The unending horror of bad movie trailers

Mark went to see Greenberg. Mark had to sit through 29 minutes of adverts and trailers. Mark isn't very happy about it...


If you go down to the cinema to see a film such as Noah Baumbach’s typical American indie middle class angst treatise Greenberg, what will you see?

You’ll be seeing the usual bunch of middle class self-hating crap about identity and how one totally defines themselves by their Steve Winwood band tour t-shirt, lashings of exposition, a fair chunk of dreamy shots of cars, and nothing else but a desire to hit the cast in the face with a sack of angry electric eels and tell them to get a grip.

Films about middle-aged men in crisis should involve a battle against gods, wrestling bears, and driving fast red cars. In short, you ain’t watching Vampire Torturers Vs. The CGI Lizard or I Still Know Who Screamed 300 Times Last April.

So you (that is me, using the royal ‘you’), settle down in the comfy seat after plunking down £8.40 or so, surrounded by kids with slurpy drinks and rustling bags of cheap sweets, to watch That Film With Zoolander In And Some Angsty Stuff. There’ll be a few single parents there, using a non-contact night, and a babysitter, to pay to immerse themselves in someone else’s problems instead of their own.

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I might be one of them, but tell nobody nothin’. Somewhat typically, as Greenberg is actually a veiled adaptation of my life story, I am writing this column in crayon on round paper before submitting it to the typing pool.

I turned up about fifteen minutes after the ‘advertised’ time. After all, as a parent of two with not much time and a full-time job, the last thing I want to do is miss putting the kids to bed because of an advert for a Mars Bar hardwired into an unskippable cinema seat. And Matthew Horne telling me how great it is I am not watching a torrented pirate DVD. I’d download the movie just to avoid seeing Horne’s vile face.

If only I had a remote control for reality. I reckon I could make a decent movie pitch out of that.

“Hurry up, it’s just starting,” I was told by the red-shirted, minimum wage vendor.

There were still 14 minutes to go before the start of the film, and I was 15 minutes late. Twenty-nine minutes of adverts? That’s a piss extraction of surgical precision. You can do a lot in 29 minutes. Including strangle to death every contestant on this year’s Big Brother. Possibly.

Bear in mind that the film hasn’t started yet. Either you know it’s the usual bit of navel-gazing or you don’t. You kind of know the world you’re going into. If you see Borat, there’s a strong chance you’ll be surrounded by people half your age having 100 times more crap sex than you.

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So, what kind of films would you expect to see in the trailers?

Oh, I don’t know. Some upcoming thriller with George Clooney, probably. Maybe an upcoming spy movie, a dull romcom and probably a summer blockbuster. Certainly not two different trailers for The A-Team. I love it when a talk plan comes together!

Yes, we got all manner of crap in the trailers. That’s no surprise. Even Ponyo probably got Iron Man 2 and Friday The 13th: The Quickening in the trailers. I’m not sure about that, as we missed the trailers for Ponyo.

So, 28 minutes after the film was due to start, it still hasn’t started. And the trailers that are on are woefully misjudged for the film. Every film has its audience. Greenberg isn’t exactly a horror, is it? Why, then, are the trailers so bad? And why are there so bloody many of them?

Going to the cinema is a rare luxury of time and expense. These days, I factor at least 15 minutes of advertising crap and clips from forthcoming blockbusters so I can spend more time at home before I go off to an ice cream shop with a big screen in the corner.

I know, fewer adverts, and you pay more to go to the cinema. But £8.40 isn’t exactly cheap. And these days, a movie release – if you can find a film that isn’t The Computer Animated Millionaire Versus The Imaginary Dragon 3D – is just an advert, or an expensive preview, for the inevitable Blu-ray/DVD Combi-pack release. Hell, my upscaling DVD player has a better and sharper image resolution than the Prince Of Persia trailer. A trailer which, by the way, has more motion blur and poorer definition than my VHS copy of The Stuff.

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Don’t even get me started on charging an extra £1.30 to see a blurry, dark image called ‘3D’.

But perhaps, for me, the thing that rankles most is that there are so many trailers. They are all so crap, and they are so utterly misjudged. I’d rather watch one or two brilliant trailers that complement the film I’m about to see and whet my appetite instead of a half-hour long vomit of A-Team adverts for CGI boom-fests. Unless, of course, they want to preceed Predators with a trailer for a documentary about John Lydon pitching to Lord Alan Sugar. Quid pro quo, Clarice. Because 28 minutes of crap sours the flavour of great filmmaking, and those 28 minutes are a long, dull, tedious time.

No wonder plenty of people don’t go to the cinema anymore, with half an hour of trailers, and having to look at Matthew Horne’s face smugly telling us how great we are that we paid for a product instead of downloading it?

To be clear, then: no matter how many times you entice me, I’m not paying to see a remake of Airwolf 3D. What next, a Manimal motion picture? Nein, danke.