Monday, September 28, 2009

Question of the Day: What is the worst movie title you've come across?

Your question today comes courtesy of the awful looking Law Abiding Citizen (why didn’t they just call it Serial Killer Murders People While in Prison) starring Jaime Foxx and Gerard Butler. Here’s what I’m wondering: did the producers have so little faith in this movie that they just gave it the least sexy title they could think of. I can’t think of a title that is more blasé than this one. And the irony in the title isn’t lost on anyone (I can just picture the production meeting now: Exec #1 – “We’ll call it Law Abiding Citizen because there people being killed in the same manner this serial killer killed his victims, but he’s doing his time in jail, so the detectives are stumped. See…it’s ironic” Minions: “oooh that’s good!”). I swear I’ve seen that catchphrase (“how do you stop a killer who is already behind bars”) plastered on other movie posters. Ugh. Sorry…the question is this: what is the laziest (worst, most blasé, whatever adjective you want to use) title you’ve ever seen for a major release? B-grade movies don’t count because they are expected to be bad, especially in the horror genre, and they aren’t really expecting people to flood the theaters to their movie. Bonus question: what’s one of the best titles you’ve ever seen for a movie (Off the top of my head I love Synecdoche, New York…great title).


  1. Yes, Synecdoche, New York had a deliciously bold title, and it was my favorite movie of 2008. I like what Ebert said: "What does the title mean? It means it's the title. Get over it."

    Back to bad titles, though. A movie I intensley dislike is A Time to Kill, not just for its disgusting vigilante message (it encourages the fathers of rape victims to murder the rapists in trial), but because of that damn title. Grisham and Schumacher honestly believe that it's the right "time to kill" someone. Actually, the offensive title and plot content are presumably not unlike this upcoming Law Abiding Citizen filth.

    Pay it Forward? Another retarded message movie that is all the more pathetic because its message is right there in the title. I hate the title for Pearl Harbor, too, because the movie just plain doesn't deserve that title. Same with Wolfgang Petersen's Troy.

    I could also add Snakes on A Plane, but that's too obvious.

  2. If only it were real, I'd say Police Cops, but alas it's only real in the world of The Simpsons.

    But beyond that I came up with Boat Trip, which accurately and boringly tells you exactly what the movie is going to be about (too bad it doesn't warn you about the high content of Cuba Gooding and Horatio Sans, though).

    Another one I always thought was ridiculous was Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever, which sounds like a tennis video game. Why not just Ballistic or Ecks vs. Sever?

    Finally, one that always bothered me as a kid was Leonard Part 6. I spent a long time trying to figure out where one could rent parts 1 through 5, with no luck.

  3. Adam:

    Yes, A Time to Kill is an awful movie. It's odd to think back and see that McConaghey was trying to be taken as a serious actor.

    I thought of Snakes on a Plane, too, but also felt it was too easy. Pay it Forward just makes me want to punch something when I hear the title.

    I worked at a video store for many years, so I also have bad associations with the cover art to some of these movies, and that was one of them, hehe.

  4. Troy:

    Ah, Boat Trip...what a great politically correct movie!

    And yes, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever may be one of the worst titles ever for a movie. It was also directed by a man named who goes by Kaos. Awesome.

    Wow, I had totally forgotten about Leonard Part 6....everything about that title makes me want to least the Coz redeemed himself with Ghost Dad.

    Your Simpsons comment got me thinking...why doesn't Swartzwelder write a movie script?

  5. Worst? I'd say it's a tie between SOLARBABIES and ROBOT JOX.

    Best? Hands down, BREAKIN' 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO.

  6. Titles I hate:

    Self-consciously tough-guy titles for crime films, like Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane (seriously, what the hell!?) and When the Bullet Hits the Bone. I think the filmmakers behind those titles are interested in the crime genre for all the wrong reasons.

    A title I love:



  7. I kinda think the title Law Abiding Citizen is deliciously unsexy. It would be a perfect title for something like a new version of Man Bites Dog. I know that's not what it's going toward but oh well.

    Jungle 2 Jungle is pretty horrible off the top of my head. Although I have no idea what Jungle 2 Jungle is doing anywhere near to the top of my head.

    I've always loved Fassbinder's titles, at least as translated into English, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Love is Colder than Death, etc.

  8. Fassbinder was just a factory of great titles.

  9. Fun question. I'm actually going to argue that Law Abiding Citizen is a good title, because it sounds like exactly what it is: the title for an empty Hollywood-factory movie with a fresh coat of paint on old cliches.

    Worst title? Gosh, there have been so many. Bangkok Dangerous has to be right up there, and that's even before it's paired with Nicolas Cage and a terrible hairdo. Others from the past 10 years or so: What Planet Are You From? (just rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?), Seven when it's written like Se7en, Riding In Cars With Boys (unless you only want women to attend), Meet the Fockers, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and When Will I Be Loved.

    A few titles I like off the top of my head: Psycho, The Alamo (I mean, really, doesn't anything called The Alamo sound like something that just kicks ass?) and Eyes Wide Shut.

    Can't decide: Apocalypto.

  10. How could we forget about I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, a title that's stupid enough in its own right, but made even stupider when you consider the chronological error implicit in it (it should be I Still Know What You Did The Summer Before Last or Two Summers Ago).

  11. Just to show that there's no necessary correlation between bad titles and bad movies, might I suggest Inglourious Basterds? Or would that be pedantic of me?

    On the other hand, I've never seen Out For A Kill but that title wouldn't make me particularly confident about it.

  12. What I can't stand are generic titles that are instantly forgettable and could apply to anything. We discussed one a few weeks ago, when "It Could Happen to You" replaced "Cop Gives Waitress $2 Million Tip." There's also a little-seen William Hurt movie from several years back, which got its title changed from the not-bad "Destiny" to "A Time of Destiny." Um, why?

    On the face of it, several Coen Bros. films have awful titles: "Barton Fink," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", "The Hudsucker Proxy." Yet coming from the Coens, somehow they work.

  13. Thought of another one: When the awesome title of David Mamet's "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" became (wait for it) "About Last Night...."

  14. J.D.

    But I loved Robot Jox as a kid! Hehe.

  15. Bill:

    I'm with ya on crap like Blood, Guts, Bullets, and Octane...ugh. And I agree with you and Krauthammer...Fassbinder has great titles.

  16. Krauthammer:'re right about Fassbinder. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is one of my favorite movie titles. I remember wanting to check the movie out because of the title alone...kind of like Gummo. How could you NOT want to see a movie called Gummo.

  17. Jason:

    Oh boy. Riding in Cars With Boys. Yuck. I'm with ya on Eyes Wide Shut...brilliant title.

  18. Samuel:

    I thought of Tarantino's movie, too. I think it's a pretty poor title. Especially the mispelling of it. Good call.

  19. Craig:

    The whole It Could Happen to You original title thing makes me think about Law Abiding Citizen. It's just such a banal title. Good call on the Coen titles.

  20. Troy:

    yes...that's one of the worst titles ever...because as you point out it makes no sense!

  21. I thought of another one, but this one is cheating because it's TV ...

    I don't think I could ever watch the series Breaking Bad just because I can't bring myself to say that I really like a show called Breaking Bad.

    I'm sure someone who has actually seen the show will tell me I'm being stupid for objecting on these grounds (they'd be right) and that the title is actually clever and purposeful (I'm taking a guess). On the face of it, though, the title is stupid, and I can't get past it.

    Thankfully I don't have time to watch the show anyway, so it's a moot point.

  22. Jason -- as someone who watches and enjoys Breaking Bad, I can't even remember what the meaning of the title is (after doing some googling, it turns out it's a slang term from creator Vince Gilligan's youth).

    But yeah, that is kind of dumb name.

  23. Best title ever: "There Will Be Blood"

    I always thought "No Country for Old Men" was a clumsy title.

    Some of the worst titles ever:

    "Feeling Minnesota" No thank you.

    "Franken Hooker" Brilliant!

    "Lerperechaun 2: Leprechaun in da Hood" What else do you need to know?

    "2 Fast 2 Furious" 2 Dumb 2 Believe

    "The Human Stain" this some kind of fetish super hero?

    "Manos: The Hands of Fate" which is literally Hands: The Hands of Fate

  24. I love Manos. Especially on MST3K. Good call on the The Human Stain...although the movie wasn't terrible.

  25. Isn't LAW ABIDING CITIZEN missing a hyphen between LAW and ABIDING?

    Yes, yes, it is.