I was checking IMDB today, and one of my friends looked over my shoulder
to see which movie I was looking up.
Him: "Stranger Than Fiction. I heard that wasn't very funny."
Me: "It's not supposed to be funny. It's an existential dramedy about
free will vs. destiny. Rather brilliant storytelling, but it's not
supposed to be a comedy."
Him: "Oh yeah, people probably saw Will Ferrell and assumed it's supposed
to be a comedy."
Which got me thinking...
What other films may have suffered from people's expectations?
M. Night Shamaladingdong delivers a thoughtful exploration of the levels
to which people go to protect their values. Well written, well acted,
thoughtfully (read: slow) paced, I absolutely loved it. Even though I
read the book from which the source material was shamelessly ripped
(Running Out Of Time), I immensely enjoyed it. The expectations:
Disney distributed The Village. Rather than cut together a trailer for
this film that reflected its mood, they took the 2.5 "scares" in the movie
and came up with a 60 second teaser that made it look like the 1842 Texas
Couple that with the fact that the "spoiler" wasn't. The Shamhammer's
popularity at the time was still due to the Sixth Sense, which blew the
mind of everybody in America. So many people were thus expecting a huge
spoiler. But The Village doesn't end with a spoiler so much as a plot
twist that invites the viewer to rethink the context of the entire film.
Which quite frankly, takes too much for the viewer to rethink the past 97
minutes to fully appreciate the film, (which is why a 2nd viewing is in
order, but most people want the full experience the first time).
Matt Damon stars as Mark Whitacre, a VP for an agricultural company that
is suspected of price-fixing. The film was marketed as a screwball
comedy, showing Matt Damon being inept as an informant. Which is a
horrible misrepresentation of the film.
Marketed as Gladiator 2, it wasn't nearly that epic.
The fundamental problem here is that people want to know EXACTLY what they
are getting into whenever they go to a movie. They want to know who's in
the movie, what happens in the movie, how the first two acts play out, and
in many cases the final spoiler. And give it to me in two and a half
Trailers these days show you EVERYTHING. Artistic integrity can go
fornicate itself as far as we seem to be concerned. Going into a film
with an open mind with the intention of letting the director speak to us
through this medium is a concept more foreign to us than Chinese algebra.
But such is the age of information.
Queen put it best when they so flamboyantly sang:
"I WANT IT ALL!"
- Jordan Dehart