This Is Why You Should Arrive 25 Minutes After Your Movie “Starts”

These four terrible trailers are waiting to attack.

Last night, Fandango celebrated its exclusive “teaser trailer” for Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. It was a special night for film buffs eager to see what the pop culture-loving rabble-rouser was up to next.

At my house, it was just another Wednesday. Trailer premieres don’t captivate me because in a world inundated with entertainment news and gossip, I want to be surprised by something at the multiplex. Unless it’s awful, then I must know about it immediately.

Enduring a terrible, unanticipated preview before the featured presentation can be deflating and traumatic, like seeing an unannounced Wayne Newton warble through “Danke Schoen” before the Black Keys take the stage. This cinematic self-destruction happens all too often. When my wife and I saw The Help last summer, we were subjected to a collection of hopelessly terrible coming attractions including The Vow, Footloose, and New Year’s Eve. There may have been more, but I blacked out after ramming my head against the armrest. “You got angrier with each one,” my wife remembered, with a little too much glee.

(I actually wound up seeing the first two movies. Both were lousy. Having watched the insulting Valentine’s Day—an ode to pretty people with pretend problems on February 14th—my wife and I saw no point in extending our holiday visit with director Garry Marshall.)

As a public service, I present four trailers of upcoming films that are noteworthy for the wrong reasons. Watch them now so if you do encounter them on your night out, you can remain calm—and conscious.

1. Katy Perry: Part of Me

I have never understood why studios make documentaries about current pop stars who are merely popular, not forces of nature revolutionizing their art. (Imagine Don’t Look Back featuring Gary Puckett or Bobby Sherman.) If Perry has done anything, it’s proving that attractive, toned brunettes can also make millions of dollars singing like robots. The pop charts will not be ruled by the tyranny of blonde, man!

Regarding your “journey,” Katy, get back to us in five years, when your audience has matured and is no longer seduced by your sex kitten in Candy Land routine. Or in 10 years, when your album featuring a “new, mature direction” is greeted by disappointing sales and a sizable offer from Playboy.

The next three trailers also fall under the category of “poor [name of actor/actress].” For example, I remember seeing the coming attraction for Footloose and practically sobbing when Dennis Quaid appeared. Anytime a trailer elicits those feelings, there’s a good chance the movie will spend two hours making paper dolls out of your soul.

2. I Heart Shakey

I have nothing against kids’ movies. My ire rises when they offer nothing for the parents, grandparents or anyone else with pubic hair who must escort the little ones to the Saturday matinee. This preview exemplifies why Brave will make a mint this summer, and why any parents who viewed this clip just groaned out loud. The folks at Pixar have made movies that kids and adults love since the mid-1990s.

Poor Alfonso Arau. The man directed the beloved Like Water for Chocolate and played El Guapo in Three Amigos! (“It’s a sweater!”) We’ve canonized individuals for doing less.

3. Step Up Revolution

“It’s time for protest art!” You know, the Occupy movement would have accomplished more if there had been an increased focus on hip-hop-influenced writhing and ripped abs. I’m praying that a Peter Gallagher look-a-like glued two caterpillars above his eyes, because the veteran actor (While You Were Sleeping, American Beauty) is absent from the movie’s IMDB page.

4. Madea’s Witness Protection

Confession time: I’ve never watched any of the comedies in Tyler Perry’s endless series about the bosomy, mannish matriarch. But whenever I stumble upon a trailer (like this one) or a clip on TV, I am confused and scared and captivated. It’s like staring at a horrific traffic accident or carnival workers or the Mummers parade. Am I supposed to laugh? Is this some kind of elaborate, hyper-ironic Andy Kaufman joke?

Eugene Levy better hope Christopher Guest wants to make another mockumentary. Between this and the insulting American Reunion, it’s hard to remember when Levy, a tremendous comic actor dating back to SCTV, had a value beyond his capacity for humiliation.