The 10 Worst Movie Taglines

Published 2 months ago by

Worst Movie Taglines Die Hard The 10 Worst Movie Taglines

Since the earliest days of motion pictures, studios and marketers have fused images with words to sell a film: whether referencing its story, cast, technology, or source material.  Over the past decades, the creation of the movie tagline has been elevated to an art form, delivering movie fans some of the greatest one-line summaries of an entire movie (or franchise).

Not all tagline are winners, of course: sometimes, combining a few buzz marketing words into a sentence is considering good enough to put audiences into theaters. Even more often, attempts at humor are more likely to elicit groans and eye-rolls than laughs. But occasionally, a professional marketing team comes up with a tagline so clunky, so bland, or so downright uninspired, they may have been better off simply leaving it out of the advertising.

There are plenty to choose from, but here is our list of the 10 Worst Movie Taglines.

-

10. Winter’s Bone (2010)

Worst Movie Taglines Winters Bone The 10 Worst Movie Taglines

We try not to be sticklers over simple grammar or sentence structure, but in the case of Winter’s Bone, the tagline “talking just causes witnesses” is simply too awkward to overlook. For some, the sentence might flow perfectly fine, but the real problem is that the line is so meaningless and detached from the actual story, it serves no purpose whatsoever (aside from sounding painfully generic).

That’s a shame, since the film is anything but. The adaptation of Daniel Woodrell’s novel stars Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games, Silver Linings Playbook) in a star-making role as a daughter looking for her father in the crystal meth underworld of the American Ozarks – yet the tagline captures none of that gritty reality, instead sounding like a throwaway marketing line for a John Grisham courtroom drama.

-

9. Basic Instinct 2 (2010)

Worst Movie Taglines Basic Instinct 2 The 10 Worst Movie Taglines

A movie doesn’t have to be an award-winner to sport one truly disappointing tagline. Scholars may argue (briefly) whether there was ever any reason to make Basic Instinct 2, but sex sells, after all. And for an entire generation, Sharon Stone’s nude scenes in the original had become synonymous with the film as a whole.

The first poster featuring Stone once again cross-legged with cigarette in hand threw subtlety out the window, but then came the tagline: “everything interesting begins in the mind.” While that is… technically true, we would wager that any reader could take a few seconds and come up with a more clever, in-joke tagline to the original film (and scene being alluded to). Instead, the generic and self-important tagline showed what fans could expect from the sequel, and the finished product was as flawed as predicted.

-

8. Alex Cross (2012)

Worst Movie Taglines Alex Cross The 10 Worst Movie Taglines

There is a time and place for puns, and movie taglines are most certainly one of them. But even so, audiences have come to expect at lease a slight sense of wit or humor, and usually only if the film’s tone permits it. In the case of Alex Cross, a dark adaptation of James Patterson’s novel “I, Alex Cross,” it seemed out of place. In hindsight, “don’t ever cross Alex Cross” was the first sign fans had that the adaptation would be far from inspired.

Besides being too long to come off as ‘badass’ as the marketers likely intended (‘Don’t Cross Cross’ is at least somewhat clever and catchy), the tagline seems to position the titular psychologist/detective as an action hero. It’s likely meant to differentiate Tyler Perry’s version from Morgan Freeman’s, but ends up promising an attitude and story that the movie couldn’t deliver.

-

7. The Magnificent Seven (1960)

Worst Movie Taglines Magnificent Seven The 10 Worst Movie Taglines

Flawed taglines can hint at a flawed film, but even the best pieces of cinema can be saddled with some baffling one-liners. Take The Magnificent Seven, for instance. The adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai saw a group of gunmen hired to protect a small Mexican town from a group of raiders, battling with themes of honor, duty, murder, and fatality. So what tagline was concocted to highlight them?

“The Magnificent One!” Admittedly, the film was released when exclamation points abounded on film posters, and taglines were less of a science. Still, the tagline is completely ambiguous: is the “one” meant to be the film itself? The story? A particular actor? Plenty of lines from the script could have teased the action, so we can only assume the one responsible for this tagline was late for a meeting.

-

6. Clash of the Titans (2010)

Worst Movie Taglines Clash of the Titans The 10 Worst Movie Taglines

Nobody is going to give Clash of the Titans praise for its story or ingenuity; but it was intended to be a swords-and-sandals action film, and packed enough action and spectacle to live up to that charge. It was going to be difficult to live up to the nostalgia and affection movie fans have for Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion Medusa in the 1981 film, or the tagline that accompanied it (“An Epic Entertainment Spectacular!”).

So how did the studio decide to excite audiences about the events set to unfold in Clash of the Titans? By confirming that in the film, “Titans will clash.” No other tagline on our list required less energy or thought than this entry, and the fact that at no point in the film do Titans clash only proves that those charged with creating it never even bothered to see the film.

-

5. Avatar (2009)

Worst Movie Taglines Avatar The 10 Worst Movie Taglines

James Cameron’s Avatar has become something of a lightning rod among fantasy and sci-fi fans since release, but there’s no denying its impact on blockbuster filmmaking – or box office sales records. The 3D spectacle promised in marketing has anyone even remotely interested convinced to see the film in theaters, which means many failed to realize Avatar even had a tagline. But it did. And it is truly baffling.

Telling moviegoers to “enter the world” is at best confusing, and even now seems like the first or last laugh of a full tagline. Was Cameron referring to the fictional world of Pandora, or the new age of 3D storytelling? While the movie may be immortalized for its scale and box office milestones, it’s permanently burdened with a tagline that could be applied to nearly any genre movie ever made.

-

4. Kangaroo Jack (2003)

Worst Movie Taglines Kangaroo Jack The 10 Worst Movie Taglines

There are bad taglines, and then there are bad taglines written by those who think they’re being clever. Perhaps it’s best that the tagline for Kangaroo Jack – a universally-panned comedic romp set in the Australian Outback – be just as inane and brainless as the film it was advertising. When your story centers on a kangaroo mistakenly outfitted in a hooded sweatshirt, sunglasses, and $50,000 in cash, a clever tagline is the least of your problems.

The tagline is a bit unfair, since ‘Jack’ didn’t actually steal the money (he is a kangaroo, remember), but the studio presumably felt it was worth pointing out that unlike most(?) thieves, “he’s not giving it back.” If the line seems like it’s trying too hard, it fits the movie perfectly.

-

3. Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

Worst Movie Taglines Lethal Weapon 2 620x320 The 10 Worst Movie Taglines

Generally seen as not only one of the films that helped define the “buddy cop” genre, but one of the best of all time, Lethal Weapon was a success from its story and action down to its taglines. Warning audiences to “pity the bad guys” and that “Glover carries a weapon. Gibson is one” gave a dose of humor and bravado, and the movie delivered on both. While Lethal Weapon 2 mostly continued that success, the taglines were a different story.

“The magic is back!” may seem a suitable tagline for a fantasy adventure, but in the context of Lethal Weapon, it’s incomprehensible. Honestly, “Still too old for this” would have been at least something of a reference to the actual movies, but the studio decided to stick with “magic.” Lethal Weapon 3‘s “the magic is back again” takes the cake for worst in the series, but it’s the second in the series we have to blame for it.

-

2. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

Worst Movie Taglines Star Trek 5 Final Frontier The 10 Worst Movie Taglines

Although Star Trek fans may accuse J.J. Abrams of sullying the intellectual style of the original TV series with blockbuster action, he wasn’t the first to try to draw audiences in with the promise of big screen spectacle. That title rests with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, a movie hinting that the action would be so impressive, movie theaters would need to install seatbelts.

The marketing apparently worked, bringing the fifth film a larger opening weekend box office than the prior installments. However, the odd direction for a tagline was a clear indicator of just how problematic the movie had been from beginning to end. The other taglines ranged from forgettable to spoiling the climax, so this may not be the worst crafted. But with a franchise like Trek, it still seems out of place.

-

1. Earthquake (1974)

Worst Movie Taglines Earthquake The 10 Worst Movie Taglines

These days, the term “event film” is thrown around quite often, or used interchangeably with terms like “tentpole, flagship,” or “blockbuster.” But back in the 1970s, the term was just beginning to gain meaning, as disaster films became the most coveted to American audiences. Universal’s Earthquake was one such project to take advantage of the wave, and the overall enthusiasm is evident in just how unimpressive a tagline the film required.

Promising nothing more than “an event” was good enough to earn the film a total of $80 million ($367 million in today’s dollars), even if it’s mostly remembered for the technical aspects than the story or characters. The cast of survivors spread across a massive disaster is still a structure seen in modern blockbusters, but a tagline describing virtually any film in history no longer makes the cut (thankfully).

-

Conclusion

Worst Movie Taglines Signs The 10 Worst Movie Taglines

That’s just a small sample of the many taglines that have left movie fans underwhelming, misled, or simply confused. Some movie fans are clearly willing to overlook some fumbled marketing if the attached film is strong enough to stand on its own, but there’s no denying that while taglines may be works of art for some, they are still elusive for others. Be sure to name your own favorites in the comments.

_________________________________________________

Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

TAGS: alex cross, avatar, clash of the titans, lethal weapon, star trek, the magnificent seven, winter's bone

33 Comments

Post a Comment

  1. I think Star Trek V’s tagline is pretty damn good. It’s not the marketing people’s fault the movie sucked and didn’t live up to the tagline. They did their job.

    • But considering it wasn’t much of an action/adventure story, it sounds like they pulled it out of a hat (or somewhere worse). Plus, considering that seat belts are right up there with toilets when it comes to technology we will apparently outgrow the needs for, a more Trekkie friendly tag would be “Make sure your theater has inertial dampeners!” Woulda been funnier, and less embarrassing than the three breasted cat ho that threw herself at Kirk.

  2. The reason they installed seat belts for Star Trek 5 was to keep people from getting up and walking out in the middle of the film.

    • Oh, Snap!

      • ^+1,000,000

    • +1

      hahahaha aww that’s awesome..

    • Dang it you beat me to it LOL

  3. What about THE AVENGERS one: Some Assembly Required? It appeared on the Captain America dvd but never again I guess Marvel realised it sounded awful.
    Haters don’t start on me but out of the TOS films I have seen 4,5,6 Five is my favourite because of the God effect. I love films that tackle it but the finale was a little disappointing however the line “what does God want with a spaceship” saved it for me.

    • TOS films?

      • I think it means “The Original Series” films Dazz. They did say “4,5,6″ and ‘spaceship”. Pretty good indicators of Trekiness.

        • Yep I did mean The Original Series. I guess no one’s a Trekkie around here?
          Dazz you haven’t replied to my comment on page one of the Constantine trailer.

          • Oh crap, I sat wondering what TOS and 4, 5 and 6 meant, which is why I asked. I spent my childhood watching Trek but not by choice, I absolutely hated it but my dad insisted on watching it a lot.

            To be honest, I haven’t had chance to go back to that Constantine trailer thing, completely forgot about it until you reminded me.

            • Sorry to hear it. So I guess you never learned to like it then? I hate football but my dad watches it most of the time and took us to a match even know I hated it. It’s funny how parent try to get you to do stuff that they like. It’s ok I am looking now.

    • That was cool, and very Roddenberry to be shining a light on blindly religious beliefs. That tendency to question, distrust, and “outgrow religion” with Trek’s future changed a lot with the times. DS9 showed belief that was at least rooted if fact, and Voyager seemed determined to humor any crazy notion of culture as valid and reasonable rather than potentially something destructive to overcome. But I digress…

      I think the troubles with V are more intrinsic, and not because there was no good idea or clever moments. The characters were sold out and played for laughs like Return of the Jedi, but much worse. Good luck respecting any of them as much as you may have before you saw it. Their friendships were made to seem flimsy and dissolvable under stress. Characters were petty and rude to each other. The new ship was clunky, awkward, nonsensical, and even the crew disliked it. Shatner had way too much control, and not nearly the necessary talent or budget to do what he was trying to do. Weak rewrites, scrapped scenes, misguided notions that fizzled, bad effects, and a failed attempt to woo Sean Connery to the film all took their toll. Glad you enjoyed it, but don’t mistake it for a good film, (or more egregiously good Star Trek!)

      • Oh Absolutely. I liked it for what it is not what it wasn’t. It isn’t that good a trek film but I haven’t seen 1,2,3 so No Wrath Of khan yet but I can’t wait to see the “Best one.” I’m not over attached to the TOS characters maybe because I watched them out of order but No 6 ending was quite sad. I have seen 4 episodes of the original and haven’t really gotten into it. My favourite series was Enterprise(Now haters don’t start) because of the Xindi arc and the suspense it created. I started off first with the 09 JJ version then with TNG then the films so It was not a good order. I half enjoyed Into Darkness but it wasn’t really Trek it was a Hollywood Knockoff. The films looks like a big budget fan film with some of the very poor imitations. The Kirk line at the end sounded awful. As much as I liked JJ the film was disappointing to me. It’s a good film but it is very forgettable. If they did a series I think it would get better but another film might just bury Star Trek. Those Klingons were hideous. Have you seen the clip of the JJPRise (has that even got a name yet?) meeting the refit TOS Enterprise. Guess who wins! I would like a left field Star Trek film- Such as a Spock on mission type thing undercover against the god complex or something that tackles ANY issue so long as it’s not a bloody Love Triangle. From the JJ fiolms I thought the characters would be so much better and would do more but they a the same.- Uhura Is the worst, Scotty next. JJ did those character justice.
        Anyway Live Long and Prosper.

        • Well put! Good thoughts. I don’t entirely agree, but I do appreciate your perspective. I definitely dug the Xindi arc, and the focus on relevance to the trek verse as well as the Enterprise show itself only got better in the (mostly) tremendous fourth season. The main problem with that show was its initial failure to be relevant in either category. The episodes were often perfectly entertaining enough on their own, but so casually inconsequential and aggressively stand-alone that it appeared the creators had not learned all the lessons from making Voyager that they should have. Those first two seasons have a lot of good moments in retrospect, but as a fan when the second season started, a sense of dread was building. It was time to move on from the warm up round of season one and create a truly exceptional series, but that was clearly not what was happening. “Carbon Creek”, for example, was in no way a story that suggested Enterprise was coming into its own and would evolve into something truly special. The Xindi arc was when the show runners, (who were now loosening their influence), finally got serious about making the show about something, and doing bold story telling. It was a total 180 from the most prevalent (and unfortunate) trek-writing custom: to create stories that are so disconnected that anyone can watch them in any order. This tendency reached its most artistically destructive extreme in Voyager, where a weekly sense of progression was often sorely missing, but it goes back to every other series as well. TNG writers had to practically sneak tendrils of relevance into the show to end up with a few two parters and floating story threads like Worf’s relationship with the Klingon leadership. DS9 broke that mold and went off range by having stories that could only be seen as 7 part or as much as 11 part continuity. That was an amazing breath of fresh air, and the primary reason that it is my favorite trek show in general. Worth watching from start to finish if you can get into it. Enterprise finally took a page from that disowned child of the power that were, and upped the ante with a season long story. It was brave and it was high quality, and while the next season presented smaller story arcs they were relevant and consequential. That season is one of the finest in trek history, and it’s just tragic that by the time the show was that good most of the audience had already given up on it. The casual, weekly one-off complacency of the first two seasons had “earned” a good show it’s cancellation despite it becoming a great show in the years that followed. That was a dark time to be a Trekkie, let me tell you.

          The last TNG movie had barely made a profit, and would NOT be getting a follow up. DS9 had been concluded with no lingering doubt as to its finality, and was not the darling of the powers that be the way voyager was. Voyager had limped to the finish line as many people’s least favorite series and was in no way expected to have a movie follow up. The burned out writer/created duo behind Enterprise (and Voyager) had brought in new blood far too late to save their show from cancellation, and nobody was seriously talking about a reboot at that time. “Franchise fatigue” was the phrase people were throwing around, and the future of Trek appeared indefinitely bleak if not entirely non-existent.

          Where have we come since then? Well, new movies are bringing money and attention, and while these films are predictably unsatisfying popcorn fare to core fans, they may also be the financial reason why Trek is alive, and therefor why it may earn the gamble of a new series that WILL (hopefully) do the franchise real justice. Even as a fan who wants much more out of Trek than what JJ is bringing to the table, I find reason to be more optimistic than I was back in the dark days when Enterprise was cancelled.

          Guess I got on a roll there. Hopefully somebody read this and learned something interesting.

          Oh, and the second best film, IMHO, is probably 8: First Contact.

          • Well with Enterprise I disagree. Season 4 wasn’t that good for me because of the reliance on TOS. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen it that’s why I didn’t enjoy it but it shouldn’t have mattered. Watching a show live is a different experience because your following every little tidbit of news and the anticipation builds. A show like Lost is built on that. Watching an episode a day I looked forward to it. There wasn’t much of an overall arc episode to episode but overall there is a development of the ship and the crew as well as the federation. Funny you mention Carbon Creek as that’s been quite popular with fans – I liked it but it was a little out of taste for me same with the Borg episode I liked it a lot but after I just thought Why? Why? Why? I know that trek was created as an episode of the week thing that wasn’t connected but it did get annoying. TNG was the worst with that as there’s 7 seasons of good quality stuff that isn’t connected. At the end of season one I thought at last some connected storyline of a “corrupt” Starfleet but it was over in an episode. Pity. DS9 is apparently the best but I haven’t got the time or energy to get into it I will do eventually. I did watch a few episodes of season 4 of Voyager and the characters were almost caricatures of TNG. My favourite being 7 of 9 (for obvious reasons). Voyager could have been alot better but they chose the safe option and didn’t do a lost sort of story where resources actually ran out and there was conflict. Franchise fatigue is exactly what happened and initially when I started of with the trek I was put off because I had no idea where to start so I watched the 09 version and found some dvds cheap and that’s where it began. trek canon is very difficult and it doesn’t flow. The War that was before Enterprise is never shown and it’s hardly referenced. I am really worried Star Wars (my main obsession) will run into franchise fatigue and I’m not looking forward to the ST. Likewise with Trek I really think it will fall by the wayside unless the next one is something very special. Into Darkness wasn’t good- there was heart but it’s like a typical blockbuster. I think fans just want something NEW. I am going to watch the fan series which are starting soon because I think they will be good- they look nice and it’s buy actual fans not JJ Khanbrams. I think there’s where the future lies. Axanar is the one I am most interested in.

  4. All those were indeed terrible. I have to admit, I almost never look at movie posters so I couldn’t even tell you a single tagline, let alone a terrible one.

  5. LOL at the Signs tagline “It’s Happening”…TOTAL FORESHADOW!!

    • haha I was thinking the same thing.

  6. The Alex Cross one is from the book. I think Interstellar’s is pretty bad.

  7. On another note, Clash of the Titans had one of the best taglines of recent memory: “Damn the gods!” Awesome!

  8. I havent seen Winters bone since it came out but isnt that a line from the film? talking just causes witnesses, i think a character says it.
    Still doesnt really excuse puttin it on the poster.

    You also forgot the greatest and worst movie tagline ever ‘Unwittingly he trained a dolphin to kill the president of the United states’

    • Oh, just you wait for our list of the Best Taglines. ;)

  9. I don’t know how you even began putting this list together. There’s sooooo many bad taglines out there.

  10. They are putting seatbelts in the theaters, so people can’t get up from leaving. HAHAHA!

    I actually saw that film in the theater. Kind of left me hanging at the end. I was glad they made another one.

  11. Oi Andrew,
    Thanks for remembering Kangaroo Jack. It was a popcorn-corny movie but I enjoyed it. Had a good couple of laughs.
    Cheers!

  12. Lol….the worst is “Don’t Ever Cross Alex Cross”

    http://www.sodasandpopcorn.com/

  13. What about the classicly idiotic-

    This is not a game-
    Ender’s Game

  14. Sly movies have always had the greatest taglines…

    “In the shadows of life, In the business of death, One man found a reason to live… “

  15. I’m pretty pleased with my own tagline, for this road movie I’m developing: “Pretending to be an idealist has never been harder”.
    Makes you curious?

  16. How about a great tag line? Ice Age had promotions based on the squirrel that is trying to protect his acorn or something. The line, delivered dramatically with pauses, was more or less:

    “This summer…
    Grab.
    Your.
    Nuts.”

    Pretty sublime.

  17. I have to say, one of the worst taglines I ever saw was for the Danny DeVito directed “Duplex”.

    “Alex and Nancy finally found their dream home, and then they moved in.”

    Um… okay?
    I get what they were trying to do, but wouldn’t it be better as such:
    “Alex and Nancy thought they had finally found their dream home… until they moved in”

Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.


If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it.

Be Social, Follow Us!!