I love “Arrested Development.” In my opinion it could be the high-water mark that the arrival of “The Simpsons” all those years ago promised. In this analogy “The Simpsons” is to “Development” what John the Baptist was to Jesus Christ: Just the herald of the greatness to come. A big part of my enjoyment is Ron Howard’s narration. After so many years of turning out movies that were solid doubles with the occasional triple (“Backdraft,” I think is his best movie) Howard had finally hit a home run. All he had to do was not direct.
And so I’m nervous about “Cinderalla Man.” On the one hand you have Russell Crowe, who always turns in a solid performance, even if he looks like he’d rather be somewhere else like in Proof of Life. He’s been the best part of some mediocre-at-best movies (cough/”Gladiator”/cough). Renee Zellweger, well, let’s just say she’s looking more and more stretched. Put the two of them under Howard’s direction and you have the potential for a good movie but the fear is Howard will turn on the schmaltz instead of actually telling a story.
There are two posters I could find here. In one, Crowe and Bridget Jones are shown embracing above a boxing ring. This actually does a nice job of setting up the movie by giving us both the central setting as well as the main setting and theme and is my favorite of the two.
The other shows Crowe with a towel draped over his shoulders being mobbed by fans. It’s better at showing the underdog, populist hero aspect of the movie but just doesn’t work as well for me. Both use a yellow-ish tinged color pallet that evokes a worn newspaper clipping and emphasize that, yes, this is based on a true story.
The first of two trailers spends most of its time setting the story up. It shows the hard times boxer Jim Braddock went through but doesn’t get too much into the emotionally inspiring part of the movie.
The second picks up where the first left off and shows almost nothing but the upswing of Braddock’s story. It does show more of Paul Giamatti, who plays Crowe’s trainer and that’s always a good thing. Both make the impression that the movie will cover the same thematic ground as “Seabiscuit” but with fewer legs.
The fact that the website is divided into two areas, The Film and The Legend gave me hope. I thought the site would be fully stocked and a great resource of information on the movie and the man it was based on. Great disappointment followed this hope.
First, because it’s the easiest to dismiss, is The Legend. This is where I figured there would be biographical and historical information on Jim Braddock. Images of newspapers, a full history, some context of how his story fit in with The Depression happening at the time. Instead what it contains is a few video clips from the movie labeled “Hope” and other such pseudo-inspirational claptrap. If there is information here it’s buried deep down and I couldn’t find it.
Under The Movie there are four subsections. “About” contains a pretty good story synopsis as well as Production Notes that aren’t worth a damn. Again, no historical context. “Who’s Who” has cast and crew bios and “Gallery” gives you a few photo portfolios, again with the annoyingly inspiring titles.
The best of the sections is “Downloads” where you can get an array of desktop themes, IM icons and a screensaver. The reason I like this one so much is that, in addition to the trailers there are also TV spots to watch (all of which repeat the same notes the trailers hit) and various and sundry other clips. The clips may not be your cup of tea but it’s great that Universal put all the video content in one spot for easy access. I may be reaching for something positive here, but I liked it.
I think I was more disappointed by the lack of historical background on the website because of the way the trailers made a point to provide just that. Like I said, the first trailer showed almost nothing but setup and context for the story and the second took that to the next level by showing what story would be shown against that backdrop.
To not provide any information on the website is just a drastic oversight. Who’s going to be visiting the site except those that are interested in the movie and who’s going to be interested in the movie and not have at least a passing interest in the real story. To go back to the “Seabiscuit” analogy, there was a ton of related books and web-information available when it came out that told people the real story. There’s obviously an audience those people have just gotten the brush off from those in charge of selecting web content.
Other than that one major gripe I did like the trailers and posters overall since they had a unified look and feel to them. Even the one poster I didn’t like as much did more of a job of setting up the background of the story than the website. It does look like Howard goes for the easily-plucked heartstrings more than once in the movie, which may justify my fears about the movie. If that’s the case, though, at least the campaign does an accurate job reflecting that.
As moviemaking costs increase, the pressure to successfully market those movies becomes greater. In an attempt to show how marketers are trying to put the most hinders in the theater seats, Chris Thilk breaks down why some movie campaigns work and some don’t. The posters for “The Rocketeer” and “Unforgiven” remain two of his all-time favorites. For Chris’ ongoing movie journal and other various musings, visit his Movie Marketing Madness blog.
Posted on June 6, 2005 in Features by Chris Thilk
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