02/02/2013 01:53 pm ET Updated Apr 04, 2013

How to Spot a Lousy Movie (By Reading the Ad Copy)

You really don't really have to read the reviews for Arnold Schwartzenegger's comeback movie to know what a clunker The Last Stand must be. Lionsgate has supplied the clues in the prodigious print ad buy in major metropolitan areas. Take a look at some of the blurb copy they ran. "Action-Packed, Suspenseful and Fun!," "Classic Schwartznegger!," "Johnny Knox is Hilarious!, and "A Total Blast!" Please note the exclamation points to ensure we know it's all TRUE!!!

So who are these major media outlets roaring out this hyper-praise for The Last Stand? They are,, and Fox-TV -- presumably the entire network -- but not quite. Turns out FOX-TV is specifically Shawn Edwards from Fox 4 News, Kansas City, MO., who has amassed more than 300 print quotes since he started reviewing. Mr. Edwards is a swell fellow, no doubt. But when you're Lionsgate spending uber-bucks on a national ad buy, is Shawn Edwards, Fox-4 News, Kansas City, your first choice for a quote?

How about They are a South American website. No hint of exactly who in South America thinks The Last Stand is "Action-Packed, Suspenseful and Fun!" Presumably the entire continent.

"Classic Schwartzenegger!" is from, an online digital media, music retailer and distribution company out of Santa Monica, Calif. Ever heard of them? No? Again, no clue as to a quotable source at or what their connection might be to Lionsgate.

Then there's who wants us to know that "Johnny Knox is Hilarious!" As a web-based movie fan site, they're certainly in the know.

You've got to feel for the marketing department at Lionsgate. What a pickle. You know you've got a stinker on your hands but you've got to come up with something. So you turn to the web for it's infinite source of opinions.

At least they're being honest about it -- using actual, albeit obscure, quote sources. Back in 1961 legendary Broadway theater producer David Merrick also had a dud on his hands which was slammed by all seven New York critics. So Merrick took full page ads out with raving quotes from these very same critics. Only they weren't. They were ordinary mojos pulled from the phone book with the same names as the critics, treated to a Broadway musical and graciously quoted in all ads to wit: "7 Out of 7 Are Ecstatically Unanimous About 'Subways Are For Sleeping'!"

Chances are most of us have never heard of any of the sites that raved about The Last Stand -- and does it really matter? The Internet revolution has greatly expanded our opinion sources. They're anywhere and everywhere, vigorously expressed through blast emails, tests and tweets and now in expensive ad copy for movies. The problem is when you're everywhere, you tend to be nowhere. And truth is hard to find when anything could be the truth.

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