When Hollywood movies travel overseas, their titles sometimes tend to get lost in translation. Though translating may not seem like such a hard task, these hilarious movie titles prove otherwise. Were they translated via Google Translate? We’re wondering the same thing. Read on to see what your favorite films are called once they hit theaters around the world.
1. Lost in Translation or “Meetings and Failures in Meetings”
Movie titles that go abroad quite literally get Lost in Translation, and this one is no exception. In the 2003 dramatic rom-com starring Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray, a neglected, newlywed woman and a washed up, struggling actor form an unlikely friendship after meeting in Tokyo. The film follows the two as they explore the bustling capital together and wonder whether their bond could be growing into something more meaningful.
When the movie crossed seas and touched down in Portugal, the title was translated to Meetings and Failures in Meetings. Sounds like some corporate film about business transactions. Seriously, there’s nothing even remotely romantic about it. Is it ironic that the original title was lost in translation? We think not. And the rest of this list just goes to show that.
2. Silver Linings Playbook or “My Boyfriend is a Psycho”
Often times when movie titles are adapted abroad, translators use the film’s plot to rename it. And sometimes this means they spoil the whole movie. In the case of Silver Linings Playbook starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert de Niro, the storyline wasn’t totally ruined when it was taken overseas, though its true that its new titles weren’t nearly as covert as the original.
Apparently the saying “every cloud has a silver lining” – which is what the title of this film is based on – has no foreign equivalent. This makes for some funny title remakes, with the best in our opinion being My Boyfriend is a Psycho in Russia. Harsh choice of words aside, this title doesn’t exactly evoke a strong desire to see the film. But maybe that’s just us?
3. Army of Darkness or “Captain Supermarket”
In the third installment of the Evil Dead trilogy, Army of Darkness, Ash Williams (played by Bruce Campbell) is accidentally transported back to 1,300 A.D. where he is captured and forced to battle an army of the dead in order to return home to the present. As if the plot wasn’t strange enough, foreign translators had to make it even weirder by assigning it new hilarious titles.
For example, the film was renamed Captain Supermarket in Japan. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any funnier, it does. The movie poster Japan used to market the film features a whole bunch of oddities like dolphins jumping through coat hangers and Bruce Campbell rising out from Campbell soup cans. It seems the soup cans were the only place they took their remake literally, as they sure didn’t in the title translation!
4. Free Willy or “A Very Powerful Whale Runs to Heaven”
In this 1993 tearjerker, a young boy named Jesse (played by Jason James Richter) risks it all to free an orca whale named Willy, whose life is in danger, from an aquarium. Despite the film’s happy ending, the Chinese interpreted things differently and assigned it a rather peculiar title.
In China, Free Willy was given the title A Very Powerful Whale Runs to Heaven. Two things: firstly, how can a whale run? We’re no marine biologists, but the last time we checked, these killer mammals aren’t known for having feet. And secondly, this title gives the impression that Willy did actually die and later went to heaven. That’s not exactly the happy ending shown in the movie.
5. Grease or “Vaseline”
If you’re anything like us, when you hear the word ‘grease’ your mind immediately goes to the epic 1978 romance musical starring John Travolta as Danny and Olivia Newton-John as Sandy. Forget the lubricant used to oil up stuck door hinges. We’re talking about the 1950s slang term used to describe a tough guy with slicked-back hair and a bad boy reputation.
Argentina seemed to miss the mark on this one when they changed the film’s name from Grease to Vaseline. Now if you’re anything like us again, the word ‘vaseline’ doesn’t evoke the same zeitgeist of the 50s, but instead makes you think of lip balm. If you thought this one was bad, just wait ’til you see the rest of these titles.
6. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or “The Boy Who Drowned in the Chocolate Sauce”
While most countries kept the original name of this Gene Wilder classic, some changed it to more closely resemble the Roald Dahl novel that it’s is based on: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. For example, Portugal called the movie Charlie’s Wonderful Story.
But nowhere quite takes the cake like one Nordic country in particular. Denmark gave the movie quite a dark (chocolate!) spin by naming it The Boy Who Drowned in the Chocolate Sauce. Though greedy Augustus Gloop does take a traumatic dip in a river made entirely of chocolate, we wouldn’t say his fate is that dismal. Nevertheless, we sure think this earned Denmark the golden ticket for most hilarious title.
7. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs or “It’s Raining Falafel“
When food starts falling from the sky instead of rain in this 2009 fantasy film, inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hadar) and weather girl Sam Sparks (voiced by Anna Faris) set out to find the cause. As revealed through the title, the food falling from the sky are meatballs… delicious… if you like meatballs, that is.
But meatballs don’t appeal to foreigners in the same way they do Americans. In an attempt to entice its audience, Israel changed the film’s name to It’s Raining Falafel. They clearly thought that swapping meatballs for falafel – a more recognizable food for Israelis – would help get more people to the box office. That’s all fine and dandy but they didn’t swap out the animated meatballs in the movie. False advertising? We think so!
8. The Sixth Sense or “He’s a Ghost”
In this mysterious 1999 drama about a troubled boy who communicates with spirits, viewers are left with a shocking twist. However, the twist isn’t revealed until the end of the movie, meaning in order to reach the unpredictable turn in the plot, you must first watch the film in its entirety. That is, if you’re watching it in America. If you’re watching it in China, then the end of the movie is practically revealed in its title.
When the title of the movie is switched from The Sixth Sense to He’s a Ghost, there’s no sixth sense needed to understand that child psychologist, Malcom Crowe (played by Bruce Willis) turns out to be a ghost all along. Despite this questionable move on China’s part, the film was the second highest grossing movie of the year, raking in $293 million in the US and another $379 million abroad.
9. Jaws or “The Teeth of the Sea”
The beauty of the title, Jaws, lies in its simplicity. With just one word, it’s able to illicit a feeling of uneasiness and fear. But when title translations come into play, this effect is dulled. Take, for example, the film’s translation in France.
In French, Jaws was changed to The Teeth of the Sea. We don’t know about you, but we sure don’t hear the ominous ‘na na na na’ in our heads when we hear this title. It just doesn’t evoke the same impact and power to make us feel scared. France certainly missed the mark on this translation and unfortunately, this isn’t the only time they show up on this list.
10. The Parent Trap or “A Twin Seldom Comes Alone”
Twenty some years ago, the remake of the Hayley Mills’ 1961 classic, The Parent Trap, catapulted Lindsay Lohan to Hollywood stardom. It hit #2 in the box office during its opening weekend in the US and grossed more than $92 million.
The title seems fitting considering its about two long lost pre-teen twins, Hallie and Annie, who meet during summer camp and attempt to trap their parents into getting back together. But we can’t really say the same about its German rendition, A Twin Seldom Comes Alone. The title just seems too literal and well, not nearly as fun. But you know what else seldom comes alone? Hilarious translated movie titles. Sorry, we had to. Seriously, just take a look at this list!
11. Due Date or “Honey, Wait I’m On My Way”
Due Date, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, is quite the comedy. With a plot centered around a father-to-be who hitches a ride with an aspiring actor in order to make it on time for his child’s birth, the movie sure elicits quite a few belly laughs. But the hilarity doesn’t stop there. The film also saw a slew of hilarious titles that were assigned to it when it hit foreign box offices.
In Portugal, the film earned itself the title A Childbirth Trip, which sounds a lot like a documentary for first-time mothers. The Polish rendition wasn’t much better with Before the Water Goes. Talk about a literal translation! But the winner in our opinion is Slovenia’s Honey, Wait I’m On My Way. Pssh, as if women have that much control over when their child decides to come into the world.
12. The Waterboy or ““
In this 1998 comedy, Adam Sandler gives an inspiring – and comedic – take on a lowly, 31-year-old mama’s boy named Bobby Boucher. The film is the classic underdog-is-victorious-despite-having-all-odds-stacked-against-him story. As an oddball waterboy from the outbacks of Louisiana, Bobby rises above the torments of his fellow college footballers to become the best linebacker on the team.
Thailand took the plot and renamed the film Dimwit Surges Forth. Sure, we can somewhat see how they arrived at this title and luckily Sandler has such a stellar sense of humor we’re sure he won’t mind one bit. But still. Dimwit? Harsh, much?
13. Nixon or “Big Liar”
The title says it all. When you read “Nixon” on the screen at the box office, chances are, you probably know what the movie is going to be about. Seriously, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon or history fanatic to realize that this 1995 political drama explores the personal and professional life of – you guessed it – former U.S. President, Richard Nixon.
In Oliver Stone’s thee-hour film, Anthony Hopkins gives a renowned performance as the disgraced, controversial American leader in an attempt to portray the complexity of his influence on the world. In China, the movie was released under the title Big Liar. While it reveals how the country feels about Nixon’s presidency, the title doesn’t exactly leave us knowing what to expect from the movie.
14. Inside Out or “Fantastic Emotional Turmoil”
Inside out is one example of a movie that has a number of wacky title translations from all around the world. Need a refresher on its storyline? The film follows a Midwestern girl, Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) whose life is turned upside down when she moves with her parents to the bustling city of San Francisco. Her emotions, which are each a character of their own, help guide her through the unknown abyss of a new home, school, and city.
Countries around the globe sure had a tough time translating the emotional tale to its respective audiences, as evidenced by their slipshod titles. For example, in Russia the movie was called Jigsaw, while in Vietnam it was called The Puzzle Emotions. China went with The Great Team Inside the Head but we’d crown Thailand the winner with Fantastic Emotional Turmoil. Really, what’s so fantastic about emotional turmoil?!
15. Home Alone or “Mom, I Missed the Plane”
The entire premise of John Hughes’ 1990 comedy, Home Alone, is every parent’s worst nightmare: forgetting a child at home and hearing they have to fend off a pair of burglars on their own. We’re sure we can all come to an agreement that this would be the fault of the parents, not the child. Well, it seems French translators disagreed with this notion and a simple look at their take on a title change shows just that.
Home Alone was translated to Mom, I Missed the Plane in France. It seems as though the French thought Kevin (played by Macaulay Culkin) missing his family’s flight was his own doing. With this line of though, he must have been responsible for bringing on the whole burglar home alone mayhem to himself! Right? We think not.
16. Up or “Grandpa Carl’s Flying House”
Pixar’s Up is another animated comedy with some pretty hilarious title translations. In the 2009 film, an old balloon salesman named Carl ties thousands of balloons to his house in an attempt to fly away to the wilderness of South America. But to his shock, he finds a little boy named Russell inside his balloon-powered home. Yikes!
While we’d say some countries did a pretty good job in accurately translating the title – like Argentina’s Up: An Adventure Up High and the Czech Republic’s To the Skies – some just completely missed the mark. Japan, for example, chose Grandpa Carl’s Flying House. While this may seem like a literal summary of the film’s plot, it’s not exactly accurate since it’s revealed that Carl is childless and thus can’t be a grandparent in any shape or form. Whoops!
17. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or “If You Leave Me, I Delete You”
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is arguably one of the most creative movie titles out there. In fact, it’s actually a quote from Alexander Pope’s 1717 poem, “Eloisa to Abelard,” which speaks to the intricacy of love and the pain of loss. In the film, Clementine (Kate Winslet) and her ex-boyfriend, Joel (Jim Carrey) undergo a procedure to rid their memories of each other but later re-meet date once again.
While the meaning behind the film’s title in English definitely adds to the power of its storyline, we unfortunately can’t say the same about its translations. In Italy, for example, the title was changed to If You Leave Me, I Delete You. This hilarious title is just too matter-of-fact. It leaves us thinking we’re about to watch another rom-com instead of a film that touches emotional depths and reminds us to most definitely pack a box of tissues the next time we go to see a romantic drama.
18. Never Been Kissed or “Because She’s Ugly”
How could anyone not love Drew Barrymore as Josie Geller in Never Been Kissed? Seriously, her charming reenactment of a 25-year-old newspaper reporter who gets the chance to rewrite her former unpopular, nerdy high school days is just all too relatable. And like Phil Collins in that one big drum solo song, we can feel it coming from reading the title that Josie has, well, never been kissed.
But this fact isn’t as obvious by the film’s foreign-equivalent titles. The Philippines arguably gave us the worst title remake with Because She’s Ugly. *Shakes head disapprovingly* She may have been known as ‘Josie Grossie’ in high school but we’d argue that her insecurities certainly had something do with never having been kissed.
19. Little Fockers or “Zany Son-In-Law, Zippy Grandkids, Sour Father-In-Law”
As we’ve seen, adapted movie titles can be hyperbolic, corny, or straight up plot-spoilers. But above all, they’re downright entertaining. Little Fockers‘ foreign adaptation is no exception. Set five years after Meet the Fockers, the film chronicles how new father, Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) attempts to convince his uptight father-in-law, Jack Byrnes (Robert de Niro) that he has what it takes to be the main man of the house.
Somehow, Thailand took this plot and came up with the translated title, Zany Son-In-Law, Zippy Grandkids, Sour Father-In-Law. Even though they use quite descriptive adjectives, we wouldn’t exactly say the title gives insight into what the movie is about. But hey, A+ for effort?
20. Risky Business or “Just Send Him To University Unqualified”
Lights, camera, action. Cue Tom Cruise’s cool-boy slide-in wearing nothing but an oversized button-down shirt and a pair of white socks and skivvies. This Ray-Ban-rocking teen slid to Hollywood stardom following his role as Joel Goodson in the 1983 coming-of-age film, Risky Business. A mischievous, Chicago teen who endeavors to fulfill his parents’ Princeton dream, Joel finds himself in a compromising situation after his parents leave on vacation and he’s forced to come up with a hefty sum of money – fast.
Though the movie follows Joel’s attempt to raise money in a slew of strange ways, China decided to focus their translated title on his need to get into college. We don’t know about you, but we wouldn’t say the title, Just Send Him To University Unqualified captures Joel’s risky behavior quite like the original.
21. Knocked Up or “Slightly Pregnant”
It’s only fitting that a movie as funny as Knocked Up would have some hilarious title adaptations. Need a plot refresher? This rom-com recounts how party animal, Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) manages the news that he impregnated E! Television employee, Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) after a one-night rendezvous. Oops!
While it’s understandable that “knocked up” is an American idiom that doesn’t necessarily translate well across languages, some countries did better than others at renaming the film. Israel titled the comedy The Date That Screwed Me. Cringeworthy! But the most hilarious title award goes to Peru, who named the film Slightly Pregnant. The last time we checked, it wasn’t exactly possible to be kind of preggers.
22. Juno or “Grow, Run & Stumble”
When translating film titles, countries seem to apply one of three strategies: using a word-for-word translation that is often times too literal, attempting to describe the plot and most likely ruining the end, or making up something totally new and leaving the audience clueless as to what the movie is actually about. In the case of the 2007 comedy, Juno, the latter was definitely the case.
Mexico had quite a funny take on the title change, with the best they could come up with being Grow, Run & Stumble. To be honest, we’re not quite sure how they came up with this slew of action verbs, or why they thought it portrayed a 16-year-old girl (Ellen Page)’s quest to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. But hey, to each their own?
23. Get Smart or “Is The Spy Capable or Not?”
As we’ve seen, translation is no easy job. Despite the name of this film, we wouldn’t exactly say foreign translators gave their audiences the most intelligent title changes for Get Smart. Based on a 1965 TV series under the same name, the film centers around a man named Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) who aspires to be a field agent and a better spy.
Maxwell works to circumvent a crime organization’s plot for world domination. The Taiwanese chose to take a literal spin on this plot, renaming the comedy adventure: Is The Spy Capable or Not? We suppose there’s only one way to tell.
24. Miss Congeniality or “Some Kind of Police Woman”
This 2000 action comedy movie starring Sandra Bullock was a box office hit after it grossed $212 million worldwide. Not only that, but it also garnered Bullock a nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. And unbeknownst to many, the movie was actually based on a true story about an FBI female agent who hid in plain sight as a beauty pageant contestant in the 1995 Miss San Antonio Pageant.
Once again, Israel earned a place on this list with its hilarious title adaptation, Some Kind of Police Woman. With no reference to her pageant life, the title also kind of misses the mark on alluding to her job with the FBI. Besides, policemen and FBI agents aren’t the same thing, right? Asking for a friend.
25. The Matrix or “The Young People Who Traverse Dimensions While Wearing Sunglasses”?
What if our world was just a simulation? Would we know? How would we react? In a series of three films, the hugely popular The Matrix franchise explored these questions and in doing so, arguably changed the life of action cinema as we once knew it. Actually, the trilogy has been mega-successful, having grossed well over $1.5 billion in the worldwide box office and inspiring a new wave of sci-fi films in the process.
Though the movie itself traversed foreign borders, according to the internet, its concise title did not. Even though we would love to think that the French title for The Matrix is actually The Young People Who Traverse Dimensions While Wearing Sunglasses like the funny people of the internet would like us to believe, the real title was actually The Matrix. Phew!
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