Here’s a question for the advertising executives out there: Why is Universal doing such a lame job marketing a major summer movie like Funny People? We’re now a few weeks shy of the July 31 release date for Judd Apatow’s latest would-be blockbuster (or as the smug posters say, “The third film from the writer/director of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up”), and, to us, it seems like the buzz on this thing is nonexistent. If opening weekends are based solely on marketing, expect Funny People to find numbers that rival Year One.
The problem starts with oversaturation. The first trailer premiered online all the way back in February and has been shown in front of movies all summer long. And while it paints Funny People as both touching (see: the Postal Service music cue) and nostalgic (see: the Ringo Starr music cue), it’s actually not that great of a trailer: The issue of giving away key plot twists notwithstanding, the ubiquitous Funny People spot just kind of sits there.
We assumed there would be other trailers, ones cut to highlight more of the humor. But, alas, that hasn’t happened. While Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express and, most recently, The Hangover, all had hilarious R-rated trailers released onto the Internet well in advance of their release, Funny People has been left with a handful of television spots that aren’t especially funny, but are possibly green-screened. (As one of our friends said, it looks like the movie was shot in 3-D; check out that scene in the kitchen.) The just released Red Band trailer (talk about arriving late to the game) isn’t much better: Most of the jokes there are just an extension on what has already been shown in the original trailer. For a film that reportedly runs over two and a half hours, there has to be more nuggets of comic gold then what’s presented here, no? We simply refuse to believe that Mr. Apatow, Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Jason Schwartzman, Jonah Hill and Leslie Mann can only produce three minutes’ worth of light chuckles and knowing smirks.
Look, we understand that Funny People isn’t the same slam-dunk sell as The Hangover or even Knocked Up—two films that, incidentally, had plenty of screenings prior to their release to help build buzz online; we’re still waiting for that to happen with Funny People. This film is going for a different audience—one more mature, more adult. (Think: James L. Brooks.) But just because Funny People isn’t for the frat boys doesn’t mean it can’t be presented as, y’know, really funny. We’ll still be there on opening day, but our presence will have nothing to do with this ad campaign. For Judd Apatow’s sake, we hope we’re not alone.