In my review of the marketing for Special Correspondents I wrote:
If you’re a fan of Gervais you’ll likely be on board here since he’s one the campaign is centered around. He’s the protagonist, the one who seems to come up with all the harebrained schemes and inappropriate non-sequiturs that Bana’s character reacts to. There’s no laugh-out-loud moments in the trailers so my guess is that the movie is one the audience will likely smile pleasantly through, maybe chuckling every now and again but never fully giving itself over to. It seems like a good choice to have on in the background as you’re checking email at the end of the day.
Well I was right in saying there were no laugh out loud moments in the movie. Indeed the whole thing comes off as odd and inconsistent in tone, like it can’t decide if it’s doing a straight-faced comedy or something that’s a bit more broad and slapstick or caricture-based. At times it seems as if Gervais is going for big laughs and at others it seems like he’s doing something more subtle but ultimately he seemed incapable of deciding which direction to go in and the result is kind of a muddled mess. Not to say that it’s necessarily bad, but it’s not great and sometimes shockingly amateurish considering the talent involved.
If there’s a bright spot it’s that Eric Bana really gives it his all to create a character who’s a delusional glory hound. He’s the best part of the movie and, oddly, a lot more adept at walking the tonal line with a comedy like this than Gervais seems to be.
The campaign didn’t really missell the movie and indeed, as I noted, hinted at some of the tone and style issues that were very much on display. There are a few big story points that aren’t hinted at at all in the trailers, but that’s not too big of a problem. Those missing elements do cast a different tone on the motivations of a few characters that was a bit surprising. That doesn’t appear to be intentional but I *do* think Netflix needs to get a bit better about trailering their movies since this kind of thing keeps coming up and the trailers never really make a strong case for the movie. Considering it’s not just one-time ticket sales at stake but long-term subscription revenue they should address that fast.