This weekend, I went to see “I Love You, Man” with a bunch of grad students. Grad students are really great to take to a movie. They don’t have time to watch trailers online over and over, they don’t see commercials on TV, they read the news in newspapers, not the movie reviews. . . so they are actually pretty good at kicking back and enjoying what’s up on screen, minus the heavy expectations.
I, however, was not so lucky. I really enjoyed the trailer for “I Love You, Man,” only to find that the movie was, in effect, a much longer version of that trailer. That’s not to say it wasn’t an enjoyable movie – without a doubt, it was fun. . . but the trailer simply managed to suck out all the most enjoyable parts and deliver them to me before the movie could surprise me with them. A pivotal scene, in fact, THE pivotal scene, in which Paul Rudd tells his fiancee why he wants to marry her, is also the prominent scene in the film’s trailer.
Now, before you tell me that all of the Segel-Rudd-Whoever-Is-Hot-This-Week movies are too formulaic to have any real surprises, I give you this precious clip from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”
This scene would not have worked nearly as well had it appeared in trailers or commercials. The surprise that Segel’s character has a soft spot for puppets and vampires gives his character depth. Paul Rudd’s supposedly stuffy character in “I Love You, Man” has a soft spot for Rush – something we already guessed from the air bass scene we saw over and over again. The grad students, however, seemed to really enjoy watching Rudd’s character slowly unravel – they giggled at every line from the trailer and the tv spot. I’m sure whoever makes trailers out there giggled, too, which is why all the best lines ended up so worn out.
Were I not horribly addicted to trailers, I’d give them up entirely at this point. It’s a rare joke that can make me laugh after I’ve seen it the first time (most of those are in “Young Frankenstein” – a work of comedic genius if there ever was one). But for those lesser works of comedy, it would be lovely if we could just have a nice glossed-over summary in our trailers, and save the real laughs for the theater.