Trailer Hitch

By Eric Hughes

January 27, 2010

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Welcome to Trailer Hitch, BOP's look at the latest movie trailers to hit the Internet. This week: The Duplass brothers grow up from their Baghead days, Andy Garcia yells at no one in particular and where in the world is Alan Arkin?

Cyrus – Opens TBA 2010

It's amazing to me that the last Mark and Jay Duplass movie I saw had a tiny cast of people you've never heard of being chased by a man (or woman?) with a bag over his head. That movie, of course, was Baghead, a super indie released in 2008. Never appearing in more than a handful of theaters in a weekend, the film earned a small $140,000 domestically. Now two years later, the boys are back with what appears to be a cleverly written romantic comedy with John C. Reilly, Catherine Keener, Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill as leads. Not bad for two brothers whose most renowned work would probably be a movie called The Puffy Chair.

The casting in this thing is simply delicious. Jonah Hill is always a win in my book. And the same holds true for Catherine Keener, who plays strong, independent characters with ease, and Marisa Tomei, who in my opinion deserved an Oscar for The Wrestler.

The project stars John C. Reilly as a down-on-his-luck divorcee (Keener's his ex) who catches a new find (Tomei). That is, until his character is introduced to her son (Hill), a teen who struggles to accept a new "father" into the family. Though the story is nothing new, the honest, yet funny performances in the trailer – coupled with strong writing from the Duplass brothers – make this romantic comedy enticing.

Grade: A-


Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Opens April 2nd

Okay, here's the deal. I'm not what one may call a "fan" of children. I admit to taking certain liberties in simplifying the situation here, but they scream a lot and are – more often than not – sticky. Now, the central kids in Diary of a Wimpy Kid are middle school. So they fall outside the age I generally detest. Even so, one look at the lead's kid brother opening his mouth wide to show the food inside is enough reason to keep me firmly anti-kid for another five to ten years. 1) I cannot in good consciousness award this movie a grade higher than a D, and 2) Apologies to any parents I may have frightened in the making of this column.

Based on the popular kids book series of the same name, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a year in the life of an average boy, expressed through diary passages and hand-drawn cartoons. If I were ten, I'd probably enjoy the humor. (The same holds true for a movie like Hotel for Dogs). Consider me not in the demo.

Grade: D

Happy Tears – Opens February 19th

I don't know that Rip Torn is cut out to play "crazy dad" quite yet. Perhaps it's Alan Arkin's star performances in movies like Little Miss Sunshine and Sunshine Cleaning. He was so good in those that my judgment, though likely skewed, nonetheless leads me to believe that the 77-year-old was miscast. Not a good sign for a movie that – at least as the trailer sells it – has three, maybe four main characters. Parker Posey can do proper and particular, and Demi Moore can play relaxed liberal, so they at least got two out of three right. Happy Tears is about polar opposite sisters who reunite to take care of their father, whose health is severely deteriorating. Like other straight men who don't have much time left, Rip Torn's character has a young lady friend, Shelly, who conveniently doubles as his nurse.

The movie doesn't seem to have much substance, and what it is ultimately trying to do isn't all that clear. The results aren't too surprising, however, since Happy Tears marks just the second movie by writer-director Mitchell Lichtenstein. Some of that inexperience – the actors' directions in particular – shows.

Grade: D-

City Island – Opens March 19th

Whenever a new dysfunctional family comes along, I can't help but compare them to the family of crazies that did it best. I refer to, of course, the Bluth family of Arrested Development fame. (We're still getting a feature-length movie, right?). While the family unit from City Island isn't as funny, it isn't really trying to be. Instead of witty dialogue, physical comedy and depending on the general stupidity of supposed adults, the family in City Island seems to yell at each other at every waking moment. I don't know about you, but paying money to see people basically argue with each other for 90 minutes doesn't sound too appealing.

Grade: D+



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