It recently occurred to me that I haven’t made fun of any French weirdness in quite a while. I mean, it’s been like, 2 whole blog posts ago. It’s not that I’d stopped noticing, having grown accustomed & become part of the weirdness. Okay, okay… I may have become a wee part of the weirdness, but that doesn’t mean I don’t take notice of it.
One thing that has been a constantly baffling source of amusement here is the French titles for American movies. This isn’t something confounding only to Americans, either. There are plenty of savvy French movie goers who understand the absurdity & hilarity of the French titles, but those bizarre titles keep showing up, anyway.
It often seems that there is no rhyme or reason to it. After seeing countless movie posters, TV spots & theater signs, there is no discernible pattern to this madness. Believe me, I’ve tried to make sense of it. I can’t do it.
Sometimes, they keep the original English title. However, there are many cases where this is impossible, as the English title is an idiomatic phrase that makes no sense in French & has no equivalent, creating the need for a new, hilarious French title.
What amuses me most about the French posters for the Die Hard franchise is, the phrase “Die Hard” gets larger with each poster. I think that’s a good sign since “A Good Day to Die Hard,” the 5th movie in the series will be called: Belle Journée Pour Mourir. That translates to a Beautiful Day to Die, so, hey… they’re getting better.
Other times, the title is still in English, but has just been changed to some other English words that have nothing to do with the original title.
You probably already figured out that the first one is “The Hangover.” This is one of the most ridiculous French titles I’ve ever seen. In spite of the fact that there is a French expression for a hangover (gueule de bois) this movie was retitled in a way to associate it with the 1998 movie, Very Bad Things. The two movies are completely unrelated, but both are about a group of guys who go to Vegas before one of them gets married.
If you’re lucky, you haven’t seen the second movie, titled “Guess Who?” in the States, is a shitty remake of the 1967 Spencer Tracy/Sidney Poitier classic, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Evidently, when they released it in France, they cut right to the point & said, “Fuck guessing. It’s a black guy & a white guy.” Which, to be fair, is often enough to let ticket buyers know they’re in for some wacky hijinks.
As we all know, sex sells, which is why there are several instances of movie titles getting a little bit of sexing up for French audiences.
My favorite is the sexing up of “Cruel Intentions”, which most people know is a horrible, young 90′s American version of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” a French novel written by an old-timey French guy named Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. Yeah, sometimes they inexplicably give weird, sexy titles to their own stories.
It doesn’t happen very often, but some of the biggest laughs come when the French & American posters seem to be for two very different movies… even though once you hit “play,” you still get the same boring shit.
Sometimes, the new & improved French titles just like to ask questions.
The inquisitive title isn’t just for zany comedies, either. It also works for cheesy horror flicks.
The recent remake of Fright Night didn’t get this clever title. It kept the same title as the American release, which is a good example of the fact that this is something that seems to happening a bit less in recent years. However, I kind of feel like they should have changed the title to “106 Minutes of Colin Farrell in a Wife Beater.”
And speaking of horror movies…
One thing that I see a lot of is a title that’s been changed & effectively gets the point across, but just sounds dull & doesn’t stand out as a unique title.
To be fair, that Adam Sandler nonsense where he filmed himself hanging out with his friends could have been called anything & it would still be horrible. And though it won’t surprise anyone, it may still be worth mentioning that the French DVD cover for “Bridesmaids” does state that the movie is a “feminine Very Bad Trip.”
There are the movie titles that in my mind, are amusing, but seem a bit misleading.
Just think of all those people sitting in the theater, expecting to see a nice movie about kites who ended up sitting through 2 hours of people doing things & talking about stuff.
Hey! It’s a movie about an American college! Probably all American colleges are like the one in this movie. As you likely already know, anything you want to learn about another culture can be learned from watching movies. Sure, go ahead & laugh, but just like many Americans, thousands of French people watch American movies & believe those things to be an accurate representation of our lives.
There are many, many more, but that’s enough for now. You get the idea. Besides, all of these is really nothing compared to the French titles of some American TV shows.
I’ll get to that later.