Whether you love them or hate them, product placements have made their mark on cinematic history, whether by making cameos as a hero's beverage of choice, or steering the plot at a pivotal moment. Here's a sampling of the worst instances of product placement in movie history.
1. Most Distracting: 'Little Nicky' (2000)
When Satan's son Nicky (Adam Sandler) travels to earth to save his father's life, he has trouble learning how to fit in with humans. In one scene, a talking bulldog tries to teach Nicky how to eat like a person by using a bucket of Popeye's chicken. The fast-food chain would be hyped throughout the rest of the film, including a pivotal moment when Nicky conjures a giant bucket of chicken to pacify rampaging devils.
2. Most Egregious: 'The Wizard' (1989)
At best, The Wizard is a ripoff of Rain Man (1988) that features a savant at video games instead of card counting. At worst, it's "a thinly disguised commercial for Nintendo video games and the Universal studio tour," which is how Roger Ebert summed up the film when it was first released. Adults and kids play a variety of games throughout the plot, which climaxes at a Nintendo tournament where the film offered gamers a sneak-peak at "Super Mario Bros. 3."
So you could also say that the film was an elaborate trailer for one of the most successful games of all time.
3. Most Honest: 'Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle' (2004)
Maybe critics would've been more forgiving to "The Wizard" if filmmakers had said the movie was a commercial with a plot. After all, the first Harold and Kumar feature could also be seen as an extended product placement, but Roger Ebert and many other reviewers loved it.
Of course, the fact that White Castle is a small chain that didn't pay to be featured in the stoner comedy might have helped win over critics.
4. Most Ironic: 'Zombieland' (2009)
Every character in this zom-com is searching for something to make life seem normal again following the zombie apocalypse. For Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), that something is a Twinkie, which he hopes to find before the last one expires. What's ironic is that the Twinkie Tallahassee finally eats isn't real because Harrelson is a staunch vegan, which means he wouldn't eat the pastry made of eggs and beef fat. So filmmakers had to produce a fake one for Woody, making him perhaps the worst spokesman for the spongy pastry.
5. Most Depressing: 'Taxi Driver' (1976)
Travis Bickle - the anti-hero of Martin Scorsese's masterpiece - is defined by the places he haunts, including the sleazy cinema that captures how isolated and delusional he is. But the marketers of RC Cola probably felt similarly depressed when Bickle orders Coca Cola at the rundown concession stand and gets told, "Royal Crown Cola's all we got."
6. Most Aggravating: 'Pulp Fiction' (1994)
Big chains like McDonald's and Wendy's get mentioned in Quentin Tarantino's breakout hit, but the main product placement is for "Big Kahuna Burger," a fictional restaurant selling American food with a Hawaiian twist. And based on the praise given to the chain by Jules (Samuel L. Jackson), we're dying to know what a Big Kahuna cheeseburger is really like.
7) Bonus Feature: 'Wayne's World' (1992)
Even though it's a parody of product placement, we could've leave Wayne and Garth's shameless shilling off this list.
h/t Rolling Stone