Trailer Hitch for June 19, 2003

By Zach Kolkin


8. Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat

Am I the only one who thinks that Mike Myers' title character looks rather scary and disturbing? I swear, this Cat does not look nearly as friendly as the one I remember from my childhood (though perhaps this is simply a reaction to the Cat's completely inappropriate lusting after the mother). So far, this film is looking like a huge disappointment. The trailer is completely unfunny, and although you would expect to see Myers' feline mug all over the screen in order to get kids all excited about the film, its barely seen in this preview (maybe because it's so damn scary). While I was expecting a very good preview that was sure to get everyone excited for this eagerly- anticipated adaptation, this entire ad is unfortunately one big letdown.

7. Open Range

Ah, the perils of a Kevin Costner movie. While Costner looks to be his normal wooden self in this new film set on the American frontier (would it kill you to put a little emotion into your lines, Kevin?), his costar, Robert Duvall, appears to have caught the overacting bug. I can't help but chuckle when Duvall angrily states that something "sticks in his craw", and somehow I don't think this is the reaction I'm supposed to have. The plot is murky at best; apparently Costner and Duvall play two cowboys who do their herding on open land, much to the chagrin of those settlers who have actually…well, who have actually settled. Costner's romance with historic America is apparently undying, and clearly the senseless loss of hours of audience's lives is not enough to stop him from continuing to act -- poor word choice, I know -- on his passion.

6. Grind

With the x-plosion of x-treme sports (sorry, I couldn't help myself) into mainstream culture and entertainment over the past decade or so, it was only a matter of time before a movie entirely about skateboarding got made. The film essentially looks like a testosterone-injected version of Blue Crush on wheels, featuring a bunch of guys giggling at farts, ogling girls (there's almost as much T&A in this trailer as Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle), and generally trying to make asses of themselves. What more could any guy want, right? The ad is actually pretty dull, and though the movie seems to have the right idea, this trailer might amazingly be too stupid for its own good. We can hope, anyway.

5. Once Upon a Time in the Midlands

This trailer elicited quite a mixed response from me. On one hand, I liked the humor and tone of all the "Back when." bits. On the other hand, I didn't really feel like I got a very good sense of what the movie was really about in this preview. The film appears to be a sort of light drama, but there really was not enough of the actual plot that was shown. Unfortunately, I think this trailer suffers mainly due to the film's lack of a concrete genre. The movie isn't funny enough to have a preview filled with a bunch of hysterical gags, nor is it poignant enough to warrant a full blown tearjerker trailer. Hopefully the film itself does not suffer from these confused identity issues.

4. Masked and Anonymous

Bob Dylan returns to the cinema in this utterly bizarre film about…well, actually I really couldn't tell you what it's about. The one bit of information I managed to glean from the trailer was that its last line ("I stopped trying to figure everything out a long time ago") is probably the most telling. From the film's quirkiness, as well as its huge ensemble cast, one would think this was Robert Altman's latest, but this is not the case. In the sea of familiar faces, the spotlight is clearly on Dylan's. This film will probably interest most with the simple novelty of seeing Bob Dylan in a movie, and the trailer certainly does a good job of targeting that audience. However, for those who could care less about Dylan's presence, I can't imagine that the trailer will have that much appeal.

3. The Runaway Jury

Amazingly, it has been six years since one of John Grisham's novels was last adapted for the big screen. This latest book-to-movie looks to continue the trend of the earlier films by featuring a high profile cast, which this time includes Dustin Hoffman, John Cusack, and Gene Hackman. The film itself looks rather similar to a number of Grisham's other stories, dealing with the secretive and powerful figures who pull the strings behind the scenes in the courtroom. Although this is certainly not the most exciting trailer ever, it sets up the story nicely and establishes itself clearly. Audiences' appetites for legal thrillers do not seem to have waned any in the past half-decade, and I would imagine this film is heading towards modest fall box office success.

2. Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star

Adam Sandler's altruism strikes again with this latest film starring David Spade, casting him as a former child actor who has lost all his popularity and is determined to relive the childhood he missed the first time around. In all honesty, this film actually looks light years better than Spade's last film, Joe Dirt. The scene with Spade eating dinner and shooting the breeze with a bunch of real-life child stars was a great idea. Other gags were surprisingly funny as well, particularly Spade's first encounter with a Slip'n'Slide. Although I absolutely would not have expected it, Dickie Roberts looks like it could end up being one of the better (though perhaps "more tolerable" is a safer choice of words) SNL cast member films of the past few years.

1. Washington Heights

I am constantly fascinated by the enormity of New York City, an issue that comes up in this fantastic preview for the indie film Washington Heights. When the voiceover (done by the main character, a touch that adds a great deal of personality and intimacy to the trailer) talks about a neighborhood so close geographically to midtown Manhattan but so far away culturally, it takes me a second to realize just how true this statement is. I imagine others must feel similarly, since this film's intent seems to be to provide a picture of life in this other world of Washington Heights. It appears that this goal is achieved quite successfully, as the film looks to be full of emotion and personality. The acting performances look to be excellent as well. I would hope this film gains a wider release than its current limited run in New York City, but if it doesn't, I will certainly look forward to seeing it on DVD.



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