Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week: Keeping It Real Pays Off For 'Moneyball' and 'The Descendants'

Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week: Keeping It Real Pays Off For 'Moneyball' and 'The Descendants'

Sep 15, 2011

Breaking Dawn PosterTwo rather lame weeks in a row. How disappointing? While the promotions section nearly fell short, we’ve got a slew of mediocre material to share. Okay, so that’s not saying much, but at least these items aren’t demotions-worthy.

The new trailer for We Bought A Zoo is a bit too ABC Family for my taste, but there’s a hint of some heartwarming holiday fun to be had. Similarly, Goon looks a bit like playtime for Seann William Scott and Liev Schreiber, but with names like those and Jay Baruchel and Alison Pill attached, how bad could it be? And while The Raid is making waves at TIFF, I’m somewhat unenthused with the trailer. Sure, there’s a ton of fantastically bloody action, but where’s the story?

Also worthy of taking a look at is the new clip from Real Steel, not so much because it’s a solid clip rather because it provides insight into what this whole robot boxing world is like. Still, this one will tear you in two as you won’t know whether to cheer on your favorite bot or laugh at the goofy dialogue Hugh Jackman is spitting out. Speaking of laughing, there’s a whole lot of happy giggling going on in a new featurette for New Year’s Eve. It’s actually more of a trailer-featurette hybrid, as it’s merely a few short snippets of interviews spliced together with the trailer, but for fans of this kind of filmmaking, anything that lists that massive all-star cast is enough.

As for posters, we’ve got four vibrant designs that are sure to both get you in the holiday spirit and excited for Harold and Kumar’s big return. That taglines are pretty amusing, too. A new motion poster for Chris Gorak’s The Darkest Hour also arrived. While the imagery is cool, the lack of audio is a bit disappointing as is the awkward format. If you’re releasing a motion poster, why make it a video clip? Oh, maybe it’s because the embeddable poster format is too big for your web browser.


1. Moneyball Clips: When you release clips from a film, first and foremost, you don’t want to spoil the full experience, but then you’ve got to consider the clip’s ability to stand on its own, especially in the case of something like Moneyball. Real Steel can release 45 seconds of nonsensical robot fighting and folks will still say, ‘Cool. I wanna see that!’ In the case of something, for lack of better terms, more talky, this type of promotion is all about the ability to enrapture an audience as though the clip were a full short film, not necessarily with a beginning, middle and end, but with an engaging situation and intriguing characters. Not only do the four clips from Moneyball achieve just that, but they also work together painting a fairly detailed picture of the film’s main players and their relationships and, best of all, make you want more.

2. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part I Trailer: In all honesty, it somewhat pains me to put this trailer in the promotions department, but, as a piece about promotional power, Summit Entertainment certainly earns this spot. First off, since when are there teasers for trailers? I don’t know who or what kicked that trend off and the concept is absolutely absurd, but in The Twilight Saga’s case, when just about anything incites a fandom riot, you really can’t blame the studio. As for the actual trailer, at times, I giggled and not in a good way. Then again, as a semi-non-fan, I’m not the piece’s target audience. This trailer for Breaking Dawn – Part I is made for the fans, hitting the beats that are guaranteed to give those Twihards chills. The design here is incredibly appropriate. The music is rousing, the cuts to black are well timed and the shot selection guaranteed to satiate the diehards without spoiling too much. As for the rest of us, the last minute of the trailer at least poses an interesting dilemma.

3. The Descendants Clip: Yes, things like Twilight are fun, but what’s better than a film that feels real? Fortunately I can’t relate to the situation George Clooney’s character finds himself in in The Descendants, but coming from the perspective of someone with a younger sister, I can assure you Shailene Woodley’s dialogue is as close to authentic as it comes. This is a beautiful and rather simple moment that in a mere 43 seconds provides an impressive amount of access into this family. Plus, from a technical standpoint, director Alexander Payne’s light hand on the camera and the cutting restraint in the editing room is wonderfully appropriate, making the audience feel as though they’re right alongside the characters rather than watching something someone made. If the entire piece is of this caliber, and, based on the thoughts coming out of TIFF it looks as though it is, we’re in for something special.

The Descendants


1. Footloose Clip: The difference between the film’s domestic and international trailers hinted at this and now this clip just about seals the deal; Footloose will wow in the dancing department, but as a drama, it might turn out to be as laughable as the Fame remake. We know this Kenny Wormald guy can dance and that was likely key in his casting, but how about his acting chops? There’s a reason this clip keeps the focus on the goofy guy in green; he’s the better actor. Even when Wormald delivers a key line – a reaction to news that public dancing is outlawed – there’s a very delayed cut to his close-up. Then, when Wormald finally does get that tight shot, not only does he just say some nonsense including the demand for his new buddies to “jump back,” but the camera is eager to retreat and put the focus back on those secondary characters. The instant Wormald gets the gist of the conversation out of the way – “dancing is against the law” – we move away for him yet again and to the secondary character that isn’t even speaking nonetheless, merely nodding. Why? We could see two issues in the final cut, Wormald can’t act and/or director Craig Brewer didn’t get enough coverage.

2. Red Lights Teaser: As a big fan of Rodrigo Cortés’ work in Buried, I’ve had my eye on Red Lights for quite some time now. Naturally, the trailer arrives and I’m beyond excited. Still, this isn’t just a case of something not meeting high expectations, rather a trailer that simply offers nothing. Sure, this is just a teaser trailer, but you’d think it’d take us at least a step beyond what we already know - the story involves a psychologist investigating a famous psychic. But no; all we get is some boring and obscure text and a whole lot of the back of Robert De Niro’s head. De Niro’s a draw, but if the designer of this trailer thinks showing him off with a pair of eerie grey eyes is enough to pull folks in, he or she is terribly mistaken.


3. Johnny English Reborn Clip: Perhaps Bucky Larson expired my patience for comedic nonsense, but this clip for Johnny English Reborn is painfully unfunny. This footage is one giant mess of slapstick garbage that evokes zero emotion, let alone a laugh. Even worse? Rowan Atkinson is a lot harder to look at than usual. At one point, his arms are so pale and body so small, his head kind of looks like a copy-paste job.

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