Trailer Mash

Brad Pitt, Taylor Lautner, a dolphin without a tail: What's your poison?

Questions raised by the trailer for the new Jason Statham vehicle The Killer Elite: 1) When did the mustache cease to be an essential accessory on the second lead? 2) Is there a precedent for Statham's variant on impregnably self-assured machismo? 3) Can there be a better title for an action movie than The Killer Elite? 4) And finally, the question asked in 80 percent of all movie trailers these days: What the hell is De Niro doing in there? Answers: 1) 1975, when the first Killer Elite was released. (Clive Owen's top lip is apparently channeling that of Robert Duvall.) 2) James Caan, star of the original Killer Elite. It's not just the glinty eyes and the aptitude for punching people. Watch the 1975 trailer and listen closely when he says, "What a dummy." See? 3) Apparently not, because, mismatched-buddy genre details aside, the new film is not a remake. 4) This is eloquently answered in the trailer, when what could be a documentary moment from the making-of shows De Niro picking up a wad of cash, smiling and saying, "I gotta cover my expenses."

A different kind of buddy movie, Weekend apparently opens with a couple falling in love on a first date before spending the rest of its running time wondering whether falling in love on a first date is such a brilliant idea. As trailers go, the express intention seems only to alert its target audience to the film's existence, but there is perhaps a hope that others will also be attracted by the quotes from an admiring review in The New York Times.

What are the inevitable consequences of bringing together Morgan Freeman, children and a dolphin with no tail? Tears and smiles and a happy ending. In Dolphin Tale, Morgan is the éminence grise medical specialist who takes on the unique challenge of building the cyborg flipper. Harry Connick is the vet who won't stop until he's done all he can. Even a hurricane won't stop Harry because thankfully eminence grise No. 2, Kris Kristofferson, is there to tell him, "That dolphin's taken us all somewhere. You can't give up on her." Winter the dolphin, playing herself, is a hopeless camera hog, but the movie looks to be as family friendly as you can wish for these days. And it's all true.

Also based on a true story is Moneyball, whose perfectly executed trailer manages to explain the machinations that went into creating the disproportionately competitive Oakland A's budget baseball team from under-utilized and overlooked players, while successfully presenting itself as a mismatched buddy movie, the third this week. The technical stuff sounds grim, but if anyone can make sense of it, the man behind The Social Network can. And on this evidence, Aaron Sorkin doesn't let himself down. In fact, the trailer is so good, you're left with the idea that there's really nothing new to see in the movie itself, and the filmmakers' bet is that a few moments of on-form Brad Pitt and full-form Jonah Hill spouting Sorkin's smart dialogue will result in a national appetite for a full 120 minutes of the same.

Relatively quiet of late, New Jersey's Kevin Smith takes another spin with an old flame, the misinterpretations of religion. Red State's trailer opens like a typical Smith afternoon of dirty gags and then goes for a broad satire of the religious right by way of a homegrown version of Eli Roth's Hostel. Torture porn is old hat these days, but there's a loving quote from Quentin Tarantino, and with John Goodman and Melissa Leo leading the cast, hope abides. Even so, the movie never achieved a traditional release. After Smith's plan to auction the distribution rights went south, it eventually went straight to pay-per-view, from the first of this month, and is now only getting a one-night release in selected theaters this Sunday. ("He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool." -Proverbs)

Produced by Jamie Foxx, the documentary of the week, Thunder Soul, is evidently the uplifting and inspiring story of the Kashmere Stage Band, a high-school group who achieved fame and glory in the 1970s. Reuniting the musicians for a gig some 30 years since they last played together, and since some of them even picked up an instrument, it's effectively a school reunion video but with a thrilling soundtrack.

Finally, for each and very action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and thus for every bald, hardboiled, and angry Jason Statham, there is a densely coiffed, naive and confused Taylor Lautner. For every The Killer Elite, there is an Abduction. Here is a trailer that uses a crash zoom away from a laptop rather than have the star demonstrate a reaction to what he has just seen on it. And then the running and the jumping and the shooting starts. Though sometimes he "feels different" to the other kids, Taylor isn't a werewolf but a "high-value asset," and apparently one with athletic gun skills. In summary: Jason Bourne meets Cody Banks, based on this trailer.

Publish date: September 23, 2011 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT