Trailer Mismash February ’09: The Inappropriate Romanticising

I find this poster offensive.

I’ve long been a proponent of matching a trailer to a film. This has never been clearer than the last few weeks, my beloved Oscar Season. I understand that sometimes there simply aren’t enough films to match to any given film, particularly if that film is heavy. Still, some things aren’t quite excusable.

When I saw The Reader last weekend, I was struck by a sensible trailer: The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, a disturbingly twee looking film about the son of a Nazi officer who befriends a Jewish child living in the concentration camp in his backyard(!). I get the impression that it would have worked much better in its literary form, where a child’s perspective doesn’t make it blatantly obvious that all of this Nazi stuff is going down, and I’m not particularly interested in seeing it at all. Filmic quality aside, it’s a logical companion to The Reader: films about Nazi Germany and/or its aftermath aren’t exactly strange bedfellows, are they?

The stranger option at The Reader was Renee Zellweger’s romantic comedy New in Town, which looks like a god-awful fish out of water extravaganza. I’m convinced I’ve never seen a proper screwball film (although Leatherheads tried, and those were its best moments), but Zellweger attempts to bring them back all the time. I’m not convinced that New in Town is going to be the movie that will convince me that Renee Zellweger falling down is funny, nor am I convinced that it’s a likely companion to The Reader. Think of it as an excruciating comic version of Fargo that spits on the good name of JK Simmons, who has only just managed to make people forget about the existence of Spider-Man 3.

The Reader is not the only film forced to take on inappropriate company: Revolutionary Road, everyone’s favourite tale of suburban nightmares and awful marriages, was also struck … by love! Maybe it’s Kate Winslet, I don’t know.

Anyway, the first film was The Ugly Truth, starring Gerard “Leonidas” Butler, and Katherine “Deal with it” Heigl. This trailer illustrated several things that are wrong with movies, chief among them being Heigl herself. Now, I liked Knocked Up quite a bit, and identified with it as a chronic marijuana smoking youthful father of the product of a one night stand, but Heigl has managed to poison the world with everything else. Anyone involved in the production of Grey’s Anatomy should be destroyed without prejudice, and should not be allowed to stink up my screens. Besides that, Heigl is the undisputed spokesperson of everyone, from TR Knight to women in general. You don’t say, after starring in Knocked Up (and presumably making a lot of money from it and earning a lot of cred), that you thought it was a little bit sexist; if you thought that, you really shouldn’t have made the movie in the first place. In all seriousness, do you think that any of the characters were always represented at their best in that film? Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd’s characters were symptomatic of each other, and they each had their issues. Heigl described her character as a “shrew”, ignoring her being career driven and generally responsible, but look at Seth Rogen! His character had no direction in life and did little other than smoke marijuana with his similarly motivated roommates. Parity was achieved in the film, and Heigl doesn’t deserve the spotlight if she’s going to be like this.
I guess I should speak about the film and the trailer itself, though; after all, that’s what I allegedly came here to do. This is another one of those “men and women can’t be friends” dealies and, on top of that, it’s one of those “all men are the same and want the same thing” propositions. I understand that Butler plays a chauvinist TV star “relationship guru” and Heigl his reluctant, uptight producer. Naturally, in the course of coaching Heigl into landing a great man, Butler realises that maybe she’s a nice girl. Nice enough to … love?
I think not! Put on dress 28, girl, because no one wants to marry someone who has proven herself to be the ultimate shrew in real life! But I don’t think backlash against an actress by me affects her chances in the real world, more’s the pity. The point is that it’s … well, it’s not actually a stupid concept beyond the fact that it stereotypes men in a horrible way … but that it’s a poorly executed okay idea with an actress who has proved herself uncharismatic as the female lead. The trailer is also home to Mika’s “Grace Kelly”, which I feel has become overused in trailers (even though I only recall ever having heard it in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry).
I think I pay special attention to this sort of movie because there’s always a slim chance that I’ll be forced at gunpoint into one of them. Know your enemy.

The other movie was another romantic comedy with a remarkably similar premise: The Proposal, starring Sandra Bullock (she’s still allowed to make movies, apparently) and Ryan Reynolds (AKA Mr. Scarlett Johansson) as a career woman and her assistant who pretend to be getting married so that she won’t be deported back to Canada. To compound the situation, the unlikely couple have to spend a weekend at Reynolds’ ancestral home! Hilarity is definitely on the cards, and no humiliation shall be averted! Featuring Katy Perry’s “Hot & Cold” – Perry guaranteed to be the next big artist to be shamelessly run into the ground by movie trailers – to a series of embarrassments along the lines of “Oh my, we’re accidentally naked and colliding!” and “Oh no, we have to pretend to share the same bed and I have an erection!”, it’s going to be great!
Either that or a joke along the lines of “I have a boner” is only funny when McLovin makes it. Sandra Bullock should either get herself deported to Canada, or reunite with her old flames Hugh Grant and … uh … Michael Caine. This probably isn’t a step up for Reynolds, even though his last romantic comedy was kind of for children and very strangely actually an examination of the Clinton years (I was kind of like “what?” on that point, too). While I see a lot of movies that I like (and, if I don’t think I’ll like it, I don’t go at all except under very special circumstances), there are some that I simply cannot understand how they managed to make it past a certain point – sometimes even conception. I think that this movie might be passable but it’s also the sort of movie that kind of pisses me off. I’ll avoid it as much as is humanly possible. Then again, if Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds can’t avoid bumping into each others’ naked bodies, what chance do I have of not seeing this movie?

Sometimes – and both of these cases stand out – if you don’t have anything suitable to show before a movie, don’t show anything. That’s how The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada came to start straight up, and it was better for it. I worry that, if it were released a few years later, it would have been partnered with Beverly Hills Chihuahua. All that said, I can’t wait until they do the next pseudo-lesbian convenience Chuck and Larry style movie just so they can set the trailer to Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl”, the atonal anthem of our times.

You’ll note that I didn’t repeat my old trick of youtubing the trailers: it’s because they’re not very good! I’m letting you paint a picture with your minds, my friends.

One Response

  1. Wavatar getyourfactsright February 23, 2009

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