The Internet (ourselves included) has an affinity for prejudging a movie based only on the trailers, and in many cases, they’re right to do so, especially with comedies. A trailer will typically include many of the best jokes, and if the jokes in the trailer aren’t funny, chances are, the movie won’t be funny, either.
This is not necessarily the case with Ghostbusters.
Ttrailers for the new Ghostbusters movie, of course, have been taking a lot of flak, some of it driven by men who object to an all-female Ghostbusters and, let’s be honest, some of it has been driven by the fact that the Ghostbusters trailers have not been very good.
It’s true. Many of us have enough faith in director Paul Feig to believe that the movie will ultimately be much better than the trailer, but those trailers are not inspiring confidence. In fact, the film’s best selling point, so far, is the featurette on Kevin, the character played by Chris Hemsworth. Now , that was funny.
Is it a marketing problem? Or is it a movie problem? A lot of butthurt men have completely dismissed the movie based on the first trailer alone, but both Melissa McCarthy and Paul Feig have acknowledged that the trailers do not do a good job of accurately reflecting the film. In fact, in an interview with Famous Monsters of Filmland, Feig admitted that his movies are hard to make trailers for.
“My movies, for some reason, are really hard to do trailers for, because my comedy all comes from context, really. I’m not the guy who’s like joke-joke-joke, and here’s a one-liner one-liner one-liner. I do have those, but you have to get to know the characters, you have to settle in with them to get to know their personalities, saying, ‘Oh, that’s funny because that character doesn’t normally do this.”
Is it true that trailers for Feig’s films have historically been bad? Let’s take a look.
Here’s the Bridesmaids trailer:
That is a middling trailer that does nothing to capture the energy of the film, or sell Jon Hamm’s role as anything other than a glorified cameo. It doesn’t capture how brilliantly Ellie Kemper and Wendi McLendon-Covey steal every scene they’re in, and it reduces Melissa McCarthy to a walking fart-and-burp joke, when the character was so much more than that in the film.
Movie: 9 out of 10
Trailer: 4 out of 10
This is a terrible trailer. It makes it appear as though Spy is a gender-switched Kevin James movie in which Melissa McCarthy is an interminable fat joke. It doesn’t capture how sublime Rose Byrne was in this movie, or how hilarious Jason Statham actually is (nor does it illustrate how much better Jude Law is in this movie than anything else he has been in for years). If I hadn’t known Paul Feig had directed Spy, I might have skipped it. The movie got 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. I never would have guessed that from the trailer.
Movie: 8 out of 10
Trailer: 2 out of 10
I do admit that I liked the trailer for The Heat more than I liked the eventual movie. Many of the best gags from the film are in the trailer, and the movie never managed to be quite as hyper-fueled as the trailer. The M.I.A. song also helped to sell the trailer, creating expectations the movie couldn’t quite live up to.
Movie: 6 out of 10
Trailer: 8 out of 10
The Original Ghostbusters Trailer
Be honest: If you hadn’t seen the movie before watching the trailer, and you didn’t have context for many of the jokes, it wouldn’t have gotten you very excited for the movie. The movie is timeless. That trailer is dated. The movie worked as well as it did because of the relationships between the characters, and that cannot be translated into a two-minute trailer. Ghostbusters had a lot of great lines, but it didn’t contain a lot of trailer-friendly jokes.
Movie: 10 out of 10
Trailer: 5 out of 10
For the further sake of comparison, here’s another example of an egregiously bad trailer for what turned out to be a comedy classic: Office Space.
No wonder the movie bombed at the box office.
Contrast that, again, with the trailer for Airplane, which is still hilarious, mostly because the entire film was made up of trailer-friendly gags.
As always, a trailer should be but one factor we weigh, and in cases where Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy are involved, that should be dispositive. Then again, if you didn’t like Spy or Bridesmaids, you may not like Ghosbusters, either, but that’s not a Ghostbusters problem, that’s a you problem.