They accomplish in two minutes, for free, what whole movies do in two hours for $12.
Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012
The job of the movie trailer is to get you excited about an upcoming movie, do its best to sell complicated ideas, and provide employment for men with early-stage throat cancer. In their eagerness to please, however, too many of them go over the line and just blurt out the entire movie like a four-year-old who has just been told a secret. Here are some of the worst offenders.
12. FUNNY PEOPLE
There has got to be a better way to sell the idea of “bitter comedian takes on a young apprentice, learns he’s dying, gets sad, then isn’t dying anymore, so he reconnects with his now-married ex-girlfriend” than by simply telling us EVERY SINGLE BIT OF THAT in a two minute trailer. You literally just saw all of Eric Bana’s screen time.
11. TERMINATOR SALVATION
If you actually ended up seeing Terminator Salvation, then you saw a lot of time dedicated to the mysterious Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington). Who is he? Where did he come from? Too bad the audience already went in going, “Oh, that dude’s a Terminator” thanks to this on-the-nose trailer.
10. CAST AWAY
So you’re telling us that Tom Hanks survives the plane crash, learns to survive on the island, and eventually gets off the island and returns home? Thank you so much for that, trailer. All that’s missing is the credits.
9. THE SUM OF ALL FEARS
The whole tension of “Can CIA noob Jack Ryan prevent ruthless terrorists from detonating a nuclear bomb on U.S. soil” is more than a little diffused when you A) show us the bomb exploding and B) show us a very-much-still-alive Ryan reacting to the explosion. But rush to theaters to…ummm….see what he had for breakfast that morning!
8. ARLINGTON ROAD
Sum of All Fears
, this is a classic case of serious filmmaker/trailer-maker miscommunication. When you’ve carefully constructed a movie in which audiences aren’t supposed to be sure if Jeff Bridges is insanely paranoid or if Tim Robbins really is a terrorist, your trailer probably shouldn’t be all, “Yep. He’s totes a terrorist.”
The creepy girl with the mental powers does get to go to the prom, and, yes, her one moment of acceptance and happiness is ruined and she does freak out and kill everyone. Just thought you’d want to know all of that upfront.
6. GREEN LANTERN
Superhero origin stories are pretty basic, but watching this trailer you not only know how Hal Jordan became Green Lantern, but how he learned to harness his new power, where the showdown with the main villain takes place, and what personal issue (“I’m scared”) he has to overcome in order to be a hero. We assume the rest of the movie’s running time was spent doing a role call of the thousand-plus other Lanterns or something.
5. DATE NIGHT
The wacky misadventures of Steve Carell and Tina Fey weren’t selling point enough, obviously, so they actually had to reveal the whole “the bad guys are crooked cops” storyline, too. Do the people who edit these think when the audience asks, “Why are these people trying to kill Steve and Tina?” they expect an answer by the end of the trailer?
Was the studio really that concerned that there might be one guy out there going, “groundbreaking special effects? Alien worlds? James Cameron? Sorry. Not sold.” So they went ahead and just Cliff’s Noted the whole movie just in case? Revealing that Jake is initially in cahoots with the bad ass drill sergeant already makes us assume he eventually has a change of heart and begins fighting with the natives. But for good measure, the trailer went ahead and just showed all of that, too.
3. FREE WILLY
In case you missed it in the trailer, the poster also drives home the whole “mystery” around whether or not Willy goes free.
2. THE NEGOTIATOR
This trailer plays out like a stranger who’s had too much to drink and begins spilling TMI all over you while you try your best to back away. “Sam Jackson gets framed.” “Great, great…well, I’ve got to…” “And then he has to face off against Kevin Spacey…” “Wow, is that the time? Look, it’s been fun but—“ “And then Spacey and Jackson TEAM UP to take the corrupt police force dow—“ <punch> The worst part? Spacey’s line at the end of the trailer -- “Now you’re going to have to deal with both of us” -- isn’t even in the movie!
1. THE DOUBLE
“He’s been hunting himself?” Wow. Just. WOW. We understand having a hard time selling the hugely anticipated big screen team-up of Richard Gere and Topher Grace, but at least have the courtesy to go out without committing trailer harakiri.