National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Flashback Marketing

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Flashback Marketing

Merry Christmas! Shitter was full!

christmas vacation posterNational Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation arrived six years after the original Vacation and four years after the sequel European Vacation. The first movie, like Animal House in 1978, was the cinematic extension of the edgy, irreverent comedy brand begun in the magazine that provided a stark contrast to old-time comedic standards. These were powered by drugs and sex and the sense of freedom prevailing in youth culture coming out of the 60s and 70s, when the Baby Boom came of age.

In Christmas Vacation we once more follow Clark (Chevy Chase) and Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) Griswold, the parents of Russ and Audrey, played in this movie by Johnny Galecki and Juliette Lewis. This time the family is staying close to home instead of traveling elsewhere. But with extended family coming to stay as well as the tensions common to the holiday season, as well as Clark’s tendency to build up expectations while also bumbling through things, it doesn’t mean the chances of hijinks are diminished at all. As with the first Vacation, it was based on a John Hughes short story that first appeared in National Lampoon.

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Father Figures – Marketing Recap

Father Figures – Marketing Recap

father figures poster 2Owen Wilson and Ed Helms star in the new movie Father Figures as two brothers who one day get a rude surprise: Their mother Helen (Glenn Close) doesn’t actually know who their real father is and has been lying about it for years. That sets the two off on a trip to track down some of their mother’s former paramours to figure out who their true biological father is.

That journey, of course, goes off-track pretty quickly. Not only do they learn more about their mother and her history than they ever really needed to, but they get involved in various other hijinks that complicate matters. Some of the potential fathers are great, some are less so. Blah blah blah, lessons are learned and so on.

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Hostiles – Marketing Recap

Hostiles – Marketing Recap

hostiles posterThe new movie Hostiles takes the audience back to 1892 for a story about learning compassion for your fellow human being, no matter who they are or what your view of them might be. Christian Bale stars as Capt. Joseph J. Blocker, a soldier on the frontier of New Mexico who’s given an assignment he doesn’t want: Transport Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) back to his tribal land in Montana before he dies.

Blocker has a long-standing hatred of Yellow Hawk and other Native Americans but reluctantly does his duty. As they travel they encounter Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike), a widow who they offer to help and who joins their party. Through the trials and hardships they encounter along the way they all gain a respect and understanding for each other that challenges their previous beliefs. It’s a lesson we could all stand to hear again.

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – Marketing Recap

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – Marketing Recap

jumanji poster 20The premise of the first Jumanji was pretty simple: A man who’s been trapped in a board game for 26 years finally breaks loose and the kids who freed him have to stop the animals and other dangers that came out with him. 27 years later the movie is finally getting a sequel in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

The film follows four disparate teenagers who are all sentenced to detention one afternoon. Forced to clean out the high school storage room the discover an old video game system that still works and decide to play “Jumanji” to pass the time. They wind up being sucked into the game, taking on the physical forms of different characters. Now appearing as grown adults (played by Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart and Jack Black), they have to find their way out while also saving Alex, a man who was trapped in the game back in 1996.

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Pitch Perfect 3 – Marketing Recap

Pitch Perfect 3 – Marketing Recap

pitch perfect 3 poster“We’re getting the band back together” seems to be the main focus of Pitch Perfect 3. After going their separate ways, the members of the Barden Bellas find that adulting is hard and nothing makes them feel as good as singing in a college a cappella group did. Not only that, but a new generation has come along and taken the group’s title, reminding them of how old they’re getting and how their lives aren’t turning out as expected.

At a get together with Beca (Anna Kendrick), Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), Aubrey (Anna Camp) and the others, Chloe (Brittany Snow) suggests they try to get aboard a USO tour of Europe, bringing their vocal stylings to the troops. Heading overseas presents an opportunity to not only recapture former glory but also get into a whole new set of hijinks and outrageous situations.

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The Greatest Showman – Marketing Recap

The Greatest Showman – Marketing Recap

greatest showman poster 4It’s interesting timing that a movie telling the story of how P.T. Barnum began his famous (and sometimes infamous) American Museum comes the same year the circus that for 146 years bore his name shut down. The Greatest Showman sees Hugh Jackman starring as Barnum, beginning at a low point in his life and career, suffering one setback after another. He soon devises the idea to collect oddities and people of interest and fascination under one roof, then charge admission for the public to see them.

Descriptions of the movie have been careful to use the word “inspired by” when alluding to how much of the story should be taken with a generous helping of salt. That story includes Barnum’s wife Charity (Michelle Williams) and Philip, the production assistant who joins him in his quest for show business fame (Zac Efron) as well as Anne, the young performer who catches Phillip’s eye.

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Bright – Marketing Recap

Bright – Marketing Recap

bright poster 2Director David Ayer reunites with his Suicide Squad star Will Smith in the new Netflix-original movie Bright. In the movie, Smith plays Daryl Ward, a police officer in an alternate world where mythical creatures like elves, orcs and others coexist alongside humans and have since forever. Now, Ward is the first human cop to be paired with an orc, Jakoby (Joel Edgerton).

While they’re still learning how to get along they discover the existence of a magic wand, a powerful magical weapon that can do whatever the wielder wishes. There are various very bad people – and plenty of others – trying to get their hands on the wand but it’s up to Ward and Jakoby to keep it out of dangerous hands and make sure it can’t do any more harm.

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Downsizing – Marketing Recap

Downsizing – Marketing Recap

downsizing poster 1Matt Damon stars as Paul Safranek in Downsizing, the latest movie from writer/director Alexander Payne. Set sometime in the future, Paul and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) agree to undergo a procedure called “Downsizing” where they are shrunk down to just a few inches tall. It’s an increasingly popular choice, driven by concerns that full-sized people are using the planet’s resources too fast and that shrinking – and thereby requiring less food and water – is the key to responsible environmentalism.

The decision they make winds up taking a turn when, at the last minute, Audrey backs out. That leaves Paul irreversibly shrunk and on his own to adjust to his new reality. In the tiny town he moves to he meets a number of interesting new people, including Dusan Mirkovic (Christoph Waltz) and Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau). Both of them influence how he adapts to the strange new world he finds himself in.

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The Post – Marketing Recap

The Post – Marketing Recap

the post poster 5The Vietnam War still looms large in the collective American psyche, an instance where the cause being fought for was more muddled than usual. So too, the tendency of powerful figures to use whatever tools available to silence dissent and maintain their secrets is as old as time. Both of those realities came together in 1971 when former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg leaked what came to be known as “The Pentagon Papers” to The New York Times in 1971. While the Times published a number of stories on the documents, which contained a classified analysis of the Vietnam War, it wasn’t until later that year when The Washington Post picked up the story that things really heated up.

The Post, the new movie from director Steven Spielberg tells that part of the story. Meryl Streep plays Katherine “Kay” Graham, publisher of the Post from 1969 to 1979. When she’s informed by editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) that he intends to publish reports based on The Pentagon Papers it sets off a whirlwind of corporate and legal action. The Nixon administration moves to stifle that reporting, just as it did for the Times, citing national security concerns. Graham and Bradlee, then, must weigh the threat of being arrested for treason against their duty to inform the public of the real reason behind the Vietnam War.

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