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When Trailers Go Wrong, Movies of 2014 Edition

By Rebecca Pahle | Think Pieces | August 21, 2014 |

By Rebecca Pahle | Think Pieces | August 21, 2014 |

Movie theaters can be awful. Tickets are expensive. Popcorn is more expensive, and I always buy it even when I promise myself I won’t, and then I feel gross afterwards. Far too often there’s some jackhole who thinks the “no cell phone” rule doesn’t apply to texting or status updating. And, generally speaking, people are The Worst. There are a couple of reasons I will never come close to giving up theaters, though, and the typical cinema purist line about “seeing movies on the big screen like you’re ‘supposed’ to” is only one of them.

Friends. I love trailers. No, no, no, you don’t understand. I love trailers. One of my earliest moviegoing experiences was seeing the Mighty Morphin Powers Rangers trailer for the first time. I don’t remember what movie it played with, but who fucking cares, because it’s the trailer that almost made little nine-year-old me stop breathing. (Rightly, as it turns out—Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is very close to perfect.)

People complain about there being too many trailers at screenings, about trailers being too long, about trailers giving away too much of the movie and including orphaned scenes and lines of dialogue that aren’t in the final cut. I can see where people are coming from for those last two, though I personally don’t share their irritation, because I. FLIPPING. LOVE. TRAILERS.

But there is one thing, dear readers, that I cannot abide, and that is a trailer that misrepresents its movie. A prime example is Life After Beth (my review; Vivian’s review. Sisters in being disappointed by this movie—high five), which was a mish-mosh of intriguing ideas only barely delivered on. I might’ve been more sympathetic had the trailer not made it look like, quoth Emily, “Aubrey Plaza at Her Aubrey Plaza-est.” I had high expectations, but it was all downhill from here:

To whoever put this trailer together—I understand putting the funny Aubrey Plaza bits front and center. Believe me, I do. And you probably got a fair number of butts in seats. But you lied to those butts, and that makes you kind of a butt yourself.

Another offender was the trailer for The Rock’s Hercules:

You think you’re getting an action comedy full of gloriously cheesy Rocktastic goodness? Ha-no. All the things the studio knew the audience wanted to see, like The Rock throwing a got-dang horse and fighting a lion, were in the trailer. What said trailer left out is all the generic action crap that comprised the vast majority of the movie itself.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the trailer for the Daniel Radcliffe/Zoe Kazan rom-com What If, like Life After Beth currently out in limited release:

Did you just vomit in your mouth a little because it looked like Radcliffe and Kazan did a generic romantic comedy about the age-old (seriously, really really old and tired) question of “Can a man and a woman ever be friends? No, really—are everyone’s lives not ruled by sex 100% of the time, and that’s why it’s an indisputable fact that all bisexual people are friendless hermits?” Were you confused as to why Daniel Radcliffe’s been talking on the press tour about how the friendzone isn’t a thing when he’s co-starring in some bastard, idiot brethren of When Harry Met Sally? (Which I enjoy, so put your pitchforks down.) Surprise! That’s not what What If is at all. It’s actually a charming film with charming characters! It never gets into the whole “can a man and a woman be friends” thing (because, as everyone knows: YES, DUH), focusing instead on the complexities of a relationship where one party starts off feeling romantic interest and the other does not. But hey, that’s tough to get across in a lazy-ass trailer.

And then there’s Earth to Echo.

You probably rolled your eyes at the Earth to Echo trailer. The mother of the person who made the Earth to Echo trailer probably rolled their eyes at the Earth to Echo trailer, because it makes director Dave Green’s movie look like nothing but an unholy ripoff of like three different movies.

But—and I’m in the minority here—I actually thought Earth to Echo was pretty damn good. Is it an original film? Nah, son. There’s E.T. in there. *batteries not included, Chronicle, The Goonies. I was feeling some 3 Ninjas and The Sandlot. But, if anything, it came off to me more as an homage to those classic kid’s movies (minus Chronicle) than a straight ripoff, which is a loaded, often useless term anyway. The characters were engaging, the dialogue was witty, and if I saw every beat of plot and character development coming from a mile away, well, at least I had a fun, nostalgic time. This trailer did its movie a massive disservice. I hope Earth to Echo has a nice life on home video, because as far as movies to show the little baby geeks in your life go, you could do a hell of a lot worse. Little me would’ve worn out the VHS.

And finally: Snowpiercer. You might have heard that I really fucking love this movie.

It’s by far the least bad trailer on this list. It’s actually pretty good. The problem is that it makes the movie look all The Dark Knight/The Hunger Games grimdark, completely missing out on the part where in between the terror and dystopia it’s a startling funny surrealist masterpiece. If you didn’t know it’s by the massively acclaimed Korean director Bong Joon Ho (which you wouldn’t know if you just watched the above trailer, because it doesn’t tell you), and if you don’t know that Chris Evans is actually a really damn talented actor, pretty much the only thing that keeps Snowpiercer from looking like it’s direct-to-DVD action movie material is the presence of Tilda Swinton.

I say make a Snowpiercer trailer that’s two minutes of that part where Chris Evans slips on a fish, but hey, what do I know?

TV bonus: Voiceover. It isn’t the ’90s anymore. What the crispy fried Jesusing fuck on a tinsel-laden pogo stick are you doing, Hannibal?!

I’ll turn this over to you now: What’s the worst trailer you’ve seen in your life? How about the best? In before OOGA CHAKA to suggest Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore:

Skip to :57 for Ruffalo booty shaking.

Rebecca is on Twitter and Tumblr, but you’ll have to pry the latter URL from her cold, dead hands. She’s also the Senior Editor at The Mary Sue.