Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week: Comedy Wins via The Muppets, Bridesmaids and 50/50

Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week: Comedy Wins via The Muppets, Bridesmaids and 50/50

Jun 03, 2011


Ever get sick of sorting through the endless amount of promotional material we get each week? Lucky for you I don’t and would love to be the one to help pinpoint the notably good and the laughably bad. Despite the Friday debut, as of next week, every Thursday I’ll narrow down the three best and three worst in new promotional material. This includes everything from fresh trailers to stills and more as, nowadays, thanks to viral marketing, the possibilities in terms of reaching out to the public are seemingly endless.

For the inaugural issue, I’m cheating a bit and looking back at the past two weeks, and, as usual, we’ve gotten a slew of brand new material. Whether or not the teaser for David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was actually leaked or artfully planted by Sony, no trailer seemingly shot via cell phone has a place here and, well, the official green band trailer just doesn’t make the cut this week. As for that tiny bit of footage from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, promos are one thing, but promos for promos are no-go’s here. I can’t lie, though -- it did make me giggle a bit (and not in a good way).

Meanwhile, Warner Bros. has been unveiling the character posters for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II one-by-one and Zoe Saldana channels Taraji P. Henson of I Can Do Bad All by Myself in the new Colombiana poster while rocking some flower power. The Shark Night 3D trailer also swam to shore with a vengeance, but lacks the bite to snag a spot in the “Promotions” hall of fame.  As for the “Demotions,” Horrible Bosses should consider itself lucky because if there weren’t three far less-than-stellar marketing attempts this past week, its first clip might find itself in the bottom thanks to the fact that is just isn’t funny.




1. 50/50 Trailer: What better way to kick off a trailer than by showing off the film’s stars? Just after the 50/50 trailer consumes your full attention courtesy of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and a broadly amusing situation, it gets to the meat of the story; Gordon-Levitt’s character, Adam, has cancer. Not only is this opening scene impressively well paced, but the entire trailer is, too, thanks to its unique structuring chronicled by Adam’s reactions to the bad news – shock, denial, resistance and acceptance. Ultimately, what we end up with is a trailer that gives the viewer a bold look at everything the film has to offer, yet holds just enough back to make you pine for more. To top it all off, the trailer answers the question we’ve all been asking since the day the film was announced: Can cancer really be funny? Based on the last gag in the trailer, I’d say the answer is a big, fat yes.



2. The Muppets vs. The Hangover Part II: Talk about smart marketing. Not only does The Muppets have everything going for it in terms of its wildly popular source material and cast, but it’s going to enhance those assets through another film, The Hangover Part II. Just before the sequel broke box office records, a brand new Muppets teaser arrived that mimics one made for The Hangover Part II. While the folks behind the Muppets teaser are clearly riding the Hangover waves, they don’t do it in an obvious manner. While hardcore Hangover fans will likely pick up on the connection, for the film fanatics who don’t, the Muppets teaser still plays rather well. In fact, after seeing The Hangover Part II in its entirety, I can tell you that nothing in that movie made me laugh as hard as seeing Danny Trejo say, “I’m a Muppet.”



3. Bridesmaids Outtakes: With one of the most highly anticipated comedies of the year demolishing the box office this holiday weekend, how can Bridesmaids manage to keep the hype up? Clearly it can’t release any new trailers, clips or images, but what it can do is go the blooper route. There is likely a ton of unused Bridesmaids footage on the cutting room floor, packed with gags just as funny as the material we caught in the final cut. Might as well use it, right? Even better, I’d like to bet this blooper reel from Funny or Die doesn’t even spoil the one that’ll likely be on the DVD and Blu-ray. In terms of promotional value for Bridemaids, as a film with multi-view potential, three-minutes of hilarity like this will undoubtedly spark interest to go back to the theater for seconds, or maybe even thirds or fourths for that matter.





1. Happy Feet 2 Teaser Trailer: Perhaps Mr. Popper’s Penguins expired my patience for penguins because the teaser trailer for the Happy Feet sequel is just downright silly and rather annoying. As compared to the first film’s teaser trailer, this one has nothing but surface value. When we first got a glimpse of little Mumble showing off his tap dancing skills to the tune of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish,” there was something within the presentation, even without knowing the film’s plot, that suggested this is a penguin to pay attention to and this hobby of his has something to offer. This teaser trailer, on the other hand, is more like the song-and-dance numbers we’ve grown to dread in animated and live-action/CGI hybrids. Yes, based on the fact that the Happy Feet movies are rooted in dance, a music number is appropriate, but in terms of the way this one is presented, it suggests Happy Feet 2 is just more of the same and perhaps even gimmicky.



2. I Don’t Know How She Does It: Funny thing, after watching this trailer, I planned to pick on it by referencing how just about anything that begins with a Sarah Jessica Parker voiceover conjures up my disdain for what happened to the Sex and the City franchise. Sure enough, while home for the holiday weekend and giving the trailer a second look, my mother walks in and asks if I’m watching Sex and the City. Well, Parker isn’t the only thing that I Don’t Know How She Does It seems to have in common with Sex and the City; the trailer makes the film seem incredibly generic.

While it grabs your attention thanks to its massive all-star cast, deep down, there’s not much there. First off, while the 50/50 trailer uses title cards in an appropriate manner, the text in this one is just stating the obvious. If you write “Take Emily to school” on the wall, don’t waste precious time showing Emily being taken to school if the clip does nothing more than show what we already read. Even beyond the nitty gritty, this trailer presents the film as though it’s nothing special. There’s got to be more to this than a mere woman struggling to balance her family and work lives, otherwise it looks like we’re in for a film with tacky jokes and no depth.



3. First Clip From Fright Night: My high hopes for Craig Gillespie’s remake of Fright Night might have intensified my disapproval here for when this clip arrived, I was thrilled to death to check it out and then wound up being incredibly disappointed. Perhaps the thought process behind opting to release this clip first was to show off their new Jerry Dandrige (Colin Farrell). As good as Farrell seems to be in the role, his performance won’t have the proper effect unless something is done with that camera. This entire clip consists of two shots, neither of which is particularly well composed. More so than just having an issue with this footage, this stirs quite a bit of concern for the film as a whole. This appears to be a fairly compelling scene and yet, I feel nothing. Even just a slight push in on Farrell could have made the moment that much more tense. Instead, we get no camera movement whatsoever and a clip with a runtime of barely a minute is actually quite boring. Could the feature film suffer the same fate?



What were some of your favorite (and not-so-favorite) movie promos of the week?

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