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Top 20 Funniest Film Title Translations

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nicholas Miller

Talk about lost in translation! The translations of these movie titles were unintentionally hilarious. “The Hole of Malkovich”? “Santa Is A Pervert”? “Slightly Pregnant”? Really gives these films a whole new spin . . . For a real challenge, try to guess the original titles of “Sexy Dance” and “His Powerful Device Makes Him Famous”! Which of these made YOU laugh the hardest? Let us know in the comments!

Check out the voting page for this list and add your picks: https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Funniest+Translations+of+Film+Titles Special thanks to our user Andrew A. Dennison for suggesting this idea!


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Top 20 Funniest Translations of Film Titles

We guess they didn’t know about Google Translate. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down the top 10 funniest translations of film titles.

For this list, we’re looking at the most unintentionally hilarious translations of English film titles, including those become especially funny when translated back into English.

#20: “Dimwit Surges Forth”

“The Waterboy” (1998)
The Thai translation for this not-so-fondly-remembered Adam Sandler college football film was at least accurate, considering Sandler’s Bobby Boucher Jr. is initially a dimwit and he definitely does surge forth throughout the movie. This title is almost graceful in its simplicity, and that’s why we absolutely love it, but it does lose the football angle, which was kind of the movie’s whole point. We have to admit though, without having football to use as context, there’s not really a better title to describe the movie.

#19: “Floppy Coppers Don’t Bite”

“Dragnet” (1987)
A play on the proverb “barking dogs don’t bite” in German, this cheesy title doesn’t make as much sense when translated back to English. The film, a comedic take on the 1950s and 60s TV police drama, stars Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd as recently-assigned partners who unravel a conspiracy involving a cult, the local church, and an adult magazine empire. Presumably, the title change was due to a lack of familiarity with the original show in Germany . . but really?!

#18: “Meetings and Failures in Meetings”

“Lost in Translation” (2003)
Look, we know that some people found Sofia Coppola’s indie darling “Lost in Translation” slow, but the Brazilian Portuguese translation of the title was practically begging audiences not to show up. “Meetings and Failures in Meetings” sounds more like a mandatory office training video rather than a heartfelt drama about loneliness and love. Anybody who paid for a ticket in Brazil based on the title alone had to be either pleasantly surprised or incredibly disappointed. Oh, and insert obligatory lost-in-translation pun here.

#17: “Jet Li is the Best Fighter”

“Fist of Legend” (1994)
Is that a spoiler? Modern Chinese martial arts classic “Fist of Legend” was released under this very self-aware translation in Spain, and we can only guess at the reasoning behind the change. Did Spanish film distributors want to really sell the fact that Jet Li was in this movie? Was there concern amongst Spanish moviegoers that Jet Li WASN’T the best fighter? Or another reason entirely? We’ll likely never know, but at least we can rest easy knowing that Jet Li was indeed the best fighter in “Fist of Legend.”

#16: “Rain of Falafel”

“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (2009)
The reasoning behind this Israeli translation manages to be slightly more understandable as the original title is a play on words, which are notoriously difficult to translate. However, that definitely doesn’t make this goofy translation any less funny. Presumably by replacing meatballs with the closest cultural equivalent, and making sure to include the gist that the original phrase had something to do with rain, this beautiful replacement was born. Food reference? Check. Weather reference? Check. And that’s all it took!

#15: “Urban Neurotic”

“Annie Hall” (1977)
The German translation of Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” is about as barebones and vague as you can get when it comes to film titles. It takes the movie’s setting, New York City, and comes up with “urban”. Then it takes the movie’s protagonist, Allen’s Alvy Singer, a “neurotic” comedian, and boom! There you have it: “Urban Neurotic.” Simple and elegant. The real question is: why did the film need a translation in the first place when it’s simply a character’s name?

#14: “Big Liar”

“Nixon” (1995)
This translation, coming courtesy of China, is a juicy personal dig at a former U.S. president, and you just gotta love that drama. While other translations are funny because of how silly or inaccurate they are when it comes to the actual content of the movie, this one is absolutely hilarious because of how spot-on and direct it is. Everyone in America knew Nixon was a Big Liar walking into the movie. It’s only right Chinese audiences were given the same necessary context!

#13: “If You Leave Me, I Delete You”

“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ (2004)
The Italian title of this emotional drama starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet makes the movie’s premise seem a whole lot more threatening than it actually is. The film deals with deleting memories of past relationships, but this translation seems to imply a level of physical or even existential violence! We have to believe audiences were surprised to be flooded with tears rather than screaming in terror over the course of their movie going experience.

#12: “The Hole of Malkovich”

“Being John Malkovich” (1999)
The Japanese translation of the strange and cerebral dark comedy “Being John Malkovich” sounds like the title of some kind of dirty movie. We’re not exactly sure how big of a superstar renowned character actor John Malkovich was in Japan in 1999, but we’re pretty sure people weren’t lining up at the box office to see his hole. We’re referring, of course, to the door into the actor’s mind that drives the plot of the film. Why, what did you think we were talking about?

#11: “Vaseline”

“Grease” (1978)
In North America, Vaseline is a specific brand of petroleum jelly. In other places around the world, however, vaseline is the word used to describe petroleum jelly in general. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how we ended up with this extraordinary Argentinian translation of the classic 1978 musical “Grease.” Now we can only imagine just how much more successful the film would have been had it released under this alternative title everywhere around the world.

#10: “Sexy Dance”

“Step Up” (2006)
The French translation of 2006 dance flick “Step Up,” “Sexy Dance” is a pretty apt name for the film, which contains a good amount of sexy dancing. Featuring a breakthrough performance from a young Channing Tatum, the film tells the story of unlikely dance partners who must work together to prove themselves and find success in their craft. We’re not really sure why, but apparently the film’s French distribution felt the need to spice up the title a little bit, resulting in the glorious promise of “Sexy Dance.”

#9: “His Powerful Device Makes Him Famous”

“Boogie Nights” (1997)
If you’ve seen “Boogie Nights,” you may understand where this Chinese title translation comes from. The 1997 Paul Thomas Anderson film depicts the 70s Hollywood pornography scene in stunning detail, with a large ensemble cast that includes Mark “Marky Mark” Wahlberg as dishwasher-turned-porn star Eddie Adams. Throughout the movie, the size of Mark’s, erm… “member…” is referenced several times, leading to breakout success as a porn star. Hence the Chinese title. Hey, at least Chinese audiences knew what they were getting into!

#8: “Santa Is A Pervert”

“Bad Santa” (2003)
We’re starting to see a pattern in blatantly up-front film titles here. The Czech translation of 2003 raunchy Christmas comedy “Bad Santa” lets its native audience know right away that this Santa is, indeed, a pervert. Billy Bob Thornton stars as crude discount department store Santa Willie Soke, who moonlights as a professional thief. After coming into contact with a naive young boy, Thornton’s sex-addicted alcoholic Santa eventually learns the error of his ways, but not before ruining a few childhoods with his inappropriate antics along the way.

#7: “American Virgin Man”

“American Pie” (1999)
Jason Biggs becomes the title character in this Chinese translation of 1999 teen comedy hit “American Pie.” Biggs stars as Jim Levenstein, a typical high school guy trying to lose his virginity. Another straightforward title translation, “American Virgin Man” does a fantastic job of explaining the premise of the movie in three short words. Heck, we aren’t sure why they didn’t go with this title everywhere. “American Pie” is definitely subtler, but who needs subtlety when you’re dealing with teen sex comedies?

#6: “Slightly Pregnant”

“Knocked Up” (2007)
She’s pregnant, but apparently only slightly in this Peruvian translation of “Knocked Up.” Also known as “One Night, Big Belly” in China, Judd Apatow’s follow-up to “The 40-Year Old Virgin” starred Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl as two very different adults whose one-night stand results in a pregnancy. We’re guessing the phrase “Knocked Up” doesn’t translate too well in languages other than English, so this one may have taken some brainstorming to work overseas. But really, what about her makes her “slightly” pregnant?

#5: “Captain Supermarket”

“Army of Darkness” (1992)
Hardcore “Evil Dead” fans will know that our hero, Ashley Williams, is an employee of fictional department store chain S-Mart before he gets dragged into the saga of the Deadites. The Japanese title of the film “Captain Supermarket” references Ash’s employment at S-Mart and the film’s final fight, which takes place in the aforementioned store, when Ash returns from the medieval era with the Kandarian demons in pursuit. “Captain Supermarket” protects the store from the Deadites, and earns his Japanese title translation. “Hail to the king, baby!”

#4: “Please, Do Not Touch The Old Women”

“The Producers” (1967)
Mel Brooks’ 1967 classic “The Producers” is the story of a corrupt Broadway producer and his accountant’s attempt to defraud investors by staging a play intended to be a failure. The producer, Max Bialystock, played by comedy legend Zero Mostel, is a womanizer who specializes in seducing elderly women, hence this ridiculous Italian title translation. It’s just about as absurd as Mel Brooks’ energetic and fast-moving film itself, so in a way it’s actually a perfectly-fitting title for the comedy!

#3: “Mr. Cat Poop”

“As Good as It Gets”(1997)
Jack Nicholson stars as Mr. Cat Poop in 1997’s “As Good As It Gets.” Technically he played someone named Melvin Udall, but with the Chinese translation proclaiming him “Mr. Cat Poop,” good luck getting us to call him anything else. According to IMDb, the humorous translation comes from the similar pronunciation of “Melvin” to “Cat Poop” in Cantonese. But hey, they should run with this one in English-speaking countries for some prequels, sequels, or spin-offs. Could be a comedy goldmine!

#2: “Zany Son-in-Law, Zippy Grandkids, Sour Father-in-Law”

“Little Fockers” (2010)
After “Meet the Parents” and “Meet the Fockers,” Hollywood felt it necessary to subject us to another entry in this critically-maligned franchise. The Thai title for the comedy threequel actually summarizes the film quite well, in case anyone had any doubts. The film stars Ben Stiller as zany son-in-law Greg Focker, Robert DeNiro as sour father-in-law Jack Byrnes, and tells the story of what happened when Greg and his wife decided to bring some zippy grandkids into the world.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“The Unbelievable Trip In A Wacky Aeroplane”
“Airplane” (1980)

“Austin Powers: The Spy Who Behaved Very Nicely Around Me”
“Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” (1999)

“Die Hard: Mega Hard”
“Die Hard with a Vengeance” (1995)

“Odd Couple, Wacky Trip, Go Together In Time for Birth”
“Due Date” (2010)

“007 Dies Twice”
“You Only Live Twice” (1967)

#1: “I'm Drunk and You're a Prostitute”

“Leaving Las Vegas” (1995)
This intense romantic drama features a Japanese title translation that makes it sound like a wacky sex comedy. Instead, it deals with dark themes such as alcoholism and sexual assault, which may have been a major shock to some Japanese moviegoers. Nicolas Cage garnered an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of depressed alcoholic Ben Sanderson, and Elizabeth Shue received a nomination for her performance as Sera, a Las Vegas prostitute. It’s truly a wonder the higher-ups at the film studio didn’t prevent this awkward title translation from release.


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