences DO have some new characters to look forward to. But is that the best they could have come up with? It’s almost like they don’t even bother to put in any effort because they KNOW people are going to go see this movie regardless. It might as well have been “Come see our movie!” This one is also a representation of all of the terrible international taglines and interpretations that have been released over the years.
“They came to SpaceCamp with the dream of becoming astronauts. Suddenly…Without warning…Before they were ready…They were launched into space.”
This is a tagline, but it might as well could be a synopsis of the film. That’s bad for two reasons. First, you don’t want your promotional material to give away the whole plot of your film. Second, it is long. Taglines should be short and sweet. If we wanted to read about the film, we’d read the synopsis.
“It happened to someone who knows someone you know…you’re next.”
Speaking of short and sweet, this one isn’t. It’s complicated, confusing, and difficult to read. I get the context of the tagline in relation to the title of the film, but there has to have been a more elegant, direct way to pull this off.
Clash of the Titans
“Titans will clash”
Considered by many as the worst movie tagline of all time because of a total lack of creativity, this one basically repeats the title of the film. It’s so obvious that it is actually stupid. To be honest, it does reference the film’s plot and it echoes the film’s tone: that being brash and chest-thumping…but I’m not trying to defend this one. Worst of all, Titans do not actually face of against eachother – maybe that’s a fault of the title more than the tagline, but that still makes it a lie. The studio seems to know how terrible this tagline was and have gotten rid of the teaser trailer from their website that featured this gem.