I’ve written here about how much I love movie trailers. I truly believe it’s an art form. It isn’t easy to condense a 2-hour movie into 2 minutes without giving away too much, while still enticing you to see it, and while realistically representing the experience you’ll have. Some trailers get it exactly right, while others miss the mark so much that it actually worsens your opinion of the film. After all, expectations are everything. Here are a few trailers that so severely misrepresented the films that I couldn’t fully appreciate what the films had to offer.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
5. The Village
What the trailer promises: a Puritan horror film, focused on a treaty and perpetual territory struggle with mysterious creatures in the woods, featuring Joaquin Phoenix as the man brave enough to face them.
What the movie delivered: a dull, barely frightening fake-Puritan-in-modern-day film, featuring Joaquin Phoenix lying wounded in a bed for over half the film, while we mourn the anticlimactic “twist”.
4. The Squid and the Whale
What the trailer promises: a quirky, darkly funny comedy involving a family going through a divorce, focused on their unique and honest relationships and the family members who are doing their best during a difficult time.
What the movie delivered: a cynical, rarely funny drama involving a family going through a divorce, focused on the manipulative, dishonest, and resentful relationships and the psychologically dysfunctional and completely unlikeable family members who are doing their best to hurt and alienate one another.
3. The Family Stone
NOTE: Although this trailer is misleading, I actually did enjoy this film.
What the trailer promises: a joyful, family Christmas movie about a young woman trying to woo her boyfriend’s difficult and judgmental family, filled with plenty of laughs and physical comedy.
What the movie delivered: a tearful, family Christmas movie about a young woman trying to woo her boyfriend’s difficult and judgmental family, filled with plenty of laughs and physical comedy… however the rock of the family, his mother, is dying of cancer.
2. Everybody’s Fine
What the trailer promises: a journey across the country for a newly widowed father provides the opportunity to learn more about his grown children who want nothing more than to make him proud and in the process learns a lot about himself.
What the movie delivered: the journey for the widow reveals he knows little about his grown children, who lie with great effort to hide their true lives from him, while secretly trying to help their brother who gets arrested and eventually dies while dealing drugs in Mexico.
1. Bridge to Terabithia
What the trailer promises: an epic Jumanji meets Narnia adventure where the impossible is real, featuring two unlikely but heroic children.
What the movie delivered: a coming-of-age drama, featuring two misfit children who escape to an imaginary “world” they create in the woods, one of whom tragically dies leaving the other to imagine Terabithia on his own.