Shorter trailers might mean fewer punchless punchlines

It sure sounded like one of the sillier fights you could pick.

Rather than addressing compulsive talkers, cellphone users, 3-D that’s almost never worth the upcharge, or the dozens of other reasons that people shun multiplexes, in January, the National Association of Theater Owners proposed a two-minute limit on movie trailers, meaning studios would have to trim them by 30 seconds.

You can be sure the group wasn’t thinking about consumers. It wasn’t an attempt to start movies closer to the time printed on the ticket. Odds are, the organization saw it as a chance to cram in more advertising.

Still, that idea is sounding better all the time.

I really enjoyed the new Seth Rogen-Zac Efron comedy “Neighbors,” but — allow me to put on my Andy Rooney eyebrows for a moment — did the trailers and commercials have to spoil every good gag?

I try to avoid movie trailers the way I try to avoid vegetables. And it still felt like I’d seen the whole thing — including the entirety of the goofy Robert De Niro party — before I walked into the theater.

It’s not the movie’s fault. There are plenty of clever bits in “Neighbors.” But you’d be surprised by the sheer number of jokes that can be shotgunned into a 150-second preview.

This problem isn’t limited to comedies. I can’t recall how many plot points from dramas and action movies that I wish I hadn’t seen in advance.

But with comedies, the jokes are usually all there is. It’s not as though anyone’s going to walk out of “Neighbors” saying, “You know? I really appreciated the set dressing. And those costumes! Zac Efron really looked like a fraternity president.”

Speaking of comedies from guys named Seth, I’m really looking forward to Seth MacFarlane’s “Ted” follow-up, “A Million Ways to Die in the West.”

But I’m worried, too, because I can’t imagine there’s a better gag anywhere in the very adult comedy than the random pop-culture joke that closes out one of its trailers.

That’s not to say that particular scene would have been cut to save 30 seconds. But at least some of the other jokes could have been spared.

■ Going retro: It’s a big week for fans of Vegas-based kitsch. The “classics” channel Cozi TV is showing both the two-part “Bionic Woman” episode “Fembots in Las Vegas” (7 p.m. Sunday) and the “Charlie’s Angels” episode “The Vegas Connection” (6 p.m. Tuesday). Cozi TV can be found on Cox cable channel 123 and over the air on channel 3.2.

■ Special screening: Extend your arms, lean over the seat in front of you, and yell, “I’m the king of the world!” “Titanic” is back in theaters at 2 p.m. today and 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesday at Orleans, Sam’s Town, Santa Fe, South Point and Suncoast. Seriously, though, don’t yell that in the theater. No one thinks that’s funny.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567.

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