MOVIE MARKETING MADNESS:  ARE WE THERE YET? Image

Ice Cube seems to idolize Eddie Murphy. That’s the only explanation I can think of for his career track in movies. He starts off in the successful and well received “Boyz N the Hood”, moves on through “Friday” and its two sequels and then starts doing over the top action vehicles like “Torque” mixed with family friendly flicks like his new one, “Are We There Yet?”

If you follow the first ten years of Murphy’s career that’s fine and Cube has a fairly respectful first half to his filmography. The problem for Murphy (and it’s like looking at a dangerous intersection on a map) is that he or someone thought the script for “The Distinguished Gentleman” was funny. If Ice Cube and his agent are smart, they’ll carve out an identity for him that doesn’t continue down this path before he makes his own version of “The Adventures of Pluto Nash”, “Holy Man”, “I Spy”,… well, you get the point.

The Poster

A bedraggled Ice Cube looks defeated by the two kids flanking him, one of whom is giving him bunny ears. Wow, I don’t know about you but that speaks of high comedy. I’m going to pretend that the look on Cube’s face is the one he made after the first cast screening of the movie when he realized, much as guards surrounding a Siberian gulag must have at some point, what exactly he had done. You can almost visualize him thinking that the double-hit of this and the sequel to “XxX” could kill his credibility.

The Trailer

I can’t even go into this without a fresh wave of nausea overcoming me. Every joke that “Home Alone”, “Dutch” and a dozen other John Hughes or Hughes imitators have unleashed upon the public is recycled here for the 8,136th time since 1990. (Authority figure) gets hit in the crotchular area by ________. (Kids/animals/other being in need of care) unleashes (misc. bodily fluid) at inopportune time. Nice/emotionally important car gets wrecked while on road trip. That last item was last funny in “Tommy Boy” and that’s only because the dynamic between David Spade and Chris Farley was perfectly in tune. The time before that was in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”, again more because the characters sold it so well and not because of any inherent comedic value in the ruining of a vehicle.

The Website

I love the time I’m saving researching the websites for these post-holiday/after the cutoff for Oscar nominations studio cast offs. There’s never much there and what there is presents very easy targets for scorn and ridicule. This saves me more time for the important part of writing, namely making sure my name is spelled correctly.

The entire site is presented in Flash animations and, beginning with the opening page, features video introductions by Ice Cube and the two kids, who I’m sure will go on to win Academy Awards in the near future. The problem with these intros (there are many, actually, but I’ll focus on one here) is that they all look like they were shot against a green screen with all the props animated in after the fact. All the reactions and movements of the actors are just slightly out of sync with what they’re supposed to be doing. On the plus side, there’s a scene of Cube getting some sort of slime poured on him that reminded me of that old Canadian show “You Can’t Do That On Television”.

“Watch the Preview” is a different way of saying “watch the trailer”, “Downloads” contains wallpaper and AIM icons and “Photo Gallery” has about ten pictures in there of Ice Cube looking befuddled or the kids looking mischievous. “About the Film” has a Story Synopsis and Production Notes that describe the difficulties the crew had in making the garage of the director of photography, the only location available to them, look like the rolling hills of rural Canada and how the illusion of motion was created by having Skippy the Intern run past a parked SUV dozens of times an hour, each time with a different outfit on.

Some of that may be made up but it really doesn’t matter.

While all of the intricate Flash animation is loading, the site presents a game of Tic Tac Toe featuring what may be the world’s dumbest computer as your opponent. Seriously, if this were the artificial intelligence Matthew Broderick had to teach how to play chess, then Dabney Coleman and Barry Corbin would never have called back the bombers in time.

There are a couple more intricate games on the site, including “Mess Up My Ride” (sounds like the name of a show on TLC next season) and “Road Trip”. Neither of these are that fun or entertaining. They and the “Promotions” portion of the site exist solely to pimp the SUV that is featured in the movie.

Overall

Just to reiterate, Ice Cube, one-time gangsta rapper, is in a PG-rated family movie featuring a giant axe that falls into his “area”. I’m not sure who the intended audience is here since the tone of the trailer and website seem to suggest this was made by scientists attempting to prove some sort of “crap script + old jokes + annoying child actors = comedic gold” theory. My guess is this trailer may have actually contained a subliminal message and I remained unaffected because I didn’t watch the whole thing, what with the psychosomatic blindness and all.

You can almost hear Ice Cube calling the other members of N.W.A. about a reunion record, can’t you?

As moviemaking costs increase, the pressure to successfully market those movies becomes greater. In an attempt to show how marketers are trying to put the most hinders in the theater seats, Chris Thilk breaks down why some movie campaigns work and some don’t. The posters for “The Rocketeer” and “Unforgiven” remain two of his all-time favorites. For Chris’ ongoing movie journal and other various musings, visit his Movie Marketing Madness blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *