Trailers are one the main things we all use to make a decision for whether to watch a film or not. Some of us even look forward to watching the latest trailers for films when we drag our asses to the cinema. But what about those times when you went to watch a film after seeing a trailer and the film was nothing like the expectations the trailer gave you?
What follows are not necessarily bad films, but films with trailers that mis-marketed them.
I don’t think there’s ever been a film that’s generated so much hype from one solitary image on a poster as much as Reign of Fire . The first glance was always the best one. The promise of dragons, living and breathing in today’s world. Engaged in battle with Apache gunships amongst a dark red sky. Primal monsters versus humanity and their means. How we’d love to see these fights onscreen! A trailer then arrived, and fanatics got a little bit more excited in seeing a dragon attack a local village. Wait? Village? Yeah alarm bells rung with me there, and not the rest of Joe Public.
Along came the film. A movie that promised it would have offered you a taste of the grail, yet what it gave you was a mouthful of sand from a plastic cup. Those big action scenes that you envisioned from that bold, single image happened during the opening credits, only seen as flashes of burning newspaper articles amongst silhouettes of devastated buildings.
And then what did we get? The struggles of humanity, reverting to our lead characters shacked up in a castle for refuge and safety against the creatures. A world charred, technology cruelly taken away by something we only get to see about seven minutes onscreen. The attempt at character development was awful. A pre-Batman bearded Christian Bale insanely ran around, barking orders at females wanting them to fight thin air with courage. Matthew McConaughey would arrive at this small village, via a tank straight from the U.S itself. It was hard to stay invested in what became nothing more than a confusion piece, or a quick conversation in a pub noted on a napkin, that in turn was then sneezed on. There was no clear outcome or climax. Reign of Fire became more of a missed opportunity, and a true example of hype at its best.
What do Adam Sandler, Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill and Judd Apatow have in common? If you guessed comedy, I would believe you. Everything pointed to Funny People being a comedy – going from cast, director, even the trailer. But funnily enough (sorry about that), it’s not that comedic.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked the film, and it had its funny moments, but it wasn’t a comedy. If you look at the trailer, you’ll see almost every gag in the film in an effort to make you think it’s a comedy. Meanwhile, the actual drama between George, Ira and Laura is far too overpowering for the odd actual bits of humour. Perhaps it was an inherent problem with the concept – a couple of comedians playing comedians doing drama? Maybe it wasn’t the best setup. But on the other hand, at least it wouldn’t be trying to disguise what it was.
Personally, I think the marketers and people who edited the trailer should have had more faith in the public to see past the problem of comedians playing comedians doing drama. The film posters even had the typical comedy red text on white background – just like every other Apatow film (and many other comedy films, and is usually an indicator of the film being a comedy). But just in case you think the Funny People had enough humour to be funny – remember it is a five act film. Five Acts. Can you think of any comedy that has had five acts? I can’t. Most comedy films stick to three acts. It’s usually dramas that go with the five act structure.
Like I said before, it’s not that I didn’t like the film – it just winds me up that because of its mis-marketing, that the people who would really appreciate it – the drama lovers probably watched the trailers and thought it was a comedy. Meanwhile the comedy lovers probably watched it and fell asleep because it wasn’t funny enough, especially for a lengthy drama. The unrated version was 153 minutes – or 2 hours and 33 minutes. 40 Year Old Virgin was 133 minutes, same as Knocked Up and This Is 40 .
I can imagine the briefing call now… “Hello, we’ve got this film ‘ere with Bruse Willis in it and that chap from Inception … uh-huh… yeah, what we want for Looper is something to draw in the 90s-action-film-loving-crowd… yeah, lots of Willis, lots of guns, lots of fists.” A call that lead to a very action orientated trailer that really skewed your expectations with the film. Certainly, if you went to see Looper expecting action, action and action, you were probably quite disappointed. In fact you were probably tempted to start streaming Die Hard 2 illgeally to your phone right there and then in the cinema.
But I wasn’t one of those people who was seriously disappointed when it came to compare the film to the trailer I had originally seen. Looper had another genre going for it: science fiction. And while its take on time travel was filled with its own dazzling array of paradoxes, I was happy that the film had pacing. It wasn’t just one gun fight after another – no it was dialogue, characters moping about, missing body parts, gunfights and so on. The ratio of dead bodies to words said on screen was absolutely fine.
Still, I do remember there being fellow audience members staring at the big screen with me, (when I had a little quick nosy around to look at them (you have to be discrete about doing this)) who had disappointed looks upon their faces. Why many think that each film that has Bruce Willis in has to has to have lots of action scenes in it, I do n- wait, we know now, because the trailer was definitely out of whack with the overall set-up of the film. It’s also an example of why sometimes you shouldn’t market films around the expectations audiences have of certain actors and actresses.
Which films stick out for you for being mis-marketed by trailers? Let us know in the comments below.