Trailer Hitch
By Kim Hollis
October 14, 2009

Uh oh. Some kid somewhere is going to cry.

Welcome to Trailer Hitch, BOP's look at the latest movie trailers to hit the Internet. This week: the Toys are back in town, Pedro and Penelope team up yet again, Nic Cage acts weird(er), Sly Stallone and friends get violent and Heath Ledger has his swan song.

Toy Story 3

I'm not ashamed to admit that I almost cried when I watched this trailer, but I'm wondering when Pixar is going to give me a break. I mean, c'mon, Pixar. I can accept that I cried twice during WALL-E. It's even okay with me that I actually was bawling within the first ten minutes of Up. But now, you're making me cry just with your trailers? Hoo boy.

Just as the first two movies foreshadowed, the toys are now dealing with the fact that Andy has grown up and he's headed off to college. We see some very poignant moments as a montage plays with young Andy enjoying Woody, Buzz and the gang, but then it fades to his mother asking him what he's going to do with them now that he's moving away. *sniffle*

The humor is quickly ratcheted up, though, as the gang freaks out about their future. "Let's see how much we're going for on eBay," says Hamm. But our friends are not headed for a collector - that was soooooo Toy Story 2. Instead, they're donated to a nursery full of drooling kids. The ignominy of it all is so great that the toys decide they will bust out...which naturally leads to such hilarious results as Buzz having to be reset (in turn, this leads to him speaking Spanish and doing a flamenco).

Toy Story 3 has one of the finest trailers I've ever seen from Pixar. It tells the audience everything they need to know and does an excellent job of conveying the notion that the studio never seems to lose a beat. Can they pull off a third film that is as wonderful as Toy Story and Toy Story 2? That remains to be seen, but everything in this preview tells me they've got it. Again.

Trailer Grade: A

Broken Embraces

Director Pedro Almodovar maintains his winning relationship with Penelope Cruz as she is at the center of his new thriller. The trailer doesn't reveal terribly much. We see that Cruz's character is leaving an older man, and that another older woman is trying to piece together a mystery. Instead, the preview aims for style, showing us some really fantastic looking shots and framing, as well as highlighting a fine job by the costume department as they style Cruz in an array of different looks. There are a number of quotes from reviews that flash across the screen, promising the viewer that Broken Embraces is a continuation of the success Almodovar and Cruz have been finding together (The Cannibalistic Councillor, Volver, All About My Mother), and I see no reason I shouldn't believe them. I just wish the preview had given me a little bit more to go on, but the look of the film is certainly noir-ish and appealing.

Trailer Grade: B-

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

I...just don't know what to make of this movie. I knew before I watched the trailer that it was a Werner Herzog kind-of sort-of remake of the 1992 Abel Ferrara film The Bad Lieutenant, but since I haven't really seen that movie, I still had no expectations here. Well, that's not entirely true. Because I believe that Herzog is a way-out-there, unpredictable, unexplainable director, I know that Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans would probably be strange and quirky. I also knew that because the movie stars Nicolas Cage, I probably wasn't going to be too keen on what it has to offer.

And yet, there's something oddly appealing about BLPOCNO (as I am going to call it from now on). Yes, Cage is totally overacting here, but it's a manic, insane sort of overacting that seems appropriate given that his character is pretty much deep into various drug and might have crazy, over-the-top tendencies to start with. There are two lines in the trailer (I'll let you pick them out for yourself - one is in the first scene, the other is in a scene with Val Kilmer) that are so ridiculous that I laughed out loud - and yet I know that's Herzog's intent. I have no idea what BLPOCNO is going to be, and it might be a truly awful film, but I actually want to see it. Given how I feel about Cage, that's saying something.

Trailer Grade: B+

The Expendables

Speaking of not knowing what to say about a trailer, now we have Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables. Basically, this is a combination of a trailer and an extended clip, all mashed together for a three minute preview. Now, I'm not the type of person who will generally go for an overblown action movie like this one. I've never been a big Stallone fan (though I like some of the Rocky movies a lot). I haven't seen Rambo or any of its sequels/prequels. But The Expendables is kind of appealing. Maybe it's because Jason Statham is cracking wise, or because Jet Li is there. Perhaps it's because I love Terry Crews, who will always hold a soft place in my heart for his role as Julius, Chris's cash-strapped dad on Everybody Hates Chris. Or it could be because Eric Roberts is just a terrific villain. I don't know the reasons why, really, but this might be something I'd go see in theaters. And if I'm saying that, you just know that the people who love violent action flicks are going to be out in force.

Trailer Grade: B

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

"Nothing's permanent. Not even death."

I can't decide if this line is poignant, manipulative, or something else altogether. For those unaware, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is Heath Ledger's final starring role, as he died while shooting of the film was taking place. Director Terry Gilliam has been beset with adversity many a time during the shooting of various projects, and it looked like The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus would be the latest to suffer from this quirk of bad luck (see the documentary Lost in La Mancha if you're interested in learning an awful lot about what it takes to get a movie made and how fortune can impact a production in profound ways).

Yet, Gilliam had the inspired idea that Ledger's character, Tony, would be played by a variety of actors as he moves through dreamlands. Thus, we see Ledger in the role, but also Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law. It seems to have been a Very Good Idea to do this, as the trailer shows brief glimpses of each actor in the same costume, and it works extremely well to stir up the imagination.

Of course, that's only the beginning for The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which looks simply amazing. There are the trademark Gilliam visuals, of course, but they seem crisper, more carefully created, and all perfectly suited to the mood of the film than some of his recent creations.

The story is your classic "deal with the devil" trope. Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) makes a deal with the devil (Tom Waits, in a bit of inspired casting) so that he he might be immortal. One thousand years later, the devil comes to collect Doctor Parnassus's debt, in the form of his daughter Valentina (Lily Cole). Doctor Parnassus and his traveling theater troupe, and Tony all rally together to try to save the girl.

I'm very excited to see this film, but I do temper my anticipation with the memory that Gilliam's recent work has been interesting but far from perfect. I expect this to be a similar situation, but the trailer has certainly made Doctor Parnassus look like something I'll enjoy a great deal.

Trailer Grade: A