Do any summer releases actually get a boost from the MTV Movie Awards?
The MTV Movie Awards can sometimes seem like the film-publicity equivalent of tax cuts for the wealthy: It provides help to those that need it least.
At the awards show frequently known for setting the record for most mentions of "my fans" in a single telecast -- the latest installment of which of course aired Sunday night -- the upcoming releases of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II" were demonstrated, lest anyone doubt it, to be major events among the tween and teen sets. It's doubtful there's a single person who watched the telecast who wasn't going to see those movies anyway.
Pretty much everything else, on the other hand, faced a tougher road. In fact, when the summer winds down and the final tally is counted, it will be telling to look back and see whether a single movie can track its success to the June marketing-a-thon.
Photos: Best and Worst at the MTV Movie Awards
The telecast would seem like a perfect venue, for instance, to promote raunchy comedies. But it rarely works out that way. On Sunday night, the R-rated laugh-fest "Bad Teacher" offered an at times awkward stage bit involving Jason Segel butt-texting to costar and co-presenter Cameron Diaz. In the outside world, a star like Segel fits solidly with a young demographic. Compared with Taylor Lautner and Emma Watson, he seemed out of place.
Then again, Segel seemed downright in the demo in contrast to appearances from Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams, who were among those who came to the podium to flog "Super 8."
Judged by sheer airtime, "Green Lantern" was a winner on Sunday night, with a long bit featuring stars Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, who traded jokes with audience plants sporting phallic green lasers. But the skit had more than its share of rocky moments, and other jokes about Lively's recent photo scandal got a lot more attention than anything she did to plump the superhero film.
Some of the stunts, meanwhile, seemed downright head-scratching. For "Mr. Popper's Penguins," Jim Carrey came out in a green-screen jacket that flashed an image of fornicating dogs, which seemed like an odd choice for a movie aimed at a family audience.
You know it's an uneven bunch when the sight of "Friends With Benefits" stars Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake fondling each other's genitals prove one of the more clever promotions of the night.
"Crazy, Stupid, Love" -- a film riding wave of buzz ahead of its July release -- did fare marginally better with a bit that had stars Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell and Emma Stone in some byplay about interspecies copulation. But by the time the show ended, the moment was a distant memory.
As a lower-profile release with a notable comedy ensemble, "30 Minutes or Less" would also seem like a prime candidate for a Movie Awards boost. But it was hurt by the absence of Jesse Eisenberg (he didn't come in from N.Y.), and the skit seemed to lose its way with a dreadlocked Aziz Ansari goofing on, of all things, Jaden Smith and "The Karate Kid." Then it was all quickly forgotten anyway when Justin Bieber made a surprise appearance. A "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" promo with Shia LaBeouf might have also worked out. But one could barely hear stars' banter among the residual shrieks from a recently awarded "Twilight" prize.
That would all be disheartening enough. But then, even a good Movie Awards skit hardly translates into any sort of tangible success. Last year, one of the most clever sketches had Steve Carell and Paul Rudd spoofing in advance of "Dinner for Schmucks." And we all know how that turned out for them.
You can understand why a film publicist's eyes widen at the thought of the MTV Movie Awards : millions of viewers, viral-video potential and the chance to position a movie in front of an audience that can't easily be reached in a fragmented world of Twitter and Facebook. But it often seems like the cable telecast has the opposite problem: It's too large a beast. And like creatures from a certain vampire franchise, it doesn't so much pull up smaller movies as it does devour them.
Photo: Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, stars of "Green Lantern," at the MTV Movie Awards. Credit: Matt Sayles/AP