I think any self-respecting guy has, at least a few times in his life, bought a tool using the logic “Well, I know I’ll need it some day.” Likewise I’m sure women have bought some sort of beauty product or pair shoes that they have no immediate use for but which may be perfect at some point down the road. Until the appropriate situations warrant under either scenario, though, the item in question remains in the toolbox or closet as an “extra” item.
But what if what’s needed or wanted is a person? That’s the premise of The Extra Man, a new movie starring Kevin Kline and Paul Dano. Kline plays an “extra man” who, when called upon, serves as an escort to old women or other people in need of an someone to go somewhere with. He’s not a jiggilo, he’s like the prefect purse these women pull out for a specific occasion. Into his life – and his apartment – comes Dano’s character, who becomes interested enough in what Kline’s character does that he begins to dabble in being an extra man himself. This complicates, though, the fact that he’s romantically interested in a young woman he works with, played by Katie Holmes. It’s this, as well as the navigating he does of the strange lifestyle circles Kline runs in that forms the basis of the movie so let’s look at how it’s being sold.
it’s a pretty simple design, dominated by Kline staring deadpan into the camera as he affects a look that’s simultaneously dapper and charming but also a bit smarmy. He’s the centerpiece of the poster, with Dano relegated to the background, where he is seen staring off-camera while dangling a red bra from a finger. Above them Katie Holmes and John C. Reilly are seen in ornate picture frames, clearly positioning them as supporting players.
The two bits of copy more clearly hint at the the movie’s plot. “A sexless new comedy” combined with “They’re not gigolos, they’re gentlemen” give the audience the notion that we’re not about to watch a raunchy flick filled with nakedness, despite the appearance of that bra in Dano’s hands. Instead it seems to say, combined with the look on Kline’s face, that this is a comedy of the absurd.
The trailer opens with Dano and Kline meeting for the first time, a meeting that’s the result of Kline looking for a roommate in his apartment. We’re then introduced to Kline’s role, which is an “extra man” who provides companionship for lonely old women. Dano is eventually pulled in to that role as well when an extra extra man is needed one night.
In-between bits about Kline’s job entertaining the ladies we see that there will be a tentative, awkward romance between Dano and Holmes as well as conflict between Dano and Kline, who’s completely uninterested in the personal details of his new roommate’s life.
Kline – not surprisingly – dominates the trailer not only in terms of screen time but also in sheer acting ability. The scenes where he shares the screen with Dano are exactly the opposite of The Long Hot Summer, where a young Paul Newman stood toe-to-toe with Orson Welles. So it’s clear that if you’re going to enjoy this movie it’s going to be because Kline gives a loose and very funny performance.
The movie’s official website is not exactly a robust affair. The Trailer begins playing as soon as the page loads and below that is a decent About the Film synopsis and a list of the Cast and Crew, though without any other information about them. Toward the top of the page is a Photo Gallery that has seven stills from the film and its production in it, a Press Kit section where you can download information about the movie and then an area where you can Buy Tickets.
The movie’s Facebook page does not exactly extend the picture greatly. Links and updates on the marketing materials as well as a few additional promotions are on the Wall while the rest of the profile contains the usual photos and such.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nada that I’ve seen.
Media and Publicity
Again not much. The film has gotten some decent word of mouth but in terms of concerted press efforts there’s little but this profile of Kline (Los Angeles Times, 7/25/10) that has come through the system.
A nice enough campaign, especially for a small movie that is getting hybrid distribution wherein it’s available on VOD at the same time it’s in theaters. The trailer is pretty charming and the poster works well enough. The website is about what you’d expect for a movie of this size, maybe a little smaller, but not unexpectedly so.
For what appears to be a small movie it’s a well put together campaign that, I would guess, is primarily going to attract those longing to see Kline in more roles. Everything about the campaign positions him as the main selling point for the movie whereas Dano, who for whatever reason seems to enjoy some level of indie-success, is very much extra.