Films too good to describe

All the talk about the movie Hot Fuzz in my earlier post got me thinking about another curious category of movie.

First, let me say a few words about Hot Fuzz: it’s an action film parody/homage by the same people who brought us the exquisite Shaun of the Dead. The story begins when a far-too-competent London police officer (Nicholas Angel) is reassigned to a quiet little small town because he’s making his colleagues look bad. Once he arrives in the small town, a series of grisly murders take place, and Angle’s investigation finally culminates in some explosive action.

I didn’t think much of the film when I first saw the trailer. The scenes depicted didn’t seem that funny, and in fact seemed quite cheesy, and with a title like Hot Fuzz the film seemed destined to be bad. I was really, really, really wrong — Hot Fuzz is one of the funniest and cleverest films I’ve seen in quite a long time.

After the film, I thought a bit about how wrong my first impression had been. I felt the title of the film really didn’t do the film justice, but then I realized that no title could possibly convey how clever the film is. Furthermore, I decided that the trailer fell flat because the film’s humor is very much situational : you can’t possibly understand the humor of any particular scene unless you understand who the characters are and what they’ve been doing up until that point. (Note that this is a different sense of ‘situational humor’ than is used when calling something a ‘situational comedy‘, or ‘sitcom’, in which the characters are always in the same situation).

Another film that fits this category perfectly is the movie Midnight Run. The trailers for the film seemed not terribly amusing to me, but the film itself is hilarious (and has some of Dennis Farina’s best swearing). Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is another of these.

Anyone have other thoughts of films which are too good to describe properly using a short trailer?

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7 Responses to Films too good to describe

  1. Personal Demon says:

    One of my favorite film critics coined the work parodomage to describe films that blur the line between parody and homage. She was talking about Hot Fuzz in particular, but also its sibling Shaun of the Dead and Hong Kong cousin Kung Fu Hustle..

    As far as SkySkull’s particular request for movies that cannot be described in a trailer, the best example I can think of is the film adaptation of Fight Club. Although it has since achieved cult status, initial public interest in Fight Club was low primarily because the trailer led folks to believe the movie was just two hours of bloody fisticuffs. Even now I’m not sure how one would make a trailer for Fight Club that captured the feel without revealing too much.

  2. skullsinthestars says:

    PD wrote: “One of my favorite film critics coined the work parodomage to describe films that blur the line between parody and homage. She was talking about Hot Fuzz in particular…”

    Whew! For a moment I thought you were going to link to George Grella…

    I didn’t even recognize Edward Woodward in the film! I guess I can’t recognize him if he’s not being sacrificed.

    Fight Club seems like a good example of an ‘untrailerable’ film. It crosses a few too many genres to be easily explained, or even understood by many people who saw the film. I was always amused at how many people accused the film of being fascistic. The ‘movement’ in the film was anti-elite , however, making it much more socialist than fascist.

  3. The Girlfriend says:

    I forgot one of my favorite movies that is indescribable is A Life Less Ordinary
    A Life Less Ordinary. On IMDB the genres are listed as Drama; Romance; Comedy; Crime; Fantasy. It’s a dark comedy that didn’t come across in the trailer at all.

  4. The Girlfriend says:

    Ack – I wish you would get a preview function for your comments!

  5. skullsinthestars says:

    TG wrote: “Ack – I wish you would get a preview function for your comments!”

    Don’t blame me for your HTML inadequacies! 🙂

  6. Mckenzie says:

    Interesting piece there… Posted from Blogger

  7. Jax says:

    It’s an interesting concept to say the least..

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