From Netflix to IMDB to the TV guide from your cable company, movies and shows need short, concise descriptions. Netflix has them for every show, every item listed in their library. A majority are fine, but there are a few that… don’t quite make sense. It becomes obvious the writer did little to no research on the show,, let alone watched it. I tried to avoid as many spoilers for these movies as I could.
These are just some of the worst descriptions I could find. I’m sure there are plenty more, but here’s a list of the worst 5 I found:
A love-struck lad goes to another realm to recapture a fallen star. He can handle a witch, but a cross-dressing pirate?
For those who have never seen Stardust: It is the tale of Tristan (Charlie Cox), a love-struck, clumsy young man from the town of Wall. In order to get a fallen star for his ‘true love’, Tristan crosses into another realm to retrieve it. He quickly gets more than he bargained for when he discovers there are others chasing the star, including witches and princes. It becomes a race to the finish while Tristan discovers who he really is.
So, What’s Wrong?: Upfront, there doesn’t seem to be much wrong with the Netflix synopsis. The first sentence, absolutely true. It could have ended right there and been a viable description of the movie. The second is where it gets tricky… and weird.
Without going into many spoilers, Tristan can handle a witch, but not the witch they’re referring to in the description. I can’t go into further detail without touching on the ending. Also, while Robert DeNiro’s Shakespeare pirate is a hilarious, intriguing character (and leads to one of the greatest parts of the movie), at no point does Tristan have to handle his “cross-dressing” as part of the danger. Our hero has no qualms in that department. It appears that line was simply put there to make the movie seem odd or funny or a combination of the two.
My Alternative: A love-struck lad travels to another realm to recapture a fallen star and undergoes an adventure he never imagined, full of witches, pirates, and murderous princes.
4. The Patriot
A Southern family man reluctantly returns to the fight when a brutal enemy threatens. There will be muskets.
For those who have never seen The Patriot: Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), a veteran of the French-Indian War, is called upon to vote in Charleston on the matter of the Revolutionary War. He refuses to join, stating that he has a family and is done with fighting. However, after the war deeply affects his children, he takes up arms and joins the fight alongside his eldest son.
So, What’s Wrong?: Let’s take a look at the first sentence. Benjamin did not “return to the fight” when a brutal enemy “threatens.” Benjamin was never in the fight in the first place and they can’t be referring to the French-Indian War, since that was a completely different fight and time. And the brutal enemy, the wonderful Col. Tavington (Jason Issacs), doesn’t threaten; he acts. And it’s that action that pushes Benjamin to join the war.
And…there will be muskets? Really? That’s the best you can do to explain the Revolutionary War and this movie? How about “There will be machetes” as that has so much more to do with the movie and a particularly gruesome scene and tale? Or how about just leave that out all together?
It’s absolutely obvious that the writer knew this was a Revolutionary War movie… and that’s it.
My Alternative: A Southern family man is dragged into the war after a brutal enemy destroys his family. He finds there are causes more worthy than revenge.
3. Jurassic Park
Cloning dinos seemed like a good idea… till the first visitors arrived, the dinos escaped, and the screaming started.
For those who have never seen Jurassic Park: Shame on you. Go watch it now. Immediately. It’s on Netflix. Go. I’m not even going to describe it because I’m appalled you’ve never seen it.
So, What’s Wrong?: That synopsis…. It sounds like those low budget, made for TV movies featuring a shark tornado, mega sharks, and whatever else. I honestly don’t watch them, but you get the gist.
Jurassic Park is one of the greatest movies (in my opinion) and one I watch every few months. There is no way this synopsis does it justice. While it is essentially true to the movie… visitors arrive, dinosaurs escape, and screaming starts, this description in no way makes Jurassic Park sound like the top movie of 1993.
My Alternative: The top film of 1993, a visit to Jurassic Park shows what happens when scientists play God with man-eating dinosaurs. Life finds a way.
2. Pokemon XY Series
Magical friends in a land of adventure, fun and way-cool competitions. Around here, every day is an amazing journey.
For those who have never seen Pokemon XY: Ash and Pikachu continue their trek through the Kalos region, meeting new friends and Pokemon along the way. What else do you need? It’s Pokemon.
So, What’s Wrong?: What. Just. What. Of all the ways I could think to describe Pokemon, this synopsis from Netflix would not be it. Pokemon is a show and game spanning 20 years. Even if the writer hasn’t seen Pokemon XY (I actually have not), a few seconds of research gives you enough information. This synopsis makes it sound like a generic, low budget children’s show, not the phenomenon that Pokemon is. It doesn’t need to be something spectacular; even mentioning Pokemon or Pikachu would be enough.
And please… take out “way-cool”….
My Alternative (literally what I wrote up above): Ash and Pikachu continue their trek through the Kalos region, meeting new friends and Pokemon along the way.
1. Pulp Fiction
Quentin Taratino’s stylized crime caper weaves together stories featuring a burger-loving hit man, his philosophical partner and a washed-up boxer.
For those who haven’t seen Pulp Fiction: Another one. Please, just go watch it. Please.
So, What’s Wrong?: Okay, now, the Pulp Fiction synopsis is what started this whole top 5 article in the first place. I originally had this idea last month when I watched the movie and saw the description. It was actually much worse. This one is an improvement.
It’s obvious, again, the writer has never seen Pulp Fiction. I’m sure there are quite a few writers who have seen the movie and could have given a better synopsis than this. Now, I know that Pulp Fiction has a lot going on; it’s probably hard to write something with only two lines of space. However, that’s no excuse to be lazy or write something that isn’t true.
Let’s start with “burger-loving hit man.” This is supposed to describe Vincent Vega, John Travolta’s character. It’s true. He mentions burgers… as an introduction to the movie and setting up the first scene and relationship with Jules and, later, Jules’s conversation with Brad. He mentions bacon at the end of the movie; should it be “bacon-loving hit man?”
Now, his description of burgers across the pond is a great scene, no doubt, but there are a dozen other ways to describe Vincent. A heroin addict, a man who has never taken a gun safety course, or a race car in the red. But he ain’t your friend.
Onto the next character: “his philosophical partner.” This is referring to Jules, played by Samuel L. Jackson. Now, he is Vincent’s partner for the particular job they’re on and he does become philosophical after a “miracle.” But it’s Samuel L. Jackson; you’re not doing him justice.
And third: A washed-up boxer. That’s Butch (Bruce Willis), who makes a deal with the boss, Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames), to throw a fight. This is close enough to the truth, although, again, I wouldn’t call him a washed-up boxer. That’s not how I would describe him, anyway. He’s just a boxer who will never make it big, because if he was going to, he would have made it already. But obviously (trying to avoid spoilers here), he isn’t as washed-up as people think.
This particular synopsis has no mention of Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) but the one I saw originally did. It actually said “a burger-loving hit man and his girlfriend.” I’m assuming one of the writers eventually caught this and made the correction.
So while this synopsis is an improvement on the one that was originally written, it still doesn’t come close to giving the movie or characters justice. I’m not quite 100% satisfied with my alternative synopsis for Pulp Fiction, but right now it’s as close as it is going to get.
My Alternative: The Quentin Tarantino classic that interweaves the stories of two hit men, their boss’s wife, and a boxer in a tale of crime and redemption.
Those were the worst Netflix descriptions I could find, but do you know of any that are worse? I’m sure I missed quite a few! Or do you have a better suggestion for one of the alternatives above? Leave them in the comments!