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Jewish World Review May 10, 2002 / 28 Iyar, 5762

Lenore Skenazy

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Consumer Reports


Okay, start the movie already!


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Spider-Man is no friendly neighborhood superhero in my book. By the time he finally leaped to the screen Sunday, I'd been pummeled senseless.

By the movie trailers.

There were nine of them! Nine "Coming soon to a theater near you's" - including one for "The Incredible Hulk," a film that is "coming soon" only in glacial terms. It will premiere in the summer of 2003.

Are we supposed to mark our calendars?

"It's enough to make a person snap the heads off his action figures," rants Russell Barclay, chairman of media studies at Quinnipiac University.

"I can't stand it anymore!" says Brian Hershey, an avid moviegoer in Los Angeles. "What about letting the audience enjoy the movie theater experience?"

Clearly it is not ours to enjoy anymore.

Of course, I can still remember when previews were part of the fun. You saw two or three and felt very in-the-know. Maybe you even decided to see the films next week, when they'd be coming to town.

But now we are treated as captives, not guests: Suckers stuck in the dark, gnawing on curly fries, ready to be force-fed the climax of every movie coming to the multiplex from now through "Star Wars 26: The Return of the Sequel."

This is not to mention the real commercials we're subjected to - minute-long paeans to the overpriced sodas we're already sipping out of boredom (and curly-fry overload) - swill that will, in turn, propel us out to the bathroom just as the movie finally begins!

And even all this might not be so bad, says James Rocchi, film critic for netflix.com, "were it not for the sheer, ham-fisted ineptitude with which most trailers are made."

Trailers are not minimovies. They are mega ads, made by studio execs desperate to generate a big opening or bust. Do they care if they give away every punch line and plot twist? Does Adam Sandler care if he can act?

"In the past, a trailer had maybe 75 scenes," explains Laura Lee, author of "The Pocket Encyclopedia of Aggravation." "Now it has roughly 125, which means much more of the story is revealed."

"What you're getting isn't a little prelude," says Rocchi. "It's all the money moments of a film poured into one horrible, minute-and-a-half-long mess that is so achingly unsubtle it makes porn look like European cinema."

A quick survey of the trailers preceding "Spider-Man" indicates that every movie this summer will involve a wheeled vehicle and/or animal soaring over a canyon, a computer flashing one ominous word like "LOCKDOWN" and a giant explosion of something or other (generally not the soaring animal).

Can't wait? Me neither.

Can't wait to go home and kiss my fast-forward button, that is.



JWR contributor Lenore Skenazy is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

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