First of all, I have to make an update to my previous OK Go-themed post. Apparently the band can’t even go a couple of weeks now without spilling out more awesome.
Why was OK Go hired to remix the Muppet Show theme song? Search me. Disney’s been trying to revamp interest in the Muppets, leading up to a new feature film due out in November, but I have no idea who had the idea to connect them with the Chicago rockers. That person is brilliant, though, since OK Go’s whimsical side meshes perfectly with the Muppets’ character-driven chaos (“Come back, Bunny!”). Also, now that you are properly educated OK Go connoisseurs, I’m sure you caught all the homages to past videos? I count four.
All right, to the point. Last night I went to the theater with my dad to see “The Future,” the latest film by performance artist/bizarre person Miranda July (do not, by the way, see this movie). We got delayed on the way out the door, and in the car I got visibly antsy that we were going to be late. My dad told me to relax – “we might just miss a couple trailers.”
What he failed to understand was that this was precisely what I was anxious about. See, I LOVE movie trailers. And I could get in big trouble with the film snob community for admitting that, so you should take it as a sign of confidence that I’m posting this.
Trailers are the cinephile’s worst nightmare: they are specifically crafted to get you to buy a ticket, and thus often spoil all the best moments a film has to offer – the funniest punch-lines, the most startling images, the most dramatic reveals (for some reason studios have forgotten that if their film has a twist ending, we will be much more shocked and excited if you DON’T TELL US THERE WILL BE A TWIST).
Like every other advertisement, their entire purpose is to get you to make up your mind about a film BEFORE you even sit down to watch it, and editors will twist the product in any number of misleading directions to accomplish that goal. They spoil objectivity to the point that renowned critic Gene Siskel apparently blocked his ears and stared at the floor to avoid watching any at the theater.
But I can’t help it. My love for movie trailers is entirely separate from my love for movies. They are their own art form, and have to be judged on their criteria. Proper music selection and masterful editing skills are the key elements: the best trailers play like a favorite song, with their own unique sense of rhythm and pace. I’ve been spreading a few of my favorites throughout this post, but let’s make a few specific points:
Do it right, and a trailer can pack all the emotional impact of the film itself, crammed into a 2-minute synopsis. In fact, more often than not a trailer can be edited so that it has MORE emotional impact than the film itself. For example, this trailer for “Watchmen” is ominous, unsettling and apocalyptic. As it turned out, the movie was long, long, and too long, making it enjoyable only if you are a fan of the original graphic novel (which I am, but still).
Comedies are the most dangerous trailer genre: all the editor has to do is splice together a bunch of the film’s best jokes, and boom! You’ve got the most hilarious movie EVER MADE. Here, “The Trip” promised a breezy hour and a half of two British comedians mercilessly mocking each other with vaguely outdated pop culture references and backhanded compliments. What the trailer leaves out: the extra 45 minutes of Steve Coogan wandering the English moors in the rain so he can find a cell signal to speak with his estranged son. I really wish I was joking.
Romances are also tricky. You have to somehow nab the audience’s attention even though we’re all used to the standard happily-ever-after formula. “500 Days of Summer” nailed that by announcing right up front “This is NOT a love story.” The sweet sounds of The Temper Trap then keep you hooked…just long enough for the horrendous voice-over narrator to destroy the mood with his bizarrely straightforward script. Close, but no cigar on this one. But even this trailer isn’t anywhere near as bad as this mess that recent audiences have been subjected to:
For the first minute or so, we’re fine, then Eminem kicks in and everything goes wrong, wrong, all wrong. It’s not even that it’s a bad song to pick; it just pumps up the volume in the trailer way too soon. After the adrenaline rush at the trailer’s center, the random plot beats casually tossed in at the end are thoroughly anticlimactic. You want to finish with the breakneck-speed montage, because audiences have apparently been programmed to associate high-speed cuts with awesomeness. Also, the thumping beats of the legendary “Mission:Impossible” theme should’ve kicked in way earlier, to let us know what we’re watching. Otherwise, this could be a “Knight and Day” sequel for all we know.
All right, I’ve dissected more than enough for one post. So let me just leave you with my current pick for Trailer of the Year: this film might end up being nothing but a bunch of British people chatting with each other in smoke-filled rooms, but this trailer is tense enough to make me want to strangle something unless I find out what is going on RIGHT NOW (I mean, I guess I could read the book…but…so many words…)