Movie titles don’t necessarily make or break a movie on their own, but this is a look at ten movies where their titles didn’t do them any favors.
In the realm of zaney movie titles, I can appreciate those that are trying to be fun or silly, like 1964’s The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies or even Dude, Where’s My Car? Those are passable because they actually give you an idea of what to expect while perhaps generating a chuckle or a shake of the head. I can even deal with lame puns and wordplay in titles, as long as they make sense for the material at hand. Examples include Blacula! or Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties. Even titles that are so straightforward they end up being dumb aren’t lying or misleading to us, and so they shouldn’t be looked down upon too harshly; Santa With Muscles comes to mind.
So what makes a good movie title? Certainly not what any of the titles in this list have to offer. Good titles are something that describes the plot or a character. Maybe they are something that catches your attention, or at least sounds catchy and interesting. What a movie title should not be is insulting, confusing, misleading, and just plain stupid. This is a list of some of the worst movie titles I could find, all of which violate those principles. They are titles that leave you scratching your head with even less interest in watching the movie than if you had blindly walked into the theater not knowing what the title was. These are movie titles where the writers should have been fired (in no particular order).
How the West Was Fun
Puns can be funny. Puns can be cute. This is an early 90’s Olsen twins made-for-TV movie, so it is meant to be cute, and I suppose that this type of film is also meant as a pseudo-comedy. But ultimately, it is a kids/family movie. Kids aren’t going to appreciate the title, or its reference. And aside from that reference, the title doesn’t make any sense in topic or in grammar anyway. Finally, the topic of this movie is fairly serious, and not exactly fun in any way.
Okay, Man! Is the comma really necessary? “Surfer Dude” gets across the same meaning as Surfer, Dude. Yes, they’re going for the stoner comedy approach, but the comma just comes across as a gimmick. It’s too cute and adds silliness to the already silly prospect of having the word “Dude” in a movie title. It feels like it is missing something, like a “The” at the beginning, or an explanation from a clip of a character’s dialogue “I’m A Surfer, Dude”. Matthew McConaughey is the star in this one, so they should have called it “Alright Alright Alright, Surfer, Dude”
That’s it. The title of this movie is a sound. Some titles have had symbols, or numbers, or even emojis, but this one is the sound of a kid making a fart noise. It’s a romantic comedy about a married couple who fall out of favor with each other only to end up back together again. I guess “Phffft!” is meant in anger as a frustration between the two main characters, but it could have easily been describing the production studio’s feelings towards putting in the effort to come up with an applicable title. Jack Lemmon even said that the film was originally titled “Phfffft!” but after an all-night session to come up with something better, the studio just removed one of the f’s. Phffft! indeed.
The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down A Mountain
This title is so long that the graphic artists who made the promotional material for the film didn’t know what to do with it. Look at that poster, it clearly says “The Englishman” from afar with the rest of it crammed into the available space in tiny font. How did they expect theaters to fit this title on their showings list when it barely fits on the poster? I guess they could have abbreviated it, but that’s almost worse: TEWWUHACDAM. The title also effectively gives away the plot of the movie, even if it seems a bit nonsensical. That’s a major no no.
FART: The Movie
You would think that having the title of your movie in all caps would mean that it is an acronym for something cooler or more coherent than the word that the letters spell out. That is not the case here. FART is not an acronym, it is a reference to the fact that this is a movie about passing gas. That’s it. It’s a crude very low budget comedy. But at least it isn’t lying or misleading. It’s just not creative at all and really a let down unless you happen to be 7 years old.
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar
The title of this movie is taken from a signature on a postcard that one of the characters in the film carries around with them. That character is not named Wong Foo. In fact, the movie never tells us who Wong Foo is. So, even when you know the back-story for the title of this film, you are left scratching your head. The other name in this title is a famous actress. That’s confusing by itself - why would an actress’ name be in the title of a film? That’s assuming that you knew who Julie Newmar was in the first place. This movie came out in 1995 and even back then you would probably struggle to find an average joe who knew who she was. I guess the double commas is necessary, but it still seems bizarre and perhaps off-putting for a movie title. Then again, this one didn’t really play by the book to begin with. It features Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo in drag and has since become a cult hit.
Don’t Worry, We’ll Think of a Title
It’s meant to be funny, but it comes off as very cheesy. Someone involved in this film’s creation thought they were being clever, but they were actually being very dumb. This title gives you no clues whatsoever to the content of the film besides the fact that there may be some shallow humor. This is a movie where the title actually hurts it. The actual plot is about a couple who work in a diner and the man is mistaken for defected Russian cosmonaut. It is a comedy, so the humor of the title fits, but that’s it. The productions’ creativity must have been all used up on the multiple cameo appearances that this film sports.
The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia
The Haunting in Connecticut….ok….Ghosts of Georgia...what? I don’t care how they explain this in the context of the film, the title makes no sense. People who see the title of your movie don’t have context or plot details to make sense of it. In reality, this movie takes place in Georgia, which brings up even more questions. One, why is it still called “The Haunting in Connecticut” if it takes place in Georgia. Two, if you wanted to make this movie, why would you want to relate it to “The Haunting in Connecticut” part 1, which itself is terrible?
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
Uwe Boll is known for making terrible movies, and this one fits that bill perfectly. It also happens to have a terrible title, so it checks all the boxes. This Bolltastrophy combines two very generic ideas associated with fantasy movies jammed together into one even more generic hyphenated mess. This movie is reportedly based on the Dungeon Seige video game, so it makes no sense why it isn’t called simply “Dungeon Seige”. Even more infuriating is the fact that Boll later released two sequels to this movie, using the “In the Name of the King” title. Those sequels featured modern-day people being transported back in time to the middle ages, but besides a shared setting, there is no commonality between them. This one lands on this list because this film’s mere existence infuriates me.
Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?
Movie titles that are questions are only good if they ask something provocative. This question is long, difficult to read, and dumb. Perhaps it sets up the plot of the film (which is an X-rated musical, of all things), but is this honestly a film that sounds exciting? It seems very pretentious, suffocating, abstract, and very British. In reality, that’s exactly what this film turns out to be. The writers did win an award for best screenplay from the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain, proof that you shouldn’t judge a screenplay by its title, even if it is an utterly terrible, no-good, ridiculous title.