Arrow-right Camera


The Tell-All Trailers Movie Previews May Be Giving Audiences Too Much Information

Fri., March 15, 1996

Let’s say you’re one of the 37 people left in the English-speaking world who have not seen “Forrest Gump.”

Now that the movie is available in video stores, I’m sure all 37 of you are planning to run out and rent the movie, if you haven’t done so already. If you haven’t rented it yet, please allow me to ruin the movie for you.

It opens on this bus bench, where this really dumb guy from Alabama is regaling a series of strangers about his extraordinary life. He tells of being born to a determined and hard-working mother who will do anything to help her little boy, including doing the nasty with an unscrupulous principal just to get Forrest into regular school.

Young Forrest meets a little girl named Jenny, who befriends him. In fact, she’s his only friend. But she’s got her own problems with an abusive father.

Well, as luck would have it, Forrest is this speed-demon. That gets him a football scholarship with the Crimson Tide, which has nothing to do with Denzel Washington or submarines. Then he goes to Vietnam, where he wins the Congressional Medal of Honor.

He returns home and becomes an international pingpong champion and starts a shrimp-boat business in honor of his best buddy, Bubba, whom he met in Vietnam. He later takes on a partner, his double-amputee lieutenant friend from Vietnam. Forrest saved Lt. Dan, but Lt. Dan is real bitter, but eventually comes around and makes a fortune for both of them.

While Forrest is living the good life and meeting presidents of the United States - not the rock band but the real thing - Jenny is experiencing the dark side of life. She takes drugs, contemplates suicide and tears the tags off mattresses.

She returns to Alabama for one night, does the nasty with Forrest and leaves again, breaking Forrest’s heart for the 300th time. But they meet again, and she surprises him by introducing him to her boy, Forrest. She says she named him after his father. Now Forrest Gump thinks this is quite a coincidence that she found another man named Forrest. We told you he wasn’t very smart.

No, it’s actually Forrest’s little baby from that one night in Alabama. That’s the good news. The bad news is, Jenny’s picked up this unknown virus that has no name, but we know it’s AIDS. She and Forrest get married, she dies and Forrest raises Forrest alone, not far from the forest. End of movie.

Aren’t you furious at me? Don’t you just hate it when people do that? Doesn’t it drive you crazy when reviewers give away endings of movies? Do you slap your hands over your ears when the couple behind you starts discussing a new movie that you haven’t seen?

So if you’re really that emotional on this subject, why do you just sit there passively in the movie theater with your eyes glued to one trailer after another, seemingly oblivious that the trailers are showing you the funniest punchlines, the best action sequences and, most likely, the final scene of the movie?

It used to be that when theaters showed coming attractions, they showed only snippets of the film. The idea was to entice, not to reveal.

But with the average cost of the big-studio movie passing $30 million, studios don’t want to take chances. They want to beat you over the head with a movie until you cry uncle, or in this case, fork over that $6.

The worst part - even worse than revealing the best parts - is when the trailers sucker you by making the movie seem better than it is. How many comedies have you gone to where you knew all five funny lines in the movie? The trailer showed those lines, but you assumed that meant there were more of them. There usually aren’t.

On that rare occasion, the opposite is true. For instance, the trailer for the film “Down Periscope” looks absolutely moronic. Yet the film is funny on many levels. So, many of you will miss a funny film because of the trailer.

The next time you go to a movie, skip the trailers altogether and do something a little less stressful. Such as standing in a long line behind 12 Forrest Gumps for the privilege of buying a $12 box of popcorn.

Tags: Commentary

Click here to comment on this story »