Monday, February 19, 2018

Trailing Off

The people who make trailers are not the people who make the films the trailers are about.  Their job is to sell the film--exploit what they think is best, or most appealing, about it.  Which means, sometimes, they intentionally avoid telling you about the parts that are less appealing.

As I noted in my film wrap-up for 2017, two Matt Damon films last year, Suburbicon and Downsizing, had misleading trailers.  The first was sold as a black comedy, which it is, but a significant subplot dealing with nasty racial issues is ignored entirely in the trailer. I think the trailer people figured (correctly) no one would be drawn in by that. (They also give a somewhat false impression of the comedy--it's even darker than the trailer suggests.)

Downsizing goes along pretty much like the trailer until a certain point, when it takes a left turn and becomes about ecological disaster.  There was no clue given in the trailer not only because it's a downer, but because it has essentially nothing to do with the basic concept of tiny people living in a tiny world.  The trailer people were right--if the filmmakers had stuck to the concept that the preview emphasizes, I bet their film would have made more money.

Which brings me to Early Man, which I saw over the weekend.  I'd seen the trailer a couple of times, and it promised a film about stone age people bumping up against bronze age people, finding their advanced ways strange and mysterious.

While the film does feature a clash of the two ages, it's not really what the trailer suggests.  (Spoilers, but that's the point.) The main plot, which takes up most of the running time, is about a high-stakes soccer match between the stone age and bronze age people.

So why didn't the trailer tell me about this?  I assume it's because, in America anyway, no one cares about soccer.  (I don't know if the trailers overseas were different).  Finding out that's what the movie's about might turn off quite a few American customers. (They also won't like the game being referred to as "football" over and over.)

I guess I can't blame the promo people for being somewhat misleading.  But once I realized what the plot was, I admit I was a bit disappointed.  The concept the trailer suggested looked like more fun.

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