November 11, 2008

What a movie ad's choice of endorsing quote says about the film quality

Having worked at a video store and having seen my fair share of movie posters, ads, and DVD covers in my time, I feel that I have developed a pretty good system of "reading" endorsement quotes. It's really not enough to hear that it's the best movie of the year - you need to know who said so. Additionally, it's only partially about what reviews were received - it's about what review is displayed. Presumably, the quote they choose to flaunt is the best they have. A movie isn't going to proudly display a quote from some podunk reviewer for an Alabama newspaper if they have a glowing review from Variety. So, going on the assumption that the review on the poster is the best and most prestigious one the film has to date, let's see how you can interpret their choice to determine the film's quality. I know this sytem isn't perfect, but it's fairly accurate. Please don't bother giving yourself a hernia from angry commenting, because I know there are exceptions and on some level, this is INTENDED TO BE HUMOROUS. I have provided crappy pictures that I took myself as examples.

If the most prominently (or only) displayed endorsement quote is from...

Local TV or radio stations: it's crap. Also, be wary of reviews that are just straight comparisons. One of my all-time favorites is "If you like Jack Black, you'll like Nacho Libre!" (from the Nacho Libre poster. Wow, bold statement!)

Roger Ebert: This can mean one of two things. It either means that every critic loved it and they snatched up Roger Ebert's quote because he has the most name recognition, OR Roger Ebert was the only one who liked it. Very often he's alone in his favorable opinion of a movie.
Pete Hammond (of Maxim/ Doesn't look good. This guy is the world's biggest sellout. I don't think he has ever written a bad review in his life. He called The Women, a chick flick most chicks couldn't get behind, "hilarious, flat-out fun."

Tabloids/fashion magazines: it's crap. They probably just liked it because it some someone fabulous in it. (If you can't read it, the endorsements below are from Star and Vogue.)

Peter Travers (of Rolling Stone): Peter Travers' opinon of films is comparable to a 13-year-old boy's opinion. He will like it if it is cool, fast-paced, or features explosions, frat-boy humor, a totally awesome soundtrack, and/or shiny things. Depending on your tastes, this is not necessarily bad.

Horror websites, i.e. - It will appeal to horror fans and no one else.

No review: This was not screened for press. It is most certainly crap, and even its makers have no faith in it.

Dropping festival names: If it says the film was an official selection or won things, that's a good sign. Be wary, however, when it says it was just...there.

Associated Press: AVOID.

Some family-type organization: Children can see it and they will not start worshipping Satan. Other than that, no quality can be guaranteed.
Generally, the smaller the name of the reviewing party is printed, the less people want you to know who said it and just remember the sentiment.
Have you found these assessments to be true?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is something that always gets my goat on TV - when they're advertising some movie you just know sucks donkey balls yet they boast a cheerful "FUNNIEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR!" type of quote from some no name, possibly made-up person at some small town, SC newspaper.

If it was the funniest movie of the year it would be getting big reviews from the NY Times and its ilk and possibly opening in the tenth spot in more than a handful of multiplexes nation wide.

I also think sometimes reviewers give negative reviews that maybe have one line of slightly non-negative praise and they seize that line and use it as though the review was positive.

I'd have respect for a commercial stating something is the "Stupidest movie of 2008" because seriously, that might actually entice me to see it just for WTF value. :)