Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week: Celebrating Article #50 with ‘The Dictator,’ ‘This Is 40’ and ‘Argo’

Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week: Celebrating Article #50 with ‘The Dictator,’ ‘This Is 40’ and ‘Argo’

May 11, 2012


Happy 50th anniversary to Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week! Fifty articles that is. Just about a year ago, 50/50, The Muppets and Bridesmaids were the first films to bathe in “The Best Stuff” glory and since, dozens have joined the ranks and today, three more will follow suit. However, the following will not.

Gangster Squad bursts onto the public scene with guns blazing, but a famous cast in fedoras with a crazy amount of firepower isn’t necessarily a recipe for engaging material. After sorting through the mumbling, the basics of the story are evident, but by that point, it’s impossible to appreciate it in tandem with the visuals. Killer Joe, on the other hand, gets much closer to sucking you right into the situation. The problem here is, that situation is so off-the-wall, it’s a little tough to digest.

Similarly, Excision is rocking a brand new and incredibly sleekly cut trailer, but it also suggests this material is way too twisted for a mainstream audience. No, you don’t want to market a movie as something it’s not in an effort to bring in some cash, but at the same time, something like this could easily scare the large majority of moviegoers off.

Enough of the so-so; it’s time to get on to The Best Stuff of the 50th installment of Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week. Looking forward to many more articles to come!

The Best Stuff

1. The Dictator Red Band Trailer: I still have no plan to catch The Dictator, but this trailer is undoubtedly the closest the promotional campaign came to striking the slightest bit of interest. Rather than just being a mash-up of Sacha Baron Cohen’s typical offensive humor, this red band trailer actually frames the jokes in a story and not only does that provide a much clearer vision of what you’ll get from The Dictator as a storytelling experience as compared to the mockumentary-style of Brüno and Borat, but the jokes are much funnier in context.

2. This Is 40 Poster: No, this isn’t something you’d see on the street or at your local movie theater that would blow you away, but that’s the very reason this design is so appropriate for This Is 40. So far, just like Knocked Up, This Is 40 looks funny, but in a wholly naturalistic way. Falling right in line, this poster sticks with the slice-of-life feel and gives us an amusingly candid moment between Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd. And, as a bit of a bonus, the “The Sort-Of Sequel to Knocked Up” tagline is a perfectly appropriate and amusing jab at all of the talk that’s been surrounding this one since day one.

This Is 40

3. Argo Trailer: Big names equal lots of attention. Argo had a thrilling casting process, literally adding one industry powerhouse after the next. Sure, famous faces lead to buzz, but it’s trailers like this that turn buzz into something far more tangible. The piece rocks a wicked opening that puts the viewer right in the middle of an intense scenario, and that’s without even touching its star power. But even when you do start to recognize some of the main players, it’s not the familiarity and loyalty that draws you in, it’s a combination of engaging storytelling and camerawork. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on Argo, the trailer does a complete turnaround, going from a tense war drama to something with a flashy Hollywood vibe. It’s a big jump, but this trailer certainly pulls it off, suggesting Argo will have a lot to offer.

The Worst Stuff

1. Piranha 3DD Clip: Speaking of star power, David Hasselhoff only has enough to label him a cute cameo. You know? The kind that pops up on screen and offers you a laugh at his expense. He most certainly shouldn’t be a selling tool for Piranha 3DD so it’s rather alarming that the film is highlighting him in this clip. Even worse, this clip is just flat out awful. It’s not funny and has absolutely nothing to do with what draws moviegoers in to see a movie like Piranha 3DD – girls in bikinis and carnage. Now, neither does this Gary Busey blooper reel, but it, on the other hand, is hilarious – at Busey’s expense, of course.

2. The Campaign Teases: Will Ferrell is kind of like the Johnny Depp of comedy. He creates all of these wildly outrageous and colorful characters, but too much of his all-too-familiar shtick bleeds through to look at it as a character in and of itself, so it just winds up being Ferrell playing dress up. And unfortunately for Ferrell, Depp has an edge in this realm considering Depp’s movies cost an absurd amount more and can afford him some pretty unbelievable makeup and costume work. However, even if you look at these teases for The Campaign and do your best to disconnect the Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis you’ve come to know from their characters, the material still falls flat because it’s not funny. These videos might play well as SNL Digital Shorts, but they certainly don’t suggest the concept will sustain a full feature.

3. Chernobyl Diaries Promo Clip: I went pretty nuts for Paranormal Activity and have been a diehard Oren Peli fan ever since, but what’s going on with Chernobyl Diaries? No, it never really looked like a film that could match the caliber of Paranormal, but I had hopes it would at least be some cheesy, found footage fun. However, the more promotional material that hits the web, the harder it’s becoming to deny that this movie looks like a total failure. And then, to top that all off, we get this new “promo clip.” This whole extreme tourism angle just doesn’t work and this video proves it. Taking a trip to Chernobyl has absolutely nothing to do with extreme athletes suffering vicious falls. If Chernobyl Diaries was this desperate to play with the found footage reality-esque crossover concept, it should have done it via ghost hunting, not sports. Plus, this video simply comes across as unprofessional and cheap.

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