There are certain people in our lives we must learn to trust. Our doctor, our spouse, our pot dealer—but none as much as the people who make our movie trailers. A good trailer maker (or a highly skilled bad one) can take any movie in the world, and with a little manipulative editing, sell a film that’s 180 degrees different from the actual movie being marketed.
In an effort to hold these infinitely powerful people to account—to force them to use their powers for good, not for evil—we’ll be reviewing trailers at DrunkSunshine in a series called Trailer Trash (“trash” being a verb). To inaugurate the series we bring you . . .
Much Ado About Nothing
Projected to open June 21, 2013
Directed by Joss Whedon
It turns out the title is kind of ironic. There’s been a great deal of ado about this film, but you can’t really assume that anyone involved in its production considers it even in the ballpark of nothing. So going in, I had certain expectations. First, I’m a Whedon fan. Even an apologist. Don’t get me wrong, I think I can be objective (Dollhouse sucked, Alien Resurrection was just not very good), but Whedon created the greatest drama series in the history of American television. Even given that, I don’t expect a guy to hit a home run every time at bat, so I have absolutely no problem reconciling the deathless greatness of Buffy with the fact that he’s never even come close to topping it. But the Whedon label carries with it certain expectations: there will be girl power and sarcasm.
As to the source material, when it comes to Shakespeare I’m more of a tragedies guy, so I’m not intimately familiar with MAAN in its original form. I’m going to guess there are mistaken identities and cross dressing, and possibly asses.
So that was the sum total of my expectations going in. Now for the trailer itself:
First off, black and white with a kind of pomo bebop jazz track. Already it looks more Cassavetes or Godard than I expected. Makes me think of movies like Anatomy of a Murder with its Duke Ellington score, and Elevator to the Gallows’ Miles Davis soundtrack. But those are both about murder, so this was a momentary bit of confusion.
Under the high-hat texture of the music, we start to see images of people getting ready for what looks like a pretty big deal LA cocktail party. You can tell it will be cocktails because of the way people are dressing, and you can tell it’s LA because it’s in one of those houses that’s way too big and way too landscaped, with clusters of well-dressed 30-somethings clutching stems of white wine and trying to be noticed not noticing anyone.
Cool, so it’s going to be a dinner party movie—Dinner at 8, Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Rope—this could be good. Now the Whedon regulars are beginning to gather. This could be bad (familiarity breeds contempt, or something; there’s a danger it will feel too small-screen) or good (it’s always good to see Amy Acker again).
Then the blurbs start rolling in.
“Whedon has created a Shakespeare adaptation that will please just about everyone.”
Um, sounds boring.
“Joss Whedon and Shakespeare are a match made in heaven.”
Who the frak is moviedex.com? Brb, going to register blurbwhore.com.
Another non-sequitur montage, and then vaguely Enter the Void-style graphics flash at us a little too fast: OBSESSION / HATRED / FRIENDSHIP / LOVE. (In that order?)
More montage, images evoking Fellini and Cassavetes.
LOYALTY / POWER / DECEIT / TRUTH (Spoilers?) . . . SEX / HONESTY / DEVOTION / DECEPTION
These words are starting to sound random, meaningless marketing words. They should’ve stopped at LOVE. (Trademark, blurbwhore.com)
In the end, this trailer left me expecting less than when I came in. Some of the choices seem obvious, if not downright lazy. A cocktail party in a glittering Hollywood mansion? Really? The black and white photography looks at first glance simply desaturated rather than textured. The jazz track has a retro feel to it, but it’s not real. It’s St. Germain, not Lambert Hendricks and Ross. The Much Ado About Nothing trailer left me with an image of a bunch of beautiful people getting together and having a Shakespeare themed cocktail party, with video cameras. It doesn’t seem like much to hang a movie on.
I was planning to see it either way, but I hope to be pleasantly surprised by the experience.