Why French have translated the film “The Hangover” as “Very Bad Trip” and not “La gueule de bois”? Since it should be its usual tradition. Why is that so?

Is it more common to use the specific term “trip” in French when speaking of an “intense” experience with drugs or alcohol?

  • Notice the Québecois translation: “Lendemain de veille”. Commented May 23, 2013 at 11:36
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    Et effectivement, je ne crois pas que la langue française possède un terme spécifique pour décrire l'état de fatigue et de tension nerveuse ressenti le lendemain d'une nuit blanche sobre, l'expression gueule de bois faisant clairement référence aux suites de l'abus d'alcool, ce qui n'est pas du tout la même chose. Avis aux inspirés... Commented May 23, 2013 at 12:33
  • @StéphaneGimenez, je connaissais le lendemain de la veille mais pas sans l'article défini. Commented May 23, 2013 at 13:36
  • ...sans aucun rapport, d'ailleurs, avec l'autre expression « c'est pas demain la veille! » Commented May 25, 2013 at 10:04
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    See the more general question : french.stackexchange.com/questions/23017/… Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 17:24

3 Answers 3


I don't think the case you describe is a translation to begin with.

When translating a work of art for a different speaking country than the author's, yes, we would have an attempt of translation, good or bad.

Here, in the case of a commercial product, the choice of the foreign version's title has almost nothing to do with the purpose of being faithful to the original title, author's expressed ideas, feelings or story. We have a company trying to communicate for the same product on another public. Would they have foreseen (insightfully or mistakingly, that's not important here) that the French public had more chance to come and see this movie with the title Mon oncle Philémon et ses dix-sept lapins nucléaires, they would have happily gone with it. I just don't know where to begin for examples, there are too many. We could almost assume laziness on the faithful or literal translaters' part.

So, to conclude this almost-non-answering answer, if your question is “Is gueule de bois the best translation for the English expression very bad trip?”, I would answer no. If you're discussing whether this movie's marketers' choice was good or bad, the question is clearly out of bounds here... Your asking Why is that so? questions in fact the marketers' strategy, not the French language's rules, if I may.


In French, the phrase bad trip is used to describe a bad experience as a consequence of the consumption of drugs or alcohol. Gueule de bois doesn't imply any negative connotation over what happened the night before, and only relates to alcohol, not drugs in general.

According to the French article in Wikipedia, the title was inspired by another movie with a similar scenario, Very Bad Things

  • Yes. The meaning of "hang over" is generally unknown to the french public. Plus "very bad things" was quite a success in the french box office. So this was a (not so subtle) way to suggest the public it was the same type of film.
    – XouDo
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 9:01

While I was on it, I looked more generally:

In France, using English expressions is so "hype".

In Quebec, French is serious business so they always translate the title, even if it doesn't mean anything.

So, for your concern, in French (from France), we can use the English term "bad trip" for a experience with drugs going wrong. And if this film was a "road-movie", this title would have the two meanings.
(How did the Quebecois translate the term "bad trip"?)

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    The titles "translated" in English are also much simpler. Both "The Hangover" and "Phone Booth" (one of the linked examples) are quite hard to understand for someone who doesn’t speak English; however "Very Bad Trip" or "Phone Game" can be understood by almost everyone.
    – Valram
    Commented May 23, 2013 at 12:40
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    @Valram: Indeed “very bad trip” and, I guess, all other translations of movie titles pass the Up-Goer-5 test Commented May 23, 2013 at 13:52

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