I was in Target today, trying to find those little hooks you put in the ceiling from which to hang things. I don’t even know if they even have them there, and it really doesn’t matter anyway because once I stumbled into the entertainment section, I forgot about them completely.
I don’t know if you have been in a Target recently, but I go often enough to notice they play the same five trailers in their entertainment department over and over (and over and over. . .and over). To my dismay, these were all advertisements for children’s movies. Don’t get me wrong, children are a huge percentage of the human population and just because I’m a twenty-three year old who is pessimistic and likes “scary” metal doesn’t mean I should hate on the movies that are marketed to them. But. . .I’m going to anyway.
Here are my grievances with you, children’s movie trailers!
Songs Used in Trailers
While looking for “Kung Fu Panda” (an excellent kid’s movie), I couldn’t help but hear the trailer for the film “Alpha and Omega”, which to my understanding is a wolf-ified version of “Romeo and Juliet”. Now while the film might be good and give a good message to kids, I groaned at the usage of Duran Duran’s 1982 hit, “Hungry like the wolf”. I mean. . .I know the movie’s about wolves. . .but . . .really? Just because it’s about wolves, you have to have a popular song that mentions wolves? That song’s about stalking, isn’t it? I’m confused.
Another example where this sort of “song/title/plot” association happens is in the trailer for 2009’s “Marmaduke”, about some dumb dog who moves to the OC with his cat friend. This trailer not only features one song about California, but two. One of them is the OC Theme song, the one with the guy moaning “Califorrrniaaaaaa”. Alright, I get it. The dog mentioned California. . . so we need a song about California. But wait, we need another song about California. Now, the trailer-makers could have chosen any other song about California: “California Dreamin'”, “Hotel California” or every single fucking Red Hot Chili Peppers song. The one they decided to go with was 2PAC’s “California Love”. Wait, what? Is Marmaduke moving to same neighborhood where “pimps be on a mission for them greens”? Or where “lean mean money making machines servin’ fiends” do their thing? Maybe just to California where “hoochies” are just “screamin'”. Just seems kind of dumb.
I love the Kung Fu Panda movies. They’re well-written, well-structured, have good messages about a myriad of things, are beautiful to look at. But dude, yes. . .it’s a Kung Fu movie. . .do you have to have “Kung Fu Fighting” in the trailer? Like. . .we already know it’s about Kung Fu. . .
So, based on this principle, if I made a movie about a bear, would I have to use a song about bear in the trailer? Would I have to use the Descendents song “I want to be a bear”? Or how about a movie about Vultures with Wesley Willis’ “Vultures Ate My Dead Ass Up”? Seriously, trailer makers, get a little creative.
Look, I know I’m twenty-three and not the right target audience for these movies, but jesus. For a prime example of this, refer to the image below:
Get it? Hairy? Because they’re animals! Cats and Dogs did this again with a poster for their next film in the franchise:
Purr-fect! LOL! Fuck me. I mean, seriously. Quit HORSE-ing around! He’s fighting with a PORPOISE! Things are going to get FURRY! He’s BARKING mad. It’ll make you BATTY!
Knock it off. Just fucking knock it off.
I don’t know what it is about the kid-movie world, but is everyone 1) always surprised and 2) in such a surprise that they have to fall over? I don’t remember the last time I was so surprised I fell down. Who the fuck does that?
The Marmaduke trailer I mentioned earlier has at least two instances of this. Marmaduke was running into William H. Macy, causing him to flip over a billion times and crash on his face. This didn’t happen just once, but twice. Later in the trailer, Marmaduke’s cat friend said some witty thing (because cats are smart and witty and not stupid like dogs), and Marmaduke sent him flying in some sort of recliner that launches people. (Yea. . .I don’t know why anyone would even have that.) Is that funny? Oh, it is? Really?
This trailer below, has EVERYTHING I have mentioned. The film is called “Furry Vengeance” and stars Rick O’Connel after his Mummy-slaying days. Not only does it have a popluar song that sort of relates to the plot, but it also has a pun and people falling. THREE TIMES. Once on a treadmill, once out of bed for no reason, and third, in and outhouse of tree. I don’t get it, but then again, I’m not seven, so whatever.
The narrator or titles spelling it out for you
I guess you could say that all movie trailers do this to a certain extent, but holy crap, do kid’s movies really shove it in your face. For example, in the trailer for “Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown”, a movie about people making fun of Linus for his blanket, the narrator says “but sometimes growing up means standing up for what makes you happy.” Spoiler alert! Why do I even need to see this movie anymore?
In the trailer for the modern take on “Beauty and the Beast”, “Beastly”, the titles say “This Summer. It’s what’s underneath.” I really thought it was going to continue on to say “It’s what’s underneath that counts” or “It’s what’s underneath that matters”, but it just stops there. “It’s what’s underneath.” While this doesn’t seem like a complete sentence, it does a good job of giving us the THEME OF THE DAMN MOVIE. Once again, why do we even need to see it now?
To me, a good trailer presents a problem, then asks a “can our hero make it out of the jam?” question. Then you’re like “I wanna see that!” to see if they get out of the jam or not. The theme is learned at the end of seeing the film. See? Let’s say you watch “Beastly”. Afterwards, if you’d been paying attention, you might say “Oh. . .maybe it’s really about what’s underneath the surface! I get it!” and then continue to be a superficial asshole for the remainder of your days.
What if someone gave you a trailer for Little Red Hen, and in it they said “sometimes, you have to work for what you earn.” Wouldn’t you rather just learn that on your own while watching the movie? Or what if someone told you the moral to an Aesop fable before they started telling it to you? I dunno about you, but I’d be mad. (REALLY MAD!)
To stress my point, look at three great children’s movies, “The Wizard of Oz”, “The Lion King”, or “Beauty and the Beast”. How many fart jokes are in “The Wizard of Oz”? How many times do people fall over for no reason in “The Lion King?” Maybe once or twice? Did “Beauty and the Beast” trailer have the song “Beast of Burden” by the Rolling Stones? No. It didn’t.
I guess what I’ve realized over the course of writing this is that movies like the ones mentioned above are good MOVIES, not just good kid movies. Perhaps this is why “The Wizard of Oz” just had a 70th Anniversary release. You think “Furry Vengeance” is going to have one in 2080? How many people are going to show “G Force” to their kids? Let alone remember it?
Now, I’m in a weird place. On one hand, I have written this whole entire thing, telling you why I hate these previews and these movies. On the other hand, can I really hate on something that is making children laugh? Not really. I guess what I come away with is that while dumb kids movies will make kids laugh now, good children’s movies (like “Wizard of Oz” and such) will children laugh for years to come. So yea. . .I still need to find those hooks.