By Zach Kolkin
June 28, 2005
Welcome to Trailer Hitch, your weekly look at the latest movie trailers to hit the internet. We've got a nice mix of cult favorites and films with a more mainstream appeal on the slate this week, as well as the long-awaited trailer for what is perhaps the biggest film of 2005 – Peter Jackson's King Kong. Is it any good? Let's just say picking a Trailer of the Week wasn't too difficult.
Can you ever just be, like, whelmed?
Fun with Dick and Jane
Hey, look everyone, it's another '70s remake! Okay, perhaps that's not quite fair. Fun with Dick and Jane is indeed a '70s remake, but unlike so many remakes, this one boasts an impressive amount of talent behind the camera, including screenwriter Judd Apatow, creator of Undeclared, and director Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest). Still, my first impression of the film after watching this teaser is not particularly good. As with any Jim Carrey comedy, one expects to be doubled over in laughter while seeing this trailer; however, there really aren't any "money shot" moments here. While the bit with the voice-activated car and the coffee shop "robbery" are certainly funny, they're just not hysterical, as you would hope they'd be. Jim Carrey looks a little bit toned down here as well, although that's not necessarily a bad thing. Though I'm definitely not willing to give up on this picture yet, given its pedigree, I think it's fair to say that this movie needs a significantly more engaging trailer stat.
OK, I'm intrigued
Cameron Crowe's latest film is the story of a young man returning to his hometown after the death of his father, and the complications that arise when he falls in love with a stewardess he meets on the flight home. The trailer is quite effective, displaying a nice mixture of both seriousness and levity. Also notable is the movie's great cast, which includes Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst as the romantic leads, as well as Susan Sarandon and Alec Baldwin in supporting roles. After films like Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean, this isn't the type of role you'd expect to see Bloom in, and I was a little worried that he would seem out of place in an infinitely smaller-scale film such as this one. Thankfully, that is not the case at all. Judging by the scenes in the ad, Bloom and Dunst appear to have great chemistry together, and the Brit certainly nails his American accent. In lesser hands, Elizabethtown might be the kind of movie you'd expect to be overly sentimental schlock; with Cameron Crowe behind the camera, however, the flick definitely has great potential.
The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things
Those who follow these sorts of things are well aware of the enigmatic aura surrounding the author JT LeRoy, whose short story collection of the same name is the basis for The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things. Given the intensely personal nature of LeRoy's work, it is almost requisite that one know something about the writer in order to fully appreciate this trailer. LeRoy spent his childhood with his mother, a drug addict, whose boyfriends abused the boy both frequently and brutally. The Heart... is thus a semi-autobiographical film, adapted for the screen by LeRoy's friend, Asia Argento, who also stars and directs. Though the subject matter is unquestionably difficult to watch, this preview indicates a movie that seems to remain largely faithful to its literary roots – always a good sign for book-lovers. I personally think the trailer could do a much better job of introducing LeRoy's story for the uninitiated; as it is now, it is difficult to fully grasp the film's essence without some background knowledge. While this is the epitome of a picture with only niche appeal, I could see this as an indie hit with the right type of advertising. Hopefully, a more explanatory preview will be forthcoming, as I imagine this will be an extremely rewarding film for those who see it.
For longtime fans of the work of Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, and David Wain, there is only one moment in this entire preview which matters: the appearance of the tagline, "From the co-creators of Wet Hot American Summer, The State, and Comedy Central's Stella." For everyone else unaware of these cult hits, there is plenty in this trailer to be entertained by. As I mentioned just above in my review of The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, I think it's important that ads for movies which are capitalizing on a cult following (Serenity is another good example) make a bona fide attempt to appeal to the uninitiated as well, either by reintroducing material that might be old hat for longtime followers or by including other elements with more mainstream appeal. The trailer for The Baxter takes the latter route, positing itself as a slightly ridiculous romantic comedy with a love triangle between a dull accountant, his hesitant fiancée, and her high school sweetheart. The results are pretty funny here; if you enjoyed the humor of Wet Hot American Summer, you'll probably smirk at this too. I'm not sure that a film like this will ever appeal to a huge audience, but then again, the guys of Stella probably wouldn't want that anyway.
I'm already counting down the days
I have never seen The Transporter, and perhaps that is why I think this is such a great trailer. From a quick glance around the Internet, it doesn't appear that the original film is that well-liked. It certainly didn't make that much money at the box office when it opened in North America, but it most have been pretty successful either internationally or on DVD, since there hasn't exactly been a huge crowd of people clamoring for a sequel. Nevertheless, I was highly entertained by this preview. Sure, the action scenes look a little outlandish, but doesn't everyone enjoy a popcorn flick every now and then? As these all-sizzle-and-no-steak movies, I have to say that Transporter 2 looks like a pretty darn good one. The trailer highlights slick cars, big explosions, and intense fight scenes in rapid succession, all set to some well-placed hard rock. While I don't necessarily expect this to be a great movie, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think this was a great trailer.
I had not heard anything about this film prior to watching the trailer, but suffice it to say that it has now moved near the top of my list of my most anticipated movies of the rest of the summer. The clip does a fantastic job of introducing the film's plot: the wife of a psychiatrist, played by Natasha Richardson, moves into a mental hospital with her husband, where she soon begins an affair with one of the asylum's patients. The performance from Richardson looks superb, as does the work of Ian McKellen and Martin Csokas, who plays the mental patient. It is possible that the trailer gives away just a bit too much of the movie's plot, although that's tough to determine without seeing the film itself. Regardless, I was unquestionably left at the end of the preview feeling as though I wanted to see more, rather than feeling like I'd seen it all already. The trailer is highly intriguing, and the storyline interesting and unique. On the basis of this ad alone, I'm entirely sold on Asylum.
King Kong (Trailer of the Week)
The trailer for one of the most anticipated movies of 2005 is finally here, and all I can say is wow. It seems like Peter Jackson can do no wrong: King Kong looks like it will most certainly live up to the hype surrounding its release. The clip begins with exposition which primarily features Jack Black. Many have wondered whether Black's manic comic demeanor would fit into this picture, but judging from the evidence here, there should not be a question in anyone's mind as to whether the star of School of Rock could make the transition to big-budget action flick. Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody also star, and although neither is given as much screen time here as Black, they both seem to fit into the film's style quite nicely.
But why am I going on about the cast? The real draw here is, of course, the big ape himself. We are at first teased with only partial glimpses – first his eyes, then his outstretched arm – until King Kong himself appears on screen, hurling a cab across a city street. It would of course be ludicrous to say that the CGI primate looks realistic; instead, let us simply say that WETA's digital realization of King Kong seems spot-on – exactly how one might imagine him. At first, I was somewhat surprised by the amount of attention the trailer pays to the other creatures on King Kong's island home (dinosaurs, elephants, etc.). However, upon further reflection, I think this makes sense, as it positions the title character as simply one of many mythical beasts inhabiting the island. As I said before, King Kong certainly isn't realistic, but within the world Jackson has created for him, his existence seems plausible. Will the film itself live up to all the shiny goodness on full display here? It's tough to say, but given Jackson's track record with Lord of the Rings, I (and many others, I imagine) are going to be more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.