10 movies marketed as comedies but weren’t really

The goal of a filmmaker is to make a good film; something that will win awards, be lauded, inducted into the Library of Congress, or at the very least enjoyed by the public. The goal of a movie’s marketing team is quite different – to get people to movie theater seats by all means except lying.

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As such, movie trailers can often barely resemble the movie they are advertising. Usually this is done to make a dark or serious movie look more like a comedy, taking scenes out of context or showing all the funny moments in the trailer.

ten Magic Mike is a dark reflection on adult performers


Mike talks to Adam in Magic Mike movie

Magic mike is a film well known for having Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, and a host of other attractive actors performing a lot of strip routines, over strippers, and depending on the trailer, their sexy, comedic lifestyles. Except that’s not the case at all.

The movie is unmistakably about male strippers, but without the fun side of the trailer, the movie is a pretty serious take on the lifestyle. Its main storylines are Mike’s burnout with his job, drug use in the industry, and the financial hardships of performers. Insightful and interesting, but not a barrel of laughs.

9 Jack The Giant Slayer Didn’t Want To Look Like The Lord Of The Rings


Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor and Eleanor Tomlinson in Jack the Giant Slayer

Particularly influential works of fiction in one genre tend to color perceptions of all subsequent works. Pirate movies are going to be compared to Pirates of the Caribbean, superhero movies are going to be compared to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and unless they stand out, fantasy movies are going to be compared to the Lord of the Rings.

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To avoid these comparisons, Jack the giant slayer adapted its trailer to look like a comedic family fairy tale movie, according to its roots in Jack and the Beanstalk. The movie itself was a somewhat dark fantasy action movie. This marketing would derail the film, and it would become known as a box office flop.


8 Cable Guy’s Wacky Jim Carrey is incredibly disturbing


Jim Carrey as the titular guy in The Cable Guy movie

Some actors known for comedy, regardless of their other work, are forever associated with the genre. One of them is Jim Carrey, whose more serious fare often ends up being seen as comedic no matter how dark it really is.

The cable guy played up to that. Carrey plays a weird and unusual man who clings to Matthew Broderick’s character Stephen, whose antics very quickly overstep the boundaries of real life, causing Carrey’s character to become dangerous once he’s rejected. The film contains dark comedy, but it is widely used to cleanse the palate after some truly unsettling psychological thriller action.


seven Hancock is a superhero tragedy


Will Smith as the terrible superhero Hancock in the movie Hancock

Certain genres are also often decided to be comedies, usually because they are considered immature. Superhero films often face this association. Hancock was marketed as a dark comedy to fuel this notion, focusing on the main character’s incompetent superheroes and the quest to improve his image.

In reality, even the beginning of the film is a dark comedy in its lightest moments, focusing on the destructive lifestyle led by Smith’s Hancock, and becoming a full-fledged tragedy at the end, centered on the doomed love of two heroes. There is comedy, but for the most part the movie is actually very sad.


6 Dark Shadows’ lack of comedy was presumably intentional


The vampire Barnabas Collins with his descendants in the movie Dark Shadows

It’s unusual for a movie to be based on a long live-action soap with elements of supernatural horror, and yet that is exactly what 2012 is. Dark shadows was, with Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, a vampire who comes to live with his descendants.

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While the movie has some comedy, it’s not more than most movies. The trailer used almost every moment of Barnabas grappling with modern life, implying that that was the film’s sole focus. In reality, the plot is a pretty serious romantic drama with a fair amount of revenge, with the comedy firmly set back.


5 Adventureland director made a difference


Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart playing couple in Adventureland

After Super badsuccess of the comedy, many believed that the director’s next film, Country of adventure, would be somewhat similar – a wacky and somewhat incredible comedy centered around funny hijinks. Being located in a theme park did nothing to appease that notion, nor did much of its marketing.

Land of adventure for the most part, is actually a romance flick, with a single trailer highlighting the romantic aspects of the film. Much of the film’s story deals with the relationship between Jesse Eisenberg’s James Brennan and Kristen Stewart’s Emily Lewin, without emphasizing the raunch or humor that many have come to expect.


4 Spring Breakers is a bloody crime movie


The criminal protagonists of the film Spring Breakers

The premise of “Sorority Girls Do A Swimwear Crime Series” is a movie most people will assume isn’t serious. Trailers for spring breakers There was a lot of emphasis that these were former Disney girls trying to get rid of their self-image, in a movie that many thought was an adult comedy.

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In reality, spring breakers is a crime film with a healthy dose of murder. It’s far from the toughest of its kind and has more than a few wacky elements, but they’re mostly played straight up, with a story that takes itself rather seriously.




3 Four brothers, it’s more grain than laughter


The four titular brothers plot to avenge their mother in Four Brothers

Some would consider it an unusual choice to market a noir crime thriller where four sons attempt to uncover and avenge their foster mother’s murder as a comedy, and yet that’s exactly what the studio behind. Four brothers did so, taking scenes out of context, to the point of making a tragic death scene appear as comedic in the trailers.

The film would ultimately pay off, whether because of or despite its marketing, but critics have been harsher on it, deeming it damning and glorifying violence. Nonetheless, it probably received a better reception than it would have been as pure comedy.


2 The bicentennial man tries to be cerebral


Robin Williams' character looking at himself in the mirror in The Bicentennial Man

Famous sci-fi author Isaac Asimov is not a man who is easily associated with comedy, and yet beloved actor Robin Williams is. It was ultimately the latter who won with the 1999 film The bicentennial man, with marketers describing Robin Williams as a fun comedic household robot who develops quirks.

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People who went to see it found a science fiction philosophical film examining the nature of humanity, consciousness, eternal life, slavery, and a host of other topics. The film would turn out to do badly with critics, in part for being too serious and sentimental.


1 The Truman Show is almost straight drama


Truman looking at himself in the mirror on The Truman Show

Jim Carrey made more of a largely dramatic film that was marketed as a comedy to capitalize on its reputation. The Truman Show is well known as a pretty dark drama about a man who grew up in a fictional world as a character on a TV show and ultimately decides to make his own destiny once he finds out the truth.

The trailers did not represent the tone of the film as such. While the plot was somewhat conveyed, very specific scenes of Truman being a fun character were shown, to indicate that the character was going to look a lot like many of Carrey’s other roles. Instead, this is perhaps Carrey’s more serious film.

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