File under: Wacky, crazy, and true. A Michigan woman, Sarah Deming, is suing the distributors of the film Drive because she said the trailer misled her into buying a ticket for the film, and when she finally saw the movie, it wasn’t what she was expecting.
Among Ms. Deming’s complaints listed in the lawsuit filed Sept. 27:
— Drive was promoted as very similar to Fast and Furious, when in actuality, it wasn’t.
— “Drive bore very little similarity to a chase, or race action film, for reasons including but not limited to Drive having very little driving in the motion picture.” (emphasis mine)
— “Extreme gratuitous defamatory dehumanizing racism directed against members of the Jewish faith.”
Americans love their lawsuits. But does this one have substance? (When contacted by EW, FilmDistrict Distribution, the defendants in the suit, declined to comment on the pending litigation.)
Now, you could (and should) argue that you obviously take on some risks anytime you go to a theater. Just like you never know exactly how much you’re going to enjoy a movie, you never know exactly what the movie is going to be about. If you were hoping for Ryan Gosling circa The Notebook, yeah, you’re going to be in for a bit of a shock with the merciless Gosling in Drive. To be fair, yes, the movie was seriously violent, and that could definitely shock those that were expecting more delicate art-house fare. But whose fault is that? Trailers are up for interpretation: What says “offensive” to me might say “black comedy” to you. No one, presumably, forced Ms. Deming to go the movies — and she could have always left the theater, if she realized it wasn’t what she signed up for.
The plaintiff wants her ticket refunded, claiming that the misleading ads are in violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act. She also wants a notice to the public regarding the “extreme gratuitous defamatory racism, and promotion of violence, directed against members of the Jewish faith.” It’s not mentioned in the lawsuit, but this local news report on the story mentions a possible class action lawsuit as well. Overkill?
There are definitely some bad trailer offenders out there: For me, 50/50 had a highly misleading preview. I loved the film (seriously, go!) but billing it as a cancer comedy is just inaccurate if the term “comedy” still means “I will laugh throughout the course of this movie.” It was a dramedy at best, and honestly, it was mostly just a drama. And Twilight is still billed as a drama in the trailers for Breaking Dawn, not the laugh-out-loud comedy it clearly is going to be.
PopWatchers: Which movie trailers have misled you? And is this lawsuit totally frivolous, or does she have a point?