Examples from Czech dubbed versions of foreign movies:
In Jumanji, the hero said when attacking the carnivorous plant: "It's harvest time, Adele!" Adéla ješte nevečeřela (Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet) is a Czech movie, and the titular Adele is a man-eating plant created by a mad scientist.
In the Czech version of the first Shrek movie, the translators have smuggled in a number of references to popular Czech fairy tales.
And the Czech dubbing of Shrek movies in general have a lot of these.
Polish versions of Shrek are loaded with Woolseyisms, pretty much like all movies translated by Bartosz Wierzbieta.
Butch: Zed zszedł, kochanie. (Zed passed away, baby. - which sounds in Polish almost exactly like the original "Zed's dead" as the two words rhyme.)
Turning the "I'm gonna get medieval on your ass!" line into highly memetic "Zrobię ci z dupy jesień średniowiecza!" (I'm gonna make The Autumn of the Middle Agesnote reference to the title of Johan Huizinga's book out of your ass!).
Various dubs of Robin Hood: Men in Tights change the gag when Robin Hood tells the Sheriff, "unlike other Robin Hoods, I speak with an English accent" because foreign viewers who saw the dubbed 1991 Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves wouldn't get the joke. So, it is changed to another line deriding Costner. For example, the German dub changes the line into something like "because unlike that other Robin Hood, I do not cost the producers 5 million", putting stress on kosten (cost) as a pun on Costner.
The Italian version of Young Frankenstein is full of these. One example; 'Werewolf?' 'There. There wolf, there castle!' Was translated with a mispronunciation of 'ulula' (howls) to sound like the sardinian dialect's 'u l'u là', 'it's there'. So, it became 'Là. Lupu u l'u là, e castellu, u l'u lì.' 'The wolf is there and the castle is here.', the single most famous line from the movie in Italy.
In the German dub of the same movie, Igor helpfully explains his preferred pronunciation of his name as ("Eye-gor") thusly: "Eiger. Von der Nordwand." A reference to the famous North face of the Eiger. Later he makes a bad attempt to cover up that he fetched an abnormal brain, saying that it belonged to "Abby someone." - "Abby who?" - "Abby Normal." In the German version he explains he brought the brain of a cleric, an abbot. So the original owner of the monster's brain supposedly was one Abt Normal.
The Latin American dub of the 2008 Get Smart movie got back the original voice actor for Smart and he ad-libbed many of the jokes, sometimes placing Mexican pop-culture references over the original ones and overall made the film much more true to the original series than the English version was.
An hilarious example in the French dub of Aladdin. At one point, in the famous "Prince Ali" sequence, you see a group of pretty courtesans at a balcony, joined by the genie disguised as a courtesan too. What's the point ? Well, in French "Il y a du monde au balcon" ("it's crowded on the balcony") is an extremely popular, ironic euphemism used to say "wow, these breasts are big" - a holdover from the tradition of "precious language". And in Aladdin, here's this little balcony with plenty of... well-built young ladies. This joke was just so good that the dubbers threw it in without any regard for the original line. Hilarity Ensues.
Most of the best lines in Disney dubs from the 90s are a-libs from the translators anyway (because there's no other way to "translate" humor).
That's just one out of hundreds of examples. The French version of "I just can't wait to be king" sees Zazu's pun on Out of Africa becomes a pro-democratic tirade, and of course to the French version of "Mine, Mine, Mine", which may well be one of the best Disney adaptation ever. Long story short: Disney understood sometime in the 1990's that bad adaptations ruin movies, so they created DCVI, a whole company dedicated to dubs. The French department somehow managed to recruit some of the most creative translators there are, and made them work with great dubbers. The result was crack.
"Prends garde, lion! Ne te trompe pas de voie!"note Means "Be careful, lion! Don't lose your path"; the word for "path" (voie) sounds the same as the word for "vote" (voix). Even funnier when you realize that "Prends garde, lion" sounds like"Prends Gare de Lyon" (the Gare de Lyon is a famous Parisian train station and "voie" is the French for "rails")
"Rebelle et lion font rébellion!"note Wordplay with the French words for "rebel" and "lion" (describing Simba) that when put together form the word for "rebellion" (another pro-democratic pun)
The translation of Beauty and the Beast is also pretty awesome. "The Mob Song" is already amazing in English but the French dub changes most of the lyrics to paint the Beast as a devilish soul-stealing monster and it's pretty damn effective.
Aux frontières/ Du mystère/ Au château de l'impossible/ Vit le diable dans son horrible tanière.
Sometimes the French dubs of Disney movies have included French-specific cultural references. For example, in Hercules's "Il me reste un espoir" ("One Last Hope") Phil sings, "Bien que tu ne sois pas encore prêt pour l'Olympia" ("Although you're not yet ready for Olympia") where in English it was "Though kid, you're not exactly a dream come true." While "Olympia" obviously refers to Mount Olympus, L'Olympia is also the name of a famous concert hall in Paris that helped launch the careers of famous French-language singers such as Jacques Brel. So Phil saying Herc isn't yet ready for Olympia in a French context would be like saying he's not yet ready for Carnegie Hall in English.
The English version of Hercules has the line "Oh, how cute, a couple of rodents looking for a theme park." The German dub has "Oh, wie süß! Zwei Stinktiere auf dem Weg nach Disneyland!" That is, "Oh, how sweet. Two skunks on their way to Disneyland!"
Dutch Disney translations tend to have these too. Most notable is probably the song "the bare necessities" from The Jungle Book. Since that pun doesn't work in Dutch it first got translated as a song about "Baloe de bruine beer" (Baloo the brown bear). Some years later people started noticing Baloo was actually not brown at all, so they retranslated it as "als je van beren leren kan" (if you can learn from bears). The text is still completely different from the original, but it works just as well. They've been doing it right ever since.
The German dub of The Lion King has another example. In the original English version, when Rafiki starts following Simba, Simba simply calls him a "creepy little monkey." In the German dub, his line is Was soll denn das Affentheater? Idiomatically this translates as "What's with the crazy antics?", but Affentheater, which means "farce" or "craziness," literally translates as "monkey theater." In essence, not only is he saying Rafiki's crazy, but it's a clever pun on his species. (A similar English pun could've been, "Will you quit with the monkey business?")
Sometimes, Woolseyisms can move a rather poor movie into So Bad, It's Good territory. Case in point: the French dub of Braddock: Missing In Action 3, featuring Chuck Norris as the titular character. One memorable line :
Littlejohn: Braddock! I'm warning you, don't step on any toes.
Col. James Braddock: I don't step on toes, Littlejohn, I step on necks.
A lot of German film dubs from before the mid-nineties took liberties in translation. Blatant example in the first Terminator film. Arnold rudely interrupts a caller at a public phone booth to look up Sarah Connor's address in the book. Said caller mentions Arnold to have "a serious attitude problem". Very witty indeed. Compare the German version:
Why don't you look up "asshole" in the phone book? I bet you'll find your number listed!
The French version of Dirty Dancing has quite a few, which have become so cult that most viewers miss them when they watch the original version. For example, the very flat line "I'm sorry you had to see that, Baby... Sometimes in this world you see things you don't wanna see." became "Parfois, on assiste à des scènes terribles. Malheureusement le monde est une jungle, l’homme est un loup pour l’homme et surtout pour la femme..." ("Sometimes, we see horrible things. Unfortunately, the world is a jungle; man is a wolf to man, and especially to woman.") Some of the lines just have an irresistible Narm Charm that goes perfectly with the story.
The French version of Back to the Future even created a new expression. "Great Scott!" was changed to "Nom de Zeus!", a pun on "Nom de Dieu!" (literally "God's name", but it's more of a "Goddamnit"). I still don't know how or why this was changed, but I know I still watch the movies in French because of this expression.
The French dub is actually full of Woolseyisms. For example, the Calvin Klein joke is changed to refer to French fashion designer Pierre Cardin, and the DeLorean needs 2.21 gigowatts of power (because 2.21 is more easily heard in French.) The "Hey, McFly!" scene changes the insult from "Irish bug" to "espece de crème anglaise" (a pun on the food creme anglaise and "English piece of shit") and an attempt by Biff to say McFly in a British accent.
Actually, on this very scene, Biff calls George "Mc Flan". Flan is a kind of custard ; "crème anglaise" is too.
The Italian and Spanish versions turned Calvin Klein into Levi Strauss (as in the jeans).
From Wikipedia: In the German dub of the 2005 movie version of Bewitched, the line "The Do-not-disturb sign will hang on the door tonight." became "The only hanging thing tonight will be the Do-not-disturb sign."
In the Swedish version, where these characters were not voiced by the same actor, Mack instead rants about how P. T. Flea (the last Ratzenberger character shown) is leeching off of the hard-working circus bug(gies), even squeezing in a flea-related pun.
Attempted in the Hungarian dub. Mater, whose voice actor has been part of a popular comedic sketch at the time, uses the famous Catchphrase of his character from that sketch. This was met with mixed reception, only because that phrase included the F-word in an abbreviated form.
The French dub of A Christmas Story is widely considered by bilingual viewers to be far superior to the original thanks in large parts to the lively and emotional delivery of the narrator who has more lines than anyone else in the movie. Kudos to the snappy, catchy french version of the arc words "Tu vas te crever un oeil!" ("You'll put your eye out!")
In Hero there are four scenes where the soldiers yell in unison: before the emperor appears, before the attack on the city Flying Snow and Broken Sword are staying in, when Nameless is executed, and when Nameless is given a hero's burial. In the original Chinese the soldiers are simply yelling "Ha! Ha!", but the English subtitles transcribe it as "Hail! Hail!", creating a pun not found in the original work.
Appears in all but the very earliest movies with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill. The German dubs give them witty and funny dialogues, often completely changing the original meaning or outright changing the theme of the movie from a grim spaghetti western to a lighthearted buddy romp. The high quality of the dubs (not in accurateness, but in sheer outlandish mannerism) are responsible for the fact that these movies are still extremely popular in Germany.
French film La Haine has a character nicknamed 'Astérix', famous to the French but likely to be lost on English and American viewers at the time of release. At least one release instead called him Snoopy in the subtitles. Another character later snarks that they have Obelix with them; he was localised as Charlie Brown.
In the Japanese dub of 300, the famous "This! Is! Sparta!" line was translated as これはスパルタの流儀だ！note Kore wa Sparta no Ryuugi da!(Roughly translated as This Is The Spartan WAY!), possibly due of lip-synch issues between the original English line and the literal translation of the phrase, without the Ryuugi (Way/Style) part.
On the other hand, in the Japanese official subs (at least the ones used in the trailers), the aforementioned line is translated as スパルタをなめるな！note Sparta wo nameruna! (Don't mess with the SPARTANS!)
In the Japanese dub of The Lion King II, the song "One of Us" is rendered as あいつはよそものnote Aitsu wa Yosomono(roughly translated as "You are a Stranger", which is made harsher by the fact that "Aitsu" is also the equivalent of calling someone "That person/thing" to their face.
The same song in the Polish dub has a line that tranlates roughly as "he never was one of us, in his heart he has (a) S/scar" (in the polish dub of Lion King, Scar's name (Skaza) means "defect" or "flaw", which introduces the nice double meaning); frankly, makes much more sense than just rhyming 'us' with 'us' like in the original, especially since even this troper managed to come up with the above transation that still somewhat rhymes.
The novel and film Twilight was released in Germany as Bis(s) zum Morgengrauen, a forced awful pun that can be translated as "Bite at Dawn" or "Till Dawn", depending on whether you read the (s) or not. In the same vein, New Moon became Bis(s) zur Mittagsstunde ("Bite at Noon"/"Till Noon") and Eclipse was Bis(s) zum Abendrot ("Bite at Sunset"/"Till Sunset"). This narmtastic style of naming finally paid off when Seltzer and Friedberg's Vampires Suck (itself a pun that can not be recreated in German) could be released as Biss zum Abendbrot ("A Bite for Supper").
The Norwegian dub of the Pixar/Disney movie Brave avoided the language pun in the movie completely, as all the characters originally use a scottish accent. In Norway, all the characters sound and speak like they come from the Oslo upper class, with some possible exeptions. That would be like having a scottish setting where every actor used posh English.
The French dub for Shrek replaced Mongo for the giant gingerbread man with Cake Kong, arguably a funnier name.
John Wayne's film about the 1950s Red Scare, Big Jim Mclain, was determined to not make any sense in Italy, where it was therefore dubbed into a movie about marijuana.
Since The Andy Griffith Show was not well known in Germany, Private Pyle's nickname was changed to Private Paula, "Paula" not only sounding similar but being a woman's name.
Private Brown is called "Private Snowball" in the English original. In the German dub, his nickname is "Private Schneewittchen," or "Private Snow White."
When Joker utters his famous "Are you John Wayne?" line, and nobody confesses, GySgt. Hartman quips that "the Fairy fucking Godmother said it!" His line in the German dub:
"Is' wohl der verdammte Weihnachstmann gewesen!"("Guess it must've been the goddamn Santa Claus!")
In the Hungarian dub of the second Astérix live-action movie, Astérix & Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre, the entire script was written in verse, with incredibly witty rhymes and wordplays, and is seen as one of the most memorable examples of Woolseyism in any Hungarian movie dub. The translation was handled by Dávid Speier, who is quite famous for freely reinterpreting the dialog in movies to insert jokes, puns or references, or to simply replace untranslatable gags. For this reason, he's often hired to translate comedic animated movies. On the other hand, he has also been criticized for going too far, making the dialog sound forced and unnatural in places. Do note, however, that this does not apply to all of his work, as many are simple, straight translations.
The scenes with Raymond Burr which were added specifically for the North American release, although completely unnecessarynote At least in terms of the plot. The idea was to insert a famous American actor and market him as the star, thus boosting sales and making it financially worth an American release in the first place, are still remembered fondly thanks to a combination of Nostalgia Filter and the fact that they honestly did add a certain charm to the film. Similarly, the scene where the Russians were changed from trying to prevent a nuclear launch to deliberately trying to launch before they died are still beloved purely thanks to the Narm factor.
Anytime Mecha-Godzilla was referred to as Kiryu (Except for Godzilla Vs Mecha Godzilla, hilariously enough) in the original Japanese was simply replaced with "Mecha-Godzilla" in the dub. And it works simply because "Mecha-Godzilla" just sounds worlds cooler and more threatening than "Kiryu" to an English speaking audience.
The Big Creepy-Crawlies in Son of Godzilla, Kamacuras (derived from the Japanese word for mantis, kamakiri) and Kumonga (from kumo, the Japanese word for spider), became Gimantis and Spiega in the original English dub. Spiga carried on into Destroy All Monsters.
In the Japanese dub of Revenge of the Sith, an already dramatic scene in the original version becomes even more heart-wrenchingwhen Anakin becomes Darth Vader: Rather than just screaming NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! at that scene, Vader uses a generic scream in a more loudier, painful and more dramatic way.
In the Hungaruan dub of The LEGO Movie, Superman is voiced by rapper-celebrity "Fluor Tomi", whose perhaps most (in)famous song, Mizu ("Wazzup") contained the lyrics "lets come together like two little legos". Superman's first line in the dub is "Mizu?"
The German dub of The Hunchback of Notre Dame has a couple of these, the funniest probably being the scene on the cathedral roof. The English version has this exchange:
Esmeralda: And maybe Frollo's wrong about both of us.
Hugo: What'd she say?
Laverne: Frollo's nose is long and he wears a truss.
Hugo: (to Victor) Ha! I knew it. Pay up, chump.
The German version, however:
Esmeralda: Und Frollo tu uns beiden Unrecht.note And Frollo does wrong to both of us.
Hugo: Was hat sie gesagt? note What'd she say?
Laverne: Frollo ist bleich und trägt 'n Corsette! note Frollo is pale and wears a corset.
Hugo: (to Victor) Hah! Wusst ich's doch! Kohle her! Geizhals.note Ha! I knew it already. Give it here, miser.
Wreck-It Ralph: In the English version, Felix says "I'm hopless, this is hopeless!" when drowning in chocolate with Calhoun. However, in the Swedish dub, "jump" and "hope" is the same word, "hopp" in any definition. So they would be the same word; "Jag är hopplös, det här är hopplöst", which is the exact translation of the English line, but more fitting and with more alike words.
There's another clever one in the same dub. When Ralph later meets King Candy, he says that he will lock him in his "fungeon". In Swedish, dungeon is "fängelsehåla", and "kola" is a type of candy, so he says "fängelsekola" instead.