This Week in Trailers: ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ ‘Trouble with the Curve,’ 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 nine trailers this week, featuring the likes of Clint Eastwood, Paul Rudd, Amy Adams, Gerald Butler, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Justin Timberlake, Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Biel, Leslie Mann, Albert Brooks, Megan Fox, Elizabeth Olsen, Josh Radnor, John Krasinski, and Olivia Thirlby. Check ’em all out after the jump, and share your thoughts in the comments.

Playing for Keeps

We know Playing for Keeps is supposed to be a feel-good holiday movie, but for anyone who watches trailers regularly, this two and a half minutes is more depressing than a 24-hour loop of Leaving Las Vegas. Gee, golly, I wonder if the handsome but irresponsible rogue will get his act together and be a good dad? I wonder if he’ll get his ex-wife back at the last possible second? I wonder if the soccer team he coaches will win the big championship? I wonder if he’ll make it on time to his kid’s school play? I wonder if the bad guy will have the drop on him, but then his partner will shoot the bad guy at the last possible second? I wonder if…

3, 2, 1… Frankie Go Boom

Sometimes what you see is what you get with a trailer, and having seen this film at SXSW (before the peculiar 3,2,1… was added to its title) we can tell you that the experience of watching this trailer accurately represents the experience of watching the movie: it’s full of people you like, but it’s too tickled by its own ribaldry and only intermittently funny. How about that Ron Perlman in drag, though, eh?

Liberal Arts

Don’t let the twee music and selection of gauzy beauty shots fool you; this is a better movie than it looks like here. Josh Radnor’s second film is a marked improvement over his slipshod but likable debut feature Happythankyoumoreplease, and this somewhat pat story of arrested development and cradle-robbing romance is made palpable by Radnor’s delicate style and utter lack of cynicism. But nothing’s harder to put across in a trailer than tone; they mostly convey plot and faces and the like. If the trailer scares you off, don’t worry — you’ll probably enjoy it anyway.

Nobody Walks

We got a look at this small-scale relationship drama back at Sundance, and were impressed by director Ry Russo-Young’s keen eye, and the way her script (like much of the work of co-writer Lena Dunham) takes an almost perverse delight in pivoting comic situations ever-so-slightly into awful ones, and vice versa. The trailer amps up the emotions to an almost melodramatic fever, which isn’t entirely accurate to the work at hand; in fact, the film is refreshingly free of the expected emotional arcs. But hey, they’ve got a movie to sell, and it’s not a total bait-and-switch either — the trailer captures some fine moments and a taste of the film’s modest but compelling flavor.

Trouble with the Curve

Clint Eastwood makes a rare acting appearance in someone else’s movie — his first since Pink Cadillac back in ’89 — in what looks like a perfectly serviceable family drama with a dash of romance thrown in (via the almost cruelly attractive couple of Justin Timberlake and Amy Adams). What we find so fascinating about this trailer is how squarely it seems to position itself as the anti-Moneyball. Eastwood is playing exactly the kind of grizzled scout that Pitt and Hill willfully ignore in last year’s baseball drama, and his dialogue about how “a computer can’t tell if a kid’s got instincts” (delivered to Matthew Lillard, apparently playing the role of the smug numbers-cruncher) seems a direct rebuke to that film. It’s one thing for that stuff to be in the movie; it’s another for it to be a major element of the marketing. Was there some kinda giant Moneyball backlash that it’s lucrative to respond to, and we just weren’t aware of it?

30 for 30: Season 2

This is kind of a cheat, since we usually don’t do TV trailers in this space, but c’mon; the majority of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentaries thus far have been better than most conventional theatrical releases, narrative or otherwise. We spotlighted a few in this week’s streaming movie guide; now here’s a peek at a few of the films they’ve got ramped up for the second run, which look to have us riveted to our televisions all over again.

This Is 40

We know, we know, we already posted a trailer for this one, and made it very clear that we’re very excited about Judd Apatow’s “sort-of sequel to Knocked Up,” so why are we posting the second one? (And the picture’s not out ’till Christmas, so you know there’ll be more.) Two words: Albert Brooks. Mr. Brooks, perfectly cast as Paul Rudd’s dad, was entirely absent from the first trailer, and I’m sorry, Albert Brooks popping up is reason enough to post anything — and even if he only gets two lines, one is a big laugh, and one is a big heartwarmer, which bodes well for his performance. Still firmly on board and very enthusiastic about this one, even if that “This is everybody’s story” tagline is a little presumptuous. (And seriously, Apatow: still no Lena Dunham in the trailer? What are you hiding here?)

Antiviral

We went into this one a little skeptical, as we always do when the offspring of big-name filmmakers come forth with their contributions to the family business. That skepticism lasted about halfway into this trailer for the debut feature by Brandon Cronenberg (son of David); by that point, we were too horrified and fascinated to judge. While the gimmick of opening a trailer with a fake-out ad has become a bit of a cliché (everyone should have just left it alone after Eternal Sunshine ), this is a creepy and effective teaser. Maybe this stuff is in the genes.

Zero Dark Thirty

At its essence, the point of a trailer is to tease, to pique our curiosity and leave us hungry for more, not to show us every explosion/joke/breakdown in the movie. Taken in those terms, Zero Dark Thirty has a nearly perfect trailer: it sets up the premise, it establishes the stakes (well, the stakes are established — it reminds us of the stakes), it gives a few glimpse to assure us that Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal are keeping that picture’s distinctive look and feel, and then it gives us that amazing satellite image of the choppers flying it. Strong imagery, indelible iconography, bold graphics, fast action. A great trailer.