While it’s long been held that Hollywood’s best and brightest go to work in the studio system’s various marketing departments, never before has this been more apparent than with the onslaught of this fall’s round of catchy advertising taglines for upcoming entertainment productions. Incredibly, the folks in Burbank and Culver City and west Los Angeles are breaking radical new ground here with their ability to reduce the elaborate plotlines of, say, a thriller about a woman calling a cell phone to a simple, high-concept notion that even a third grader can comprehend. And in the wake of far too many two- and three-hour films coming forth from this town, that shows some skillful concision.
What follows is a round-up of some of these slogans and, quite simply, a resulting assessment of the perceived quality of each film or television series…
Cellular: “If the signal dies, so does she.”
Seriously? A movie this bad surely deserves a tagline this reductivistly imbecilic.
The Mountain: “Conditions are about to get nasty.”
OK, judging solely from the one-sheet and various ads, there seem to be a bunch of twenty-somethings doing something adventurous in, umm, the mountains. But this tagline? Does this imply that, in addition to action and adventure and tumult, the show features its bitches getting it on with the dudes in a skanktastic style? Or maybe the characters have some sort of personality problems akin to the castmembers of “Real World Las Vegas”? Fuck if I know, because I’m never going to watch this show.
Wimbledon: “She’s the golden girl. He’s the longshot. It’s a match made in…”
Oh! Oh! Oh! I know this one! Wimbledon! And – I’m totally guessing here – the tennis superstar played by Kirsten Dunst falls in love with the wizened underdog fleshed out by Paul Bettany. Or vice versa. One certainty: this seems to be a fairly conventional tagline structure for what must be a fairly conventional film. Syd Field would love this shit.
Head in the Clouds: “In a city of glamour at a time of decadence they met. An aristocrat, a soldier of conscience, and an entertainer. Together they shared a deep passion.”
Thank you for the summary. Now I don’t need to see this film, and neither does anyone else who read this little novella you pieced together here, Mr. Tolstoy.
The Motorcycle Diaries: “Let the world change you… and you can change the world.”
The story of a young Che Guevara and his youthful travels throughout South America. See, by virtue of his traveling, the world changed him…and he became a leftist rebel. Because, presumably, he saw all the various turmoil caused by economic injustice and military coups and secretive interventions by the U.S. government. Not to mention, it stars that totally hot guy from Amores Perros who looks a hell of a lot like an even handsomer Tobey Maguire. So there.
Shaun of the Dead: “A romantic comedy. With zombies.”
Short and punchy, but sort of…askew, right? Just like this film, I reckon! Well, if Moriarty liked this flick, then that’s good enough for me.
Mr. 3000: “He’s putting the ‘I’ back in team.”
See, star Bernie Mac is a loudmouthed fellow, and he’s arrogant, too. Also, sports are somehow involved in the storyline.
Shark Tale: “The story of what happens when one little fish tells a great white lie…”
So Dreamworks’ animation division decides to rip off Finding Nemo. The very first Shrek had all those adult-oriented digs at Disney at Jeffrey Katzenberg’s insistence. Jeffrey Katzenberg hates Michael Ovitz. And Michael Eisner, meanwhile, is slated to leave Disney by 2006. The two Michaels have historically argued over who prefers flounder and who likes trout, a schism which purportedly lead to the dissolution of their business relationship in the mid-90s.
The Last Shot: “The true story of the greatest movie never made.”
Forgive the Horatio-Sanz-as-Gene-Shalit routine, but…I only wish Alec Baldwin and Matthew Broderick hadn’t made this movie. Ha, ha, ha!
First Daughter: “The girl who always stood out is finally getting the chance to fit in.”
Hmmm…the President’s daughter finally gets to live a normal life? Because her dimwitted, lying, inept father was voted out of office this November? Or is that just wishful thinking?
The Forgotten: “On September 24th everything you’ve experienced, everything you’ve known, never happened.”
How very metaphysical! It’s like I never saw The Butterfly Effect! (Which I didn’t, for what it’s worth.)