So today I have three trailers: The horrible, the great and the good.
This first one is everything wrong about trailers and about a lot of Hollywood movies. These crimes are, in no particular order:
-CG animals voiced by people like Owen Wilson, in what may disturbingly be his first post-suicide attempt role.
-CG animals in general. This horrific trend is creepy and 100% unrealistic. But, the shit sells, and the kid demos certainly seem to keep making these films their money back. This all makes me nostalgic for Milo and Otis: http://videodetective.com/titledetails.aspx?publishedid=3327.
-Stereotypical racial assignments to animals, notably latinos actors (who are almost certainly going to be George Lopez, or the poor man's George Lopez, Carlos Mencia) as chihuahuas and other pointy-eared excitable breeds. Makes me sick to my stomach.
-Movies based off of pre-existing though meaningless properties. In this case, Marmaduke. Has anyone ever actually read a Marmaduke comic? They're fucking lame.
-Music choices: "California." This once decent song has been used and abused far too many times to have anything left. It's been used in every other movie and TV shots that takes place in California for the last decade. "California Love," by 2Pac? Ugh...
A Serious Man
This is probably my favorite trailer of 2009, and it works great for several reasons, again in no particular order:
-It sells the film, without having to give away the plot. This should be the goal of most trailers, but unfortunately most editors/producers/etc are too lazy to create a film that has anything worth concealing and needs a trailer with imagery capable of doing what this does. This trailer says both a lot and a little. What do we learn? We learn that this is a man, probably a professor and probably Jewish, who is going through some kind of overwhelming breakdown. In short, we get to know the what, without knowing the why.
-It is quick. There is a succession of shots, cut to a sound that we eventually see is from the man getting his face repeatedly smashed into a wall, which increasingly build tension: wife saying she wants a divorce, a man saying everything's going to be fine, a man saying that they've had denigrating letters about our protagonist, a repeat of the everything's going to be fine shot, a car slamming into another, the man saying he needs help. It all builds to the longest scene we get: the receptionist for the Rabbi goes and asks him if he would see the man. It's very slow. She comes back and says no, he's thinking. BOOM! Music! Credits! Coens! The thing is like a short film.
Things I like about this trailer:
-Robert Duvall in a crazy beard, who eventually shaves it and stills stays crazy.
-Bill Murray not as a CG animal.
-The time period/context.
-Again, this is a trailer that sells itself without selling itself out in the process. A mystery is revealed to us over the course of the trailer; a crazy man has been living alone and now wants to stage a funeral for himself while still alive. Everyone is sort of afraid/in awe of him. He may have dark secrets, and everything is promised to be revealed at the funeral.