I have a love/hate relationship with trailers. At their best, they beautifully tease up a flick’s assets and make me super eager to slap down some hard-earned cash. At their worst, they make me want to drive to Los Angeles and slap around a gaggle of studio heads on their lunch break. The most blatant offenders? Trailers that sell us on the exact opposite of, you know, reality. So without further ado, here are a few (of many!) examples of insanely, mind-numbingly misleading trailers.
Cold Creek Manor
The trailer looks eerie, suspenseful and, above all, seriously supernatural. The implication? Ghosts aplenty! Alas, this sucker has none of those things. Spoiler alert: there are zero ghosts in this movie. Basically, some family (Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone and miscellaneous kids) moves into an old house. Then Stephen Dorff, who’s not a ghost, tries to kill them. In non-ghostly ways. The end.
p.s. There are no ghosts in this movie.
p.p.s. Is Stephen Dorff as scary as a ghost?
The Fifth Element
Hey, cool! This movie looks like the second coming of Blade Runner! Well, if the trailer is to be believed, that is. High-end special effects, deadly serious drama, plus a whole lotta running and other assorted action. In the future! A dark, dystopian future! The actual Fifth Element is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish, mind you. It’s funny, goofy, and over-the-top campy. These aren’t bad things, mind you. But none of them there adjectives would ever be used to describe Blade Runner.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
The trailer gives us a gothic, period piece horror film, heavy on action and dialogue. Sure, at one point, Johnny Depp sings two lines of a ditty as he’s about to lay waste to some dude. You don’t think much of it because, hey, people were flamboyant in olden times.
Okay, for those of you who aren’t theatre nerds, I’ll cut to the chase: Sweeney Todd is a full-on, bona fide, card-carrying “places, everybody!” musical. There are a zillion songs in it. Which means the film has less than ten minutes of dialogue. Less than ten!
Awesome film. Hugely misleading trailer. How so? Well, click on the video and see for yourself. It states quite clearly that after Harry Block pens a best-selling tell-all, an angry woman takes offense at his antics, kills him, and he goes to hell. An intriguing concept I guess, in a broad comedic kinda way. One problem though: that’s not even slightly, remotely at all what this movie’s about. The real Deconstructing Harry is an edgy, character-driven road movie about Harry, his friend, a prostitute and his kidnapped son driving to a ceremony at his old university. Why must you lie, trailer? WHYYYY?
The World According to Garp
I fell victim to this bait and switch trailer at the tender age of ten. The two-minute clip depicts the coming of age, very PG tale of a formerly shy kid (hilarious Mork from Ork!) who stumbles into adulthood. That’s sweet and funny, right? I’m trying to remember why my dad yanked me out of the theatre about 45 minutes into it. Maybe it was the movie’s necrophilia? The sex with teenagers? The family members that die in disturbingly gruesome ways? The women with their tongues cut out? The guy who gets Lorena Bobbited (if you catch my drift)? Tough call. Maybe it was simply past my bedtime. You know, my being ten years old and all.