Dear Hollywood: It’s Time to End the Bad Movie Title Trend


A Movie-goer's staple
A movie-goer’s staple. (Found on Google Images.)

In between the childhood stages of wanting to be a marine biologist and a writer, I dreamed of having the job of naming movies—because, let’s face it, sometimes movie titles just really suck. I imagined sitting back in an easychair,  maybe giving a Caesar-like thumbs up or down, and watching films before they were released. Really, I just wanted someone to save me from the agony of a bad title.

I was never a movie nerd, but there was (and still is) a terrible wrong to be righted here. Sometimes Hollywood and other powerful entities treat the general public at large as if they were idiots. Granted, some people out there are. But, the rest of us are being suffocated in a Dickensian heavy-handed fashion, and it’s time for it to stop.

If you choose a good movie title, you could increase your audience attendance 10-fold. Of course, there is no real science behind that, but it’s what I would say if I was selling my services in Hollywood. Even if your movie sucks, you could fool a few viewers into dropping $10 with an intriguing title. That makes a pretty good tagline, don’t you think?

Without further ado, here are some examples:

“Failure to Launch”
Okay this was one terrible movie and I doubt a good title would have helped any. But the title some lame kid picked made it 10x worse. “Failure to Launch.” Just think about. Really think about it. It sounds more like a film about erectile dysfunction than a dude in his +30s living with his parents.

Failure to Launch
The REjection Plan (Found on Google images. Edited by me)

If I were to title this movie, first I would charge them $10,000 as compensation for the brain cells I lost in the process of being forced to watch such a piece of trash. Then I would suggest the following title: The REjection Plan. Do you get my play on words here? He is being ejected by his parents. He takes girls to his parents’ house to get them to break up with him. Girl gets rejected. Guy gets ejected. Everyone has their own devious plan. It totally works (and makes me giggle).

“Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead”
This title is not necessarily terrible. It’s pretty up front about things in a child-like sort of way that suits the movie and the audience. You know what you’re getting into before you even enter the theater. Babysitter dies while mom is away. Hijinks ensue.

Reality Check (Found on Google images. Edited by me.)

Of course, some would argue that getting all the details up front is not always a good thing. With this title, you don’t even need to watch a trailer to make your decision about seeing the movie. As a movie non-expert (with some p.r. know-how), I would argue that this is a very bad move. Draw them in with a title. Draw them in further with a trailer. Roll in the dough on release day. Pretty simple if you ask me.

Here is the alternative title I recommend: Reality Check (Ok that one’s not very good, but it covers the gist of the plot pretty well I think).

Dumb and Dumberer (Found on Google images)
Redumbdant (Found on Google images. Edited by me.)

“Dumb and Dumberer”
So I get their play on words here. It’s kind of a lazy way to do things, but these people certainly aren’t the only ones to adopt the sequel-title-echoing-the-original-title move. But the word dumberer is not even a real word and therefore absolutely cannot be used in the title of a movie. Why they made a sequel anyway, I’ll never know. But I’m not here to analyze decision-making when it comes to adopting projects in Hollywood. Instead, I’ll just try to name something that lacks substance but somehow is still released to the public. Instead of Dumb and Dumberer, why not try: Redumbdant (Now I’m making up words…and breaking my own rule. Oh well).

Venom Skies (Found on Google images. Edited by me.)

“Snakes on a Plane”

The concept behind this movie is so ridiculous that I have to argue the title just fits. Preposterous movie..lame title. But together, it makes you laugh. The only thing that would make it better is
if they could have done something alliterative like: Snakes in the Sky. Or how about Snake-jacked? The Unfriendly Skies? Those are probably a little too out there. Venom Skies. I like that a lot. But, I’ll just curtsy and concede to “Snakes on a Plane” for now.

“The Sixth Sense”
Intriguing movie. Bad title. I was never informed that the mythical “sixth sense” had anything to do with seeing dead people. When someone says they have a “sixth sense” about things, seeing gory ghosts was not the impression I received from them.

Lesson to take from this movie: You can’t really take a common phrase and turn it to your own purposes and expect it to stick—even if you are M. Night Shyamalan. It takes time for stuff like that to catch on. And no one remembers this movie because of the intriguing title. Instead they just remember a terrified little Haley Joel Osment whispering “I see dead people.” Yeah. I do too. Lots of dead people who died of aneurisms due to one too many badly-titled movies. Lucky for Hollywood, they don’t have to pay out insurance on this kind of stuff.

Frigid Encounters (Found on Google images. Edited by me.)

Anyway, the following are possible movie titles for this film: Unfinished Business (Sounds more like a heist or revenge movie though). 6 Signs You Might Already Be Dead (That’s a bit of a mouthful). Frigid Encounters (of the plasmic kind) (Because every time a ghost is around, it gets really cold, yo.).

“Man on Fire”
Some people say the title for this movie was terrible. But honestly, I liked this one. It’s intriguing. The simplicity suggests the ferocity of the main character’s anger. There’s no time for fanciful dalliances with a thesaurus here. Man. On. Fire. The words are staccato-like and seem to be all but bursting into flames themselves. When you watch his stride in the movie, it almost echoes the title in a way. I can just picture him mumbling this mantra to himself with each step as he walks away from that big explosion. Love it.

To conclude, I may not have made a very good argument as to why I should be the one naming movies. But at the very least, I hope you will understand the gravity of this situation and the need for someone to take over this very important role—for the sake of movie-goers everywhere. And, if Hollywood continues to insist on making bad movies with little sympathy for the synapses in the brains of their viewers, the least they can do is come up with a decent title—or hire someone who can.

What movies would you re-title if you had the opportunity?

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