The visual mistake in Too Big to Fail

Posted on June 15, 2011


I finally got around to watching Too Big to Fail last weekend, and I really enjoyed it. Maybe a bit overblown and hyper-stylized but great acting, swift pace, bla bla bla. I’m not going to bother reviewing the film, because it’s been done enough and it’s easy enough (interesting, too) to find both ravingly positive reviews and ruinously negative ones (see: Moe Tkacik on the Paris Review blog). Kudos to William Hurt and Paul Giamatti, who were dead on, while Jimmy Woods was maybe too far gone in his cuss-laden portrayal of Dick Fuld.

More interesting, and something no one seems to have picked up on yet: there’s an anachronism in the film; it shows up twice. I love finding stuff like this—a cell phone in a movie about the 1950s, a can of Red Bull in the frame before the drink existed, etc.

At two different moments (at least that’s all I caught, maybe it shows up more), shots of Times Square show an electronic Budweiser sign visible in the background—a sign that flashes, GRAB SOME BUDS. This is the brand new Budweiser ad campaign that just launched this past fall (a friend of mine works at the ad firm that designed the TV spots and billboards). Here’s Adweek on the new campaign, which was new in September 2010.

So that’s a brand new marketing slogan showing up in scenes that are supposed to take place in 2008. Usually movies are better about photo-shopping that stuff out. Anyway, just a fun find. Nothing they can do now, except maybe fix before it goes to DVD? Crappy screenshots below.

Hank Paulson (Hurt) walks in Times Square. Behind him is the red Bud ad. I know this shot is awful and blurry but I wanted to show when in the movie this happens.

John Mack (Shalhoub) looks out his window. Another awful screenshot but the red sign is the Bud ad.

And finally, just for posterity, here’s a clear, crisp photo of the Grab Some Buds sign in Times Square, not from the movie.

Photo by Donald Peterson. Click for source

Posted in: DBR Blog