Trailer Hitch
By Eric Hughes
September 23, 2009

Damn mutie scum.

Welcome to Trailer Hitch, BOP's look at the latest movie trailers to hit the Internet. This week: Stanley Tucci courts Patricia Clarkson, Philip Seymour Hoffman rocks out on a boat and Zac Efron meets Orson Welles.

Blind Date – Opens September 25th

When Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered in cold blood back in 2004, an idea was hatched to remake three of his movies using good ol' American actors. How... American of us. "Hey, let's quash whatever you did using the best that Hollywood has to offer!" Sounds splendid. But before you get the wrong impression of what this unique trilogy is trying to do, know that the Americanized products are anything but Hollywood. In fact they're not even "indie Hollywood". One look at the trailer to Blind Date, based on van Gogh's 1996 film of the same name, and you're bound to think it was made on a miniscule budget. I don't have the figures here, so perhaps it was.

The remake, part two in the redux trilogy, stars Stanley Tucci (who also helmed) and Patricia Clarkson as a couple who lost their five-year-old daughter in a car wreck. To cope (and reconcile their differences), the pair go on faux dates with one another by pretending to be people they aren't based on personal ads they draw up before the date occurs.

The film looks to be as bare bones as movies get. Nearly the entire trailer takes place within the same restaurant, and both Tucci and Clarkson are the only major players. When a movie relies solely on the conversations between people – similar to the Before Sunrise movies that came before it – sometimes that's all you need.

Grade: B-

Astro Boy – Opens October 23rd

From Imagi Animation Studios (behind the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, TMNT, and NBC's Father of the Pride with DreamWorks) comes Astro Boy, based on a hugely successful manga and TV series of the same name in Japan. Stellar voice cast aside – Nic Cage, Kristen Bell, Nathan Lane and Freddie Highmore among them – Astro Boy comes off looking as average as animation gets. It's likely to do the kind of business more on the side of Hoodwinked! than an animated tentpole like Monsters vs. Aliens.

Astro Boy stars Freddie Highmore in the title role, a robotic kid built by – who else – Nic Cage in an attempt by Cage to recreate a boy in the image of the son he lost. Once brought to life, Astro Boy struggles for acceptance, joins a rowdy ground of kids led by Cora (Bell), gets caught up in a dangerous world of robot gladiators (courtesy of Lane's character, Ham Egg) and returns to his home city to reunite with the father who let him go. All in a day's work.

Grade: C-

Pirate Radio – Opens November 13th

Known as The Boat That Rocked pretty much anywhere outside the United States, Pirate Radio stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a famous American disc jockey in the 1960s who retaliates against the British government (which at the time outlawed rock on the radio) by beaming rock radio to the country from a boat at seas. Other on-air antics include broadcasting Brit radio's first swear word (for the curious, Hoffman goes with the F-bomb), providing color commentary of a virgin having sex and other shenanigans. Think of Hoffman's all-day radio show as a precursor to Howard Stern.

Hoffman shines in this trailer. His maniacal performance, which could be inspired by the Jack Black we saw in School of Rock or even High Fidelity, paired with music from The Who, The Kinks and other rock gods makes me want to go out and see this one right away. The only thing Pirate Radio clearly seems to be missing are cameos by Andy Samberg and T-Pain. "I'm on a boat, mutha f-cka!"

Grade: A

Me and Orson Welles – Opens November 25th

Having watched the trailer to Me and Orson Welles a couple of times now, I'm baffled why it struggled with such difficulty to land a domestic distributor. Here are the facts: Me and Orson Welles is based on a New York Times bestseller, has Richard Linklater in the director's chair and features a cast headlined by rising star Zac Efron (whose stock intensified with the release of 17 Again) and Claire Danes. Perhaps it was that very film (17 Again) that secured Me and Orson Welles' distribution, as no more than a month after the Efron/Matthew Perry-starrer opened at #1 in mid-April, CinemaNX gave this movie a hug.

In 1930s New York, Richard Samuels (Efron) nabs the role of Lucillus in director Orson Welles' Julius Caesar, which marks the Great White Way's premiere Shakespearean production. During rehearsals, the 17-year-old falls for production assistant Sonja Jones (Danes). That is, of course, until Welles (Christian McKay) intervenes.

Grade: B+

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee – Opens November 27th

Think of that one friend you have who acts like she's got it all together, but underneath (or in the past) has a killer load of unresolved and horrific crap to deal with. I got mine. How about you? That essentially sums up Pippa Lee (Robin Wright Penn), who on an unrelated note has one of the strangest names I've come across this year. Now which two celebrity parents are responsible in the naming of this child?

As for the flick... Ehhh. Of utmost importance is the fact that The Private Lives of Pippa Lee has one too many Keanu Reeves'. That, my friends, will always be a negative no matter what a trailer is trying to sell me. Outside of Reeves, the flick is rounded out with an exceptional cast – Alan Arkin, Monica Bellucci, Julianne Moore, Maria Bello, Winona Ryder, Blake Lively – so I'm hesitant to stick a fork into this one just yet.

Grade: C