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When Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive opened in theaters a few weeks ago to that rare combination of rave reviews and a pitifully low CinemaScore ranking of C-, the culprit seemed to be the movie's trailers, which emphasized the car-driving action and ignored the fact that movie is mostly meditative shots of Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan slowly falling in love, plus the occasional moment of gruesome gore. It seemed that newbie distributor FilmDistrict wanted people to come out to see the movie, even if they were paying for something that was completely different from what they expected.
Usually we just call that marketing, or maybe bad marketing if it doesn't pay off. But one Michigan woman thinks it's a lawsuit-worthy offense. THR says that Sarah Deming has filed a lawsuit against FilmDistrict asking for both a refund for her movie ticket and for them to stop producing "misleading movie trailers"; for that second part, she hopes to turn the case into a class-action lawsuit, I guess for all the people irreparably damaged by seeing a movie that seemed better in the trailer. Here's a choice excerpt from her suit, which argues that they promoted Drive as being similar to the Fast and the Furious movies:
"Drive bore very little similarity to a chase, or race action film… having very little driving in the motion picture. Drive was a motion picture that substantially contained extreme gratuitous defamatory dehumanizing racism directed against members of the Jewish faith, and thereby promoted criminal violence against members of the Jewish faith.
I'm with her until we get to the part about "dehumanizing racism" pointed toward Jews, since two Jewish gangster characters do not racism make. And it also seems to muddle the point of her argument. Is she against Drive because it's racist, or because it's not a fast-paced action film? I feel like if you're going to start a class-action lawsuit, you should at least carefully choose the direction of your battle.
Yes, we've all found ourselves frustrated by trailers that seemed to promise one thing and then offered something different, whether it's Drive leaning heavily on its small amount of action or even Bridesmaids being far, far better than the trailers suggested. But given some of the offenses that have been committed in trailers before, like made-up quotes from made-up critics or footage that isn't even in the movie, Drive barely deserves a slap on the wrist. Deming got tricked into paying to see a movie that was actually good; if anything, FilmDistrict did her a favor.