If you were fairly certain that watching Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds wasn’t how you'd most enjoy spending your Saturday night, would a trailer quote from a critic that dubbed it “the best movie of the year” change your mind? Or if a reviewer excerpt insisted The Vow is a love story you “don’t want to miss” would you push aside your fears that its screenwriter learned everything he knows about romance from Nicolas Sparks?
How much sway do the critic quotes on movie trailers hold these days? We’re thinking not that much, and here’s why.
Imaginary critic friends
“The funniest film of the year”
-Joe Josephson, WXKB News
-Jane Janey, The Newton Observer
Who are these reviewers or film publications and sites you speak of? Do they truly exist? It’s hard to take the word of sources that no one’s heard of, and that frankly sound like they're either made up, or were generated by media organizations that have as much cinematic experience and credibility as a high school newspaper. (The same goes for award logos for "Official Selection in the Pickle Gap Film Festival" and other festivals we’ve never heard of.)
They can’t all be best movie of the year
Or the funniest romantic comedy of the year (which, by the way Hollywood, isn’t saying much). Or the best mafia movie since The Godfather. Trailers can only toss so much hyperbole at audiences until their BS threshold is breached and they become desensitized to it all. Which very well may have been about five years ago.
Even when trailers tell us a reputable critic like Roger Ebert described its film as “spectacular”, or a well-known publication like Entertainment Weekly considers it “electrifying”, the suspicious shortness of the quote makes us wonder about the rest of the sentence. How can we be sure it wasn’t “a spectacular pile of crap” or as “electrifying as standing in line at the DMV”?
The too-hard sell
The more quotes fillmmakers cram into their trailers, the more we wonder what they’re trying to hide. Isn’t the trailer and the movie clips it includes and cast it features temptation enough to entice us? Why the hard sell? To trick us into seeing the film before word of mouth and full-fledged reviews convince us otherwise? Plus quotes that claim that “Katherine Heigl has never been funnier,”or “Michael Bay has never been better” aren't actually selling points.
More quotes or better trailers?
There's a chance a few select quotes from notable critics, could convince us to give a film we're unsure about a chance. Then again, film marketers might be better off focusing their energy on making an entertaining trailer. No matter how terrible a movie is, they could still suck us in with a great trailer. That's the only explanation we can think of for why we subjected ourselves to Hitman, Clash of the Titans or a slew of other disappointing films that weren't nearly as good as their trailers.