Generally, the critical reception of Screen Junkies' Honest Trailers series has been very positive. Every week, dozens of write-ups about the most recent Honest Trailer are published. The reception for each individual Honest Trailer is included on its dedicated page on this wiki (see list of Honest Trailers). This page concerns the reception of the series overall.
Cultural significance Edit
Many reviews have suggested that receiving an Honest Trailer is a culturally significant pop culture rite of passage. EW remarked that "Screen Junkies’ Honest Trailers series is kind of an Internet institution," and in a separate article that "no movie has truly made it until it get the Honest Trailer treatment." CW Detroit wrote that "being roasted by the Honest Trailer team is a sign that you’ve made it to the Zeitgeist of popular cinema." Screen Rant suggested that receiving an Honest Trailer is equivalent to being "gifted with one of modern pop culture's most prestigious backhanded compliments." In a separate article, Screen Rant wrote "it's become impossible to see trailers for noteworthy blockbusters and not think "What will the Honest Trailers people make of this?" In 2019, Konbini described Screen Junkies as "a key player in the YouTube game" because of the Honest Trailers series.
In their review of the X-Men Apocalypse Honest Trailer, ScreenRant highlighted the legitimate acclaim that the Honest Trailers series has received, noting, "The Screen Junkies' video series has not only built a huge following, but has also gained legitimate acclaim - with Honest Trailers even being nominated for an Emmy this year. So while the series rarely fails to bring the laughs, it seems that the Honest Trailers' trademark brand of satire actually has depth underneath all of its humor." In total, Honest Trailers has been nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards and many other awards (See Awards for more information).
Meanwhile, Deadline suggested that the series' impact "can be measured in terms of growing recognition of the series by major industry players—and the participation of these artists in its creation." This refers to directors such as the Russo Brothers discussing the Honest Trailers series and striving to make their movies "Honest Trailers-proof," and also the participation of people in the series, including actor Ryan Reynolds and director Jordan Vogt-Roberts.
Additionally, the Honest Trailers series has been considered an example of a new form of film criticism unique to the internet. Screen Rant classified, Honest Trailers along with CinemaSins' Everything Wrong With series as "a new wave of film criticism that moved beyond academic essays and even traditional reviews (written or video) into a sort of internet-defined form... infused with humor and a balance of traditional film theory observations and more nitpicky, nerd-focused ideas."
The book The Politics of Ephemeral Digital Media suggests that Honest Trailers is part of a much broader shift towards a play culture that has occurred over the past century. The authors call this trend "ludification culture, that is, the emergence of playful elements and attitudes not only in entertainment or leisure activity, but also in domains traditionally considered as 'serious'" (page 141), for example film criticism. The authors argue that Honest Trailers playfully illustrates a "constant back-and-forth between criticism and affection, causticness and enthusiasm, which is typical of fandom" (page 142).
See also the Cultural impact page.
Purposes of the Honest Trailers series Edit
Many sites also use write-ups on Honest Trailers to comment on the importance of the series, apart from its purpose as entertainment.
Cutting through marketing hype Edit
Several sites have applauded the series as an antidote to over-hyped film marketing. Gizmodo explains, "We're fans of Honest Trailers because they cut through all the bullshit from every Hollywood blockbuster there is." " JOE made a similar point, writing "Screen Junkies do one thing really well: hilarious, no bullsh*t Honest Trailers of blockbuster movies." Vice suggested that Honest Trailers "highlight the discrepancy between a trailer and a film. One can be good the other crap, and vice versa." ScreenRant also noted that Honest Trailers effectively cut through hype, writing, "Honest Trailers has made a name for themselves by dramatically selling films, based on their worst qualities. Their videos are designed to highlight legitimate criticisms of potentially overhyped films, while jokingly doing the whole thing with compelling, deep-voiced narration."
Critiquing the genre Edit
Many reviews commend the series for critiquing film tropes more generally. For example, in their write-up on The Expendables Honest Trailer, The Huffington Post observed Screen Junkies doesn't just restrict their criticism to this film, noting "a lot of the jokes lobbed apply to all action movies." In a similar vein, the Nerdist wrote The Martian Honest Trailer was "especially cutting as it sheds light on flaws we often willfully ignore in sci-fi movies." In the same article, The Nerdist praised the Honest Trailers series more generally, writing, "We’ll never tire of the irreverent humor of the Screen Junkies and their Honest Trailers ability to point out repetitive plot points, grossly overused movie tropes and a more than a fair share of intelligent film critique."
Screen Rant found the Honest Trailer for Warcraft to be a thorough critique of the perils of making video game movies, writing, "In typical Honest Trailer fashion, the satiric critical analysis of Warcraft provides some keen insights into what went wrong with the would-be-savior of video game films. In just a few short minutes, Honest Trailers distills the critical and fan reaction to Warcraft into a digestible and entertaining take on the film."
Making blockbuster films better Edit
Several reviews underscore that the series can potentially make blockbuster films better. For example, in the write-up on the Captain America: The Winter Solider Honest Trailer, CinemaBlend remarked that Honest Trailers "have proved a true source of inspiration for one of the summer's best films. And really, isn't that the point of this kind of dedicated nitpicking? To demand movies that allow us to suspend disbelief and experience an incredible ride?... At their best, Honest Trailers can actually make for better movies. Even Marvel movies."
The article "Genre Analysis of Honest Trailers as Parodic Film Review" suggests Honest Trailers have the same fundamental purpose as film reviews: to improve the quality of films and favorably affect the box office. The article notes "we need reviews to maintain films as an art form, and not mere propaganda devices."
In their write-up on the Terminator Genisys Honest Trailer, ScreenRant suggested filmmakers should utilize Honest Trailers more, writing "Filmmakers should look to fan commentary such as these Honest Trailers, because they effectively consolidate many of the gripes that most fans had about the film. In roughly four and a half minutes the trailer offers a list of issues with the film, as well as how to bring it back to its former glory."
Celebrating good films Edit
The Honest Trailers series is often commended for its ability to celebrate good films that deserve praise. For example, in their write up on the Honest Trailer for Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Geek Tyrant wrote that the Honest Trailer "celebrates the awesomeness of James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgment Day. This is one of those classics that you just can't tear apart, so they amusingly point out all of the things we love about the movie." CinemaBlend made similar comments in their write-up on the Mad Max: Fury Road article, noting "the internet is full of videos featuring people beating up terrible movies. This is because it’s incredibly easy to do. It’s much harder to make quality jokes at the expense of a good movie. It can actually be even funnier, since you don’t hear those jokes nearly as often."
An antidote to grimdark films Edit
The whimsical Honest Trailers series has been praised for having a broader significance in the "grimdark" era of superhero movies. For example, in their write-up on the Watchmen Honest Trailer, Screen Rant stated that the Honest Trailer was "a good reminder that sometimes comic book movies need to remember to be fun first and foremost. If we can’t get that from the movies themselves, at least Screen Junkies is there to find it for us. They are, truly, the heroes we both deserve and need right now."
Highlighting the cultural impact of films Edit
Several sites have noted that the series is good at drawing attention to the cultural impact of films. For example, in their write-up on the Ghostbusters Honest Trailer, Giant Freakin' Robot noted that Honest Trailers doesn't critique the film itself, rather "the jokes are more general and are more in tune with society’s relationship with Ghostbusters." Screen Rant made a similar observation about The Empire Strikes Back Honest Trailer, writing "By focusing their humor on the impact of the movie rather than the movie itself, Honest Trailers does manage to put Empire into perspective." Slash Film made similar observations in response to the Die Hard Honest Trailer, noting that the Honest Trailer points out the cultural significance of Die Hard and the way it has become "a source of endless ridiculous knockoffs, including actual Die Hard sequels."
Illustrating and critiquing our relationship to films Edit
Because Honest Trailers are written and produced by audience members, the series illustrates the relationship between audience members and films, in particular the relationship between fans and films. Vice argues that Honest Trailers "show not only the creativity of the audience, but also their wants." Additionally, Honest Trailers may encourage viewers to watch films in a certain manner. The book Show Sold Separately writes that videos like Honest Trailers "simultaneously provide evidence about how a given community or individual watches the show in question, and it will serve as a paratext that encourages others to watch in a similar manner" (as quoted in The Politics of Ephemeral Digital Media p143). As an example, in their review of The Room Honest Trailer, Hello Giggles noted that "the parody trailer captures what made The Room so universally loved and loathed with hilarious attention to detail." Similarly, Doctor Who Watch lauded the Honest Trailer for Classic Doctor Who as "something that felt like it had been made by fans for the fans." The fan site also wrote the video "poked fun at the fandom" and offered "the most accurate summary of Doctor Who fandom ever."
In addition, many reviews have pointed out that Honest Trailers series does a good job of satirizing our relationships to specific films. For example in their write-up on the Honest Trailer for Fight Club, Pajiba remarked "Like many of you, I spent much of the early aughts held firmly under the spell of Fight Club...The movie blew my wee young mind, and this Honest Trailer finally gives a perfect explanation as to why.... But it’s good to have our youthful obsessions rubbed in our faces every once in a while." CinemaBlend made a similar observation, writing "Honest Trailers don’t just make fun of Fight Club though. They lampoon its audience too, who lapped up its first world problems message with aplomb to such an extent that you couldn’t enter a college dorm room for the next decade without seeing a poster for it on someone’s wall."
Critiquing nostalgia Edit
The Honest Trailers series has often been applauded for critiquing nostalgia. For example, Time pointed out the that The Little Mermaid (1989) Honest Trailer shed light on our relationships to childhood favorites, writing that the Honest Trailer "might make you reconsider exactly what it is you’re nostalgic for." In their write-up in the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie Honest Trailer, CBR.com wrote that the series "satirizes the nostalgia often associated with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, asking, “What was I thinking? This is terrible!” The clip hits all of the key problems with the movie, pointing out how ridiculous parts of it are."
Uproxx made similar remarks in response the the Peter Pan (1953) Honest Trailer, writing "Very few pieces of your childhood hold up under scrutiny once the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia are removed. Maybe that's why Hollywood seems to be caught in an endless Möbius strip of reboots and prequels. All we want it to relive the magic of storytelling without thinking, 'Wow, this is way more racist than I remember.'" In their write-up on the Cinderella (1950) Honest Trailer, Slash Film wrote "while we’ll forever treasure the old version as a childhood fave, this Honest Trailer does make some good points about how regressive, nonsensical, and downright bizarre it is." Slash Film also said the Honest Trailer "actually inadvertently makes a strong case for the new Cinderella, by pointing out how outdated the old one has become."
Providing catharsis Edit
On occasion, some reviews have proposed that the Honest Trailers series offers viewers much-needed catharsis. For example, Bustle suggested that an Honest Trailer for a terrible film such as Green Lantern "allows people who spent their hard-earned money to see this movie to feel vindicated for their hatred of it." CinemaBlend made a similar comment in their write-up on the Captain America: The Winter Soldier Honest Trailer, noting, that sometimes "Honest Trailers provide some catharsis for movie fans who've been heartbroken over a film that didn't dare live up to their expectations."
Some sites particularly appreciate watching terrible films get torn down. Slash Film wrote "The Screen Junkies team isn’t always mean. When they’re genuinely impressed by a movie, they’re honest enough to say so. But if I’m being honest, it’s more fun to watch them rip a deserving target to shreds." Slate made similar comments in response the the Fantastic Four (2015) Honest Trailer, writing "Honest Trailers are never more delicious than when they’re taking down cinematic trainwrecks, and this one is no exception." In a separate article, Slash Film wrote "these movie mocking videos are the most fun when the movie at the center of the Honest Trailer is downright terrible."
Recreating emotional experiences Edit
Some sites praise Honest Trailers for looking at films from a fan's perspective. In doing so, Honest Trailers successfully encapsulates the subjective experience of how it feels to watch a film. WeeVeeGuide writes "By using clips of the source material and a velvety-voiced narrator, they manage to recreate the emotions experienced in response to the films, so you are able to feel their excitement (The Avengers), confusion (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and utter crushing disappointment and anger (After Earth). The reviews aren’t clinical dissections of technical aspects of the craft of cinema; these are fans responding to movies they walked into with hope. As a result, a kind of irreverent respect for the source material shines through the overt criticisms."
Providing an "authentic" critical perspective Edit
Some cultural critics have suggested that Honest Trailers evaluates films according to different, more "authentic" criteria compared to traditional film critics. The Metropolist suggests that Honest Trailers (and other popular video series such as CinemaSins and Cracked's After Hours) don't evaluate films on their technical merits, but rather according to the feelings they evoke in viewers, and whether they feel "authentic," for example whether Prometheus feels "enough" like Aliens, whether Solo feels "enough" like Star Wars, and whether Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom feels "enough" like Jurassic Park.
In the same article, The Metropolist wrote that the rising popularity of series like Honest Trailers reveals that "audiences feel more and more that critics make arguments from a position of in-authenticity. The threshold for what makes a good film isn’t just higher or lower, it’s judged on entirely different criteria. Whether a film is competently made or not, or whatever the intention behind a script is sort of irrelevant to modern audiences." The Metropolist notes the Honest Trailers series validates attitudes like, "Critics be damned, this was not a film that resonated with audiences." In the same article, The Metropolist notes this "current trend of popular film criticism assumes a degree of expertise on the part of the audience, despite rarely acknowledging the film-making process."
Giving fans a new way to talk about movies Edit
Honest Trailers give fans another way to talk about their favorite movies. Wired writes, "every fan has a favorite—or, for that matter, highly disliked—movie they want to talk about with others. Now they can just do it with embeddable case-in-point videos." Mitch Rotter, former Break Media Head of Programming who executive produced the first 40 Honest Trailers, argued that this purpose was one of the key reasons why Honest Trailers is a success. Rotter said, “Within, and I say this broadly, a fanboy or fangirl community, people love to say, ‘I didn’t like this or I did like that or “Oh you thought the same thing too? It’s kind of a rallying point; we’ve all had late-night coffee house or bar drinks talking about the merit of The Godfather vs. Goodfellas… so it’s just something everybody identifies with.”
Vice made a similar observation, writing that Honest Trailers are a way to talk about and share pop culture: "instead of just discussing how funny the horror cliche of the mirror scare is, or how cell phones never seem to work when the protagonists need them most, we can actually edit together the clips showing this and share it with the world."
Serving a utilitarian function Edit
Some writers observe that in an era when there is a dizzying amount of films and TV show on offer, series like Honest Trailers serve a utilitarian function by letting viewers know if media is worth watching or not. The book The Politics of Ephemeral Digital Media suggests this "utilitarian connection with viewers, is usually explicitly stated in the "about" section of their channels, often in the form of an allusion to an overabundant media offer than needs some sort of external intervention to be tamed: "In a world full of movies and TV, only one channel is keeping them honest - SCREEN JUNKIES!" (pp143-144).
With a slightly different take, Dread Central noted that the timing of Honest Trailers can be at odds with this utilitarian function: "How many times have moviegoers felt misled by a promo that promises boatloads of excitement for a film that turns out to be extremely lackluster? The irony of “Honest Trailers” is that they arrive too late to give us a truly objective look at the films we spend our hard-earned dollars on."
Honest Trailers are frequently commended for being hilarious. The Nerdist noted "Screen Junkies’ Honest Trailers series is some of the funniest, pithiest, and most well-reasoned film criticism on the internet and it’s housed inside a skewering of the old trend of overblown, exaggerating, and often hilarious movie trailers. Armed with their Epic Voice Guy and the ability to poke fun while still appreciating what’s good, these trailers have become some of the most-watched on the web." Similarly, Konbini writes that Honest Trailers are always filled with "irresistible jokes." The article "Genre Analysis of Honest Trailers as Parodic Film Review" argues that Honest Trailers' use of humor is an effective writing technique for sending a message.
Valid film criticism Edit
The Honest Trailers series is often praised for making valid, thoughtful observations about the films it satirizes. The Daily Dot wrote "Honest Trailers aren’t just there to make people laugh; they pick up on genuine, usually very stupid flaws that were left in Hollywood movies due to lazy storytelling." Outer Places appreciated that the Honest Trailers series can highlight major flaws that a casual might have missed, observing "some of the jokes are about egregious flaws that some viewers might have missed."
As an example, in their write up the Ghostbusters reboot Honest Trailer, Screen Rant noted the Honest Trailers team "manage to make several observations that really shine a glaring spotlight on some of the film's structural problems. The first, and possibly most important, being that while all four leads are extremely talented and funny, they don't seem to have any chemistry within the film."
The Honest Trailers series is founded on an abiding love for movies. As such, the book The Politics of Ephemeral Digital Media notes that the Honest Trailers series is an example of "a new way of showing deep and profound knowledge about movies and movie production, narrative structures and tropes, cinema history, and many more details that also clearly pertain to the realm of cinephilia, with a more evident preference for cult and mainstream products" (p144). In a similar vein, Vice suggested that this kind of obsessive love for movies has been normalized: "The kind of pop culture dissection you’ll find from a character in a Taratino movie is now pretty much the standard for your average moviegoer, it’s our default setting."
In 2019, Daniel Singleton suggested that Honest Trailers exemplify a special kind of cinephilia: "bad" film cinephilia. Singleton argues that Honest Trailers viewers get the same enjoyment out of movies as films lovers who attended midnight movie screenings or congregated in alternate video stores in previous decades. He writes:
"As “bad” film fandom and anti-fandom have migrated from the college campus and “midnight movie” distribution circuits of the 1970s and the alternate video stories of the 1980s and 1990s to the internet forums and YouTube channels of the present moment, many scholars have analysed why consumers enjoy (laughing at) these movies. The object of attention and modes of watching these films have changed over time, but the pleases of “bad” cinephilia have remained relatively consistent. Regardless of whether groups of “bad” cinephiles congregate in repertory theaters to throw rice, streamers and plastic spoons at the screen or whether solitary viewers cycle through several Honest Trailers while browsing YouTube, and regardless of whether they prefer cheap, inept exploitation films or disastrous Hollywood flops, these spectators appreciate how these films’ cardboard sets, continuity errors, plot holes, and other markers of “badness” replace classical Hollywood cinema’s seductive promises." (Singleton, Daniel (2019). The Bad Auteur(ist): Authentic Failure and Failed Authenticity in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. Quarterly Review of Film and Video 2019, Vol. 36, No. 5, p.414)In the same article, Singleton also argues that such film fans enjoy laughing at "bad" movies because it allows them to see themselves as superior to the "naive" or "unsophisticated" viewers who supposedly like these films: "Without diegetic identification and immersion, these cinephiles must use their savvy, sophisticated paratextual knowledge about cinematic aesthetics, history and ideology to distance themselves from these films’ unconvincing illusions and distinguish themselves from the cynical, inept producers and the naïve, unsophisticated consumers who (are imaged to) love these films." (p.414)
Honest Trailers as writing tools Edit
Some commentators have suggested that Honest Trailers are valuable as sources of writing advice and tips for aspiring writers. For example The Script Blog notes that "through comedy, they point at story holes, characters flaws, inconsistencies and structure problems that reign in many films. And that is pure screenwriting talk." A similar point was made in the article "Genre Analysis of Honest Trailers as Parodic Film Review," which suggested that Honest Trailers "covertly educate" viewers about cinema.
Better than real trailers Edit
Occasionally, Honest Trailers are lauded for being better than the actual trailers released by studios. For example, in their write-up on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Honest Trailer, CinemaBlend remarked that "By this point I’m more excited for Honest Trailers’ takedown of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies than the film itself." Likewise, Bleeding Cool noted that they had previously dismissed The Boss Baby as not worth seeing until they saw the Honest Trailer, writing "DreamWorks might’ve been better off letting Screen Junkies do the regular trailer for the film, because their version sounds like a mind-blowing experience." Celluloid Junkie concurred,, noting that Honest Trailers "are helping market the very films they are spoofing, or at least they could be. What would really be a great idea is for a studio to co-opt the staff at Screen Junkies responsible for these videos and have them produce an official trailer as a part of the the marketing campaign for a movie that hasn’t been released yet."
Probably one of, if not, the best Honest Trailers they've ever assembled. Make no mistake, this trailer picks apart the film as much as any other movie they've ever sent up the river... And yet, a trailer like this makes us love this movie even more, simply because it understands what makes the movie work and plays them up as valuable assets to the film's image. Serious trailers try to sell a movie based on their marketability, as well as their thematic content. Those are the trailers made to sell the movie as a commodity, not an entertainment experience. If you want a trailer that sells this movie as a humorous exercise in masterful film-making, that just happens to be replete with profanity, nudity, and loose living; then you may as well hit the Repeat button on this puppy and settle in for the night. (Mike Reyes, CinemaBlend)
Paying tribute Edit
Honest Trailers have also been applauded for paying tribute to deserving people. For example, following the Oscars La La Land/Moonlight Oscars mix-up, Screen Junkies chose to break with formula and name every actor in Moonlight by their real name. In response, Cosmopolitan praised the Honest Trailer for naming "every actor in the movie by their real name rather than a joke name — thus flawlessly giving them some well-deserved credit after they were robbed of their moment at the Oscars."
Similarly, Screen Junkies critiqued the falseness of the film Pearl Harbor by acknowledging real people who performed heroic feats during the bombing. Geek Tyrant commended Screen Junkies' decision to acknowledge these real historical figures, writing "in an absolute first for something associated with Honest Trailers, they actually do something classy at the end by pointing out some real life World War II heroes and paying tribute to them."
Honest Trailers also periodically pays tribute to recently deceased actors. Following the passing of David Bowie, they chose to make an Honest Trailer for Labyrinth. SlashFilm wrote "before you go thinking that a video series traditionally used to mock movies is a pretty crappy way to honor a recently passed icon, just watch the Labyrinth Honest Trailer and see how it’s all about praising the fact that David Bowie singlehandedly makes this movie an ’80s gem."
The most common criticism leveled against the Honest Trailers series as a whole is its tone. Reviewers frequently discuss whether the series is too harsh or too soft on the films it satirizes. Some sites have been very opposed to the tone of some Honest Trailers, especially in their early days. For example, in their write-up on the World War Z Honest Trailer, JOE said the series was "a little unfair on what wasn't the worst film in the world." In their write-up on the Honest Trailer for Godzilla (2014), IndieWrite wrote that the Honest Trailer series "strikes this writer as deeply unfunny nitpicky frat-boy bullshit." In their write-up on the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Honest Trailer, Comic Book Movie wrote that Screen Junkies' aim appeared to be "to try to destroy ... enjoyment by nitpicking every minor issue they had with the film."
However, this view far from universal. In their write-up on World War Z Honest Trailer, The Hollywood Reporter described the Honest Trailers series as typically exhibiting a "cruel-but-fair take." In their write-up on the X-Men: Days of Future Past Honest Trailer, BroBible wrote that they enjoyed the brutal tone, writing "You’ve gotta hand it to the Honest Trailer people, because their uncanny ability to suck the joy out of every movie I love while still making me laugh is a one of a kind ability." In a similar vein, CinemaBlend wrote "it’s okay to love something and still be critical of it."
Others find that Honest Trailers strike a balanced tone. In their write-up on the Interstellar Honest Trailer, Digital Trends wrote "Screen Junkies’ “Honest Trailers” video series has a knack for skewering films in a way that somehow finds the balance between outright ridicule and the sort of clever criticism that even stalwart fans of the film can appreciate."
Sometimes the Honest Trailers series employs an incredibly positive tone. For example, in response to The Fault in Our Stars Honest Trailer, Bustle wrote "It's their job to poke fun, and so they do, but there's a distinct lack of venom. In fact, there's something almost akin to respect? And there's definitely a lot of enjoyment."
See also the Tone and Voice page.
Low hanging fruit Edit
Another common criticism of Honest Trailers is that it sometimes makes jokes that are obvious, well-known or widely discussed. For example, Uproxx described the Robocop Honest Trailer as mostly "yadda yadda you know the rest." Neatorama thought the Honest Trailer for Maleficent was "almost like shooting fish in a barrel for this film." Bustle remarked that the Honest Trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) "isn't the best" largely because "making fun of this year's epic misfire Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is like shooting fish in a barrel."
However, sometimes reviewers appreciate obvious criticisms. In their review of the 2013 Honest Trailer for Star Trek, Geek Tyrant admitted the criticisms in the video were widely discussed, but suggested the amusing execution is what made the video worthwhile, writing the Honest Trailer "basically points our everything we've already discussed as movie geeks, they just wrap it all up in a funny video." Likewise, in Nerd Bastard's write-up on the 2013 The Last Airbender Honest Trailer, they acknowledged the series was making obvious jokes, but still found merit in the video, writing "sure making fun of it is low hanging fruit, but it’s still tasty."
Several sites have praised Screen Junkies' ability to articulate criticisms that we're all thinking, including Bustle, who wrote that the Man of Steel Honest Trailer "touches on everything you were thinking when sitting through the two-hours-too-long flick," and BroBible, who wrote that the Top Gun Honest Trailer "says everything we’ve all been thinking" and that it "captures every singe comment and criticism people have had about the movie since the 1980s — that totally plutonic beach volleyball scene included."
In their write-up on The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Honest Trailer, Geeks of Doom said that "jokes that are obvious and easy usually aren’t that funny. But Screen Junkies’ Honest Trailers series have a way of turning the obvious into hilarious." In their write-up on the Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Honest Trailer, Screen Rant wrote, "Honest Trailers are great because they say things we've always thought, but in more hilarious ways than we could ever say them. Yes, most of the Willy Wonka jokes are obvious.... It's all been said before, but never together in one place and so amusingly."
The Honest Trailers series is sometimes criticized for being too nitpicky. Some reviewers find the nitpicking funny, for example, see Screen Rant's review of the Zootopia Honest Trailer. Other sites are resigned to the fact that a certain amount of nitpicking is inherent to the Honest Trailers premise, for example, see CinemaBlend's review of the Big Hero 6 Honest Trailer. Some reviewers appreciate Screen Junkies for openly admitting that their nitpicks ultimately aren't that important to a film's overall quality, for example, see SlashFilm's review of the Jurassic World Honest Trailer.
Some cultural critics have suggested that the prevalence of nitpicking in Honest Trailers is a result of the series being written from the perspective of the "fanboy and girl critic". In a 2015 article, 3 Brothers Films argued:
Fanboy and girl critics don’t set aside their biases when engaging with films. They embrace those biases and allow them to determine their identities.... when fanboy and girl film critics do engage in criticism, they take the word too literally, merely nitpicking narrative and criticizing every perceived error. Honest Trailers, Cinema Sins, and the whole monstrous engine that is Red Letter Media are not examples of legitimate criticism, but of hypercritical nitpicking....Discussion of narrative coherence and editing continuity are legitimate topics to discuss about a movie, but they are not the entirety of expert film criticism. In fact, overly focusing on narrative can distract from what a film is truly doing, be if formally or thematically. Fanboy and girl film criticism never considers that a film might deliberately be incoherent or confound conventions. (Aren Bergstrom, September 11, 2015, Is it possible for a fanboy to be a good film critic? 3 Brothers Films.)In contrast, some writers have argued that the prevalence of nitpicking in the series is a direct result of Screen Junkies picking unsuitable targets for satire. For example, a piece published in August 2014 on The Dissolve pointed out that "plenty of truly worthy targets" have not received Honest Trailers, and that Screen Junkies' choice of targets is inherently hypocritical. The site went onto note:
One look at these videos’ hit totals explain why: The ones about blockbusters are vastly more popular than the ones about flops.... Even within franchises, the more popular movies tend to produce the more popular videos, despite the fact that the more popular movies offer much less material to ridicule... The subjects aren’t the most suitable ones, they’re the ones that are the most traffic-friendly. From a business perspective, that’s perfectly understandable... Of course these people should theoretically do whatever they can to grow their viewership and increase their ad revenue. But from a creative perspective, it’s a double standard. If Hollywood filmmakers did something purely for financial reasons—because they knew it would bring the most people to the theater or sell a few more action figures or T-shirts—these shows would make fun of them for it, and rightfully so. (Singer, M, August 25, 2014, "Nitpicking the Nitpickers," The Dissolve.)This criticism is fair up to a point. However, it should also be noted that the Honest Trailers writers are given more creative freedom for one out of every four videos, and they frequently exercise this freedom to satirize films that truly deserve it. For example, in 2018 the team parodied the contemptible Showgirls, the atrocious Star Wars Holiday Special and the universally critically-panned Gotti. These videos are among the lowest-viewed Honest Trailers of all time, which proves The Dissolve's point about view counts.
Still on the subject of nitpicking, the book Christopher Nolan: A Critical Study of the Films suggests both Honest Trailers and CinemaSins' display the same "obsession with nitpicking" and that this "plays into the same objectivity that drives the Internet’s fixation upon Rotten Tomato scores and star ratings.... Plot holes and nitpicks present the illusion of objectivity... Commentators wants to believe that their favorite media is objectively good, that they are correct in their judgement and that everybody who disagrees is wrong – and can be shown to be wrong" (pp113-114).
With a slightly different take, Cinema Crespodsio argues that the modern, nitpicky style of film criticism extols cinematic realism. The site notes that every aspect of film-making has gradually become "more naturalistic, less stylized, more real," usually as a result of technological developments. In the same article, Cinema Crespodiso notes that audiences have gradually come to expect more realism in films: "as movies have evolved over the last 120 years or so, audiences’ tastes and expectations have changed along with the times. As filmmakers got better at actually capturing the world around them and presenting it to people on a giant screen, those same people expected more from their filmmakers."
Comparison to CinemaSins Edit
Honest Trailers is often compared to the CinemaSins series "Everything Wrong With..." because they both rose to prominence at the same time, are published on the same platform, and use similar brands of nerd-focused, nitpicky humor. However, there are also very clear stylistic differences between the two series. For more detail, please see main article: Comparison of Honest Trailers and CinemaSins