A discussion on the proper approach to movie trailers

Recently, the Manitou Messenger office played host to a heated debate over what makes a good movie trailer. After consulting with others, we have found this kerfuffle to be not merely isolated to the confines of our newspaper staff, but rather a widespread controversy in the world at large.

As the editors of the Arts & Entertainment section, we are compelled to get to the bottom of this issue. The following is a dialogue musing on the following topic: what qualities make the ideal trailer?

Chaz Mayo:

I think first and foremost is that the trailer not show too much. These days, there are so many movies being released that one does not even need to go see because the trailer some everything up; it might as well have been its own short film.

Larissa Banitt:

I agree, I especially think this is true in B movie comedies where all the funny jokes are in the trailer. When you actually see the movie it is entirely anti-climatic because you went in expecting more jokes that just aren’t there. At the same time, I’m not a fan of overly vague teaser trailers either. A trailer for a trailer seems a bit much.

Mayo:

Oh, absolutely. This gets to what I think is the role of the trailer. In my eyes, a movie trailer only needs to accomplish three things: first, to covey the general premise of the film; second, to provide an accurate sense of the film’s tone and atmosphere; and three, to be fun or engaging enough that it makes one excited to see the film.

Banitt:

I would agree, if done in balance with one another, these three elements definitely are effective in helping me decide whether or not I will watch the film. But balance is key. Too many trailers seem to to be too heavy in one category or another. We’ve all seen trailers that felt too much like a recap. On the other hand, we’ve all seen trailers that felt like a fan edited a video to include all the most humorous parts of the movie, even if they aren’t really relevent to the story the rest of the movie is trying to tell.

Mayo:

Great. Now we’ve settled that problem for good, right? What do you think are some of the best and worst recent trailers?

Banitt:

One really good trailer that I’ve sen recently is for the film “Denial” about a historican (played by Rachel Weisz) who is sued by a man she calls a Holocaust denier. It is based on historical events and the trailer has to give a lot of context without feeling like it is just a summary of the plot. The drama that underlines the premise itself comes forward in the trailer and definitely made me want to see it.

Mayo:

Has anyone seen the trailer for “Gifted,” the new Chris Evans movie? It’s dreadful. It is basically snapshots of every major plot point of the film mixed in with the most painful expository dialogue imaginable. And its oh-so-subtle product placement is trying to convince me that a child would ever willingly eat Special K? I don’t buy it (literally or figuratively).

mayo1@stolaf.edu

banitt1@stolaf.edu

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