Trailer Hitch
By Eric Hughes
October 1, 2008

This script is like *100* pages. I can't read all of that.

Welcome to Trailer Hitch, BOP's look at the latest movie trailers to hit the Internet. This week: Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio finally team up, Bernie Mac makes a huge mistake and Adam Sandler enters a dream world.

Body of Lies – Opens October 10th

It's probably a stupid question. But you enjoyed The Departed, right? Well, then, feast your eyes on Body of Lies, the subsequent film project from rising scribe William Monahan. Based on a 2007 novel of the same name by David Ignatius, Body of Lies stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a CIA operative who is sent to Jordan by his boss (Russell Crowe) to track down a notorious terrorist. In Jordan, DiCaprio's character strikes an alliance with the country's covert operations head. At the same time he also grows increasingly suspicious that his boss is not who he seems.

DiCaprio and Crowe look like they work well together here, with both men taking on their respective roles and running with them. Though I'm not a fan of a goateed DiCaprio, Crowe assumes an aura of mystery with his thick, black glasses and graying, somewhat spiked hair.

Grade: A-
Also expected to be released on this date: City of Ember, Quarantined, The Express, Ashes of Time Redux, Breakfast with Scot, Saving Marriage, Happy-Go-Lucky

The Elephant King – Opens October 17th

Previously known under the working titles of Summer in Siam and The Cool Season, The Elephant King marks writer-director Seth Grossman's feature debut, which stars Ellen Burstyn, Jonno Roberts, Tate Ellington and Florence Faivre in the lead roles. In a film about Americans lost in a world they may not understand, Oliver (Ellington) is sent by his mother (Burstyn) to fetch his brother, Jake (Roberts), who abandoned his life Stateside to enjoy new adventures in Thailand. There, Oliver is quickly swept into his brother's exhilarating lifestyle and ends up falling for a bartender named Lek (Faivre). As Oliver begins to understand Jake's self-destruction away from home, he must make the choice whether to save his brother's life or his own.

The trailer to The Elephant King, which is finally seeing the light of day in theaters after winning a number of awards in film festivals two year ago, is beautifully shot. It makes great use of slow motion pans and imagery, and is interjected with enough regular motion dialogue so as not to become jarring.

Grade: B+
Also expected to be released on this date: Max Payne, W., Sex Drive, The Secret Life of Bees, What Just Happened?, Filth and Wisdom, Morning Light, Tru Loved, The 2 Sides of the Bed

Splinter – Opens October 31st

At least in this horror movie, the attractive (and young) protagonists won't make the mistake of running up the stairs (because in typical gas stations there are no stairs). That's right. This Halloween treat, Splinter, takes place almost entirely inside a gas station after the movie's main couple (played by Paulo Costanzo and Jill Wagner) are carjacked by an escaped convict and his girlfriend, setting up a horrific showdown at the local fill up joint. There, our heroes come into contact with some kind of thing - a being? virus? - that causes its victims to look just a bit more porcupine-like (hence the title).

The trailer contains the standard horror elements: quick cuts, fades to black, lots of terrified screaming. Yet this does nothing to aid the movie's struggling plot, which just sounds (and looks) rather silly.

Grade: D+
Also expected to be released on this date: The Haunting of Molly Hartley, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, The Other End of the Line, Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father, Fear(s) of the Dark

Soul Men – Opens November 7th

Not that Bernie Mac has ever starred in anything extraordinary - Mr. 3000 anyone? - but it's a shame Soul Men is slated to be one of the final movie releases of the late actor, who died from an inflammatory lung disease in early August. This one, which pairs up Mac with Samuel L. Jackson as two former soul singers who are forced to reconcile their differences for a planned benefit concert, looks like one of those really dumb comedies that most of America will thankfully skip (and those that don't will surely wish they had).

It's Jackson punching Mac, Mac punching Jackson and Mac's too-tight pants launching one of its front buttons squarely into the eye of an unlucky audience member. Need I go on? The film's saving grace is the duo sporting outdated, bright blue suits on and off the stage. Yep, you can forget about that Mac/Jackson banter. I was most impressed with a costuming decision discovered in the trailer.

Grade: D-
Also expected to be released on this date: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Role Models, Killshot, Repo! The Genetic Opera, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Bedtime Stories – Opens December 25th

Bedtime Stories can best be described as this year's Night at the Museum. Both were (or are slated to be) released on or around Christmas Day, and both have jokes that the kids will love (and so will their parents) by sticking one of today's most renowned comedians in a mysterious, yet fun fantasy scenario.

In Bedtime Stories, Adam Sandler stars as Skeeter Bronson, a man whose life takes an interesting turn when the bedtime stories he tells his niece and nephew start coming true the next day. Skeeter attempts to benefit from this mysterious power by incorporating lovely women and prize money into his stories, but finds himself facing an uphill battle because of the kids' dangerous, yet creative story contributions.

Some of the subtler story ideas - rain instantaneously falling from the sky, a dwarf kicking Skeeter in the shin, Skeeter avoiding catching on fire at all costs - were both clever and funny. Skeeter re-imagined as a Roman gladiator or that outrageous bug-thing near trailer's end? Not so much. But this one's kid vid, so surely the target demo is going to eat it up.

Grade: B
Also expected to be released on this date: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Spirit, Hurricane Season, Marley & Me, Shanghai