Equipoise, how is that NOT a spoiler?

How can you possibly say that plot points to a movie that hasn’t been released yet are not spoilers? It doesn’t matter how close the events are to the beginning of the movie. If they aren’t given away by the ads, it’s a spoiler. Just cause you say it isn’t doesn’t make that the case.

So given that it was a Jersey Girl spoiler, just posting it untagged isn’t that bad. Unfortunate, but I can deal. But you went just a wee step further, by posting the spoiler in the thread title, so I couldn’t possibly miss it just by reading Cafe Society. Yet I imagine you were still worried I might not see it, so you also posted the same thing in 40 pt text in the other Jersey Girl thread. I understand your concern as a Kevin Smith “fan” who doesn’t want Gigli or J Lo’s bad rep pulling down his next movie, but you’re just being a jerk.

Thread with spoiler in title
Other Jersey Girl thread

It’s on every single synopsis I’ve read (apart from Rotten Tomatoes). It’s on IMDB for heaven’s sake.

It’s on Kevin Smith’s web site.

The whole movie is ABOUT how he copes after his wife’s death, raising a daughter, then meeting Liv Tyler’s character and incorporating her into their life.

Imagine if, before the ads for, say, Signs came out, and I knew enough about the film to say that it’s (partially) about a man trying to cope after his wife’s death.

Now say that Jennifer Lopez played Gibson’s wife, and people were whining and moaning and groaning about how they won’t go see a movie with Jennifer Lopez, and I said:


Well, it’s about the same thing. When the ads and reviews do come out, Lopez’s death won’t be “hidden” because the plot wouldn’t exist unless she died!

There was also an article in The New York Times about it. It hasn’t exactly been kept a secret.

Without pointing to any of the message board links, nowhere on the page does it say Lopez’ character dies at the beginning. This is IMDB’s plot summary for Jersey Girl:

I suspect, however, the trailers for the movie will prove you’re right, Equipoise, and reveal that aspect of the plot up front.

Er, Lopez’s character, that is.

I think once the ads and reviews come out you’ll see that I wasn’t being a jerk and giving anything away. I guess I’d rather be considered a jerk now though, than not speak my piece about how stupid people are being…

Oh wait…we’re in the Pit…wheee!!

ANYONE who pre-judges a movie just because Jennifer Lopez is in it is an idiot.

It might be a good movie, because she’s been in several.

It might be a bad movie, because she’s been in several.

But to automatically shut out a movie, before any other considerations, because of her presence, however big or small, is just moronic.

Most people who go on about Gigli probably haven’t even seen it (I haven’t seen it). They’re just parroting, and it’s as ridiculous as lemmings who rag on Leonardo DiCaprio, or assholes who continually bring up Al Gore “inventing the Internet.”

It’s sickening to me already, and it’s only going to get worse. My thread was a pre-emptive strike against the idiocy to come.

I guess I did get ahead of myself. The part in that synopsis that says:

I knew enough to know that Liv Tyler is the new wife, and Jennifer Lopez was the old wife, the one who died.

I really can’t see how anyone could talk about the film in a review and not reveal the character’s death. It would make Affleck’s character a bigamist if it’s implied (by omission) that he has 2 wives.

I guess I did get ahead of myself. The part in that synopsis that says:

I knew enough to know that Liv Tyler is the new wife, and Jennifer Lopez was the old wife, the one who died.

I really can’t see how anyone could talk about the film in a review and not reveal the character’s death. It would make Affleck’s character a bigamist if it’s implied (by omission) that he has 2 wives.

Sorry about the double-post!

(That’s what I get for trying to post and buy tickets for the LOTR marathon at the same time.)

Well, there is such a thing a divorce, Equipoise.

Either way, I’m sure the trailers will reveal her character’s death and you’ll be vindicated. Unless, of course, people object to having movie trailers spoiled. In such a case, you’re royally screwed and I suggest you apologize and leave the Boards, never to return again.

I’m with Equipoise on this one. J-Lo’s death— er, I mean,

J-Lo’s death

has been front and center on every bit of pre-release material for the movie I’ve seen.

However, as to the question of how prominently it will be mentioned in the ads, I would have said that was guaranteed, until the crashing failure of Gigli. Now, I think it’s more likely by far that J-Lo won’t even be mentioned, sort of the way Woody Allen’s presence as an actor in his most recent movie was skipped over in the ads in favor of focusing on Christina Ricci and Jason Biggs. If J-Lo is named in the preview/trailer at all, it’ll be at the very end (“also starring…”).

In general, though, if something happens in the first ten minutes of a movie, I’m not really sure it can be “spoiled.” It’s part of the movie’s setup, after all.


I agree with what you say, but I’ve always wondered whether this sort of thing upsets a screenwriter. Suppose, for example, he has written a script that involves a very clever reveal five minutes into the movie, then isn’t the effect sort of spoiled and the reveal stripped of its surprise value?

The Battle of Shaker Heights comes immediately to mind. Isn’t the writer’s big reveal that the opening scene battle is fake ruined if people are told up front that the main character is a war reenactor?

I’m no fan of JLo and haven’t paid any attention to Jersey Girl hype. I don’t recall even seeing any promos for it.

SmackFu has a point. Spoilers in thread titles are verboten.

DAMMITALLTOHELL, Lib!! What’d you go and do that for?

(I’m kidding. I have never even heard of this movie. However, someone else might find this to be a major spoiler.)

OK, maybe it is common knowledge. But maybe it’s not. Would a thread title like “Something everyone should know about Kevin Smith’s ‘Jersey Gir’ (Spoilers)” have been too much to ask? Were you required to put the information right there in the title? Was there NO other way to get your point across?

Clearly I am out of the loop, but the first I heard about J.Lo dying in the movie was when I saw your thread title.

You do know that there are in fact people in this world who don’t watch TV, don’t read movie reviews, etc.? Even people who actively avoid such things because they like to be surprised by a film’s plot?

Yeah. Thanks for your consideration.

Well, the gag in which the opening battle is revealed as fake was, as I recall, featured prominently in the (limited) ad campaign.

But even if they didn’t do that, let’s think about it a second. It’s clearly a coming-of-age comedy/drama; the war reenactment stuff is disposed of within the first few minutes and brought up again only intermittently. So if the filmmakers demand that the twist be preserved, the advertisers can do one of two things.

(a) They can keep the twist secret, along with everything else afterward. Commercials sell the film using only what comes before that point, which makes it look like a war movie. Value of that gag is preserved; audience is genuinely surprised (unless they watched the HBO special), but also pissed off, because they expected a war movie when they bought their ticket, and now they’re not going to get it.

(b) They keep the secret by revealing nothing about the movie’s first five minutes. Commercials sell the film exclusively as a coming-of-age comedy/drama; the only hint of the militarism, if one is paying attention, comes in glimpses of the jeep the protagonist drives, plus his penchant for camo garb. So the audience buys their ticket, and the movie starts like a war flick. What the hell? everybody thinks, genuinely confused; am I in the wrong movie? And then the gag happens, and the audience says, Oh, okay, I get it, and settles down. This may work, but it runs the serious risk of being more irritating than amusing. Studios, needless to say, do not like running risks they don’t have to run.

The key here, I think, is that the average moviegoer doesn’t want to feel as if the movie (and/or the moviemakers) believes itself to be superior in any way to the audience. There’s a subtle status relationship at work. The average person buys a ticket with as much anticipation (“boy I hope this is good”) as defiance (“I’m the customer, now amuse me, you bastards, or I’ll get on the internet and write a long and pointless screed about how you should be beaten to death with your own camera equipment”). The ad campaign must cater to this need, and give the audience a position from which to feel superior, and to have a legitimate expectation about the film to come.

Note this applies primarily to the movie’s setup; once you’ve got an audience hooked, you can take them along for the ride. The genius of The Usual Suspects, for example, is that it sets up its noir mystery, asking a bunch of big questions in the first five minutes (who’s on the boat? why does that guy look up and laugh? who’s hiding behind the gear?) along with the promise that those questions will be answered. And then the movie delivers on this promise, answering all of its questions and laying out its explanation. And then it goes past that point, hitting us with the additional twist. We don’t mind that the movie has outsmarted us, because we thought we were right with it until the very end. By contrast, a movie like Basic (starring John Travolta) doesn’t work because it ladles on the twists, one after the other, until the average moviegoer literally has no idea what’s going on and gives up trying to keep up with the story.

Now, also note that I’m carefully referring to the average moviegoer, the vast and undifferentiated mainstream that doesn’t see subtitled movies or pay attention to directors or entertain the thought of doing anything else that might be cinematically challenging. Robert Zemeckis has referred to the commercials for his movies as “selling Big Macs,” because the average filmgoer wants to know exactly what he’s going to get when he sits down in the dark just as much as he wants to know exactly what he’s going to taste when he bites into a McDonald’s product no matter where in the world he orders it. That’s why Zemeckis gave away the triumphant escape in the ads to Cast Away, because he didn’t want people to be scared off by the thought that the movie might end with the guy dying on the island. He wanted the audience to know that things would be okay, that they’d be safe buying a ticket without fear of getting “betrayed” at the end. And it worked; despite the fact that the commercials for Cast Away gave away the whole story, or perhaps indeed because of that fact, the movie was a big hit.

So while in the idealized world of Great Cinema it might make sense to sell a movie with only bare-bones information, in the real world it wouldn’t work at all. Imagine a text-only commercial: “Out of Time is a new film noir set in Florida, starring Denzel Washington. It’s directed by Carl Franklin, who made Devil in a Blue Dress with Denzel and before that One False Move. Starts Friday.” Based on that alone, I’d see the movie (and I fully intend to). But most people wouldn’t.

In the real world, then, you’ve got to give people something to hang on to. And in your specific example, and for movies at large, that means basically everything in the first ten minutes, and indeed more like twenty, is fair game to be revealed. It’s what establishes what the movie is about, which is how most people decide whether or not to see it.

This may be your opinion, but I strongly disagree with it. I happen to have enjoyed some Jennifer Lopez movies, and her presence alone would not prevent me from seeing a movie.

However, the cast is one of the most common reasons why people choose to see or not to see a movie. There was recently a lengthy thread in Cafe Society in which people listed those actors whose presence would guarantee that they would have no interest in seeing a particular movie. I don’t think that anyone should be called an idiot because she is discerning enough to know which actors are likely to prevent her from enjoying a movie. It’s not an absolute system, of course, but when movies can cost over $9.00 a pop, having some way of weeding out the ones that are likely to be a waste of your time and money only makes sense.

I will not be seeing Jersey Girl because it stars Ben Affleck.

Oh, and yes, I thought including a spoiler in your thread title was tacky and inappropriate, even if that spoiler may be widely available in the media.

Spoiler? Unspoiler, as far as I’m concerned.
Lopez is billed second in the credits. I thought she was going to be central. I planned to avoid the movie based on her presence. Her association with the film puts me off to such a high degree that if the good news were presented as…

I wouldn’t have bothered to look.

Thanks, **Equipoise
, I might actually give it a chance, now.

It’s also about the most inaccurate system I can think of. The more you know about movies, the more you recognize that the actors have virtually nothing to do with how it’ll turn out. Robert De Niro may be a legend, but Showtime was an insultingly awful piece of garbage. Robin Williams may be frighteningly inconsistent in his dramatic roles, but Insomnia was a better-than-expected remake of a superior foreign film.

Choosing movies based on who’s in them is certainly easy, because that’s who you’re looking at in the commercial, and they get to where they are because they’re attractive and/or charismatic and command the screen to a greater or lesser degree. But while it’s easy, it’s also wholly unreliable. Equipoise may be indulging in hyperbole to call it idiotic, but that doesn’t mean she’s wrong. I’d prefer the term “simplistic.”

It’s all about an alchemical connection between director, writer, producer, creative staff (including actors but also including editor, composer, etc.), plus choice of material. Of course, keeping track of all of that requires a lot of work, so it’s just easier to say, “I hate Ben Affleck and I won’t see anything he does.” It’s also kinda, well, kinda ignorant. Changing Lanes, for example, falls into a heap of test-marketed slag in the last five minutes, but up until then it’s a remarkably thought-provoking piece of work, and Affleck contributes a worthy performance to it.

But hey, do what you want. It’s your eight bucks.


For what it’s worth, I so very much appreciate your commentary about movies. I’ve learned a lot from your contributions, and often you’ve been responsible for me seeing things in new ways, or watching a film that otherwise I would have shunned. Sometimes, I use keywords from your posts and go search Google to try to learn more. All in all, you have made me enjoy movies more than I would have without your teachings. Just wanted to say thanks.

(…still waiting for that review of Almost Famous. ;))

I guess I was being too subtle in my post back over at the offending thread…