So there's this indie movie out right now called "Waitress" Starring Kerri Russell and Andy Griffith. The distributor, Fox Searchlight, is clearly trying to position it as this year's heart-felt, life-affirming, little-indie-that-could ala "Little Miss Sunshine." Whatever they're doing seems to be working because the film is getting a lot of press. NPR seems to mention it about once an hour, and today there's a feature about it on cnn.com. The weird thing about the press for this movie is that it all seems to focus on three main talking points.
1) Writer/Director Adrienne Shelly was brutally murdered in her NYC apartment/office before the film was completed.
2) Andy Griffith is in this movie!
3) Andy Griffith eats some pie!
For an uplifting indie dramady this is a weird grab bag of selling points. The first point is horrible and depressing. I guess it'd be weird not to mention it, but still, it's hard to spin that into a positive. The second point is more on target. Andy Griffith's presence is comforting and inspirational in an Atticus Finch kind of way. Also, there is the vague promise that Griffith will take it upon himself to track down Shelly's killer and prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.* Then the third point is just "come watch an octogenarian eat pie!" Anyone who has ever had grandparents can probably tell you that this is a unpleasant proposition at best. At its worst, an old person eating pie makes Jason Biggs fucking a pie seem beatific by comparison.
So, to my mind, the marketing for this movie is 1 for 3. Not a great average, but then, a few nights ago, I happened to catch an ad for the movie on television and I'll be god damned if Nathan Fillion isn't in this movie! Apparently he's like the romantic lead or something. Why didn't anybody mention this! I'll go see a movie that Nathan Fillion is in. Fuck, I paid $14 at the Arclight to see "Slither", mostly because Nathan Fillion was in it. If I was a heavyset middle-aged woman I would probably be a card carrying Fillionaire. Do you see what I'm saying here? Maybe you should add this talking point to your campaign, Fox Searchlight. Maybe your bosses are pissed at Fillion because of those expensive shows he was on that got canceled? That's the only reason I can comprehend for not wanting to let people know that Nathan Fillion is in your movie. Especially when (from what I can tell) he's the male lead and Andy Griffith has about 20 minutes of screen time.
So, I guess I'll go see this movie. I mean, it's obvious that Fox Searchlight really doesn't want me to see it, but I will defy their heartless advertising machine for the Fillion. Curiously this brutal murder and old-people-slurping-pastry based publicity blitz must be working on somebody because the movie was in the box office top ten for about three weeks, even as the mega-budget summer sequels piled up on each other like fat guys at a buffet. The per-screen average on this thing must be huge. Now think of how much bigger it could be if they threw Nathan Fillion into the mix.
* - You and I know that Shelly's killer has already been apprehended, but Andy Griffith is a million years old. When he gets a full head of steam going on these things it's best to just let him run with it. Kind of like not waking a sleepwalker.