Trailer Park: A Holiday Feast

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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 a whopping eleven trailers for you this week, offering everything from animation to big-budget studio comedy to Sundance hopefuls; check ’em out after the jump.

The Three Stooges

We can’t quite put our fingers on why this trailer for the Farrelly Brothers’ long-time passion project is so spectacularly unfunny. But we have theories! It could be that the once-hot directorial team has just lost their touch (a conclusion not unreasonable to anyone who’s seen The Heartbreak Kid or Hall Pass). It could be that we’re just disappointed that the Farrellys’ original cast (Sean Penn, Jim Carrey, and Benicio Del Toro) has been replaced by the decidedly JV trio of Will and Grace’s Sean Hayes, MADtv’s Will Sasso, and Chris Diamantopoulus (who?). But these three are replicating the Stooges’ slapstick faithfully, which leads us to our final conclusion: you just can’t recreate them. If you find the Stooges funny (and we realize that’s a big if), it’s within the context of their time, and the particular style of their classic shorts. You can’t just dress three guys up and put them through the paces. That means the entire notion of this movie fails — and that’s before Snooki shows up. So, way to go, trailer!

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

The last time Hollywood tried to turn a self-help book into a movie, we got… He’s Just Not that Into You. Ugh. Here we have an adaptation of the popular pregnancy guide (seriously, that’s what it’s come to) from director Kirk Jones (yeah, no need to get a lady to helm this one), and though we’ve got high hopes for anything coming from the pen of Whip It screenwriter Shauna Cross, we’ve gotta say that this looks like an all-star, all-over-the-place mess of an ensemble comedy along the lines of this weekend’s horrifying New Year’s Eve. Like that one, What to Expect is full of people we like (Anna Kendrick, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Rock, Thomas Lennon, Megan Mullally), and while it doesn’t look as terrible as either of the films we’ve compared it to here, that’s a low, low bar indeed.

The Lucky One

So, this is supposedly a trailer — but it keeps breaking from the story for earnest testimonials from director Scott Hicks, star Zac Efron, and writer Nicholas Sparks (you remember, the novelist behind The Notebook and Dear John who compares himself to Shakespeare and Hemingway.) Oh, here’s producer Denise Di Novi, to remind you that Nicholas Sparks wrote The Notebook. Let’s mention The Notebook a few more times! It’s a strange merging of the trailer and the promotional featurette, but at least it drops any artifice of storytelling and makes it clear that yes, this is just product, the latest movie from one of this guy’s books, starring this guy you like from those High School Musical things. Look at all the things we’ll have him do! He’ll be sad, but he’ll also take his shirt off! And so on and so on.

Madagascar 3

In all fairness, your humble author never got around to seeing the first two Madagascar movies — not exactly the target audience, after all, and nothing in the trailers or reviews indicated that they transcended that demo in the way that, say, the Pixar movies do — so maybe this trailer for next summer’s third installment will prove irresistible to those who did. The primary point of interest here is the sole credited screenwriter: Noah Baumbach, best known for such indie comedy/dramas as The Squid and the Whale and Kicking and Screaming (no, the good one, not the awful Will Ferrell soccer thing). True, he co-wrote The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is presumably how he got the gig, but this makes for one truly peculiar reunion with his Greenberg star Ben Stiller. Maybe this time Alex the Lion will be a misanthropic dick?

The Lorax

As a few other folks have pointed out, the fact that Illumination Entertainment’s previous credit (Despicable Me) gets billing above Lorax author/beloved cultural icon Dr. Seuss, is, well, a bit of an outrage. But their latest animated comedy looks sweet and charming, with Danny DeVito perfectly cast in the title role. But, wait a second — it looks like these Hollywood liberals have smuggled in some kind of environmentalist message. Indoctrination! Someone call Fox Business News!

The Cabin in the Woods

As we’ve mentioned before, this horror/comedy written by Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard has missed a full two years of release dates, so expectations are rather high for its long-delayed April unveiling. But with the exception of one extremely well-timed “Really?”, Lionsgate is either playing down the Whedon wit and selling the picture as straight horror — their specialty, admittedly — or there’s not much of said wit in the movie. We’re crossing our fingers and hoping it’s the former.

Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie

Last week, we brought you the utterly inexplicable teaser for the first big screen comedy from Adult Swim’s resident surrealists. Now we have a full-length trailer, which makes a bit more sense — but not too much, this being Tim & Eric and all. It is — warning — Not Safe For Work, not even a little bit. But it’s awfully funny, and awfully weird, and looks to be one of the stranger feature comedies in many a moon.

The Iron Lady

First of all, as we saw in the teaser trailer last summer, Meryl Streep’s got British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher down cold. What’s less certain is that the movie around her will be equally inspiring. It could just be a serious case of biopic fatigue, or it could be a marketing team that is merely packaging the movie in a way that’s familiar to moviegoers, but The Iron Lady looks like a pretty conventional biographical movie, with all the familiar story points and conflicts intact. On the other hand, Streep looks amazing, and having Jim Broadbent in your movie never hurts. We’re calling this one a toss-up.

Lockout

The latest from writer/producer Luc Besson finds him merging the sci-fi flavor of his Fifth Element with the man-of-action vibe of Taken. The movie itself could be lousy, but it makes for a great trailer: spaceships, stuff blowin’ up, and the great Guy Pearce doing a top-notch Bruce Willis. Plus, considering the rapid-fire style of the second half of the trailer (and most film promotion, period), the sustained dialogue scene that takes up the first minute amounts to something rather fresh and clever, at least in advertising terms.

Wish You Were Here

So, okay, has there ever been a film where a group of friends took a vacation in a remote, exotic location, had a nice holiday, and then came home happily? Y’know, pleasant flight back, pick up the bags, post the pictures on Facebook? That probably wouldn’t be a very exciting picture — and this Sundance entry certainly looks exciting, the tale of a Cambodian vacation that goes awry when one of the four vacationers goes missing. Kudos to the filmmakers for leaving some mystery intact here — and for casting the great Joel Edgerton from Warrior and Animal Kingdom (that’s your first of two references to that movie this week, so shame on you if you still haven’t seen it).

The Five-Year Engagement

Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller — currently bathing in the adulation of America for revitalizing the Muppet franchise — have picked the right moment to drop the trailer for their spring romantic comedy, The Five-Year Engagement. Hitting in the same late-April slot where their earlier collaboration Forgetting Sarah Marshall cleaned up back in 2008, there’s reasons galore to be excited about this one: the underappreciated Emily Blunt as a comic leading lady, Animal Kingdom’s terrifying matriarch Jackie Weaver as her mother, your author’s celebrity crush Alison Brie leading a stellar ensemble of crackerjack comic supporting actors (including Parks & Rec’s Chris Piatt, The Office’s Mindy Kaling, stand-up Kevin Hart, and Dr. Spaceman himself, Chris Parnell). The only disappointment in this trailer is that April release date at the end of it.