The Gripe

Moviegoers: Beware of marketing ploy

August 17, 2007|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic

These days, when a commercial promises "From the (blank) that brought you (blank)," it's usually a trouble sign. The most blatant recent case of buyer-beware advertising came when Sony said that Daddy Day Camp came "From the studio that brought you Daddy Day Care."

In reality, the comedy's producers chose to keep the characters -- played in the original by Eddie Murphy and Jeff Garlin -- but had to recast the roles.

Trying to sell franchises by proxy, marketers invariably give fans inferior knockoffs of popular phenomena.

The ads for the nature documentary Arctic Tale also proclaim, "From the people who brought you March of the Penguins" -- and those "people" are a movie company, National Geographic Films. Granted, this company had a sizable influence on the American success of March of the Penguins -- it jettisoned a soundtrack featuring actors speaking as penguins, then provided new words for that most omniscient narrator, Morgan Freeman.

With Arctic Tale, the company hopes that narrator Queen Latifah will click with bears and walruses the way Freeman did with penguins, but the dignified rhetoric of the first film becomes kiddie-book doggerel here, and whatever magic there was in the footage gets drained out for lack of the shaping hand of a strong director.

michael.sragow@baltsun.com

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