“Trailer Trash”

THE MIDDLE SEAT: Column by Steve Matuszak

OK, so I went a little crazy last week by suggesting that there were some people who do not deserve to see movies. I then extrapolated that beyond film. And some of you added your own lists – tall and wide people, teenage boys who don’t shower and anyone who watches Fox News!

Well, I guess I should take it easy this week and cover something less controversial. But that can be dangerous for passionate folks like myself. The denouement after excitement can be debilitating, like Lawrence of Arabia trying to reenter society.

But, I shall try. Let’s focus our sites this week on movie trailers. Now, I called this week’s column “trailer trash” as a pun for movies, not to denigrate those who live in trailer parks.

I don’t have any issue with anyone merely because of where they live. I have an issue with blatant ignorance that, when wielded improperly, can cause harm to others. Like the time, when camping, my friends and I drove back to our campgrounds to see a guy (who had a permanent RV site) pouring motor oil on his fire to get it to burn.

But I digress to trash rather than trailers, although they can often be the same thing, hence my title. I would like to make a confession. I have been endlessly fooled by movie trailers to frequent films that ultimately were nowhere near as good as the trailers suggested. Has this ever happened to you?

And this is normally the case with Bruckheimer-like epic blockbusters full of action with no story. I just sometimes can’t help it. The trailers give me a tease of potential “awesomeness” and then I go, only to discover that the awesomeness ended at the end of the trailer.

But I fall for it every time. The deep voice over, the narrative that suggests the greatest story ever told, the quick cuts and mind-blowing special effects. Recently I recall the “Clash of the Titans” trailer and just a hint of the Kracken! Or how about the “Tron: Legacy” trailer? I believed my life would not be complete until I saw the light cycles one more time!

These false advertisements (trailers) ruin my movie-going experience and make me mad.

First, because they normally give away plot points that I do NOT want to know because they ruin the suspense of the story. They also give away the best (and sometimes only) laugh moments of the film. Seeing the trailer should not supplant seeing the movie.

My mother used to say “Give them a little and leave them wanting more!” Of course, I was in a middle school play at the time, but the adage holds true nonetheless. Stop giving everything away in the trailers.

Second, could you producers stop making the special effects seem so amazing that you suggest there are even more amazing effects in the film. Because, when it comes to “2012”, while there were some additional special effects beyond those shown in the trailer, they were so ridiculous that I LAUGHED!

Nobody wants to get a hamburger from a place whose advertisement shows giant juicy, mouth-watering patties only to find a limp, wafer-thin slice of meat and stale bun. Same for movies. Stop lying! Where’s the Beef? Stop putting the meat in the trailer and then not the film!!

OK, I want to hear from you readers – what film had a trailer that made you die to see the film only to be massively disappointed? See, guys (and by guys I mean any and all of you editing and producing the trailer), the trailer is supposed to make me see the film, yes. But, it is not supposed to be better than the film (recent “Star Wars”).

Trailer making has become a business itself. And yes, it’s a creative endeavor to get so much into 1-2 minutes or less. But how about a little truth in advertising? Here’s an example: “Couples Retreat: It’s a crappy little romantic comedy that is just like all the others but Vince Vaugh and John Favreau just wanted to do another movie together, and Faizon Love has no idea what comedy means, but otherwise, it’s fair to middling.”
There you go, now we know what we are getting and we can make our own decisions. It’s like a restaurant, when I ask the waitress about a special, or dish, I want an honest answer so I don’t spend a bunch of money on something I may not like.

Do you have any idea how many movies make initial big box office numbers and thus fulfill their financial concerns only to see the numbers drop significantly because word is out on how much the movie sucks? A LOT OF THEM! I consider that “stealing”.

It’s like those businesses that use language on their websites or brochures “We are the #1, industry leading, best, etc. etc.” Oh give me a break. Show me the EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE, the research, the PROOF! How about the truth for once: instead of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” the factual alternative “It’s Clear This Is Not Actual Butter, But as far as Substitutes Go, It’s Not Bad”.

Follow these simple rules and I may be surprised in your favor at the box office. And that would benefit us both in the long run. Because I personally think consumers are getting smarter. And we are beginning to see through your ruse and can now pick out the duds in a heartbeat. This means less initial profit on opening weekend and beyond.

So suck it up, suck it in and get honest. Or, here’s the real kicker, take the time to make better movies and then the trailer won’t really matter, we’ll just go because we know you and your movies are good. Unless, of course, you turn South and start to make duds (Shyamalan). Oops, did I forget to edit that? Just like some stuff you could have kept out of your trailers so I could once again enjoy the love of a good plot twist.


  1. Face Off = Rip Off. Oh, I know I am going back a few years (1997) – but I still wish I could get that $12 back. Forget the voice overs, the well placed action sequences, and the witty dialogue that appeared in the trailer….it had Nicolas Cage and John Trovolta – the two hottest action stars of the time. That right there convinced me it was a “must see”.

    When I total up the drinks, popcorn, tickets, and the 2 hours of my life I wasted on it….well, I still get a burning sensation.

  2. The Watchmen! I think that’s what it was called. We were even advised by dear friends to not go see it but went anyway. It was awful. I will take all my friends’ advice from now on. Generally we wait for movies to come out on PPV, Redbox, Netflix, etc., though.

  3. Jay and Selanie, I agree with BOTH of you. Face Off felt awesome because of who was in it! Who knew they would both go on from Face Off to more garbage like Con Air and Pelham 123??!! And the Watchmen had me JONSED and then broke my heart, just broke it!

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