Trailer Park: Shakespeare, Santa, and Spacey

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Welcome to “Trailer Park,” our regular Friday feature where we 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. This week, we’ve got eight new ones—everything from cancer comedies to Shakespearean dramas to, God help us, holiday fare. Check ‘em all out after the jump.

Abduction

“Oh, how the mighty have fallen,” we wrote of Boyz n the Hood director John Singleton recently, and if you’d like proof, check out this new trailer for his fall “action thriller.” Where to start with this one? Well, first of all, who’s this baby-voiced 12-year old in the lead? Another Twilight kid, you say? Why are these people infecting other movies? His big action line at the end (“Not if I find you first!”) is delivered with the intensity (and pitch — seriously kid, put some bass in your voice) of a fourth grader in a game of hide and seek. And that little gasp at the :17 mark—what is that supposed to be, acting? Singleton, we’ve come to expect this from you, and this Taylor Lautner person probably doesn’t know any better. But Alfred Molina and Sigourney Weaver: how could you?

The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Well. Doesn’t this just look too precious for words.

Anonymous

The Elizabethan conspiracy theory that William Shakespeare didn’t actually write the plays his name was attached to has been floating around in academic circles for so long, it’s frankly a surprise that no one has made of a film of it before. It certainly has the potential to be a great movie, and the cast to make it one (Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, David Thewlis, Jolely Richardson, Derek Jacobi, etc.). But if you were going to pick the director for such an effort, who would you go with? Kenneth Branagh? Michael Radford? Oliver Parker? Hey, how’s about the guy who did Independence Day, Godzilla, 2012, and 10,000 BC? No, seriously, that’s who they got. And the trailer shows it: the intriguing concept and strong cast are present and accounted for, but the marketing folks are also clearly trying to make it look like an action-packed bodice ripper. We’ll even go along with the incongruent Radiohead music, but c’mon: “We’ve all been played?” That’s your tagline? Really?

Tanner Hall

The coming-of-age drama Tanner Hall played at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, where it received less-than-enthusiastic notices and basically sunk without a trace. Then leading lady Rooney Mara did The Social Network, and was cast in David Fincher’s next film, a little something called The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Hey look, suddenly Tanner Hall is sell-able! We’re lukewarm on the trailer, though. Sure, there’s interesting stuff in it (Amy Sedaris! That guy from That Thing You Do! Girls in bathtubs together!), but it sure does look like a movie we’ve seen, oh, several times before.

Father of Invention

For a great actor, Kevin Spacey makes surprisingly few great movies. This doesn’t look to be one either, but it does look diverting and potentially entertaining (as opposed to, say, Casino Jack). The supporting cast is solid and the premise is promising, so we’ll go ahead and tentatively put this on the to-see list—though, in doing so, we are choosing to ignore the fact that director Trent Cooper’s last credit was 2006’s Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

The trouble with watching trailers online is that they ruin a great reveal, and the trailer for the improbable Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas has one — hey look, it’s a fluffy holiday movie, snow falling, and Santa, who is then shot in the face by our heroes. Say what you will about these movies, which have fervid fans and disgusted detractors, but this is a funny trailer, and if they’re gonna make a 3D movie, at least they’ve got a sense of humor about it. Only one complaint: sometimes you have to let a good bit go when someone else gets there first, and Community got to the Claymation thing last Christmas. Other than that, we’re there.

Coriolanus

This modern-dress version of one of Shakespeare’s least-performed plays marks the directorial debut of star Ralph Fiennes, and the trailer wisely plays up his bald plate and growling voice in a manner that all but shouts, “HEY, YOU KNOW THIS GUY! VOLDEMORT!” We’re not mad at ‘em—do what ya gotta do to move tickets, guys. This looks like a pretty clever adaptation, filled to the brim with distinguished actors and with plenty of action jammed in (it is significant that the previous credits of screenwriter John Logan are mentioned before the name of Mr. Shakespeare). These updated takes on the Bard are a tricky business, but Fiennes may have something special here.

50/50

Okay, we’ll let you in on a secret: we’ve already seen 50/50, and it’s terrific. Much of what is great about it is in this trailer, which takes on the potentially maudlin Movie-of-the-Week subject (young guy gets cancer, deals with it) with candor and humor, and more than a little irreverence. This is a funny and sweet movie where the emotion sneaks up on you, and is earned rather than manipulated. This week’s new trailer (the second) plays up the comedy — particularly the sharp chemistry between stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen—which giving just a taste of the delightful Anna Kendrick (aka your author’s secret girlfriend). See for yourself on September 30th.