ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

A good movie title can make or break a film - some are artistic, some are mysterious, some are simply a single word to fool you into thinking the movie is more monumental than it actually is. However, whatever the director names their movie, you can guarantee some distribution chief in a far away land will alter it and re-market it into something else to appeal to foreign audiences.

The internet is full of 'Funniest Movie Title Translation' lists, but unfortunately many of the supposed translations just aren't true. For example, as delightful as it is to read, The Sixth Sense isn't called He's a Ghost! in China, while the French title for The Matrix isn't The Young People Who Traverse Dimensions While Wearing Sunglasses - although I really wish it was.

However, here, in no particular order, are 10 genuinely accurate and genuinely amusing movie title translations from around the world.

1. Airplane

Now Germans aren't exactly known for their sense of humor, however they are known for their ruthless efficiency. This is worth bearing in mind when you consider the German translation for the spoof-in-the-sky Airplane! is - The Unbelievable Trip In A Wacky Aeroplane (Die unglaubliche Reise in einem verrückten Flugzeug). In terms of accuracy, you can't argue with that.

2. The Hangover

But it's not just Germany who've given movie titles an uncreative makeover. Just over the border in France, The Hangover series is renamed The Very Bad Trip. In fact, The Hangover isn't the only film to get the 'Very Bad' prefix. The Other Guys also became the more direct Very Bad Cops. Come on France, you're the home of Honoré de Balzac, Voltaire and Marcel Proust! Surely you can think up something better than that?

3. Thelma and Louise

However, at least an uncreative title isn't as bad as a spoilerific one. Mexico apparently has a habit of renaming their movies to include a little bit too much information. For example, Thelma and Louise was given an alternative title of Thelma & Louise: Un final inesperado - or Thelma & Louise: An Unexpected End. If you've seen the movie, you know that title is just unacceptable...

4. Leon: The Professional

It's not just European languages which provide overly-explanatory movie titles. For example, in China, Leon: The Professional is subtitled 这个杀手不太冷, or loosely translated, The Killer Is Not As Cold As He Thought. It's definitely not as snappy, that's for sure.

5. The Full Monty

Let's stick with China for a bit. It seems like the Chinese film distribution networks weren't exactly impressed with the physiques of Robert Carlisle, Mark Addy or the rest of The Full Monty gang, instead deciding to rename the movie, Six Naked Pigs. Charming.

6. Almost All Arnold Schwarzenegger Movies

Here's a couple more relatively insulting titles from China, especially if you're Arnold Schwarzenegger. In China, there is a habit of using the same Chinese character in movies staring the same actor. For example, nearly all early Arnie films feature the character mogui (魔鬼), which mean demon or devil. This might be alright for movies like End of Days or The Terminator, but it does mean Junior - a fun-loving family comedy about a pregnant man - is renamed Son of Devil (魔鬼二世), while Kindergarten Cop (魔鬼孩子王), a similarly campy nineties comedy, is called King Devil of Children.

7. Army of Darkness

Army of Darkness is a movie about a man with a chainsaw for a hand, who becomes embroiled in a war against evil after accidentally being transported back to 1300 AD. I suppose this is why Japanese distributors decided to rename the movie Kyaputen sûpâmâketto or Captain Supermarket - which of course, makes total sense... As does this poster...

8. Die Hard With A Vengeance

Now, to be honest, even the English titling of the Die Hard franchise isn't exactly great. I mean, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Live Free or Die Hard and A Good Day To Die Hard don't inspire much admiration. But at least they're not as bad, or as sexually explicitly, as the Danish title, Die Hard: Mega Hard. Sounds more like a porn parody to me.

9. Stripes

Back to Germany for another odd movie title translation. Whereas Airplane! was perhaps given a too precise renaming, it seems they went a little bit too far in the other direction with Bill Murray's military comedy, Stripes. Instead they retitled it Ich glaub' mich knutscht ein Elch!, or I think the moose is smooching me! As far as I can recall, Stripes does not contain any meese (the plural of moose?) amorous or otherwise.

10. Walk The Line

This one is a little unforgivable, since, presumably anyone watching a Johnny Cash biopic would recognize the title as one of his most famous lyrics. However, film distributors in Latin America decided to soup up the fairly benign title with something a little spicier. They changed Walk The Line to Johnny & June: Passion and Craziness, which sounds like a video you can only buy in certain licensed outlets or by ordering it out of the back of dodgy magazines.

There you have it. 10 genuinely slightly amusing movie translations. If you know anymore, make sure to drop us a comment in the box below.


What was your favorite movie translation?


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