In the world of the movies, what’s more important than a title? It aims to capture interest, make viewers want to go to see the film. Unfortunately, the history of celluloid names is riddled with poor choices, and most of the pictures given them have been abject failures. In an effort to memorialise these fiascos so that they serve as a deterrent for future mislabeling, I’ve made a list of the 10 worst cinematic monikers to flit by on the silver screen: from bad to godawful. My criteria may be subjective—and I’m sure these choices will be subject to disagreement—but there’s no question that these titles are among the lousiest of the lousy. Hopefully, they’re a lesson learned, although one can never predict the future. In the grand scheme of things, garbage always manages to rise to the top.
10) Mighty Aphrodite (1995)
I loathe movie titles based on rhymes, and this Woody Allen film is one of the worst offenders—a label that seems predicated on a “cute”-sounding combination. Once upon a time, Woody Allen’s humour was funny. What happened?
9) Poetic Justice (1993)
Yes, sadly, the subject is a poet named “Justice.” Ugh. Couldn’t this have been more literal, like We’re Really Trying Hard Here or Don’t Blame Us; Blame the Producer? Why, John Singleton, why?
8) Shallow Hal (2001)
This miserable, unfunny “comedy” from the Farrelly brothers is obnoxious from start to finish—and the precedent it sets, its dreadful, rhyming title, is a bad one. High-concept junk.
7) Fled (1996)
Providing sufficient proof that movie titles in the past tense are often pretentious and absurd, this “buddy” movie goes nowhere fast. Maybe this moniker is a more appropriate description of the steps audiences took after seeing the movie. No matter what, this title is a “huh?”
6) The American President (1995)
Um … what other president would a glossy flick such as this be about—the president of General Motors? Ordinary-sounding and uninteresting, this label does nothing to suggest the content and/or quality of the movie it purports to describe. Live and learn.
5) The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain (1995)
Sometimes long titles can be fun. Sometimes they can be amusing. This one is neither, and its attempt to be Ealing-esque seems cynical and naïve at the same time. Whiff.
4) Sssssss (1973)
How can we forget this bit of crud from the early ’70s about snakes and … well, supposedly horror. This era saw a number of imaginative movie monikers, but Sssssss doesn’t make this category. Frankly, it’s a more apt description of the sound viewers might make at a screening of this picture. Deserves never to be forgotten.
3) Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007)
Forced whimsy. It’s something that no one should ever go through, and unfortunately, audiences in 2007 had to deal with this tacky toy-store saga more than they should have. This one certainly didn’t make the classic fantasy cut that it was aiming for, and its lofty aspirations should serve as a reminder that most flights of fancy fall flat. Never trust a film that tells you how much fun it is? Indeed.
2) It Could Happen to You (1994)
As it was a tagline for the New York Lottery, this title amounts to little more than advertising … and it’s all the more offensive when one considers the fact that a change of one letter changes it from a horrible label that means almost nothing—it could go one way, it could go another way—to one that definitely says something: It Should Happen to You, which, thankfully, is the name of a 1954 George Cukor classic. Get me the latter any day over this.
1) Rat Pfink a Boo Boo (1966)
One of the stories behind this nearly unwatchable, low-budget relic from the 1960s is that the “n” and “d” making up the word “and” in the title were accidentally left off from the finished product, and director Ray Dennis Steckler made the sound financial decision not to fix it. The result is the worst, most idiotic movie name ever—one so bad that it deserves to be venerated in the annals of history as an ode to incompetence. May we always remember this bit of dreck. It will, of course, live forever.