I was perusing through iTunes’ newest batch of movie trailers last Tuesday when my eyeballs screeched to a halt upon one particular title recently excreted from the fetid bowels of some exceptionally bored screenwriter’s brain. I rubbed my eyes a few times, hoping that the title was simply the result of a lapse of temporary dyslexia brought upon by reading a chapter of Sartre’s Being and Nothingness earlier that day. No luck. The title still lit up my computer screen, quietly mocking me. Lovers of Hallmark cards and black licorice, rejoice! This October, American cinemas will be graced with the heartwarming presence of a movie about snowmen, aptly titled Snowmen. Starring everyone’s favorite 80’s movie scientist Christopher Lloyd, the steely-eyed “wiseguy” Ray Liotta, and a swarm of loud children hell-bent on breaking the world record for the largest snowmen ever built, Snowmen was probably created the same way all other children’s movie scripts are- during a cocaine-induced, sleepless writing session.
I know, I know. I should let up on the criticism. Let the kiddies have their snowman movie in the middle of October. Not all major motion pictures have to be Oscar worthy. Some people do enjoy black licorice. The truth is I don’t really have a problem with children’s entertainment. I look back fondly on my Nickelodeon days. For a long time in middle school, I was nearly convinced that SpongeBob Squarepants was the second coming of Christ.
What I do have a problem with are cringe-inducing, scripted audience interviews tactlessly disguised as movie trailers. These so-called trailers deserve eternal damnation among fellow sinners in Dante’s fiery circles of hell. Snowmen may turn out to be a decent movie but its trailer is beyond comparison in terms of its tasteless infomercial-like awfulness. A movie preview has three to four-minutes tops to convince viewers that it is worth shelling out $12 to go see in theaters. The best previews achieve this by skipping over the usual relay of key plot points and buzz words. Instead, great trailers attempt to convey the general mood of the film (á la the awe-inspiring trailer for 2008’s Where the Wild Things Are). For reasoning beyond my comprehension, the producers of Snowmen decided its trailer would most adequately advertise the benefits of the film by featuring hurriedly taped audience member interviews conducted after a film festival screening.
Did the family featured at the 0:17 mark and their declarations of love for the movie persuade me to go see it? Can’t say they did.
Did that young couple’s earnest compliments at the 1:14 mark help sway my opinion? No dice.
How about the adorable chubby kid at the 0:26 mark confessing that he cried during both the film’s sad and happy parts? Maybe, but I will only see it if he is in the movie, too.
Movies do not belong in the same category as some new formula of acne medicine for teenagers. They do not have to succumb to overblown, sloppy infomercial tactics to draw in an audience. Since the 1950s, movie producers have been struggling to differentiate their product from that of television. Today, there are many more popular mediums other than television with which cinema must contend. With this growing competition for the American public’s attention, one would think the creativity levels of movie marketing campaigns would be astronomically high. Alas, Snowmen’s trailer is one oozing zit away from being a Proactiv commercial.