Trailer Mash

Horror, comedy, cancer, Sarah Palin: this weekend's opening movies have it all

Ever have the fantasy you're married to Rachel Weisz and living in a perfect house with two perfect daughters? Well, someone made a movie of it. And after watching The Shining a couple of million times, someone made a trailer of that. Standing in for you is Daniel Craig's shirtless torso, and in the sympathetic neighbor role, latter-day scream queen Naomi Watts trembles winningly. With handsome grownups, hokey chills, and a massive spoiler, this trailer suggests Dream House might well be the perfect fall date movie.

Kicking his 3rd Rock From the Sun identity deep into touch with a defining performance in Rian Johnson's razor-sharp teen noir Brick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt became the go-to fellow for directors desirous of brain cells to complement the bruised cheekbones: an anti-Josh Hartnett, if you like. So, after Inception and Hesher and GI Joe, here is Joseph in the trailer for 50/50, an honest-to-goodness cancer movie. As cancer guy, Gordon-Levitt never seemed so comfortable in leading-man shoes, and better yet, everyone's favorite pot head Seth Rogen is restored to his rightful place in the Hollywood firmament as the comedy sidekick. Best YouTube comment so far: 500 Days of Chemo.

No Nick Broomfield, no Borat. Having invented the technique of posing on camera as a naive nincompoop, the better to skewer his targets in documentary after documentary, Broomfield is practically a national institution in the U.K. Subjects have included South African white supremacist Eugène Terre'Blanche (later executed by assassins as he slept) and serial killer Aileen Wournos (later executed by the state of Florida). By those lights, Sarah Palin: You Betcha! is like shooting a drugged moose in the face at point blank range in a barrel, but even in this short trailer there are enough "No freaking way" moments to suggest a properly scary and hilarious horror-comedy awaits.

Courageous, which arrives by untarnished virtue of the Christian Provident and Affirm film-production agencies, is probably a less challenging title than God's Cops, which is what the trailer is selling. Told through the burly faces and forearms of a bunch of interchangeable men in short-sleeve tan shirts, it appears to be about how the hardest thing in life is to not be a dick. This does not seem such a severe challenge to a person's faith, which films produced this way are all about drawing your attention to, but maybe it's harder for Christians. Notably, everyone involved has the same slightly glazed look on their faces, a phenomenon last seen on an entire cast in Werner Herzog's Heart of Glass.

If Sex and the City were made now rather than during the final years of Louis XV, you would hope it might look more like Bridesmaids than this trailer for What's Your Number?, the new Anna Faris outing. Here is a self-consciously '80s-looking epic of a trailer: thuddingly plotted, never free of expositional sound effects, bursting at the seams with gags barely worth the breath it took to say them out loud. And vestigially fond though it is impossible not to be of Faris, and the rolling schedule of character actors portraying the ex-boyfriends she must meet due to some insanely contrived McGuffin the trailer fails utterly to explain, at least watching the short clip will spare you the 90 minutes and $12 it would take to sit through the whole thing.

American Teacher is about the people who undertake one of the hardest tasks in the universe: Trying to alert the young people of the most powerful and dominant nation and cultural force in the history of the planet to their own personal responsibilities. And who are they? Well, says the trailer, some would have you believe they are a gaggle of feckless opportunists desperate to steal tax dollars from your pocket to finance their lazy, dissolute and anti-American lifestyles. This is a view to which the response is obvious: Go teach in schools, you people. Show us the way. But they won't, and fact is, as even a few moments of the trailer shows, teachers are routinely awesome, unprejudiced, selfless and devoted to their pupils.

Margaret is the mystery trailer of the week. It opens with a school-age Anna Paquin phoning a friend and making an offer he can't refuse. Before the telephonee gets the opportunity to take her up on it, Anna makes flirty-eyed contact with a bus driver (a young Mark Ruffalo), who, thus distracted, slams into and kills an innocent passerby. Were you in a cinema at this point, you would be texting a friend and yawning. But since you are watching this trailer on YouTube in your office, because you are a fan of True Blood and curious what Anna looked like back in the day, and only, by the by, wondering what the hell was so wrong with this film it took so long to come out, you persist. Fruitlessly. Clearly the reason Margaret has been sitting on the shelf since only a few months after the damn Piano got Oscared is that it is a bit of a snooze. Since then, everyone has done greater work, moved on with their lives, tried to forget … please, ladies and gentlemen, nothing to see here, move along now … at least according to this trailer. 

Publish date: September 30, 2011 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT