I'm not a native English speaker, but I think there was definitely an idiom that describes a book, a movie or a screenplay that has a poor story line, shallow characters, too much heroic pathos etc.

I think it was something like "cranberry sauce"... Or "cranberry jam" maybe. Definitely something with berries (I think).

"Golden Raspberry Awards" mentioned in the comments does ring a bell, thanks. But is there an established idiom to describe it? Something close to "pops", "bubblegum culture", "kitsch"... We do call it "cranberry" where I live in the EU, that's why I'm asking.

  • Are you thinking of the "Raspberry Awards"?
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 30, 2019 at 7:05
  • @Mari-LouA oh... May be. Thanks for the link! But is there an established idiom to describe it? Something close to "pops", "bubblegum culture", "kitsch"... We do call it "cranberry" where I live in the EU, that's why I'm asking.
    – Alex
    May 30, 2019 at 7:13
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    You can edit your question and include the information you told me if you want. The more detail and "research" the better. It might also help if you provided the word in your native language, this is a multinational site, so users may know how best to translate the expression.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 30, 2019 at 7:16
  • Schmaltz, which is the fat derived from poultry, is used to describe films or books of excessive sentimentally. It doesn't completely fit your definition, but it does have the food connection. And the word cranberry comes from crane berry, so there is also a bird connection!
    – Shoe
    May 30, 2019 at 7:29

5 Answers 5


This is a pot boiler, potboiler, or pot-boiler.

From Wiktionary:

Noun pot boiler (plural pot boilers)

(mildly derogatory) A creative work of low quality (book, art, etc), produced merely to earn a living or for profit, as opposed to serious creative expression.

And from Wikipedia:

A potboiler or pot-boiler is a novel, play, opera, film, or other creative work of dubious literary or artistic merit, whose main purpose was to pay for the creator's daily expenses—thus the imagery of "boil the pot", which means "to provide one's livelihood". Authors who create potboiler novels or screenplays are sometimes called hack writers or hacks. Novels deemed to be potboilers may also be called pulp fiction, and potboiler films may be called popcorn movies.



This can be called fluff

Defined by Oxford Dictionaries as:

Entertainment or writing perceived as trivial or superficial.
‘the film is a piece of typical Hollywood fluff’


Perhaps narm? From TVTropes:

Narm is a moment that is supposed to be serious, but due to either over-sappiness, poor execution, excessive melodrama, or the sheer absurdity of the situation, the drama is lost to the point of surpassing "cheesy" and becoming unintentionally funny.

Glurge is somewhat similar, except more specific to over-the-top sentimentality/inspiration. From TVTropes:

Glurge is a catch-all term for any "inspirational" tale which conceals a much darker meaning than the uplifting moral lessons it purports to offer. The word "glurge" was initially coined by a reader of Snopes.com and derives from the sound of someone throwing up.

Its origins are from snopes:

In ordinary language, glurge is the sending of inspirational (and supposedly “true”) tales, ones that often conceal much darker meanings than the uplifting moral lessons they purport to offer or undermine their messages by fabricating and distorting historical fact in the guise of offering a “true story.”

  • 'Glurge' seems extremely rare, and 'narm' rare, according to Google Ngrams. May 30, 2019 at 16:37
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    @EdwinAshworth: Although "narm" is more comparable with "pot boiler" and variants on Google Trends.
    – Zack
    May 30, 2019 at 16:47
  • Thank you: a new (to me) tool to explore. I'll probably wait until a dictionary or two judge a candidate has passed the 'wordness test', though. May 30, 2019 at 16:56

Mushy may fit:

informal, disapproving

Excessively sentimental.

  • ‘a mushy film’


Also Hotchpotch is used to refer to the kind of movies or books you are referring to:

This is a truly dreadful movie, a hotchpotch of historical inaccuracies and romantic fiction.

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    hotchpotch/hodgepodge just means a disorganized or incoherent mixture, which is not exactly what the OP wants. May 30, 2019 at 16:11

Melodrama is a good possibility, suggesting weak plot and characters and a dependence on emotion. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melodrama

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