Thursday, August 21, 2008

Poster Critique - Sex Drive and College

I just saw the red band trailer for Sex Drive this past lunch (halal cart at Union Square North, not quite as good at midtown but hey take what you can get for 5 bucks). Although some people might think of this, as well as College which comes out Labor Day weekend, as something from the Apatow clan, it's not. Thus has begun the wave of probable imitators who are no doubt admirable in their attempt to grab hold of the adolescent experience and the sexual misgivings and mistakes and turn it into comedy/box-office gold.

However, one has to be skeptical; Apatow isn't perfect (diversions like Walk Hard and Fun With Dick and Jane) and neither are his cohorts when less than what 4 of them are in the same film. Yet with a wave of R-rated comedies that started with the American Pie series and got a jolt during the '05 summer with Wedding Crashers grossing over 200 million and The 40 Year Old Virgin over 100 million, we come to something like Sex Drive which is planted nicely in the fall slate just shy of awards movies but after the dead late August-September area.

So assuming that I haven't seen the trailer, the first thing that I'm thinking about this poster (there's another one with his donut mascot suit, and it just kind of sucks) is that it's something to do with driving or a road trip of some sort, probably to a girl's house or va-jay-jay. Even though it's a fairly minimal poster, it's got so much sexual innuendo to the point where, it's kind of just trying too hard. The tag line referring to the character's member, the "coming soon" in place of the odometer right in the center is pretty blatant. The reason why it's trying too hard is the character is lying down for no real reason other than to work another angle by having the speedometer reading at a fairly fast speed and the pointer in place of the erection of course.

I don't particularly like the plain background; I think that couple with the character laying down just makes for a really boring piece, as if they were focusing so hard on the puns that when you do watch the trailer, yes it's about driving a muscle car but I feel like the funnier aspect is that the "sex drive" is more a computer reference than anything else, as the main dude is using his computer/internet to score with an exaggerated profile.

What I feel is odd is the font choice as well. The red is supposed to indicate passion or lust, but the depth of the red against the white coupled with a somewhat no-nonsense dramatic all-caps type would be better off in some thriller. Even muting the top billing in gray just seems so chic and serious. I think the College poster is far better with a very similar approach:

If I had to choose from the information given to me which movie to see, it'd be dead even, because James Marsden is in the "and" role which means he's supposed to be the scene stealer or the veteran actor, which he arguably is (although Seth Green has been in his fair share of films as well), and although college films have been done to death, and Waiting wasn't that good, it's got the better poster.
There's so much more solid material. The tagline isn't cheesy, it's goofy: you can sense how a high school kid would say it, so pronounced and enthused. Maybe the period pauses are ironic, as if the kid hovered around the toilet is saying it between vomits.
It's not just that he's in the toilet, which kind of makes you cringe, it's the small things the picture gives out that puts it ahead: the crooked glasses, probably signaling a sort of geeky or nerdy or socially awkward character, and the shoelace dangled off the shoe which is dangling off of the foot. It's such a nice haphazard looking touch to go along with the back sweat and the boxers bunched up. The white background makes the off white of the toilet look dirty, so even that has a good effect. The anonymous, back turn gives an everyman feel so that a lot of people can see themselves having one of those kinds of weekends.

Finally the font color matches the character's shirt, not jarring like the SD poster. And the font type is classic what you would find in college sports on cheerleader cones. All in all a solid poster.

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