A COUPLE OF weeks ago, my wife and I made the mistake of taking in “R.I.P.D.,” a wacky, off-the-wall and terribly unfunny sci-fi/horror/metaphysical comedy combining elements of “Men in Black” and the TV series “Supernatural.”
Dreadful; a definite candidate for worst movie of the year.
But this column isn’t about that movie. It’s about the trailer for that movie. Or more correctly, something that’s in the trailer but is not in the movie.
“R.I.P.D.” is about a contemporary cop (Ryan Reynolds) who dies and finds himself teamed up with a dead Old West lawman (Jeff Bridges) to track down other dead beings on Earth masquerading as the living or something like that. And all these dead souls look like bizarre space aliens of wide varieties.
In the trailer, there’s a funny one-liner by Bridges — whose character is otherwise unintelligible, like a mumbler chewing tobacco — when he confronts a creature with eight or 10 eyes on its face and remarks incredulously, “I don’t know what eyes to shoot you between!”
If you’ve seen the trailer, it’s a memorable moment — if only because there isn’t much else that is.
And as fate, and the cutting-room floor, would have it, that scene didn’t make the final cut. It’s not in the movie.
This isn’t really an uncommon phenomenon. Often trailers are put together from bits and pieces of sequences taken from a late cut of the movie, but not necessarily the final cut. In other words, the trailers may be culled from a version of the film that is still being trimmed down. As a result, there are often little moments in trailers that are not in the movie itself, or perhaps a scene shown from another angle or with slightly different dialogue or delivery.
Most of the time such things go unnoticed because editors who put together trailers are looking for the best lines, the best snippets, to make the film seem appealing. And since they are the best moments, they are usually left in the movie. But sometimes that doesn’t happen.
So with “R.I.P.D.,” Bridges’ best line is in the trailer instead of the movie; it’s very noticeable.
Well, it’s noticeable if you’ve seen the movie. And apparently, you haven’t.
But with major movies, big box-office hits that attract repeat audiences, a lot of people notice.
The first time I encountered this on a professional level was in 1988, when people began contacting me to ask about “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” In the weeks leading up to that film’s release, the trailer was being shown in theaters incessantly, of course, so people who were excited about the movie remembered many of the trailer’s more notable moments. And one of those ended up being deleted from the film.
In the trailer, a quick scene shows Bob Hoskins with an animated pig’s head. It’s such a striking shot that many moviegoers noticed right away that it was missing from the movie itself.
When “Roger Rabbit” was released on DVD, the “pig’s head” moment was included among the extras (and it’s now among bonus features for the recent Blu-ray upgrade). And for early commercial-TV showings, the “pig’s head” sequence was put back into the film.
And there are many other examples, ranging from “Star Trek” (2009) to “Terminator Salvation” (2009) to “True Lies” (1994) — and all the way back to “Call of the Wild” (1935).
Of course, back in the olden days (my era), there was no way to verify things like this, or to see anything more of those quick blips than what was in a trailer. Now, with deleted scenes on most DVD/Blu-ray releases, you can often watch a complete sequence that was missing from the movie.
Which more often than not verifies that leaving it out of the movie was a good idea.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parents Guide to Movie Ratings." His website is www.hicksflicks.com