Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Random thoughts on that Drive trailer lawsuit...

As sometimes happens, I commented on someone else's blog (in this case, David Poland's The Hot Blog) and what was supposed to be a random bit or two turned into a mini-essay.  So for those so inclined, here is my 'official essay on the Drive lawsuit'.  Oh, here is the actual complaint for those who want details that I don't feel like repeating.  And try not to laugh when attorney Martin H. Leaf calls Nikki Finke a "respected film critic and “Hollywood insider”.  Anyway, I do have some reviews up later this week, so apologies for the somewhat second-hand content.  Enjoy.

It’s no secret I kinda hated Drive (review 01 and 02), but I did not even watch the trailer before seeing it, so one cannot conclude that the low (and highly unscientific) Cinemascore grade is directly related to the marketing (IE – majority opinion aside for the moment, it could just be that it’s not a good movie). I didn’t watch the trailer before seeing the movie (I had correctly heard that it was spoiler-filled), but if I had and thought the movie looked good based on the trailer, would I have a cause of action? Most trailers technically make the movie ‘look good’. If the studios have a bad movie, is merely advertising that film in a way that makes it look good a case for fraud?

If a trailer successfully makes a bad movie seem like a good one (like the second action-packed trailer to the 1998 Avengers, for example), is there cause of action? The Box received an ‘F’ from Cinemascore over opening weekend. Does that mean that anyone who bought a ticket on the basis that the trailer made the movie look good now has a cause of action? Is there a cause of action if a trailer contains a number of scenes that aren’t in the final cut of the film? That’s false advertising, right?

Okay here’s another one… how about the many trailers that use sweeping, epic music to make the film’s seem more emotionally powerful than they actually are? Do I have grounds for litigation because I was far more moved by the trailers for Inception and Star Trek than by the films themselves? Hell, I can personally chalk up my personal dissatisfaction with Star Trek on the first viewing partially to my expectation that it would be a sweeping, epic adventure film as opposed to merely an above-average pulpy science-fiction B-movie (the trailer sold “THE Star Trek movie!, as opposed to merely “A Star Trek movie.”).

At the very least, the trailer to Drive is actually pretty accurate in the sense that it reveals most of the major action moments, as well as hints at at-least some of the film’s more graphic violence. At its core, if there is any ‘deception’, it’s that the trailer theoretically highlights the film’s action beats and says ‘all this and MORE’ when in fact it’s merely ‘what you see is what you get’ in regards to action/suspense. Every trailer, in one fashion or another, sets out to make the movie look good. If the movie is ‘bad’ or disliked by the respective patron well, that’s the cost of doing business. Next time, read the reviews or wait for word of mouth.

As for the anti-Jewish business, I take personal offense at that one as a Jew. Point being, we all complain about the lack of quality roles for minority actors, yet whenever a minority is cast in a somewhat unsympathetic or complex part, someone somewhere screams ‘-ism!’. I WANT Jewish villains, just as I want more black villains, Christian villains, Asian villains, Buddhist villains, Hispanic villains, and female villains of all race and creeds (I’d even love to have some Islamic villains where their religion is not the motivation for their villainy). Specificity is what makes interesting characters and the idea that making the two main villains specifically Jewish is tantamount to Antisemitism is both absurd on its face and counter-intuitive to richer characterization.

Scott Mendelson

1 comment:

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