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Unfunny Trailers for (Probably) Funny Movies

When deciding to watch a comedy at your local theater, what are the factors involved in choosing which funny movie to see?

Do you just care who’s in it?

Do you just care that there’s yelling?

Do you just care that there are things being thrown?

Do you care that there’s cool music being played throughout the duration of the trailer?

How about it being funny and it making you laugh? Do you care about that?

While it’s quite obvious that the nature of a comedy movie is to be funny, several recently released movie trailers might suggest differently. Not to bog down in the subjectivity of whether you specifically laughed at the last few trailers you saw or the ones I’m about to call out, but it’s a noticeable trend that previews of movies that are supposed to be funny don’t prove to be that funny themselves.

3, 2, 1… Frankie Goes Boom, Goats, The Oranges, 7 Psychopaths, Liberal Arts
, and General Education (watch the rest of these trailers embedded below) are all movies that their trailers suggest might be hilarious. I might even see these movies, but I’m not excited to the point where I’m talking to friends or even strangers at a party about it. The only evidence suggesting there’s a promise of great comedy is that Martin McDonagh, writer/director of In Bruges, is involved, or that Lizzy Caplan, Ty Burrell, or Alia Shawkat are starring in it, or that it got accolades at Sundance or that there is a scene with high tension where people are unnecessarily (or necessarily) screaming at each other. Still, it’s a suggestion of a promise, which is not a reassuring way to advertise a product.

Yet, that’s enough, apparently, for people to go to a movie these days. That’s what studios think anyway. Again, my interest is personally piqued because I do really love stuff in which all the aforementioned people are involved, and I love seeing people lose it for an absurd reason on the big screen, but laughing out loud is still absent, I find, from the equation, which isn’t encouraging when I could watch something else on my laptop that does provoke that response.

Will those movies end up being funny? You and I will have to see them to find out. That’s the rub of it. That doubt is what encourages a passive interest in the film and, perhaps, a lack of a desire to see it in theaters. Maybe that encourages illegal downloads by people who only “kinda want to see it” rather than looking up showtimes, buying tickets, driving, parking, etc.

Maybe you disagree with the sentiment because you laughed at those trailers or illegally download all the movies you watch. However, I do know that I’m going to pay to see The Brooklyn Brothers: Beat the Best in theaters simply because I had to catch my breath from laughing so hard at the trailer.

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6 comments

  • I saw General Education at the Cleveland International Film Fest this past spring. Your not missing anything by skipping it. It’s a good first attempt by young directors from Ohio but it’s not worth the money. Sure there are some good funny moments but for the most part it’s narrative doesn’t get you there. It’s a shame cause the guys that made it were pretty nice and I think they will do better in the future.

  • Does Seven Psychopaths really belong here? I thought that trailer was hilarious, with several laugh-out loud moments, and the movie immediately shot to the top of my 2012 Must-See list.

  • Excessive actor intros? It seems like all these trailers are trying to sell us on the actors and not the stories which makes me think there is less to the story.

  • I can say that if it weren’t my job to see it, I’d have skipped The Dictator because the promotion for it was so irritating. The movie itself, however, was great – mainly because of jokes they couldn’t possibly have shown in an all-ages trailer.

  • Josh Radnor has grown on me. I do want to see the movie that made Ted Mosby have a beard for a couple of episodes of How I Met Your Mother. The story seems familiar to me as I am almost living it. At any rate I am going to see Liberal Arts. What a great cast.