Movie trailers have a big influence on how we perceive the film before going in and what we feel when the credits roll. They may make the movie look utterly terrible, completely amazing, or somewhere in between, but we each go in with expectations upon viewing them. After the Fact is a look back on how the trailers may have affected the movie going experience. This column is not a review of the movie itself, but rather on the marketing techniques used to advertise the movie. Today the trailer for Pain & Gain will be under the microscope. Continue reading after the jump and expect spoilers.
It’s been eight long years since Michael Bay has directed something not of the Transformers franchise. Pain & Gain feels like Bay’s way of saying he needed a break from the metal titans from Cybertron. I don’t blame him. After watching the trailer for Pain & Gain, it felt like it would be a return to form since his Bad Boys era. The movie was grittier like the old days, and much toned down, but Pain & Gain was nothing the trailers had promised.
When you experience the trailer for Pain & Gain you are given a very fun, flashy, and up beat perspective of the time you think you’ll have. Like any Michael Bay film, there are explosions, hot women, and dazzling cinematography. Trailers for Bay movies also include great music that perfectly sets the tone and pace he wants you to feel. (That’s why he did such a great job starting off as a commercial director.) Don’t get me wrong, the trailer is fantastic, the dialogue is straight to the point, but nothing in it truly represents what you get out of the movie.
You have to give the marketing team credit, they do a really great job conveying the basic story in a fast paced tempo that isn’t clogged full of dialogue. And that’s where they trick you. In the film, the three main characters played by Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, and Anthony Mackie are a bunch of bumbling idiots that would have a hard time finding their way out of a paper bag. The trailer gives us slight hints at their erratic and uneducated buffoonery, but it mostly portrays them as strong characters with their heads on their shoulders. This is far from accurate.
What I don’t like about this trailer is how it reveals that Tony Shalhoub’s character survives the kidnapping. That’s a big detail that you know is coming when you watch the trailer and then see the movie. They could have had Ed Harris’ character shown in the trailer investigating them and they didn’t need to involve Shalhoub at all.
One of the best hidden items in the trailer is Jonny Wu as played by Ken Jeong. He can be seen in the red band trailer, but he is completely absent from the green band trailer. Jeong is one of the best parts of this film, but although his character is a big influencer to Daniel Lugo, it wasn’t necessary to show in the trailer. Adding Wu would have dragged down the beginning of the trailer and wouldn’t have been as sharp.
Read the plot synopsis for Pain & Gain courtesy of Apple Trailers:
Based on the unbelievable true story of three personal trainers in 1990s Miami who, in pursuit of the American Dream, get caught up in a criminal enterprise that goes horribly wrong.
The film is based on magazine articles by Pete Collins, with a screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely and produced by Donald DeLine, Michael Bay and Ian Bryce.
Pain & Gain is the perfect example of how movie marketing can cause cognitive dissonance. The trailer is perfectly advertised to grab your attention and increase interest, but when you leave the theater prepare to be disappointed. I expected a very fun, high adrenaline rush of a good time, and although the characters in themselves are a trip to watch, the movie gets old fast and provides little value.
Pain & Gain is now in theaters everywhere.
This…was a great read. I agree with 96% of what you wrote. And, other trailers WOULD have shown Ken Jeong, and that would’ve made his appearance less funny. Remember the trailers for The Hangover? The showed the Mike Tyson cameo, which was bad enough. But…they show the punchline (pun intended), to the actual joke!!! Why not just show him rocking out to Phil Collins? That would’ve been funny enough, and the movie could’ve surprised us with that knock-out punch. Anyway…Keep up these stories about trailers. I say you title the column “Trailer Trash.”
Well done, sir.
Not every trailer I look back on will be about bashing them. I want to focus on the positives and negatives. Did they capture the story well, was it misleading, did it show too many spoilers, was it a perfect tease for something great?
It was nice seeing you at Iron Man 3 tonight. We’ll have to discuss it at the next screening we run into each other.