Movie titles can be a tricky thing. Sometimes they’re so on-the-nose they’re funny (‘Snakes on a Plane’) and other times they’re so ambiguous they leave us scratching our heads after we leave the theater. (We’re still not sure what an ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ is.)

But perhaps the trickiest genre of movie titles are the ones that promise a delicious experience and fail to deliver. Yes, we’re talking about movies that sound like they should be about food, but are about different subjects entirely.

Many filmmakers have used the sensory hook of a food-specific title to draw us into their tales of up-and-coming dancers, race relations and a horrifically scarred Tom Cruise. They left us feeling hungry, and vaguely dissatisfied. Take a look at a few movies that aren’t nearly as tasty as they sound.


Milk may do a body good, but in this instance it did wonders for Sean Penn. This film has zero to do with the dairy industry. Instead, it’s the fact-based story of Harvey Milk, a pioneering gay activist in 1970s San Francisco. Penn collected his second Best Actor Oscar for his role as Milk and made famous the line, “My name is Harvey Milk and I’m here to recruit you!” Not quite as catchy as “Got Milk?,” if you ask us.


This 2003 movie should’ve been tasty because men were probably drooling at the thought of Jessica Alba shaking her booty as an aspiring choreographer. Apparently, moviegoers didn’t have an appetite for Alba shimmying around on the big-screen, though, because the film limped to a dismal showing, grossing a paltry $30 million.

‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?’

This 1993 movie was more like what isn’t eating Gilbert Grape. Depp plays the title character, who’s saddled with looking after his developmentally disabled brother and obese mother. Perhaps the real food element here is the eye candy — there’s Depp, of course, but the film also boasts a still baby-faced Leonardo DiCaprio, who notched a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination for his role.

‘Vanilla Sky’

Tom Cruise. Cameron Diaz. Penelope Cruz. This offering turned out be messier than a tray table used by a toddler eating spaghetti. This utterly strange drama about a car accident, lost love and a disfigured Cruise was tough for many audiences to swallow and still has us scratching our heads more than a decade after its release.

‘Children of the Corn’

Fun times in the Midwest! During a road trip, young couple Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton veer off into a bizarre Nebraska town where everyone over the age of 18 must be killed. Based on a Stephen King story, this flick spawned more sequels than trips back to the carving station at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

‘Hot Dog…the Movie’

Not to be confused with fellow silly ‘80s comedy ‘Hamburger: The Motion Picture,’ this flick, which went on to enjoy a stellar second life during late night weekend airings on USA, is all about…skiing? Yup! A young skier with eyes on the big championship race must overcome his egotistical nemesis. Cue the montage with cheesy music! Now, if only someone could come out with the mouth-watering feature ‘French Fry: The Film,’ we’d really be in business.

‘The Hunger Games’

Based on the title, you would think that Suzanne Collins’ much-buzzed-about novel (and the new film adaptation) were about a fight to the death for a tasty Hungry Man dinner. (Though many spoofsters have made the food connection.) Instead, the story addresses themes of war, class structure and our obsession with reality television set against a dystopian society. Still, it’s only a matter of time before Swanson releases a ‘Hungry Games’ dinner for hungry fighting teens.

‘Naked Lunch’

David Cronenberg’s adaptation of the trippy William S. Burroughs’ novel has absolutely nothing to do with lunch (or nudity) and everything to do with the dude who played Robocop hanging out with weird bug people. Rarely has a movie title promised so much and delivered something so completely different.

‘The Chocolate War’

While the characters in this 1988 drama do sell chocolates, it’s more about the social hierarchy of a Catholic boys’ school than sweet treats. With a name like that, we were expecting a delicious battle between The Land of Chocolate and the Marshmallow Kingdom.

‘Spinning Into Butter’

Let’s say you stumble across this one on cable one night. Based on the title, you wouldn’t be remiss in assuming it was a foodie movie like ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ or a documentary about the process of churning rich, mouth-watering butter. But what you’d actually get is a dreary movie about race relations on a college campus starring Sarah Jessica Parker with “serious actor” brunette hair. And the title? A heavy-handed metaphor for how fast an argument between two sides can spin out of control. Sadly, there is no actual butter to be found here. Mmmm….butter.

– Written by Drew Weisholtz and Nick Nadel

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