Welcome to “Trailer Park,” a new Friday feature wherein we’ll collect the week’s new trailers all in one place and do a little “judging a book by its cover,” ranking them from worst to best and taking our best guess at what they may be hiding (for better or worse). For our inaugural week, we’ve got quite the grab bag — six new trailers of wildly varying quality. Check ’em out after the jump.
The Life Zone
We try not to get political here, but what the hell are we to make of this trailer to The Life Zone, which is apparently Saw for the pro-life crowd? From “Justice For All Productions,” it is the story of three pregnant women who are kidnapped from abortion clinics and forced to carry their pregnancies to term (incidentally, that’s pretty much the same plot as Jane Martin’s 1994 Pulitzer Prize-nominated play Keely and Du, though it was approached there from quite a different ideological bent). There’s enough ham-fisted dialogue in the trailer alone (“You’re seven months pregnant, Stacy! Even you have to admit that you have a real baby now!”) that we can only imagine what an ordeal the movie itself must be. But hang on — it does have some film festival cred, having played at the Hoboken International Film Festival earlier this month (albeit to a crowd of only 50 people, including cast and crew). So an international film festival wouldn’t screen it if it was just political proselytism, right? Oh, wait. The Hoboken International Film Festival’s founder and chairman, according to his IMDB page, is Kenneth Del Vechio — writer/producer of The Life Zone. Also, he’s currently running for New Jersey State Senate. So there’s that. But most importantly: Robert Loggia, why?!?!
Don’t you hate when you’re makin’ out with your wife, and then you get rear-ended, and when she wakes up, she doesn’t remember you? And then you have to make her fall in love with you again? That’s the premise for this Valentine’s Day weepie starring Rachel McAdams (“From The Notebook,” the trailer helpfully reminds us) and Channing Tatum (“From Dear John“). It’s not from a Nicholas Sparks novel, thought it might as well be; no, disappointingly, The Vow is co-written and directed by Michael Sucsy, who did that great HBO movie of Grey Gardens a couple of years back. So why this follow-up, which looks so generic it might as well be called Romantic Tearjerker? In the words of Liz Lemon: “Blergh.”
Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I
Okay, confession time: Your writer hasn’t seen a single Twilight movie. Or read any of the books. (They’re about vampires, right?) So you must understand what utter gibberish this trailer is to someone who’s not in the sparkly vampire loop. But I don’t live under a rock, so I’ve picked up a few things in the pop culture ether: Team Edward and Team Jacob, right? And they’re all saving themselves for marriage, or something, like teens do? So I guess this is a big deal, these two kids getting hitched, because now they can finally “do it,” or whatever. Also, I hear the boys take their shirts off a lot in these movies — and yep, that Jacob guy pulls off his Hanes with the force of a hundred men less than a minute in, accompanied by a musical hit that sounds lifted out of Braveheart. The same furious strings and creepy choirs accompany the newly married couple’s copulation — c’mon, buy these kids a Barry White CD, for God’s sake. Anyway, yeah. Breaking Dawn, Part I. Make it into as many movies as you want, I suppose.
The cast — Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, Toni Collette, McLovin, and former Dr. Who David Tennant — is promising, and the screenplay is by Marti Noxon, former writer and executive producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So why is this new 90-second spot (which debuted during the MTV movie awards) so uninspiring? Maybe it’s just our clouded memories of the original — but it was funny too, right? Then again, maybe this teaser is pushing the vampire angle (really, not enough vampires in our current popular culture) and hiding the comedy for us to discover when we see the movie itself. It’ll be a nice surprise! At any rate, still looks better than Twilight.
We saw (and loved) this quirky Irish comedy at Tribeca; it concerns a a Galway, Ireland cop (Brendon Gleeson) whose tiny hamlet is invaded by FBI agent (Don Cheadle) investigating a half-billion dollar drug smuggling ring. What’s great about the trailer is how nicely it captures the movie’s goofy spirit: the faux-Morricone mock-heroic music, Gleeson’s big, boorish vulgarian, and the dead pan of Cheadle, who mostly plays straight man (and does it with the skill of an old vaudevillian).
Errol Morris basically finances his brilliant documentaries by making fast-paced commercials (for everyone from Nike to Levis to Miller High Life), so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the spot for his latest film, Tabloid, is so snappy and well-cut. It also beautifully captures the inspired weirdness of the story at hand: In September of 1977, a young Mormon named Kirk Anderson went missing from a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in England, where he was working as a missionary. A few days later, he contacted police, and reported that he had been abducted by Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen he had dated back in the States. Anderson claimed that McKinney and her accomplice had taken him to a remote cottage and imprisoned him, and that McKinney, after failing to seduce him, had raped him several times. McKinney claimed that she had helped him escape from the Mormon “cult,” and that they had enjoyed a romantic weekend together before his Mormon guilt sent him back to the church, which forced him to lie about the encounter. A tabloid frenzy ensued. Oh, also, later she got involved in dog cloning. ANYWAY, the trailer features Morris’s trademark straight-into-camera interviews, inspired use of stock footage, and occasionally incongruent music; it also makes use of a new device, the use of headline-style on-screen graphics to highlight keywords, attribute credit, and act as commentary. Taken together, it’s a nutty two-and-a-quarter minutes, and a pretty accurate warm-up for this decidedly peculiar picture.