1. Straight in the balls – Dodgeball
Ben Stiller's fitness fanatic character from Dodgeball, White Goodman. Photo: DPA.
Germans certainly got straight to the point with this film. The German title, Voll auf die Nüsse, literally means “straight in the balls”. Apologies to anyone who doesn't want the plot of Dodgeball ruined for them. This 2004 film, starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn, essentially revolves around people being hit in the Nüsse by dodgeballs.
“Straight in the balls” has a less heroic ring to it than the official title, “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”. The film charts Peter LaFleur's (Vaughn) struggles to raise the money to save his Average Joe's gym by competing in unusually high-paying dodgeball tournaments, and taking a few balls to the nuts in the process.
2. I believe a horse kicked me – Animal House
The aftermath of a horse kick (not from National Lampoon). Photo: DPA.
Perhaps the strangest interpretation on the list as no horse kicking actually takes place in “National Lampoon's Animal House” and its depiction of American fraternity life. The film does however feature several horse-related incidents.
Animal House's German title, Ich glaub', mich tritt ein Pferd, literally means “I believe a horse kicked me”, but it's also a phrase expressing astonishment that can be translated as something like “well, blow me down”.
The idea of a horse kicking someone is obviously just comedy gold in Germany. The John Landis-directed gross-out comedy, featuring John Belushi and an emerging Kevin Bacon, received mixed reviews when it was released in 1978, but has now turned into one of the biggest cult comedies of all time.
3. Die slowly – Die Hard
There's no rush Bruce. Photo: DPA.
The German translation, Stirb langsam, of the 1980s thriller that made Bruce Willis a household name doesn't really reflect its fast-paced content. But the death was so slow that 20th Century Fox decided to drag it out over a 25-year, five-part franchise.
The first film in this franchise featured beloved British actor Alan Rickman as maniacal German villain Hans Gruber, who definitely didn't die slowly after falling to his death from a skyscraper.
4. The unbelievable journey in a crazy plane – Airplane!
Apparently the German translators of “Airplane!” decided that brevity is not in fact the essence of wit when choosing the title, Die unglaubliche Reise in einem verrückten Flugzeug.
“The unbelievable journey in a crazy plane” isn't the latest TV show your toddler is addicted to, but a very literal German interpretation of this 1980 American disaster comedy's narrative. In Germany, who needs suspense?
5. Twilight: Bite till dawn – Twilight
The Twilight films, based on Stephenie Meyer's book series, were a phenomenon that catapulted Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart to stardom as neurotic, vampire-human couple Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. The first film in the franchise that made vampires “cool” again came out in 2009 in Germany with the additional title Biss zum Morgengrauen or “Bite till Dawn”.
The German translators thought they were quite punny with this one. Biss means to “bite” while the similarly spelled bis means “until” so it could be read as “bite till dawn” or “until the dawn”. Maybe they'd just finished watching “From Dusk Till Dawn”. Either way, there must have been a big high five in the room when they thought it up.
6. The great crawling – A Bug’s Life
Das große Krabbeln, or “The great crawling”, sounds more like it should be a low-budget horror film than an children's animation where an ant and other bugs struggle to fight off oppressive grasshoppers. But that's the decision German translators made when handling the 1998 Pixar gem “A Bug's Life”.
“The great crawling” in English does feature plenty of creepy crawlies though, including a thickly-accented German caterpillar called Heimlich whose subtle nuances are lost in the German version of the film.
7. The ice princes – Blades of Glory
Die Eisprinzen, or “The ice princes”, isn't a long lost Hans Christian Andersen story being prepped by Disney as the sequel to “Frozen”. It's how Germans know “Blades of Glory”, the 2007 ice-skating comedy, starring Will Ferrell and Napoleon Dynamite star Jon Heder.
8. Dating Queen – Trainwreck
Amy Schumer plays Amy in the film. Photo: DPA.
For this 2015 comedy starring Amy Schumer, Germans decided to stick with an English title and simply called it “Dating Queen”. Apparently the phrase was a more readily identifiable character trait for Germans than the concept of being a ''Trainwreck”.
There's definitely something about national stereotypes in there somewhere.
9. Revenge is sexy – John Tucker Must Die
Germans were obsessed with sex in the mid-noughties.
Back in those days, Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit liked to refer to the capital city as arm aber sexy (poor but sexy) and when “John Tucker Must Die” came out in 2006 revenge was also, apparently, sexy.
Rache ist sexy, or “Revenge is sexy”, is another case of Germans getting straight to the point. They don't care about protagonists' names being included in film titles. They've only come to the cinema to see some sexy revenge.
10. A twin rarely comes alone – The Parent Trap
Film-goers might wonder how German translators got from “The Parent Trap” to Ein Zwilling kommt selten allein (A twin rarely comes alone), despite the film obviously featuring a pair of twins, though they initially don't know about one another.
The 1998 film – which was then 12-year-old Lindsay Lohan's debut – is actually a remake of a 1961 film of the same name. Both these films are adaptations of Erich Kästner's 1949 German novel Das doppelte Lottchen (The double Lotties).
By Charley-Kai John
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