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Ten Movie Trailers That Spoil Their Movie

Ten Movie Trailers That Spoil Their Movie (photo)

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“Don’t Let Anyone Tell You What It Is.”

That’s the tagline on the poster for the new documentary “Catfish” from directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. Maybe what they meant to say was “Don’t Let Anyone But Us Tell You What It Is.” Because when the “Catfish” trailer debuted on the web last week, all anyone could talk about was whether or not it gave too much of the film away. That said, any description of the film at all could be considered “giving the film away,” since as soon as you start mentioning a twist people can’t help but start guessing at what it is.

“Catfish” certainly isn’t the first trailer to spark a debate on how much or how little information movie advertising should provide. Modern coming attractions routinely spoil comedies’ best jokes and thrillers’ big twists. The big question is, why? If the the thrill of discovery isn’t driving people to the theater, what is? We decided to look for the answers in some notable spoilery trailers. And it should go without saying, but we are going to spoil the hell out of these movies in a second. But don’t blame us: the trailers did it first.

Adam Sandler Doesn’t Die!
“Funny People” (2009)

Directed by Judd Apatow

It can’t be easy to sell a comedy about a guy dying of cancer. Which is probably why the marketing departments at Universal and Columbia went the spoiler route with their trailers for “Funny People.” Though their tactic completely spoiled the film’s major plot twist — that Adam Sandler’s character’s experimental leukemia treatment saves his life — it also let nervous viewers know that Judd Apatow wasn’t about to kill off Happy Gilmore. But in revealing so much they also killed any of the film’s suspense: why pay 12 bucks to see the movie in the theater if you already know how it turns out? It’s a no-win situation: nobody wants a depressing comedy, but to convince people the movie’s not depressing, they had to give away the entire plot.

Robin Williams Wins The Election!
“Man of the Year” (2006)
Directed by Barry Levinson

Much like the trailer for “Funny People,” the one for Barry Levinson’s “Man of the Year” doesn’t seem to trust that its initial set-up is enough to entice people to a movie (possibly this is due to the fact that it’s at least three years past its prime sell-by date). Robin Williams plays Jon Stewart Tom Dobbs, the “biggest name in fake news,” a comedian and TV show host whose telling-it-like-it-is sass earns him a fan base so adoring an audience member suggests that he run for office himself. So far, so good — the execution aside, we can all at least get behind the idea of the outsider/critic both shaking things up on the election circuit and finding himself getting unexpectedly invested in what he’s doing. But then the movie shows that Williams actually wins (though not the desperately uninteresting way this happens), and suddenly we’re in the look-who’s-in-high-office-now territory of “Head of State” and “King Ralph.” So long satire, hello wacky fish-out-of-water comedy.

Sam Worthington is a Terminator!
“Terminator Salvation” (2009)

Directed by McG

The “Terminator” franchise has often had problems with spoiler-y trailers. James Cameron structured “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” so that it wasn’t clear which terminator was good and which was evil until the two came face to face. But the “T2” trailer spoiled the surprise by selling the film to audiences as an opportunity to Schwarzenegger play a heroic terminator (“Once,” Don LaFontaine gravely intoned, “he was programmed to destroy the future. Now his mission is to protect it!”). 15 years later, “Terminator Salvation”‘s second trailer made the exact same mistake. Once again, the film itself plays as mystery: a death row inmate (Worthington) from the present awakens in a post-apocalyptic future, with no recollection of how he got there. Too bad he didn’t have internet access. One click on YouTube would have told him everything he needed to know: that Worthington is a Terminator programmed to believe he is a human. Come to think of it, what are Terminators if not robo-spoiler trolls? They come back in time and tell us how the Judgment Day War is going to turn out. C’mon guys, let us figure it out for ourselves.

Tom Hanks Gets Rescued!
“Cast Away” (2000)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Let’s remember that this is a movie about Tom Hanks getting stuck on a deserted island. Tom Hanks, America’s everyman sweetheart, yearning for home and the wife (Helen Hunt) he left behind, struggling to catch a fish and start a fire and cling to his sanity. Was anyone really worried, when Robert Zemeckis’ film was being marketed for theaters, that it would end with Hanks resorting to self-cannibalism or getting smooshed by a falling coconut and perishing alone on the beach? And yet the trailer for “Cast Away” runs us through not just Hanks getting lost but Hanks getting found, with a rescuer noting that he’s been gone “for four years — we had a funeral, coffin,” as if to reassure audiences that not only would Hanks be ushered safely home from his splendidly shot time in survivor mode, he’d have plenty of soap operatics to indulge in when he got there. The final shot here is literally the final shot of the movie, which isn’t as uncommon as you’d think in trailerland, but seems extra unnecessary given this promo should never have gone beyond the island.

Willy Goes Free!
“Free Willy” (1993)
Directed by Simon Wincer

Here is an entire movie about whether or not a boy will free a whale from captivity. So how does the trailer end? By showing the boy freeing the whale from captivity. That farshtunken whale jumping over those rocks is the the movie’s money shot, and they just gave it away for free. Then again, so did the movie’s poster. Which returns us to the thinking behind “Funny People”: some people go to the movies not for entertainment, but for reassurance. They don’t want the show up and find out the whale dies, they want to know that everything’s going to work out fine. And it does; at least until the sequel.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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GIFs via Giphy

Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.


IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.



IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….


IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.


IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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