Trailer Park: Docs, Death, and Dolly

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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. We’ve got seven new trailers this week, ranging from the joy of Elmo and Dolly to the horrors of Katherine Heigl; check ’em out after the jump.

One For the Money

We could say that this looks like the best movie Heigl’s made in a while, but that is some faint praise indeed. It is also worth pointing out — as many others have — that it appears to basically just be The Bounty Hunter (which featured Heigl’s Ugly Truth co-star Gerald Butler) with a sex change; however, it should be noted that this story got there first, since it is based on Janet Evanovich’s inaugural Stephanie Plum novel (sounds like somebody‘s sniffin’ out a franchise). Don’t take our line of contrarian defense to mean anything though — we’re staying far away from this one, equally repelled by the January release date and Heigl’s odious Joisey accent.

Joyful Noise

Few things on this earth make us happier than seeing Dolly Parton in a movie again, even in her current, well, somewhat altered form. (Thank goodness the movie apparently acknowledges this, unlike, say, the current films of Meg Ryan.) But Lordy Lordy, for a movie about soul and the Holy Spirit, this looks like one vapid, vanilla, formulaic, empty husk of a lets-get-the-Tyler-Perry-crowd grab. It’s full of people we like (not just Dolly, but Queen Latifah and Courtney B. Vance), but this is a firm pass.

I Melt With You

This less-than-enthusiastically-received Sundance pick from director Mark Pellington looks, from its new red-band trailer, like some kind of an art-house Very Bad Things (down to the presence of Jeremy Piven). It certainly seems stylish, and it’s good to see Christian McKay — so magnificent in Me and Orson Welles — rounding out the ensemble, but this kind of “middle aged men behaving badly” thing has, to be charitable, been done a time or two before.

Contraband

Okay, first of all, it’s shocking how unrecognizable Kate Beckinsale is with that much blonde in her hair — her name at the end of this trailer was our first indication that she was even in this movie. Also, good to see Aaron Paul in a — oh, that’s Ben Foster. (The supporting cast also includes Giovanni Ribisi, Diego Luna, and J.K. Simmons, so hurray for all those guys getting work.) At any rate, this remake of the 2008 Icelandic-German thriller Reykjavik-Rotterdam looks chock-full of pat constructs — just when he thought he was out, they pull him back in; don’t you ever come after my family; one more job for the old pro, etc. — and the trailer appears intent on throwing in every element, whether it fits or not (what’s up with those out-of-nowhere shots of Beckinsale in her underwear?). The only thing one can hope for with a picture like this is for a bit of distinguishing style and flash — which can often come from a foreign director. In this case, it’s Baltasar Kormákur, who acted in the original film and whose directorial credits include as 101 Reykjavik and Jar City. Maybe he’ll give this overworked tale a bit of distinctiveness; we’ll see.

John Dies at the End

If you’ve never seen Don Coscarelli’s delightfully bonkers Bubba Ho-Tep, the tale of a mummy invasion on a Texas retirement home warded off by the still-alive Elvis Presley and (black) JFK, get thee to a copy, stat. Improbably, John Dies at the End is his first feature since that cult treat, and this trailer (which debuted at Fantastic Fest) seems to promise a freaky mindbender with a sense of humor and some interesting possibilities. Plus, we’re thrilled to see Paul Giamiatti slumming it in a genre picture.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The questions of representation that swirl up any time a feature film takes on 9/11 as either a mournful subject (United 93), a cheap plot point (Remember Me), or something in between are certainly going to reappear with this adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s 2005 bestseller. They’re even there in this trailer, which is unquestionably moving while also manipulative and just a tiny bit upsetting. (Or, presumably, quite a bit upsetting for those close to the tragedy.) Extremely Loud has a first-rate pedigree, and a distinguished cast (Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, James Gandolfini, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Wright, John Goodman, Max von Sydow), but we’re anticipating a whole lot of discussion about it when its Decemeber release rolls around.

Being Elmo

No, dammit, the two-minute trailer for a documentary about a Muppet did not just make me mist up, thank you very much. There was this peculiar breeze that caught a piece of dust and kind of, y’know, lobbed it into my eye, and that’s all that was happening there, something in my eye. Also, onions, I’m making onion, an onion sandwich. Look I’m sorry but this is a cold, cynical world and who doesn’t love Sesame Street and this guy seems so sweet and kind-hearted and this movie looks like utterly charming, okay?