Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Satire Trailers Bob Mondello looks at a new phenomenon that's been popping up on the web: people recutting footage from old movies and adding familiar music to suggest radically different films from the ones we know.
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Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Satire Trailers

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Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Satire Trailers

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Satire Trailers

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Now an item about something that comes in your email that is way, way better than spam. Movie critic Bob Mondello knows he's not the only one whose inbox is filling up like this.

BOB MONDELLO: The email arrives, you click on the link, and that green screen appears with the Motion Picture Association logo. The following preview has been approved for all audiences. Then you hear that mournful guitar theme instantly identifying the controversial movie that's leading the Oscar race. There's a slow tracking shot across a rooftop, cut to two cowboys on horseback, then fade to black and the words, from the producers who brought you Brokeback Mountain.


MICHAEL J: I'm from the future. I came here in a time machine you invented.

MONDELLO: As you may be guessing, we're not talking here about Wyoming ranch hands Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist. This is the story of suburban time travelers Marty McFly and Doc Brown. It's Brokeback to the Future, a movie trailer created by a comedy troupe at Emerson College. Every line of dialogue, every image is from the Back to the Future movies, but taken out of context to suggest that the story is about a gay scientist and a high school student who is experimenting in a way that director Robert Zemeckis did not have in mind in his trilogy.


FOX: Have you ever been a situation where you knew you had to act a certain way, but when you got there, you didn't know if you could go through with it.

MONDELLO: Brokeback to the Future is at the crest of a Brokeback wave of mock trailers on the web: Brokeback Penguins, Brokeback Goodfellas, and the almost painfully obvious Top Gun: Brokeback Squadron, in which Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer do exactly what they did in the original, puffing out their chests, playing volleyball and exchanging lingering glares and glances.


VAL KILMER: Because you're dangerous.

TOM CRUISE: That's right, Iceman. I am dangerous.

MONDELLO: Brokeback is the movie of the moment, with a nearly wordless hyper-romantic preview that is easy to mimic. But other movies are also being switched. Taxi Driver with Robert De Niro's psycho killer now the hero of a slacker comedy. Or Big, the little boy in a man's body flick revamped as a thriller. And was there ever a title that screamed horror like Sleepless in Seattle?


MEG RYAN: What if this man is my destiny and I never meet him?

(Soundbite of screaming)

MONDELLO: This kind of thing is easy to do badly, so some of these spoofs fall flat. But the mock trailer that started the current wavelet of creativity made it look like a snap. For a genre-switching contest, film editor Robert Ryang decided to turn the horror movie The Shining into just 'Shining' a bright family comedy, starring that cuddly father figure, Jack Nicholson.


Unidentified Announcer: Meet Jack Torrance.

JACK NICHOLSON: I'm outlining a new writing project.

Announcer: He's a writer looking for inspiration.

NICHOLSON: ...Lots of good ones.

Announcer: Meet Danny. He's a kid looking for a dad.

MONDELLO: Now, you'll notice that the music is doing a lot of the work in these revamps. What all the best trailer makers play with is the fact that in the right circumstances, familiarity can breed confusion. Most Hollywood films fit so neatly into genres that a music cue is all it takes to position them. In Shining just bring in Peter Gabriel's Salisbury Hill and voila, you've got uplift.


NICHOLSON: I'm your new foster father.

MONDELLO: Hollywood editors with time on their hands have probably been playing this sort of prank for ages to amuse their friends, but the digital revolution allows anyone with a computer and a video editing program to join in. It's not quite a new art form. In fact, as with almost anything that seems new, the ancient Greeks did it first. They used to end an evening of tragedy with what they called a satyr play, a short farce that turned the tragedy inside out. The actor who had just been playing a king, swallowing poison and dying, let's say, would now play a servant and swallow something that made him flatulent. Same basic idea, but tweaked to provoke knowing laughter.

Later somebody turned the words satyr play into satire, which is of course what these spoof trailers are, provoking knowing laughter on the internet spread not by word of mouth, but by click of mouse, and proving there's nothing new under the sun or on Brokeback Mountain.


CHRISTOPHER LLOYD: I have to live my life according to what I believe is right.

MONDELLO: I'm Bob Mondello.

NORRIS: You can see Brokeback to the Future, Shining, and other movie trailer spoofs at our website,

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