This Week in Trailers: ‘Maniac,’ ‘Won’t Back Down,’ ‘Hit & Run,’ and More

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Every Friday here at Flavorwire, we like to gather up the week’s new movie trailers, give them a look-see, and rank them from worst to best — while taking a guess or two about what they might tell us (or hide from us) about the movies they’re promoting. We’ve got new seven trailers this week, featuring Bradley Cooper, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Orlando Bloom, Kristen Bell, Elijah Wood, Zoe Saldana, and Olivia Wilde. Check ’em all out after the jump, and share your thoughts in the comments.

The Words

Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal’s turgid drama was, by a good long shot, the worst movie we saw at Sundance — a ponderous movie, tinny and schematic and woefully predictable. Much like the movie, this trailer starts off promisingly enough, giving the broad strokes of the story and showcasing the story within the story (which, when you see the movie, turns out itself to be within yet another story). But when the power-pop hits at 1:45, you’ll want to crawl under your seat — it’s a poorly chosen cue, matched by woefully generic taglines like “some dreams test us” and “some moments change us.” Deep!

Won’t Back Down

Here’s a theme for the week: yet another trailer with a terrible pop song spinning the movie into something upbeat and zippy. (Plus, who calls their movie Won’t Back Down and uses neither Eminem nor Tom Petty?) Not that we were exactly all-in until then; in spite of a trio of our favorite actresses (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, and Holly Hunter), this looks like a not-even-a-little-bit-subtle slab of pro-charter school propaganda, dressed up as a feel-good empowerment crowd-pleaser. And by the by, producers Walden Media were also behind Waiting for “Superman.” What a remarkable coincidence!

Hit & Run

We’ve softened on Dax Shepard — mostly due to the fine work he’s done, week after week, on Parenthood — and we will always love Kristen Bell, the one and only Veronica Mars, no matter how many When in Romes she churns out. But we do not have high hopes for this little number, a dumb action/crass comedy hybrid that looks uncomfortably close to that Charlie Sheen atrocity The Chase. The trailer standbys are irritating — ah, yes, the profanity covered by horn honks and gunshots — and the throwaway shot of Bell in her underpants is pretty shameless. More than anything, we can’t believe anyone ever is trying to associate their movie with “Sweet Emotion,” a song that inextricably tied to Dazed and Confused forevermore. Is nothing sacred?

The Good Doctor

Your film editor could go the rest of his days without seeing another Orlando Bloom movie (he’s a handsome fellow, I’ll give you that; it’s that pesky walking and talking convincingly that seems to give him trouble), but his presence is not why this trailer fails. If anything, I spent the first half pleasantly surprised by how compelling the picture seems. The trouble is the second half, wherein we appear to see pretty much everything the movie has to show us. Maybe there are some twists and surprises in store, but fore the most part, this looks less like a trailer than a three-minute Reader’s Digest Condensed Books version of the movie — and that’s not what good trailers are.

Maniac

Maniac was a reasonably successful movie from the 1980s, so it has to be remade (it’s a law, y’know). This NSFW Cannes teaser gives us a taste of said remake, which will apparently feature a lot of point-of-view camera, a fair amount of blood and boobs, some scares, and an Elijah Wood performance that is mighty disturbing. (He may have beaten poor Michael Cera to the punch on this one — the former George Michael indicated on a recent WTF podcast that he badly wanted to play a psychopath, but with his normal mannerisms.) Maniac could be another generic slasher movie, or it could be something more interesting; it’s hard to tell from this short glimpse.

The We and the I

Early word is not good on Michel Gondry’s latest, which premiered this week at Cannes, but whatever problems the film may have, they’re not on display here; this has the potential of being an enjoyable flick in the Spike Lee mold (we’re getting a mini-Do The Right Thing meets public-transit Get on the Bus vibe), and the trailer’s got a nice energy and humor about it. We’ll give it a chance — should it find domestic distribution, which some writers at Cannes think is far from guaranteed.

The Do-Deca-Pentathalon

The latest release from the Duplass Brothers, the DIY filmmakers behind The Puffy Chair, was actually made clear back in 2008, before their crossover into (somewhat) more mainstream filmmaking with Cyrus and Jeff, Who Lives at Home. We’re not sure why it sat on the shelf so long (reviews were mostly positive when it premiered at this year’s SXSW), and as good a hook as it is for the trailer, they probably weren’t waiting to tie it to the Olympics. Whatever the reason, it looks true to their form — low-fi, candid, raw, and funny.