Top 10 Good Movies with Bad Titles
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS hits theaters today and while I thought it was a great movie, it is going to have trouble drawing audiences because of the awful title. The more direct MACHETE KILLS tells you exactly what it is about while the Tom Hanks drama sounds like a working title. But, it will not be the first good movie to be saddled with an awful title. Here are the Top 10 movies that earned acclaim despite really bad names. Please share your picks below and remember that we are talking about good films with bad titles here, not just bad titles. That is a Ten Spot for another day.
I love SEVEN. it is a great movie and still gets me in the gut every single time that the box gets opened. It remains one of Kevin Spacey's best performances and still one of Fincher's best. But, that is SEVEN. SE7EN is a shitty marketing name that tries to stick the number in the title like some crappy sequel and ruins what is otherwise a masterpiece. Whoever the brilliant mind over at New Line was that stylized name should be drug out into the street and shot. I will never, even call this movie SESEVENEN.
Whether you liked STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS or not, the title really sucks. It has nothing to do with the plot of the movie and it is a cumbersome name. No, not Cumberbatch, cumbersome. The lack of a colon makes it weird when you say it. J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot cronies wanted too much to have a distinct name from other franchises and eschewed numbering or a catchy subtitle. Instead, they saddled their film with an unnecessarily complicated title. Is it STAR, TREK INTO DARKNESS? STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS? I give up.
Ron Howard's biopic of Jim Braddock uses the real historical figure's nickname of CINDERELLA MAN, but that does not make for a very enticing movie experience. Something with a nice ring to it like BACKDRAFT or A BEAUTIFUL MIND or even RUSH makes you feel like you are seeing a movie with something behind it. CINDERELLA MAN sounds like a comedy starring Marlon Wayans and Rob Schneider with a special appearance by Larry the Cable Guy. Even if the movie had been called BRADDOCK it would have fared better and deservedly so.
Ben Affleck's first directorial effort has a terrible name. While THE TOWN sounds generic, it also is foreboding. GONE BABY GONE sounds like a romantic drama. MYSTIC RIVER tells a similar tale and has a great title. This just doesn't work for me. Even if the movie had been called GONE would have been a little more fitting to the tone of the film. I could be nitpicking here, but wouldn't GONE have intrigued you more than GONE BABY GONE?
David Mamet's play and film are equally brilliant but they have a fatal flaw: the cumbersome title. Sure, if you watch the movie you know that the title is the truncated and combined names of the two real estate locations the characters are trying to sell, but you can't just throw half names of things together that are never referred to in that way in the movie and expect it to make sense. GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS is a movie that no one would think twice about seeing based on the title unless they were fans of Kevin Spacey, Al Pacino, Jack Lemon, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, or Alan Arkin. I would have called it THE MACHINE or THE LEADS. Sure, a little generic, but they make a lot more sense.
When the title-less teaser for this monster movie was released, it was associated with the working title of CLOVERFIELD. Everyone expected something badass to serve as the final title, something that encompassed the magnitude of the movie's beast, something that echoed GODZILLA or KING KONG. And then the final title was revealed to be...CLOVERFIELD. A nonsense name that has no relevance to the movie aside from a title card that indicates it is the name of the government case it was filed under. Real creative, J.J. Abrams.
Great movie about the geopolitics of Africa and the shady dealings of a pharmaceutical corporation. Oh, and the main character is an amateur horticulturalist. What to call our movie....I know, anything but THE CONSTANT GARDENER. I know so many people who didn't watch this movie because of the unappealing title. While I am not one to ignore a cast this phenomenal because of a silly name, I do agree it doesn't fit with the plot or message of the film. Naming a movie after the background theme of the film works but if Ralph Fiennes character was addicted to porn you wouldn't title this THE CONSTANT WHACKER.
I can feel some of the backlash mounting on this list, but remember, these are good movies with bad titles, not the other way around. I love Stephen King, Frank Darabont, and everything about this movie, but the title is just not good. The short story was titled RITA HAYWORTH AND SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, an even more cumbersome title. Nothing about THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION sounds enticing and doesn't reflect the movie as well as it should. I would have gone with SHAWSHANK or something more simple.
If you need to look up words in a dictionary to understand a movie title, the filmmakers either don't want your viewership or they are doing something wrong. THE HUDSUCKER PROXY should be an easy movie for fans to enjoy as it is the combination of The Coen Brothers and Sam Raimi. Who wouldn't love that? it is a weirdly wonderful movie that, based on the name, you have no idea what it is about. Reading a movie poster or DVD case should not be this much work. For all we know, THE HUDSUCKER PROXY could be anything from a horror movie to a comedy to a non-narrative documentary. Bad choice of words.
I can't even put the proper title for this movie in this list because there is no emoticon of a heart on my keyboard. This is a movie I really like a lot and the Jon Brion score is fantastic. Jude Law and Naomi Watts are hilarious and the Lily Tomlin meltdown on David O. Russell on YouTube is a classic, but what the f*ck is there an emoticon doing in the title? Seriously? A f*cking heart? Okay, I take back SE7EN on this list. A heart symbol is way f*cking worse than a number replacing a letter.