Trailer Hitch

By Michael Bentley

January 16, 2007

Are there zombie bits in this ice cream?

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Welcome back to Trailer Hitch, where Box Office Prophets takes a look at the latest movie previews to hit the Internet. This week we look at a wide variety of 2007 releases.

The Astronaut Farmer

The title, plot and concept seem like a total parody, or even like a clip on Saturday Night Live. Billy Bob Thornton (rarely given his due as one of the finest actors of this generation) is a farmer with dreams of being an astronaut. But despite financial hardships in the way, he pushes forward and goes about building his own rocket. He even recruits his kids for the "farmer space program." It has all the making of being a good, solid family drama; the line "you are a common man with a dream, do not turn this into a nightmare" is great. I can't help wondering, though, if the marketing team isn't quite going about this the wrong way. Just look at that poster. It has Zucker Abrahams Zucker writen all over it. B-

Black Snake Moan

When I read that Sam Jackson was in this, my first thought was: "what is it with him and motherf-ing snakes? I thought he had enough of them?" My second thought was: "cool." Now that I've seen the trailer, I don't know where to begin. WTF!? We have Samuel L. Jackson in old-man makeup and hair, and Christina Ricci (who is undoubtedly very thankful for the paycheck) in beaten-up makeup wearing panties and a chain. A thick chain that Jackson refuses to take off of her. Packed somewhere in the middle is a brief montage of dancing, drinking and smoking set against some rockin' Southern music. I'm not sure whether I should be intrigued or repulsed. I'm leaning towards the latter. D+

Fred Claus

Okay, the trailer begins innocently enough. We have the standard "Let it Snow" music playing and the omnipresent voiceover that starts "Every Christmas, families get together to rekindle their love for each other." As this point, it is very tempting to roll your eyes and be prepared for yet another generic focus-grouped Christmas movie. But it continues: "even Santa Claus... and his brother, Fred." From the director of R-rated smash hit comedy Wedding Crashers (David Dobkin, for the record, since nobody has ever heard of him before) comes Fred Claus, starring the consummate wild and crazy cool guy Vince Vaughn (Fred, obviously) with Paul Giamatti (Santa). The rest of the trailer continues, giving little away, other than showing the two having a brotherly conversation on the couch with a Christmas tree behind them. The highlights include Fred trying to talk Santa into getting a dog ("but dogs can't fly") and Santa trying to give Fred a wet-willie. Assuming they go all-out towards an R-rating with plenty of hijinks and coarse language, this could very well be next holiday's season's adult alternative to all the kid and family-fare that is thrown our way. Sort of a Bad Santa, but maybe a little easier for audiences to swallow. I'm intrigued. B+


Hannibal Rising

Some 16 years ago, director Johnathan Demme's Silence of the Lambs smashed all possible expectations. The story of FBI trainee Clarice Starling and her search for a vicious serial killer, with the help of an imprisoned serial killer named Hannibal Lector, was not only a very good movie, but it was also a box office sensation and earned $130 million domestically. To top things off, the movie upset all-comers and won five Oscars, including for Best Picture. Two sequels followed (well, one was actually a prequel and was a remake of a 1980s Michael Mann film), each focusing more on the escapades of fan-favorite Lector (Anthony Hopkins) and with less focus on taut storytelling. Now, the cash cow is being milked one more (last?) time and any association with Silence of the Lambs, other than the name Hannibal Lector, is gone. Hannibal Rising tells the tale of a very young Hannibal, in the days after World War II and his transformation into the monster that he would become. The trailer doesn't reveal a whole lot, but shows that there might be a love interest and that there will likely be a couple gruesome deaths. The actor faced with the daunting task of following Hopkins is a complete unknown, and in fact the trailer doesn't even reveal his name (French actor Gaspard Ulliel, for what it's worth). I'd be more interested in this if Hannibal and Red Dragon hadn't sucked so much. B-

Hot Fuzz

"From the guys who watched every action movie ever made and created Shaun of the Dead." This trailer is great on a number of levels. First and foremost is the fact that the movie is directed by Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, each of the brilliant rom-zom-com Shaun of the Dead. Hot Fuzz is about a London cop (Pegg) who is so good at his job that he gets transferred to a small town in the country ("you've been making us all look bad" his boss, played by Bill Nighy, dryly informs him). There he teams with a bumbling small town cop (Frost) in a village with very low crime rates. But they may be on to something much bigger. The trailer for Hot Fuzz maintains all the quirky humor and fun of Shaun of the Dead and is currently on a short list of my most anticipated films of 2007. An easy pick for Trailer of the Week. A

The Messengers

I've often believed that the people who create the trailers for horror/thriller movies have one of the easiest jobs in the world. All they need to do is: (a) hire the guy with the creepy voice who does every the voiceover for other trailer in Hollywood; (b) show scenes from almost the entire movie, thus giving away much of the plot; (c) add in some thrilling music (just use the same sounds from the last one you did). TADA! Nine out of ten times the trailer is scarier and more intense than the movie itself. But what is The Messengers about, anyway? Well, it involves one or more of the following: a scary house, ghosts, children who know things, stupid adults. Coming February 2nd, as an antidote to Valentine's season. Wake me when it premieres on HBO. C-

Shrek the Third

Disclaimer: I've never been a huge fan of the first two Shrek movies. Yes, there have been some funny moments (more in the first than in the second), but it's all too... recycled and produced for mass-consumption. They have completely wasted the talents of Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy. There is just nothing very original or noteworthy about them. It's hard not to compare the Shrek franchise to Pixar, but it's not even contest. Shrek is the poor man's Pixar. That being said... if you like Shrek, then it looks like you are also going to like Shrek the Third. Pretty much the entire cast of characters is back from the leads on down to the minorest of minor. More of anything and everything was the motto behind this preview. And -WAIT- it looks like there will be a baby added (obviously not taking a cue from one of the most important TV comedy commandments - adding a kid is a quick way to "jump the shark"). Will bigger be better? You can find out on May 18th. C+



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