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The Great Buck Howard

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Quicktime Trailer

This is one of those situations where the trailer is so bad that you have to assume that the movie itself is weird, and the studio doesn’t know how to sell it.

The endless series of cameos in the trailer clearly has little to do with the movie. And anyway, all you need to do to get John Stewart and Conan O’Brian to play themselves in your movie is to pay them. Are we really supposed to be tempted to buy tickets just because they got paid? I mean, watching them do what do is actually free.

Clearly, someone was instructed to put together a reel showing all the celebrity cameos, and also showing Tom Hanks and his son together on screen. It’s difficult to even identify the genre here. Drama? Comedy? Bittersweet Kaufmanesque stuff?

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JCVD

Jean-Claude Van Damme will soon be too old to be an action star. He’s got to reinvent himself, or fade away. It’s common for typecast actors to break the mold by doing something strange that makes fun of their image. It’s less common for the story of that vehicle to actually be the actor’s change.

On the other hand, as much as I’d like to believe that this movie represents a more sophisticated facet of Van Damme, I don’t. It has the feel of something that was put together by an agent trying to re-infuse their client’s career. Van Damme doesn’t seem to be acting any more than usual here… he’s just been stuck inside a self-referential indie movie.

Does the fact that he made a career decision to do something that would make him seem more interesting, actually make him more interesting? He didn’t write it or direct it. He probably just agreed to be in it.

Here’s the quicktime trailer.

Also pictured: Boris Karloff, Jerry Lewis, and Peter Falk as characters based on themselves, in Targets, King Of Comedy, and Wings Of Desire.

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The Unborn

The point of this movie is to provide a cathartic experience that will enable viewers to process their feelings of guilt and fear about abortion. At a deeper level, it’s about processing our innate (though often quashed) understanding of the connection between birth and death.

Yes, there’s nothing about abortion in the trailer, and there probably isn’t much about it in the movie, either. But that’s the way of things… you can’t touch someone’s true feelings on a hotly debated topic without abstracting it away to the point where it’s possible to deal with the primal as separate from the political.

Quicktime trailer

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Robin Hood And Shangri-La

Seth Roberts has a short post about the relationship between the trailer for Costner’s Robin Hood and the movie, and it was mirrored on his Amazon employee blog.

TV Tropes has a great breakdown of similar shots.

Here’s the short trailer, with the famous arrow shot at the end:

Here’s the longer trailer, featuring the arrow shot sooner, but not as prominently:

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Evan Almighty/Live Free Or Die Hard/Fay Grim

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Match the trailer to its subtext:

A: “We’re making a sequel to a movie you liked. You should see it because you are a pathetic sucker who is so invested as a consumer of our franchise that, no matter what we put on the plate, you’ll swallow it as long as you have the vague idea that it’s related to the first movie. By the way, fuck you.”

B: “We’re making a sequel to a movie you liked. In actuality, the sequel has very littleSling_blade
to do with the first movie. In fact, the second movie probably started as a completely separate script that was written by someone who had no idea that their work was going to end up as part of a franchise. But some producer noticed that there were similar themes, and an easy way to work in the main supporting character from the first movie. So we end up with the best of both worlds: a fresh and (by Hollywood standards) original story, and an already-made vehicle with which to market it. You might see it because you like the story, and you might see it because you like the first movie. You might go and rent the first movie before seeing the sequel, or afterwards, or not at all; it’s really a win for us, and hopefully for you, either way.”

C: “We’re making a sequel to a movie WE liked. We’re not really sure if you should see it or not. If you happen to be one of the two hundred or so people who saw the first movie, you may like it. On the other hand, maybe you won’t. Who knows? And if you didn’t see the first movie, you may still like this one, which, let’s be honest, is a creature all its own. That’s why we don’t even tell you about the first movie in the trailer for the sequel. Anyway, the best way to do this sort of thing is to just release the new movie and let an audience develop organically if that’s what’s meant to be. This has been fun, but we’dEvening_star
better get to work on our next project. Take it easy!”

Evan Almighty trailer

Live Free Or Die Hard trailer

Fay Grim trailer

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