July 2, 2007

When Bad Posters Strike: Margot at the Wedding

I now present to you an open letter to all professional poster designers.

Dear Professional Poster Designers,

My name is Glenn Dunks and I wish you would listen to what I have to say as I'm not sure you have heard me clearly. I have a mere two words for you that I wish would become your daily mantra.

Here we go. Are you ready?

Try. Harder.


Glenn Dunks


Take, for instance, the newly released poster for Noah Baumbach's Margot at the Wedding. This movie stars Nicole Kidman, aka one of the movie world's biggest stars. It also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, aka sadly not one of the movie world's biggest stars, but who is a recognisable talent to film fans. It also stars Jack Black, one of the movie world's most recognisable stars and is probably quite popular too, although I am not a fan (which is neither here nor there).

Margot at the Wedding also, apparently, stars a whole lot of white space. That's the only explanation I can come up for a poster of a movie starring Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jack Black to be almost entirely white space filled with nary an "Academy Award Winner/nominee" tag in sight or anything.

And then when you actually do look at the images used I could swear my eyes are playing tricks on me. Have they actually made Jack Black blurry? Have they actually made Kidman and Leigh look washed out and flat?

I adore the profile picture of Kidman with her adorable fuschia hat, but that image should take up the majority of the poster space, not just a small little section at the bottom. And I totally get what the designers must have been going for (twee! folksy! indie!) and I understand the use of simple plain font (to give it that simple "we don't need a fancy design to entice viewers" vibe), but mixed with the abundance of nothingness, the entire poster is rendered utterly pointless. There is nothing here whatsoever to entice people to see Margot at the Wedding other than the names of the cast.

Look, I'm not asking for much. Just a little bit of ingenuity. A bit of visual pinache. A flourish of design. I hate to bring out the tired ol' "I could've designed this myself" argument, but it's a blatant fact that even an idiot with only passing skills in Photoshop could have made this poster with a movie still and a default font of Ariel.

I'm sure this is only a "teaser" poster of sorts as there are no credits, nor is there even a tag line (seriously!) but that still doesn't excuse lazy workmanship. This poster is out there as a means of advertising Margot at the Wedding and I can't imagine anyone seeing this hanging up in the foyer of their local cinema and thinking "Oh, that looks good! Let's see that." Seriously. Would you? I doubt it. When the final design (if there is one, natch) arrives I doubt much will have changed. Movies like this don't often much in the way of advertising changes and tend to revolve their advertising around one focal recurring imagine - in this case, Nicole and her pink hat - and while that image may work on a 200x200pixel ad box in a sidebar on some website, it doesn't work hanging up in a cinema lobby.

I intend to watch Margot going to this wedding she is apparently going to, but it won't be because of this invitation.


rural juror said...

I love this series...particularly for its truthiness.

Paxton Hernandez said...

LOL! I love this series too. They just crack me up!! hahahahaha

adam k. said...

I generally love this series, but I have to disagree here in that I have no real problem with this poster. I get what you're saying, but nothing about it really bothers me. I like the simplicity, I like the font, I like the hat, and I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt in terms of the white space maybe being a metaphorical statement about the film. Maybe it does star a bunch of white space? Metaphorically speaking... like the emptiness in Margot's life or something (Nicole's characters often have that problem).

Anyway, I'm agreeing to disagree with you on this one. Though I admit that perhaps a little more panache might've been preferable.

Neel Mehta said...

I couldn't disagree more.

1. I like the white space. Let every other poster have their giant actor faces. This one sticks out. Besides, it's not like there'll be any non-white people in this movie anyway.

2. The only one smiling is... Jennifer Jason Leigh? That's even quirkier than Nicole's hat and Jack's blurriness.

3. "Wedding" in the title and yet no wedding imagery. It doesn't even look like Jack and Jennifer are the couple. Curious, maybe clever.

4. Oh, the hat. The poster designer (who tried plenty hard, I think) figured out that the hat would take care of everything. And it does.

I do wish the font were different. Change the white background to yellow and you're instantly reminded of the Little Miss Sunshine poster, to which this poster owes an obvious debt.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Let it be known that while I think the poster in general is a bore, I cherish that pink hat.

That is all.

Rose said...

Lol, if you actually looked around people are LOVING this poster. Another blog actually called it one of the best this year. And I agree. For the type of film it is and the type of filmmaker Baumbach is, this is the perfect poster. It wouldn't be good for say, a blockbuster but this isn't a blockbuster? It's a small family drama/comedy from one of the best young writer/directors working today.

So yeah, I really disagree.

alexander said...

I love this poster? It's perfect for a Baumbach film and if you actually looked around kamikaze, the poster really calls back to the old Eric Rohmer films.

This poster is perfect.

AMC said...

Lol, your explanation of why the poster is sooo bad is really kinda off base. This is the type of film that gets critics behind it and wins/is nominated for Oscars. It's not a summer spectacle? Rose already kinda said that but I agree.

I really like it. I do hate the border around the title but I love the rest of it.

Anonymous said...

Someone at another board (the Awards Daily Forums to be exact) said that he thought the poster was plain lazy. Mostly everyone else liked/loved it and one person said this:

"Simplicity is not laziness".

That is all.

rural juror said...

The problem I have with this poster is that the 3 different people don't look like they were actually there at the same time. It looks like those cast photos of Friends in the last season where they obviously took their photos and different times and pieced them together.

RC said...

i usually totally agree with your bad posters strike posts...

but gotta say, love the poster...love the white space, love the pink hat, love the washed out looks.

i think the only thing is, i'd be scared if this poster was next to a poster for Bratz...maybe a little too similar.

xtreme said...

Ooooo, I love this poster?

I love that the "Margot" in the title is pink and then Nicole is wearing the pink hat. Easy to spot out who the main character is.

But yeah, I don't like the box around the title either. But besides that, I really love this. One of my favorite this year. At least so far.

Paxton Hernandez said...

Nah, this poster is fugly.

Kamikaze Camel said...

It's nice to know that, apparently, I'm meant to agree with what everyone else is saying on the internet.

I mightn't even find it that boring if, as rural juror alluded to, there was some connectivity between the three. But nobody can tell that Black and Leigh are getting married and then Margot disapproves (which is what the quite fine trailer demonstrates). The poster just kind of says to me "There are three people in this movie. One wears a charming pink hat."

But, I pretty much laid my argument out of the line already so I'm not going to continue arguing it.

I would love it if these new commenters (Rose, Alexander, xtreme) would come back and comment regularly. It's always nice to have fresh voices in the mix! Even if they do disagree with me grrr