Any movie lover has likely had this experience: you watch a trailer, you’re impressed, you think “I gotta see that one,” but — there’s also a nagging doubt. What if you just saw every good scene that movie has to offer? Chances are you’re asking yourself that question out of hard-won experience. You can’t blame studios for trying to make their movies look good, but trailers can be flat-out deceptive. It’s not just trying to make a bomb look sellable, either.
Of course, any parent would bristle at the notion of a kid’s movie being marketed deceptively, but it happens. Director Spike Jonze’s 2009 adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s story “Where the Wild Things Are” is a fairly brooding, existential meditation on the dark shadows of childhood, but the trailer is all sweetness and light. And the trailer for Disney’s 2012 “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” did little to prepare parents for how their kids were likely to feel about the film’s ending.
Producing trailers that make romantic comedies seem more, well, romantic and comedic than they actually are is practically a cottage industry in Hollywood. 2011’s “Young Adult,” with its screenplay by “Juno” writer Diablo Cody and standout performances from Charlize Theron and Patton Oswald, is a great small film that toys with audience’s Hollywood-bred expectations. But the trailer wasn’t toying around, it was out to make you think you’d be buying a ticket for a lighthearted romantic comedy about a mean-girl who finds true love. Once you had your popcorn and the lights went down…not so much.
Other rom-coms whose trailers played fast and loose with expectations: “Spanglish,” “Love Actually” and “The Five Year Engagement.”
How easy is it to take one kind of movie and produce a trailer that makes it look like something else entirely? Check out this remix…