‘No Spoilers Please’: 20 Movie Trailers That Fooled Us

Published 1 year ago

When you’re looking for a new flick to sit back and enjoy for a couple of hours you ask your friends for recommendations, check out the actors and producers/ directors and watch the trailer. According to reports, on average four out of five people research a movie on YouTube before committing to it. 

Even so, a trailer can sometimes be quite misleading as to the actual premise of the movie if they practice the ol’ bait n’ switch tactic. One Redditor’s question to Cinephiles led to an intense discussion on movies that turned out to be completely different to the trailer, and the answers yielded interesting results. If you’re on a what-to-watch hunt, you can choose from the following honest reviews – spoilers not included. 

More info: Reddit 1 | Reddit 2 | Reddit 3

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Image source: DragonMSword, imdb

Sucker Punch


Image source: MaximumOverfart, imdb

2 I can think of

Drive trailers made it out to be a car chase centric thrill ride. In reality, all car scenes were shown in their entirety in the trailers.

Adventureland trailers promised a screwball raunchy comedy. In reality, it was a very good coming of age drama.


Image source: schmittyfangirl, imdb

Maleficent-was expecting a dark retelling of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty because of the title character being the villain of Sleeping Beauty. Instead gets a movie that completely misses the point of this character and why people love Maleficent by making her the good fairy.

Now don’t get me wrong I understand the messages of the movie and its allegories referenced the original story (not Disney’s original, but the other one where Talia wakes up giving birth to her twins) but I would forgive it if Angelina morphed into Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. Maleficent hated Aurora because she wanted her dead because her parents didn’t invite her. Her discovering her powers and becoming the mistress of all evil would be a much better movie than a revenge-redemption story.


Image source: usarasa, imdb

I’ll answer this for my late mother, who I went to see Thelma & Louise with because she thought it was a wacky female road trip adventure comedy from the commercials. Wrong.


Image source: Hipster_Communist, imdb

The trailer for 500 Days of Summer made it look much funnier and more light hearted


Image source: LittleBullBoy, imdb

The Happening. Marketed as a horror/thriller, plot twist, it is a deadpan comedy hiding in plain sight.


Image source: ZombieJesus1987, imdb

Bridge to Terabithia.

The trailers implied that it was going to be a whimsical chuldrens fantasy similar to Narnia.

In reality it was a coming of age tale dealing with sudden death and loss

I read the book when I was a kid, so I was thrown off when I first saw the trailer. I thought they took Terabithia literally and made a movie about it. I am glad that I was wrong, as the movie is basically a shot for shot adaptation of the book, just set in the mid 2000s instead of the 70s


Image source: optimisticollie, imdb

This is a prominent one from my childhood because it was a huge bait n switch: Snow Dogs.

The main trailer showed a bunch of talking huskies on a beach making fun of their musher (Played by Cuba Gooding Jr). To me (and my mom) it seemed like an amusing movie with talking dogs who clearly get up to hijinks.

Instead, Snow Dogs, while humorous, was about a Florida dentist’s journey in discovering he’d been adopted after inheriting a team of sled dogs from a woman in Alaska. He travels to the small village of Tolketna to sort out the affair and learns about his mother, the previous owner of the dogs, and ends up falling in love with Alaska, the dogs, and the friendly local bartender.

Little me didn’t actually really get the story all that well, but adult me appreciates it for what it is. I’ve got a fondness for it, even if it’s a mediocre movie, because a) hits close to home: my mom was adopted too; b) it was filmed in Canada close to where I now live; and c) one of the main dogs was a border collie, and my best friend growing up was a border collie.


Image source: Hawkmek, imdb


A modern comedy take on Honey I Shrunk the Kids?

No. A confusing climate change apocalypse movie.


Image source: seattle_lite90, imdb

*Galaxy Quest* the trailer promoted it as a kids movie basically but in reality it’s the best Star Trek movie ever made


Image source: Character-Ad3913, imdb

Not trailer but I remember the bus advertising for Slumdog Millionaire in the uk tagged it as “the feel good movie of the year”. Yeah that’s a no.


Image source: brokeneckblues, imdb

Fight Club comes to mind. Obviously they wouldn’t give away the twist but the trailer made it look like just a bunch of guys who organized bar fights.


Image source: cofasians, imdb

Click, thought it was another Adam Sandler goofball comedy where he could control time…bawled my eyes out the last 20 minutes


Image source: cyclops274, imdb

Age of Ultron had the trailer like set in grim dark world with the heroes are getting shattered. The movies is all jokes and quips.


George Miller’s *Happy Feet* is my go-to example. Trailers were happy-go-lucky and cute. The film was that too. . .but also big and weird and sad and genuinely experimental, especially for a big-budget studio animated film. For some (like myself) it really worked. For others, it came off as confrontational and “too much for a children’s film.”

Having talked to people that worked on it, this was intentional because they had no idea how to market the movie’s wildly varying tone, or it’s darker sequences, or it’s religious and Environmentalist subtexts, so they culled most of the stuff from the first thirty minutes and went with what was safest. Miller later said of the marketing (and I’m paraphrasing, it was a long time ago) that it was like the studio was “just trying to market a new flavor of Coke.”

Image source: JeffBaugh2


Image source: shaoting, imdb.

How has nobody mentioned *Jarhead*?

The trailers made it out to be a Gulf War-era testosterone laced action romp. This was insane given the minimal amount of action shown in any of the trailers.

In reality, what we got was a deep character study on the futility and “shut up and wait” aspect of war. To be clear, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, especially during subsequent viewings once my expectations were fully tempered.

Similar things can be said about *Three Kings*, although trailers for that film leaned more into the comedy aspects of the film.


Image source: Penguininamansbody, imdb

The Grey. The trailers made it seem like “Taken….. WITH WOLVES!!”
Instead, bleak existential drama. Very strange experience.


Image source: barriekansai, imdb

The trailer for Godzilla (2014) was about 50% Bryan Cranston, who was super-popular after Breaking Bad. You’d think he was actually the protagonist, but if you watch the movie, he’s only got a few scenes.


Image source: Navy_Rum, imdb

‘Nope’ – in a good way as it allows you to make some assumptions about the visual cues but whips several of them away when watching the movie.


Image source: jordanclock, imdb

Stranger Than Fiction. The trailer included all of the comedy scenes from the movie and made it seem like it was a wacky story because it starred Will Ferrell. The movie is actually quite serious for the premise and Will Ferrell delivered a wonderful dramatic performance.

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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bait n' switch, misleading movie trailers, movie trailers, movies, no spoilers
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