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 eight new trailers this week, running the gamut from a big-budget superhero all-star tentpole to indies about cross-dressing and prostitution. Check ’em out after the jump.
Like many people our age, we can’t deny the soft spot in our hearts for the American Pie movies — even including the first couple of sequels. (We’re not sticking up for those direct-to-video ones though. Those are indefensible.) The players were charismatic, the situations were frequently funny, and there was a charm to them the usually transcended the smutty subject matter. So we’ve been sort of hesitantly looking forward to American Reunion, but this trailer doesn’t do much more than tee up an easy set piece, and then execute it without much skill or imagination. Maybe the movie itself (written and directed by Harold & Kumar scribes John Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg) will play out funnier than this. Here’s hoping.
Answers to Nothing
Dane Cook earned himself more than a little bit of goodwill with that honest yet self-deprecating turn on Louie last season, and the idea of him going dramatic isn’t much of a stretch — he’s already not funny, it’s just now he’s doing it on purpose. And Elizabeth Mitchell was one of the most consistently interesting wild cards on Lost, so bully for her getting a major movie role. But did it have to be in this movie, which looks (on the basis of what we’ve got here anyway) to be a third-rate Crash knock-off (which was itself a third-rate Short Cuts knock-off)?
Act of Valor
“The characters in this film are portrayed by active duty US Navy SEALs.” So what, Charlie Sheen wasn’t available this time? By getting the real guys, directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh appear to be dancing with the notion of Act of Valor being some sort of narrative/documentary hybrid — a notion that might be easier to swallow if the film itself didn’t look like such a nonstop barrage of clichéd dialogue, familiar visuals, and overworked formula. Maybe that’s just what got plucked out, being a trailer and all. But this looks like a movie we’ve already seen a lot of times — hyperbolic “a motion picture experience unlike any before” claims notwithstanding.
This Means War
Tom Hardy, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon — all likable people, all with memorable movies on their resumés. Director McG… not so much. This spy-tinged action romantic comedy might tickle our curiosity a touch more if it didn’t seem to be trying so desperately hard to be another Mr. & Mrs. Smith. It makes for a pretty good trailer, admittedly, but it also looks like the kind of movie that’ll play like a two-hour trailer.
Glenn Close — whom the trailer announces loudly as a five-time Oscar nominee (but never a winner? How can that be?) — is doing the whole “check out this big physical transformation now gimme that Oscar” thing in this cross-dressing drama. We’re intrigued, but more due to the credits of director Rodrigo Garcia (he did Mother and Child and Nine Lives) than this rather pushy trailer, which is all but consumed by that winsome, overdone Sinead O’Connor tune.
Between the video-game CGI and the troublesome 9/11 imagery, the opening frames of this trailer are a bit of a turn-off. But get past those, and there’s some potential here; the echoes of Night of the Living Dead’s post-apocalyptic claustrophobia are promising, and director Xavier Gens appears to have quite an eye for the harrowing visual. Also, nice to see good ol’ Michael Biehn getting some work.
Gothic horror movies are singularly well-suited to the trailer form — there’s nothing like some fog on cobblestone to set a mood immediately. This one’s got a good, juicy premise: a serial killer is using the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe to inspire his murders. Cue up the iconic Poe visuals, strike up the shrieking music, hoard the period-dressed extras, and you might have yourself a solid little thriller here. Cusack’s customary mannerisms seem far too contemporary for the character, but his wild-eyed read of “I’m afraid so” is so perfect, we might be willing to overlook that.
Look, who’s kidding who here, this is gonna be the movie of next summer, so you might as well just succumb to it now. And here’’s the trouble: in spite of the fact that The Avengers genuinely personifies much of what is wrong with Hollywood these days (sequels, reboots, giant budgets, shamelessly targeting the teenage boy demo), it is very hard to not get excited about seeing these characters — many of them, let’s not forget, from thoroughly enjoyable popcorn pictures — smashed together, saying Joss Whedon’s dialogue. We’re even willing to forgive that “you can make damn sure we’ll avenge it” corn is the worst kind of Hey, that thar’s the name of the movie, Myrtle! line.
Julia Leigh’s Cannes Film Festival entry stars Emily Browning, the pretty face given the unfortunate job of fronting the insipid Sucker Punch last spring. Its failure wasn’t her fault — good luck constructing a character in the midst of that mess. This dreamy indie drama should give us a clearer idea of what she can do. The trailer, meanwhile, is striking, sexy, and mysterious. It’s the best kind of trailer: one that doesn’t give away the ballgame, but shows just enough to pique your interest. Consider ours piqued.