By Zach Kolkin
May 26, 2005
Welcome (back) to Trailer Hitch, your weekly look at the latest movie trailers to hit the internet. Several years ago, this column was a regular fixture at BOP, and unfortunately has appeared only sporadically since then. I'm thrilled to be writing for you once again, and I've decided to modify the format slightly - instead of a simple ranking, I'll be grouping the reviewed trailers by quality, much like BOP does with the Big Boards. If you've got any comments or suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them - just use the feedback link at the bottom of this page. Enjoy.
Who ever thought this was a good idea for a movie?
Rebound (Theatrical Trailer)
There was one specific moment in this trailer when I realized that there was no way I would ever spend ninety minutes of my life sitting through this: when Don LaFontaine, Mr. Movie Trailer himself, triumphantly proclaimed, "From the director of Daddy Day Care!" As I watched this ad, I couldn't help but wonder if I hadn't just seen this movie, not thirty days ago, when it was called Kicking & Screaming. Heck, they even got the most irritatingly obnoxious kid from Will Ferrell's flick to be in this film, too. The only remotely funny moment in this entire preview was when Lawrence slaps Icy-Hot on his kids' armpits in order to get them to keep their hands up on defense. Having sat through hundreds of trailers for similarly-themed comedies, I suspect that this moment, along with the rest of the bits highlighted in the trailer, capture almost every joke in the whole film. Maybe I've just gotten too old for this type of movie, but regardless, Rebound looks lame.
Can you ever just be, like, whelmed?
Akeelah And The Bee
After the breakout success of Spellbound, it was only a matter of time before some Hollywood exec said to themselves,"Hey, why don't we make a movie out of that?" That movie is the awkwardly-capitalized Akeelah And The Bee, which really could not be described any better than as a fictional version of Spellbound. What made that documentary so fantastic, of course, was the fact that all the wacky kids, emotionally-involved parents, and absorbing plotlines were real. Here, of course, that isn't the case, and given how brilliant Spellbound was, there really isn't any room for improvement here. The National Spelling Bee is obviously an extremely niche subject, and thus no matter how cute this trailer might be, the film is inevitably and inextricably going to be compared with Spellbound, a picture whose caliber it almost certainly can never live up to.
For better or worse, the "Sony Pictures Classics" title card immediately conjures up images of artsy Asian films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring. It was somewhat surprising, then, for me to see this film, which appears to be little more than a standard psychological thriller, appear under this label. So we have Courtney Cox, whose boyfriend gets shot in a convenience store, and who then proceeds to think something weird might have happened once a shot of the murder scene appears unexpectedly in a slide projector reel. While less is almost always more in trailers for films like this, here, that just isn't the case. What makes this movie different than the eight other similarly-themed movies that will come out this year? Is there anything special that made this one a Sundance selection beyond the fact that it's an "indie"? I don't know, and based on this trailer, I highly doubt I'm going to spend ten bucks to find out.
OK, I'm intrigued
One of this summer's two big-time comic book movies is Fantastic Four, and this first full trailer for the flick does an excellent job of initiating the uninitiated into the world of Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, The Invisible Woman, and The Human Torch. The trailer showcases just the right amount of humor mixed in with flashy special effects and big explosions to make me think that this film has a very legitimate shot to be just as enjoyable as the original X-Men movie. F4 also parallels X-Men in terms of its cast: while one might be tempted to say that this picture will suffer from its lack of A-list stars, the same critique could have been applied to X-Men in 2000. For whatever reason, I'm still not totally sold on this movie, although I do think it looks like a very decent popcorn flick, and potentially even more enjoyable than that.
The Da Vinci Code
Although I'm not usually a very big fan of spots that don't show a second of actual footage from the film, I have to admit that the creators of this teaser for The Da Vinci Code have managed to do a pretty good job here. Smartly, the ad starts off without mentioning the famous title at all, presumably so that snobs like me, who refuse to read this poorly-written, sorry excuse for a novel, donï¿½t immediately roll their eyes and turn back to their popcorn. I also must confess that I enjoyed the whole motif of the swirling letters in the background of the captions. I like the suggestion that the movie isn't entirely abandoning its literary roots, as is the case with so many other film adaptations. I also appreciated the teaser's finish, with a slow reveal of the movie's cast. It always annoys me when a trailer mentions only the name of the film's star, forcing you to try to speed-read the credits as they flash by in the ad's final seconds in order to see who else is in the movie. Here, thankfully, we are given more than half a second to see who stars in the film. Though I reserve the right to change my mind once we see some actual scenes from the movie, The Da Vinci Code is the type of book made for a movie adaptation, and it certainly looks like it will be getting the royal treatment.
I'm already counting down the days
Howl's Moving Castle
Admittedly, there's not much this trailer had to do other than say "Hayao Miyazaki" in order to get me in the theater. Still, I'm quite impressed with the look of the Japanese auteur's latest work. Of the many aspects that make Miyazaki's films so brilliant, one of the most personally impressive is the fact that each picture has a visual style that is at once both unique and immediately recognizable as belonging within the Miyazaki oeuvre. Though the trailer does not give more than the basic premise of the film's plotline, it is more than enough to convince me that the Howl's Moving Castle will be just as intricate in terms of its narration as it is in terms of its artistry. If I had to make one small complaint with the trailer, it would be the use of dubbing, rather than subtitles, for the dialogue: as with any foreign film, I find the use of dubbed voices somewhat distracting from the film itself. Still, for the purposes of a short trailer, I can understand the use of dubbing as a means of simplifying things. I do hope, however, that when the film is released next month in theaters, it is shown in Japanese with English subtitles.
Flightplan (Trailer of the Week)
It's been three long years since Jodie Foster's last starring role in Panic Room, and I couldn't be happier to see her leading a fantastic cast in this thriller about an apparent child abduction aboard an airplane. Sean Bean and Peter Sarsgaard both look wonderfully sinister in their roles, and Foster gives the stereotypical part of mother-in-distress a depth which wouldn't be seen with most actresses. When I saw this trailer in the theater, someone behind me whispered, "Oh, that looks like The Forgotten." Although I do recognize the outward resemblance between the two plots, I would be quite surprised if Flightplan's story is resolved in a similar fashion. Panic Room was disappointing for many viewers, and I have high hopes that Jodie Foster's latest will be immensely more satisfying.