Preview Fun

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Last week, while trying to judge a movie by its coming attraction, I repeated the truism that every trailer looks like every other trailer. Brett Meisner Robert Ryang demonstrates the principle with a trailer showing a grim Stanley Kubrick joint is really a comedy and a drama…just like life. As meta-trailers go, it's probably not as funny as the spot for Comedian, but it's a great study in the idea that you can say anything with editing.

Brett Meisner interviewed. Hitler dances a jig.

* The video is actually by one Robert Ryang, not Meisner.

NEXT: Connected Fish in a Mediocre Pond

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  1. I can’t open the page, but I suspect it’s that “Shining” spoof I’ve seen at ebaulmsworld.com

    It’s fucking brilliant.

    Nothing comes close in demonstrating how fucking stupid trailers are. The only ones that are worth anything, in my opinion, are “teasers”. Trailers that feel compelled to lay out the entire fucking plot along with any surprises are one of my biggest, if not biggest, cinematic pet-peeves.

  2. My favorite trailer story:
    The awful Avengers movie had just come out, and the 30 second TV spot featured Uma’s magnificent catsuited ass.
    I go to see the movie, then go back to the TV station I work at and call up the commercial. I count 26 shots in the 30 seconds, not counting the end graphics.
    15 of them were not in the movie.
    Can you imagine walking into a Subway or Quiznos and ordering a sandwich featured on a commercial only to learn that half the ingredients promoted are not included?

  3. Now, don’t get me wrong — I’ve loved Meisner’s site for a long time. (If you’ve never visited, it’s definitely worth stopping work for the rest of this afternoon to scope the place out.) But this trailer isn’t his creation. He’s just hosting a copy of it.

    I’m pretty sure this spoof was actually the winning entry in some contest to rework famous movie trailers. It’s been floating around the Web for a while now. What’s next, a link to those hot new dancing hamsters?

    (No offense — just engaging in my official Friday Fun.)

  4. Dude. There are dancing hamsters? That would be hilarious …

  5. Jeanine Garafaolo also once said all movie trailers look alike, and summed them all up this way.

    “You hear someone with a deep voice say, ‘In a world …’ — and then Tommy Lee Jones does something.”

  6. I don’t care if it’s old hat, it’s freakin’ brilliant. Way funnier than the Comedian parody.

  7. The spot for Comedian was superb.

  8. Quick clarification: I see that the supplied link actually goes to Meisner’s “Hollywood Hitmakers” spinoff site. When I wrote above that it’s worth checking out Meisner’s site, I was referring to his RockAndRollBadBoy.com, which is comedic brilliance. But I just discovered that the site is temporarily down as it undergoes some kind of makeover. Sorry ’bout that.

  9. hot new dancing hamsters

    For the love of God, don’t give anyone any ideas about dredging that POS up again!

  10. The movie “Drop Dead Gorgeous” is one of my favorites–it’s basically a misanthropic, Spinal Tap-ish look at a small-town beauty pageant, and extremely funny in a look-at-these-losers sort of way. (If the guys at The Onion wrote a movie, it could well be this one.) But the trailer (which is on the DVD) gives the impression that the movie is a serious drama. What marketing bonehead came up with THAT? I wouldn’t be surprised if that didn’t have something to do with the movie performing so poorly at the box office.

  11. Trailers that feel compelled to lay out the entire fucking plot along with any surprises are one of my biggest, if not biggest, cinematic pet-peeves.

    Don’t watch the trailer for 2001: A Space Odyssey. I swear, it’s gotta be five minutes long.

  12. I find movie trailers and TV spots to be instrumental in my movie-going practices. With about 6 exceptions each year, if I see an ad for a movie on TV, I don’t go see it.

  13. Jeff P asks, “Can you imagine walking into a Subway or Quiznos and ordering a sandwich featured on a commercial only to learn that half the ingredients promoted are not included?”

    I’d actually be amazed if I walked into a Subway and received a sandwich with ingredients that looked as fresh, juicy, savory and colorful as those featured in promotions, whether TV spots or even the signage in the store itself. I’m not trying to justify the bait and switch of the movie trailer you describe, but it doesn’t seem to be an exception to normally scrupulously fathful advertising promotions as you suggest.

  14. I bet if they made Atlas Shrugged into a movie, the trailer would go something like this.
    ————————
    MUSIC: O Fortuna

    VOICEOVER: “In a world …”

    TOMMY LEE JONES: “Rearden Metal! It’s my metal, dammit, and it could save the world!”

    VOICEOVER: “… where creating value has become outlawed …”

    KEIRA KNIGHTLY: “Who is John Galt?”

    VOICEOVER: “… those who create value have become outlaws …”

    JUDE LAW (shouting): “A is A, and there’s nothing you can do to change that! A is A!”

    (Music gets louder. Quickly paced shots of burning foundries, the armed yacht of Ragnar Danneskjald firing on a freight ship in a night-time raid in stormy, rain-lashed seas, Jude Law carrying an unconscious Keira Knightly out of the smoking wreckage of her private plane …

    (continue for three hours…)

    (music crescendoes)

    JUDE LAW: “Just get out of my way! Get the hell out of my way!

    (Sound of a slamming door. Blackness.)

    (Then two rows of bluish metal columns slowly rotate and reveal themselves to be letters, which spell out…)

    …………….ATLAS
    ……………SHRUGGED

    (fade to black, then fade-in a reversed-out white title …)

    DECEMBER 2005

    (fade to black)

  15. The movie “Drop Dead Gorgeous” is one of my favorites–it’s basically a misanthropic, Spinal Tap-ish look at a small-town beauty pageant, and extremely funny in a look-at-these-losers sort of way.

    That was filmed (at least partly) in the town my dad grew up in (and a lot of family is still there), and my uncle says they used a tractor of his in the film. He said they had a big local screening, and it apparently didn’t go over too well. I’d probably get around to seeing it someday, but dangit, Kirstie Alley is in it. It’s hard to make myself hand over money for a movie with her in it.

  16. Stevo:

    Brilliant. Atlas Shrugged is being made into a movie, btw.

  17. Dead Elvis–

    Yes, Kirstie Alley is in it, but her character is a complete and total bitch.

  18. Dead Elvis,

    Star Trek II?

  19. Drop Dead Gorgeous isn’t worth the snotrag that polished the tiara of Smile.

  20. The awful Avengers movie

    Boy, you aren’t kidding. I love that genre, even when it’s bad. But I tried 4 times to watch The Avengers and could NOT get past the first 10 minutes.

  21. Whoa. Also, didn’t I read (maybe in Barbara Branden) that it was in Rand’s will that Atlas Shrugged could never be made into a movie?!! After her disappointment with The Fountainhead? Anyone else recall that detail or did I invent it?

    Also, Stevo…not so sure about Keira Knightley.

  22. Mr. Ritchie’s Corpse:

    Recommendations

    If you like this title, we also recommend…

    Miss Nude America (1976)

    From the imdb link you provided. Maybe I would like Smile

  23. Funny you mention Kubrick…my all-time favorite example of a misleading trailer is the one for Full Metal Jacket, which uses the handful of funny one-liners from the flick to make it look like Dr. Strangelove Goes To Vietnam

  24. But the trailer (which is on the DVD) gives the impression that the movie is a serious drama. What marketing bonehead came up with THAT? I wouldn’t be surprised if that didn’t have something to do with the movie performing so poorly at the box office.

    That happens occasionally. Far and Away is the first example of a mismarketed movie (historical romantic comedy sold as widescreen epic) that comes to my mind.

    But I love genuinely good trailers. They’re an art form in and of themselves. Even mediocre movies can be cut into (and apparently, puffed up into) trailer that can make you imagine a far better movie. (The very first trailer for Dreamcatcher, as an example.)

  25. Heh, Jeff P. That’s happened to me a few times. I use to review movies for a student tv show. The producer hated me so she sent me to see Highlander: End Game which had lots of interesting visual effects in the trailer. None of these, of course, were in the movie. Amazing how they could actually make a bad movie look even worse than the trailer.

  26. The producer hated me so she sent me to see Highlander: End Game

    I hope you got revenge for that. There’s nothing so horrid in movies as a sequel that incorporates a character from a TV show and comes across as an astonishingly bad episode of the show watched on bad drugs.

  27. I think “someone” has been “working on making Atlas Shrugged into a movie” almost perpetually for many years now. We’ll see.

    Also, Stevo…not so sure about Keira Knightley.

    Well, then who should we cast as Dagny Taggart? Has H&R ever had a “casting the Atlas Shrugged movie” thread?

    PS: I originally typed Atlas Shrugged as Atlas Shurgged, which seems somehow Chthullhic. “Ia is ia! Johngaltgth ftagghn!”

  28. Re: typos: How about Atlas Meshugana? Or Atlas Shagged? (cue disco music as Ayn Randy gets naked)

  29. How about a book/movie about a designer of Japanese furniture who refuses to compromise his principles, called The Futonhead?

  30. Stevo, we should do lunch and pitch ideas.

    Howz this: A movie about Soviet Zombies rising up to seek revenge against Stalin, reclaim what was stolen from them and escape to freedom called “We The Unliving.”

  31. My nomination for the best trailer of all time is the original Orson Welles-directed preview of Citizen Kane; it manages to whet your appetite for the flick (“Just who is this man, Charles Foster Kane?”) while revealing virtually nothing about the story…

  32. Stevo: Didn’t Janeane also say “Ed Harris has to warn the president”?

  33. Check out the trailer for Jarhead. Best I’ve ever seen.

  34. That “Shining” trailer is one of the best things I have ever seen. There is an old educational film that illustrates the craft of editing by showing how several different editors would do the same scene of the old Gunsmoke TV show. All aspiring editors and directors should see it. But their education will now be lopsided, unless they see the “Shining” trailer, too. Amazing.

  35. Check out the trailer for Jarhead.

    Well, from what I’ve seen here today I’m guessing Jarhead is a romantic comedy?

  36. Was that Jarhead or just 8 Mile filmed in the desert?

  37. Was that Jarhead or just 8 Mile filmed in the desert?

  38. Stevo, we should do lunch and pitch ideas.

    You betcha. I’ll have my people call your people. 🙂

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