Ten Failed Taglines

Depending on how much you pay attention to movie marketing, you may not have noticed the taglines that appear on movie posters and other related paraphernalia. These hard-working phrases have the thankless job of encapsulating the essence of the movie they are attached to in a single, short, and hopefully pithy stretch of memorable words. They’ve been around for a very long time, pretty much as long as the movies themselves, and there’s probably a fascinating history (or at least brief essay) waiting to be written on the evolution of the tagline.

I am not writing that essay, though. I want to draw attention to a totally different phenomenon. See, while some taglines enter the popular lexicon, becoming nearly as famous as the films that spawned them (i.e. “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water . . .” from Jaws 2), for every tagline that makes the cut, literally dozens fall short of the mark. These poor little marketing catchphrases just don’t have what it takes . . . In fact, they don’t even seem to understand that their purpose is to entice us into the theater, not blow the film for us. As an example of what I mean, I now present the Top Ten Failed Taglines (and one more). Oh, and in case I haven’t made it clear, major spoilers ahead.

#10. Apocalypto

Conquistadors to the Rescue.

#9. Children of Men

It’s a girl!

#8. Magnolia

The first feature film since THE TEN COMMANDMENTS to unleash a plague of frogs!

#7. The Bourne Identity

He was a CIA hitman . . . who developed a conscience.

#6. The Shawshank Redemption

The inspirational story of a wrongfully-imprisoned man who hid his tunnel to freedom behind a gorgeous pin-up.

#5. Fight Club


#4. The Sixth Sense

Meet Malcolm Crowe. He’s dead, but he doesn’t know it yet.

#3. The Empire Strikes Back

“Luke, I am your father.”

#2. Citizen Kane

The dramatic life story of a man who named his sled “Rosebud.”

#1. Psycho

Now that Mother is dead, Norman Bates is . . . PSYCHO.

Bonus — Serenity

“I can’t believe Wash dies.”

~ by Jared on August 23, 2008.

2 Responses to “Ten Failed Taglines”

  1. Cad.


  2. I actually like the tagline of The Bourne Identity


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