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  H A I R Y     G R A V Y  

-by Erich Schoeneweiss

That Stuff That Just Irks You!

“Rosebud” is the sled that Kane owned as a child in Citizen Kane.  Bruce Willis is really one of the dead people in The Sixth Sense. The hot chick in the Crying Game is really a guy. 

If I’ve just ruined some movie for you, get over it.  You should have seen it by now.

But what if these movies had just come out, or were about to be released and someone had told you the “big secret”? Well, than gosh darn it all, you’d have a pretty good reason to be pissed.

So where does Lisa Schwarzbaum, one of Entertainment Weekly’s two film critics, get off revealing (and I mean she showed the full Monty on this one) the ending to Pay It Forward in her review?  Who does she think she is?  Sure, she tells us right off the bat she hated the movie and plans to reveal the ending:

“Pay It Forward gladhands so brazenly-for awards, for publicity, for love-that although the press materials request critical collusion in not revealing the ending, I am going to reveal the ending. Later, in my own contribution toward paying it forward, however, I’ll give fair warning before the spoiler.”

Well, at least she warned us first, right?  We could have stopped reading, right?  Wrong.  How many times have you looked at something you were told not to look at?  She had no right to reveal this to us.  What she did was wrong and unethical, regardless of whether she liked the movie or not.  Her job is to give us her opinion of whether the film is worth seeing. It is our right to determine whether we will see it or not.  Frankly, I think she’s the worst critic in the country.  She gives a film a great review (The 13th Warrior?!) and I stay away, she gives a film a bad review and I generally go.  I love the Top 10 list at the end of the year when her list can be compared to fellow EW critic Owen Gleiberman, and it’s just a testimony to what a great critic he is and what a hack she is.

Alas, I stray from my point…I’m sick and tired of critics and studios revealing major plot points before a movie is released (and us web-heads are as guilty of this as anyone).  Four major movies this year are guilty of revealing two much in an attempt to get us to see a movie we would have probably seen anyway.

Scary Movie:  Wow, how many gags did they give up in the trailer?  Carmen Electra’s Baywatch spoof, The Matrix scene, and “Scream” mask’s ability to change expressions to name a few.  Luckily the funniest gags couldn’t be shown in the trailer, but I saw a commercial a month ago that came extremely close to letting the cat out of the bag on several of them.

What Lies Beneath:  A suspense/thriller from the director of Forrest Gump and Contact starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford.  That’s all we need to know and we’re there.  Fox and Dreamworks did not need to tell us that Ford’s character was having an affair and that the girl he was having an affair with had died and was now back haunting his wife.  Again, there are further twists that they did not reveal but, this was a pretty major plot point and ruined much of what would have been early suspense and intrigue in the movie.  And worst yet, as I said, it wasn’t needed.  The pedigree of the film alone would have sold it.

Autumn in New York:  Made no effort to hide the fact that Winona Ryder’s character is suffering from a terminal disease.  Considering that the woman dieing at the end of a romance is key to a good tearjerker (English Patient!), don’t you think it would have been smart to not reveal this three months before the film opened.

Meet the Parents:  I chose to pass on seeing this film because everyone I know who saw it said all the funny stuff was in the trailer (and the trailer was like 5 minutes long!).  Again, Ben Stiller and Bob DeNiro in a comedy are about all you need to tell us and we’re sold.

It’s become such a major epidemic that I’m at the point where I want to stay away from the trailers all together.  Sure some movies you know what’s going to happen.  I don’t think yelling out “The boat’s going to sink!” in the middle of Titanic would have ruined the movie for anyone.  Studios are so absorbed with being #1, getting that huge first weekend’s gross and beating out everyone else that they’re missing the point.  Too much info is hurting them.  It’s driving us away from films that we would have probably seen otherwise.  Why should we pay $10 to see what we saw in the trailer, already?

There are films coming up that look interesting.  Unbreakable is one.  They give you just the right amount of set up so that we now have all of these questions in our head and need to see the movie for the answers (Andrew has made it his mission to know the story before the movie is out).  Matrix and Sixth Sense did the same thing (Interesting…both cleaned up at the box office).  People wouldn’t have gone to see Sixth Sense in the droves they did had we known the ending before hand (Thank God Lisa Schwarzbaum didn’t hate that film!).

My plea to any studio executive or PR person who is reading this (it’s OK, you can admit that you are…the studio audience is waiting) is to stop showing us the whole movie in the preview.  Tease us, entice us…that’s what we like.  That’s what we want.

PS:  The most egregious trailer of all time?  The teaser trailer for Men In Black…which actually showed us the film’s “money shot”!!  Unbelievable!

Copyright©2000 Erich Schoeneweiss