Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Trailer Trash"

We had no one to blame but ourselves.

We had agreed voluntarily. Our children were not being held hostage. There was no gun to our head. We had deliberately stopped, parked the car, bought tickets, gone inside, and found our seats. It was totally our own doing. We were attending, entirely of our own accord,

A Summer Movie.

We did not go because, as they once advertised in movie theaters to boost patronage on scorching summer afternoons –

It’s Cool Inside

printed in blue and white icicle-styled lettering,

though we, in fact, do not have air conditioning in our house – other than the less than ten-a-year blistering days like this, ocean-close houses like ours don’t need any. We went to this movie, because we inadvertently happened to be driving by the theater after completing, it was starting in ten minutes, the reviews had been encouraging (forgetting about how desperate critics are to say anything positive about any summer movie), we enjoy movies, and the alternative was to go home and take a nap.

The trouble starts early, as one of the annoying things about seeing a movie you’re unlikely to enjoy is having to sit through previews of half a dozen movies you are also unlikely to enjoy. Due to the highly fragmented cultural landscape, marketers target movies to specific demographics, the thinking here going,

“If this movie got you to shell out twelve bucks to see it, here are six other movies you may be equally willing to pay to see. At least we hope so, because we’ve already made them.”

The trailers offered glimpses into four upcoming comedies and two movies meant to scare the pants off the “target audience”, which was somebody, but not us. Unfortunately, having agreed to see this movie, we were obligated to endure the “Coming Attractions.”

Which were these:

1) The kids in a suburban family suspect that their next-door neighbor is a vampire.

2) Two guys strap a bomb to a stranger and force him to rob a bank for them. (Based on an actual imagining of an actual event.) (Although there was one scene that tickled my fancy. During the robbery, a bank hostage is ordered to slide the guard’s gun across the floor, she does, and it goes off, prompting the guard to complain, “Is that how you slide a gun?” This, however, is atypical of the surrounding standard of comedy.)

3) A long-married couple decides to call it quits, only to discover after numerous hilarious mishaps, that, wait, lemme guess…

“There’s no place like home”?

4) While urinating in a fountain, two buddies casually wish they had each others’ lives, and guess what?

They magically switch lives!

For the entire movie! Until, after numerous hilarious mishaps, they finally discover…

See “discovery” above.

5) A remake of Footloose, minus the songs, which is the only thing I liked about the original.

And, finally,

6) The survivors of a collapsing bridge disaster find themselves being stalked by “Death”, who’s determined to “take them”, unless they can, somehow, find a “replacement.”

It is unlikely we’ll be seeing any of those movies. Unless we are visiting our cabin in Michigan City, Indiana, where there’s only one movie theater, and all bets are off. Though, even so, it is still “No” to five of them. Okay, four. And if we’re really bored, three.

Submitting to these previews put us in a grumpy mood. Why? Because the previews predicted,

“If you bought tickets to see this movie, you will likely enjoy these previewed movies as well.” Conversely – and here’s the bad news –

“If you hated these previews, there is almost no chance in hell you will enjoy the movie you bought tickets to see.”

As I said, it was our own fault. Everything about the movie, as reflected by the preceding previews, screamed,

“You people do not belong here!”

and we had ventured into this unwelcoming terrain anyway. Now we were stuck, facing two hours of pure and unadulterated, “It’s not for us.”

Looking for a twist?

“And you know what? We loved it!”

That is what stories do. They take you in one direction, then delight you with a jaw-dropping surprise. But you know what way more often than not doesn’t do that?


And one other thing doesn’t do that.

Summer movies.

Both of them give you exactly what you expect.

That’s probably why most people go.

And why the Little Woman and I

Should have just kept driving.


YEKIMI said...

Blame it on the damn film companies. They sometimes have attached previews to the main film and also include others that they "request" [read "demand" & "require"] you to attach and show, even if it's a piece of crap so bad that I wouldn't use to torture terrorists.

JED said...

Actually, the previews are one of my favorite things about going to the movies. I look at them as short stories as opposed to the novel of the movie itself. I remember being fascinated when we were introduced to writing a precis in high school. Paring away everything but the essentials of the original piece and then cutting out more until you were left with just enough to explain what the original piece said. Maybe that's the better analogy to the movie preview. A preview is like a precis of the movie - plus a narrator with a golden voice telling you what you're about to see. I love good voice over work, too.

Of course, if you're about to watch a movie you won't like and the previews are for movies "just like" the movie you're about to see, you're not going to like the previews.

I've been alerted to some wonderful movies by seeing their previews at another movie I enjoyed. They were often movies I would have never heard about otherwise.

I see I need to review what I learned in high school about writing a precis, though.

Jim Dodd

Mac said...

I like the idea of "It's Cool Inside" being a major reason to pay for a ticket. It's like the ads in that film "The Invention Of Lying."
"Our Movies Stink, But You Won't Get Sunburn."

Zaraya said...

Dear Mr Pomerantz; sometimes a gem is hiding in the summer movie round-up. I take it that was not the case here. Well, at least it was "COOLINSIDE".

I dislike how a trailer campaign changes as the movie's release date gets closer. For example, the teaser trailer for "Cowboys and Aliens" posed a couple of puzzles: how did he get that thing on his wrist, who is he, is he even the guy the lawman is after, is he an alien, why are there aliens in the Old West - I think I'd have heard about that? Alas, subsequent trailers stirred in movie tropes and added a hot young woman. She's hot for modern times, let alone on the range. I don't want a "two people (hetero) thrown together during a crisis and fall in love" trope. I want mystery, explosions, tasteful violence, and finally a twist ending that explains everything but in a way I did not see coming.

I think I won't get this @ "Cowboys and Aliens", but I'm willing to risk it on the strength of the teaser. If I'd only not seen the two or three trailers that followed it.