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Top 10 Annoyingly Misleading Trailers

Damnit, marketing!

By MovieBabblePublished 3 years ago 3 min read



I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of top ten lists. It’s the ideal format for nonsensical clickbait articles. But this topic had been on my mind for quite a while. Like many moviegoers, I had been deceived numerous times by trailers, expecting one type of movie, and getting another altogether.

The reason for such marketing deception is obvious. Disregarding artistic intentions, distributors also want a return on their investment. If they deem a film to not be commercially viable enough, they will tweak its presentation, use its imagery in a different context, all in the hopes of attracting more people. Often this leads to an actual betrayal of what the film is or is trying to say. At times, you might get a pleasant surprise out of it, but usually, you feel cheated and curse whoever edited the misleading trailer.

Therefore, I decided to indulge myself, exorcise some demons, and present to you, my top ten list (in no particular order) of the most annoyingly misleading trailers of all time.

Warning: Spoilers aplenty!

#10: Man of the Year (2006)

The Trailer

The President of the United States is an outspoken comedian and he’s played by the late great Robin Williams. Granted, this premise didn’t work so well for Chris Rock with Head of State, but with Barry Levinson at the director’s chair, this was surely going to be a contender.

The Movie

The basic premise of an outspoken comedian becoming the president of the United States is in the film, but during the second half, the focus changes rapidly to a much less engaging conspiracy thriller plot involving faulty voting machines.

Is it actually good?

It’s the epitome of wasted potential. Despite everything it has going for it: a great director, some of the funniest people to ever graced the screen (Robin Williams, Lewis Black), a stellar supporting cast (Laura Linney, Christopher Walken, and even Jeff Goldblum), the film fails to make an impression. A film with such a great cast and premise shouldn’t be this unremarkable.

Even taking away the dull conspiracy thriller elements, the satire is frustratingly tame. Considering that Barry Levinson helmed Wag the Dog, a scathing political satire that remains poignant to this day, it’s shockingly quaint. Even though Williams makes the occasional funny jab, he feels held back by the PG-13 rating. It’s a film that should be angrier than it is. It could have been prophetic, even timeless. Instead, it rides it safe.

#9: Jungle Fever (1991)

The Trailer

A kooky, sweet, romantic comedy concerning an interracial relationship, and the numerous cultural misunderstandings that ensue. There might be a slight edge to this rom-com, but considering we hear the funky music of Stevie Wonder in the background, this does seem like a crowd-pleaser. Plus look at the all-star cast! It even has Anthony Quinn! Everybody loves Anthony Quinn!

The Movie

Rather than a breezy romantic comedy, we get a dark look at an interracial relationship. It’s less about their romantic attraction and more about the stereotypical perception of each other’s opposing races and how it defines their relationship. It’s a condemnation of decades-long mythologizing regarding the attraction of a strong, well-endowed black man as well as the black man’s pursuit of white women. Its content is incendiary, psychologically wrought.

Oh, and there’s also a harrowing subplot involving a crack addict (played by Samuel L. Jackson) and his relationship with his father (played by the late great Ossie Davis) which ends in tragedy.

The bizarre, wholly baffling final scene is also shown in the trailer. It’s shown with Stevie Wonder’s funky cheerful music in the background, making the dark connotations of this scene (how the crack epidemic is affecting the black community) seem comical and cutesy.

Is it actually good?

It’s a minor Spike Lee Joint, take with that as you will. It’s filled with some noteworthy performances (particularly from the underrated Annabella Sciorra and John Turturro) and some stellar sequences (most notably the crackhouse sequence), and it does deliver food for thought.

Nevertheless, the film does suffer from deeply seething tonal issues. It doesn’t blend well as a whole. The whole subplot with Samuel Jackson feels like it belongs to a different movie, as if we are watching two movies stitched together.

The abrupt ending always made me laugh. I respect the message it wants to deliver, but its presentation is just too goofy and as unsubtle as a sledgehammer to the face (though admittedly, subtlety has never been Spike Lee’s forte).


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