Saturday, August 22, 2009

Giving Away The Skim Milk For Free

Done well, a film trailer can be almost as satisfying as full-length film. Ideally, it captures your attention while giving away just enough information to leave you wanting more. In the case of a flick like "Watchmen," the trailer was apparently far better than the movie it was attached to.

My issues with the average romantic comedy have been well documented here, but I'm always surprised by how bad the trailers are. You'd think the studios would be at least savvy enough to not give the entire plot away. The first time I noticed this was when the trailer for "No Reservations" — the Catherine Zeta-Jones/Aaron Eckhart chefs-in-love movie — aired in 2007. She's a hard-charging chef caring for her dead sister's adorable daughter! He's the fun-loving, hot new guy in the kitchen! Their styles clash, but will he be the one who shows her how to embrace life — and love? Gee, do you think? Unless you're a big fan of either actor, why would you pay 8 bucks or more to see it when the trailer tells you exactly what's going to happen?

Not to harp on Eckhart, who really is an appealing actor, but he's starring in another movie ("Love Happens") that's guilty of giving away most of its milk for free via trailer. He's a successful self-help expert in pain. Enter the beautiful florist who has sworn off men. Can these two wounded souls find love again ... together? For real?

In the same week, I saw the trailer for "All About Steve," in which Sandra Bullock's wacky, unlucky-in-love character stalks a TV cameraman played by Bradley Cooper. OK. I can see stalking Bradley Cooper, and Thomas Haden Church automatically elevates any movie. But I hate it when a trailer indicates that a morally ambiguous character is going to redeem him/herself, and is inspired to do so because of some potential love interest who "isn't like anyone I've ever met." No. Also, major points off for the use of Sara Bareilles "Love Song," which is just insulting.

Maybe the real problem is my suspicion that neither of these movies are going to be very good. Sure, there were some expected moments in the "Sex and the City" movie (Did anyone doubt that Carrie and Big would get back together?), but the journey was satisfying and too complex to be reduced to a two-minute trailer. Give me something to look forward to.

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