When a group of friends sees that two of their group are stuck in what seems to be a declining, miserable marriage they decide to get everyone together and confront the couple. That’s basic premise of The Intervention, the new movie from writer/director/star Clea Duvall. The focus of everyone’s attention is Ruby (Colbie Smulders) and Peter (Vincent Piazza), who are constantly fighting and bickering and otherwise not getting along. So the gang decides they are going to stage an intervention to share their concerns with them and maybe give them the excuse they need to call it a day on their relationship.
But the weekend isn’t all about Ruby and Peter. Jack (Ben Schwartz) has brought his much-younger and very-outgoing latest girlfriend Lola (Alia Shawkat), Annie (Melanie Lynsky) and Matt (Jason Ritter), a couple who have been engaged for a while but for various reasons are putting off actually setting a wedding date and Sarah (Natasha Lyonne) and Jessie (Duvall), who are having their own issues that are complicated by the events of the weekend. Put all of that drama together in a single house for an entire weekend and you’re sure to have arguments, laughs and more than a few awkward situations. Let’s see how it’s being sold.
The first poster is unfortunately pretty standard and boring, using the “cast photos in a series of horizontal stripes” motif that’s been featured on countless other one-sheets with ensemble casts and a lack of exciting visual pop. That cast list is across the top, with the copy “What are friends for?” toward the bottom.
The first trailer is pretty great if you’re a fan of movies about interpersonal dynamics. We see a bunch of friends arrive at the summer house owned by one of their families, where they’re planning something for others who aren’t there yet. So we have a sense of who these people are before Ruby and Peter get there. The group has planned a “marriage intervention” for the couple, who are seen squabbling with each other from the moment they arrive. The rest of them think they should get a divorce since they’re just massively unhappy. That goes over about as well as you’d expect and the rest of the trailer is about the changed vibe of the weekend after the get-together’s true purpose has been revealed.
It’s clear this is a relationship drama of sorts, a kind of Big Chill but for people who are looking out for the happiness of a couple people who are no longer happily married. It’s an interesting concept and the trailer doesn’t dwell on that too long, instead just focusing on the situational drama and humor that comes out of the premise, which brings together a group of people like this. Most of the cast gets some time in the spotlight here, which is good because this is a pretty great group of actors.
Online and Social
The only web presence for the movie appears to be a Facebook page, where the studio has been sharing cinemagraphs, images and trailers but not much else. Most of the posts contain a link to pre-order the movie on iTunes, so you can tell where the focus will be and what metric has been setup to measure success.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing here, but considering the strong push to the iTunes listing I’d expect some online advertising has been or will be run, just nothing I’ve come across.
Media and Publicity
The movie debuted at Sundance 2016, where the cast and crew talked about the origins of the movie and what the story being told was. It was soon sold to Paramount Home Media for a likely day-and-date theatrical/on-demand release.
Duvall was given the chance to talk about casting the roles, how she went about working with Lynsky – a real life friend of hers – as she went through various drafts and bringing the ensemble together.
The parallels to The Big Chill and movies like it are pretty obvious and have been latched on to by critics, who are using it as an easy shorthand. But I think it’s actually important to get movies and stories like that every few years because things change. That movie was all about reliving the glory days of one’s youth as a way to memorialize a fallen friend but this chronicles a generation that can’t help itself from butting into a friend’s business. It’s the generation that knows best what to do for everyone else, even as it can’t get its own shit together.
In terms of the campaign itself, it’s pretty slight, relying greatly on word of mouth. The trailer sells the movie as an amusing time with a bunch of actors who most of us probably like from other things we’ve seen them on, from “How I Met Your Mother” to “Parks and Rec” to “Parenthood” and everything else. Interestingly the movie is very much being sold as a comedy, if kind of a subdued one, and it doesn’t delve too deeply into selling the dramatic elements. It wants to keep things light and funny, not heavy and serious. It will be interesting to see if that winds up being representative of the movie as a whole.