Thursday, February 20, 2014

Melissa McCarthy and the Guardians of the Galaxy Rock Out to Oldies in This Week's Trailer Reviews

This week we have a few trailers to pictures that are on many movie sites most anticipated of the year. We also have some trailers to pictures you probably will just be hearing about for the first time today. But I'm trying to get you to read this, so let's focus on the stuff you might already be giddy about. Speaking of which. . .

Tammy (July 2/Wide) - Teaser



Christopher: This was one of the pictures that I've been eagerly anticipating without having seen the trailer. Though that anticipation was followed with little specks of apprehension. After seeing this teaser, I have to admit that I'm a little split on it.

The actual trailer looks hilarious, and I'm sure it will turn out to be a movie with some incredibly funny moments. I love Melissa McCarthy trying to keep the one employee at bay by aiming her hand that was making a gun sign and the poor bewildered employee bringing that to her attention. McCarthy acting like she was truly touched that the guy asked if she liked apple flavoured pies was pretty delicious, as was her saluting the guy after announcing he was a vet. The woman has incredible comic talent, and she made even fumbling with a wooden spoon hilarious. I also loved seeing Sarah Baker in this trailer as she was quite funny in the short-lived sitcom Go On and so hopefully, she has a chance to strut her stuff a bit here too.

My concern with this picture is that it is McCarthy once again playing the rough around the edges type who isn't so bright. She is getting typecast, when she has proven she can do more than this character with a few special moments in her previous pictures. The more unsettling thing here is McCarthy co-wrote this screenplay with her husband who is also directing. It appears she also thinks these are the movie she is meant to do. Now, Tom Hanks once has a certain type of character he always played as did Jim Carrey, and so there is hope she'll eventually break-out to new roles. I just hope she does it before her star start to fall.

This teaser actually doesn't even show the stuff I'm most excited about. The story is that Tammy goes on a road trip with her foul-mouthed and diabetic grandmother who is played by Susan Sarandon. I am over the moon giddy about Sarandon having such a role, because movies like Bull Durham have proven she is a really under-appreciated comic talent. A look at the casting also promises talents like Kathy Bates and Allison Janney who also are hilarious. This really has great chance to be a really funny movie, but also has the talent to add dramatic depth in the right spots when needed. Consider this the comedy I am most excited about this summer.

Scott: Chris and I have talked many times about the career trajectory of Melissa McCarthy and our hopes that she will one day be able to branch out and do different types of roles. Do not get me wrong, I laugh until my stomach hurts when I see her movies, but there is an underlying talent in there that could do a wide range of movies, me thinks. I imagine that when she has established herself enough she will be able to try out some different things without tarnishing her brand. Hanks was well into his career before Philadelphia, and Adam Sandler was a number of movies deep before Punch Drunk Love. I believe she can get there eventually.

For me, I cannot stop giggling when she is trying to use the wooden spoon. I have had my adventures with wooden spoons before (mostly revolving around spattering sauces), but never one of the caliber that is in this trailer. Of course, because this is showing events from one contained scene, there is a possibility that the rest of the film could be pure crap, but I am doubting that. I am sure that even if I don’t walk away from this film completely recommending it to people, I know I will have had my laughs and gotten my money’s worth.

Joe (April 11/Limited) - Trailer #1



Christopher: In my review of the initial international trailer, I'd already talked at length about Nicholas Cage and Director David Gordon Green and how I hope this picture can be a huge boost for both artists' careers. I won't tread over that ground but instead mention that this is one of those rare times that the second trailer actually increases my interest and they effectively showed more about the picture without making it feel like they spoiled the best parts. This time the trailer makes the picture seem more focused on the Cage character, which probably should have been a given considering it is named after him, but the initial trailer made it feel more like a dark coming-of-age tale with Tye Sheridan being a major focus while Joe being more of the father type. This time around it looks to be more about Joe being torn about trying to stay out of prison while also being the dark avenger for Sheridan's poor abused boy. The little bits of the trailer already show Cage being able to tackle a complicated character and have the opportunity to emote a wide variety of feelings. This looks to be a dark dramatic thriller type that hopefully offers up a diverse array of complicated characters. It is essentially a picture that harkens back to earlier stages in Green's career. Consider me very stoked for this one, and really hoping it turns out be a revitalization for Cage.

Scott: I may be considered an outsider for this fact, but I get very excited over Nicolas Cage playing complex characters in reeled in performances. I am completely going to parrot Chris in saying this second trailer did nothing but raise the level of excitement that I have in seeing this movie. When Cage is unrestrained, it gets a bit crazy, but in the proper, focused roles the man can deliver incredibly nuanced performances. Throw in Tye Sheridan, and we got ourselves a stew going. For a young actor, Sheridan is able to portray a lot of mature emotions and create characters that feel vivid and real. As far as I am concerned, he had better be building a shelf to display the Oscars that he will one day be winning.

Think Like a Man Too (June 20/Wide)



Christopher: The original picture was a surprise hit from 2012 that was based on Steve Harvey's bestseller Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. This time around Kevin Hart is an even bigger star than he was the first time around, so I'm sure he'll get even more focus. Hart is a lot like McCarthy is that he is red hot at the box office, but he also has been pigeon holed into a specific type of role. A role that often times is quite funny, but if that is all he does then the backlash will rear its ugly head sooner than studios would hope or expect.

The one thing that makes me optimistic is that Hart and Regina Hall's banter and ability to play off each other was the best part of About Last Night. It looks like the two will be the leaders of their respective factions thus lots of chance for them to interact and war. The downside is that this trailer really isn't very funny and makes it all seem like a very generic party in Vegas comedy. I must confess that Hart's gag about Oz got a strong laugh out of me, but it is rather scary if that turns out to be the funniest part of the movie.

Another interesting note is that Director Tim Story looks to be building a relationship with Hart. He has directed both Man pictures but was also behind the camera for Ride Along. He may currently be set for some decent success at the box office and I'm sure this will do fine, but the quality may be the harder thing to land.

Scott: Kevin Hart, the owner of season one of Oz, looks to continue his reign of supremacy in the box office. I have some mixed feelings about this trailer… it looks like it could be funny at times, but it looks like a lot of the jokes could fall flat on the floor. I have a feeling by looking at it that it is a very rushed sequel that could leave people staying at home. I felt the same way about Grown Ups 2, so what the heck do I know? I am guessing that it will be a box office success, and a film that gets panned by critics. I really need to see something different from future trailers to get any kind of personal excitement going for this film.

A Birder's Guide to Everything (March 21/Limited & March 11/VOD)



Christopher: I've got an extreme soft spot for coming-of-age stories, especially ones with quirky and awkward protagonists that have alienating and uncool hobbies that they're obsessed about. It likely has something to do with the fact it rings just the right amount of truth back to my own childhood and teen years, but also the outcast always brings a stronger authenticity to the teenage experience. Deep down I think we all felt a little out of sorts during those years, and even if we were the jock or cheerleader (but really probably most reading this site weren't) that there were those moments we felt on the outside looking in. I loved the scene with the guy so obsessed with his club that he was ready to kick out the person for not taking it serious enough or possibly using it to land a girl. I remember that kind of guy who wanted to rule over the club that was far too geeky, but to him it was the world. This picture looks like it might strike the right balance of the obsessions that helps one try to find self, but also just the natural teenage things like crushing on the cute girl.

Ben Kingsley is just about great in everything he is in. I love him as the bird obsessed guy who is sort of competing but also trying to team with the group of boys. I also forgot to mention that I love that the group of boys are adamant that they're birders rather than bird watchers. But let's get back to the cast, because it is a great young cast. Katie Chang proved she had some great subtle comic timing in The Bling Ring and this time around will be playing a totally different character but one that still seems to have a confidence and presence. I loved Kodi Smit-McPhee as the outsider boy who befriends a vampire in Let Me In, and he is likely on the brink of well-deserved stardom with his starring role in the upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

I'm very excited about this picture, because it seems to have all the right elements for an honest, sweet, and funny coming-of-age story. It will likely be a pain to try to track down this year if the goal is to see it on the big screen. Luckily, this is a film that works just as well on the small screen, and should much easier to find thanks to accessibility of video-on-demand.

Scott: This trailer makes it appear as though it is a delightful little film that can capture the heart of youth striving for their passions while up against the grown up world. Call it a bad comparison, but it reminded me a bit of Stand By Me in the fact that it is a quest that the group of young friends are on while trying to save the purity of the event from the older folk. Perhaps I am just grasping at things with that comparison, but it made sense to me.

Kingsley is the man. One of my favourite bit roles from 2013 was his performance in Iron Man 3, as we got to see a mad hilarity come out of his performance as The Mandarin. It looks like his role will be almost that of mentor and obstacle to the kids by bringing in the older birders. I think this film could do well at creating youngsters that people can relate to and root for, while providing some fun in a quirky setting.

Jodorowsky's Dune (March 7/Limited)



Christopher: I'm a big fan of getting peeks into the creative process. I also like looking at the long list of "what could have been" pictures. Jodorowsky's version of Dune could have been one of the biggest pictures that never came to fruition for numerous reasons. The intriguing part is that the initial stages of this picture started three years before Star Wars. If things went as planned then this could have been the giant tentpole that launched sci-fi blockbusters into a new direction. It had the added value of being a bestselling classic that would have had a huge fanbase eager to gobble up this picture. Instead, the world had to settles for the far less ambitious and horribly muddled David Lynch version in 1984.

The storyboards and plans of the picture are pretty impressive. It is cool seeing the influences of the picture that never existed on later ones. H.R, Giger ended up taking a lot of the visuals from this movie and incorporating it into Alien, which then left an impact on future sci-fi. Based off the casting that included the likes of David Carradine (who would have been a star in the mid-70s), Mick Jagger, and an older Orson Welles there is just as a good chance that this turned into a train-wreck. It really is the ambition and the scope that makes this never-made picture so curious and compelling. It should be a fun piece of forgotten cinematic history that looks at a king of the midnight movies trying to make an innovative and genre-changing picture.

Scott: Ha ha, I am glad Chris brought up the fact that the movie could have been a train wreck if it came out, because when they were talking about casting I was really scratching my head. Getting Wells on board by promising him his chef every day while on set sounds similar to Christopher Plummer taking the role in Star Crash because it meant he got to be in Italy for a few days.

I do not know much about the history behind this, but it is the type of trailer that builds interest despite my ignorance. It looks like a very rich story at a turning point in sci-fi, and it could have drastically shaped the cinematic landscape if it had actually been shot. The imagination and detail that are involved show a mind that was able to create an entire universe, and getting a glimpse into that, as well as the behind the scenes stuff makes me very interested to see this documentary.

Unbroken (December 25/Wide)



Christopher: 2014 is turning out to be a huge year for Angelina Jolie fans as she returns both to acting and at the end of the year, directing. I really like how they composed this trailer because it felt like a mini-doc rather than an advertisement. Obviously, it was a trailer designed to sell a wide release picture, but it was effective in disguising the selling while feeling more like informing. I think it would be pretty cool if they embedded some snippets of Louise Zamperini recounting his trials in Japan along with the acted out bits of the event. I'd trust Jolie's hand enough to avoid it from feeling like America Most Wanted and more like Touching of the Void that effectively used a similar approach if this is the route chosen.

I wouldn't totally discount a hybrid style of filmmaking like that since one of the Jolie's previous films she directed was a documentary. Based off the trailer and how they made it almost feel like Jolie was still at work, I'd say this is going to be a more traditional style picture. The marketing really does seem to try to point towards authenticity and focus on historical accuracy. Not that will actually turn out to be the reality. I'm intrigued to see how they tell this story, and considering how much time Jolie takes in between pictures, I think this has a lot of potential to be special.

Scott: Some things are a hit, and some things are a miss… this trailer is a miss for me. While Chris likes the way it was packaged, it almost felt a little too overly sentimental to me and that it is really trying to establish itself as a legendary inspirational story. I really would like to see a straight up trailer for this film, because I just could not get into the presentation of this one. I think there are lot of elements in the tale that could make for a great story, but too much of an emotional punch inserted can create issues with rich source material, such as I found with Lone Survivor and Saving Mr. Banks. I have a feeling that this is a passion project for Jolie, so I hope that I am just reading this all wrong and that it ends up being a great film.

In Fear (March 7/Limited & VOD)



Christopher: As domestic horror pictures have become stale and formulaic, it is the foreign market that has been crafting original and unsettling scary movies that are reshaping the genre. The last few years have brought us several almost instant cult hits. There have been two main types, such as the out-right-wacky-and-insane that is heaped with dollops of black humour such as Rabies, and the straight out unsettling and creepy pictures that this one seems to fall under.

Solely based off the trailer, this looks like a disturbing picture that is very patient in the storytelling and relying heavy on atmosphere rather than jump scares. I'm sure things will go bump in the night as well. I like the idea of the secret tormentor and how it appears they've stumbled upon some labyrinthine trap. The tension looks like it will slowly be built up until the tormentors and their purpose will finally be revealed. I also like the idea that the action and situations unnerve the protagonists so much that they start accusing each other. It has been a long time since I've seen a horror picture that has effectively used the device of the characters naturally turning on each other based off them becoming unraveled by the tense events. As long as this doesn't start serving up some wacky villain reveals or strays towards torture porn then we may have a fresh and original horror picture to enjoy this year. I'll need to invest in light night after seeing this, as I thought it was a good idea to live in a wooded neighbourhood with winding roads.

Scott: It is odd just how similarly Chris and I view things sometimes… sometimes, that is. He got all excited about seeing R.I.P.D. from the trailer, while I got all excited about seeing Captain Phillips from the second trailer they put out… which one of us are you going to believe? Also, after we have seen certain movies our views can get very different, but in this case it is quite the same. This movie looks like it knows how to take its time and bring about a slow and mysterious build in a film, and proves that there are much more interesting things happening in the world of horror than we find in the North American box office.

While the director of the film is doing their first feature film, the two producers are very experienced from working on films like The World’s End, Attack the Block, and Hot Fuzz, which makes me feel that this should be a pretty tight film. There were times during this trailer where I could feel the suspense growing within me, so I have some hopes that this movie will be able to deliver from start to finish.

Locke (April 25/Limited)



Christopher: I'm always a bit hesitant on a trailer that spends more time throwing out quotes disguised as accolades rather than actually showing me what warrants what I'm reading. This doesn't mean Locke isn't worthy of the army of praises that were trotted out. As far as I can tell, it is a story about one man going insane on his car ride home. The synopsis mentions how one phone call causes Ivan Locke's good life to unravel and he now must try to salvage it on this car ride. I'm hoping the end game doesn't just turn out it is all imagined, because I'm definitely getting the "art house picture relying on a twist that explains everything but makes everything prior useless now" vibe.

I could very well be completely wrong, but the trailer doesn't give me much. I realize this is being billed as a teaser, and so the point is more just subtle hints to the plot rather than unveil the whole thing. I've also talked at length in the past how annoying it is when studios give away the entire plot in their promotional material. This is kind of the other extreme, because I'm just not really hooked by what I see. It just feels like too many other indy pictures that are trying to be deep, trippy and profound without anything all that intriguing to drive the story. Right now it feels all concept over story. There is one thing I'm intrigued about, which is Tom Hardy being thrown into a film where he'll like need to emote and show range. I love it when actors stretch themselves, and if this ends up being a strong script, this could be the eye-opening movie for Hardy. I'm just hesitant based off what has been shown.

Scott: With all of those excerpts from reviews popping up on the screen, I decided to check it out and make sure they were not making it all up or taking it out of context. After doing a bit of snooping, it looks like people really are digging this film, and I tried not to read too much of the reviews because I would rather know little about a movie that I have not seen. I get the feeling that there is some interesting story telling going on here, but that comes more from what I have read than what I have seen. I suppose that does not really comment on the content of the trailer, but the trailer leaves everything extremely vague.

Personally, I am quite intrigued as it sounds like it is almost a one man show from Tom Hardy. He didn’t exactly steal the show from Batman, but that was partially because he was hard to understand from behind his mask. I think it would have been a fine touch to the movie if he had to continually repeat what he was saying and have to start talking slowly so people could catch his drift. I am going down a bunny trail right now, so I best pull it together and leave it at the fact that I am interested, but more from what I have read than from the execution of the trailer.

Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1/Wide)



Christopher: And this lady and gentlemen is one of the most anticipated trailers of the year. One that has had so much build-up it even had a short teaser trailer this week to promote this version that finally premiered Tuesday night during Jimmy Kimmel Live! Much of the eagerness comes from Marvel really building itself a rep as the must-see blockbuster studio that has successfully linked all their pictures ever since the first Iron Man. The teases started for this one back during The Avengers stinger that debuted Thanos (the one that wasn't about shawarma) and then ramped up with the Thor: The Dark World that introduced us to Benicio Del Toro's character The Collector (with enough ambiguity that people are still debating if he is the villain or not). The other major thing that has pumped up the excitement for this picture is that it will be entirely different than what at this point has been mainly superhero pictures set mostly on Earth. This time around the buzz has been that this will turn out closer to being a space opera in the vein of Star Wars.

Based off the pre-trailer talk, I'm going to predict this trailer turned out far different than many of the expectations. This far more tongue-in-cheek and campy than anything Marvel has put out since becoming the summer movie king. I am not familiar with the source material so I am unaware how loyal this has turned out. I was sort of expecting something close to this not only because there is a raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper or a giant walking vegetation thing but it is being directed by James Gunn.

He has largely eschewed mainstream pictures before this with his only real wide release picture being the horror-comedy pastiche Slither. His pictures feel like they'd be quite at home during the midnight movies era of the '60s and '70s with their schlocky and exploitative tendencies. I'm sure studios stayed close by to keep it friendly and as mainstream as possible, but based off the trailer that has been cut here, I think they wanted something tonally and stylistically different than the previous pictures. I'm going to be optimistic that Disney knew what they were getting here.

It may very likely aim for the scope and visuals of a Star Wars, but the feel and writing will be drastically different. For one thing, it is already clear it will be taking itself far less serious. This picture reminds me more of something like The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension or the numerous other bigger budget, stylized B-films of the late '70s and early '80s that creeped out after Star Wars (if I mention this picture one more time I get a free bag of popcorn). The language and characters in this trailer are far less spawned from Greek mythology and King Arthurian legend (like Star Wars -- mmm, popcorn) but rather far more designed to be subversive and jar you out of what you expect from the set designs.

The trailer itself is declaring this a picture that will have continental sized tonal shifts and likely aim to be the anti-big budget blockbuster by flipping off the comfortable formula and rules. This likely is going to be something like The Lone Ranger where the plot tangles in many directions and freely jumps into different genres and feels throughout. I'm expecting and hoping for a picture that is both ambitious and challenging but also at the same time feels fluffy and ridiculous. After several years of well produced and shiny pictures that look spectacular and largely play it safe and are easy to swallow, it will be welcoming to have something so daring in its attempt to shake us and the cinematic landscape a bit. This should feel different and fresh, and even if it fall flat on its face, it'll at least be something very counter to most other straightforward and by-the-numbers blockbusters

My final take away from this trailer is that I have a slight crush on Chris Pratt. His character calling himself the Star Lord and slightly annoyed no one else seems to want to play ball is great fun. He brings the right type of performance and feel to what I'm expecting this picture is aiming towards. I really hope the Marvel name is enough to bring out the audience, because I want this man to be a star.

Scott: I really do live out of the loop of pop culture sometimes, as I know very little about Guardians of the Galaxy or why it is so anticipated. Part of that could be because I generally don’t give a rat’s ass about comic book movies, so why in the world would I care that another one was being made? There is something to this trailer, however, that makes me think there could be some great fun in there, almost with a Joss Whedon feel at times. My favourite part of the film was the fact that ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ was prominently featured. Some people may know it primarily as a Blue Swede song, but people should be quick to check out the rockin’ music video for David Hasselhoff’s version. If you have seen it, then you should check out the literal version… much fun to be had.

Okay, back to what I was supposed to be writing about. Can you tell that it is getting late and I am tired while I am writing this? I really cannot seem to stay on track. All I want to do is talk about how I would love it if Nathan Fillion was in this film. I think he would rock it out of the park, but it looks like Chris Pratt will do a fine and dandy job as is. There was some good humour in this trailer, as well as some moments of some great looking special effects in what may end up being an entertaining piece of eye candy. My interest is rising, but perhaps not even close to the same level as many other people out there.

Tyler Perry's The Single Moms Club (March 14/Wide)



Christopher: The people who love Tyler Perry movies have probably already bought their tickets. The people who don't like him then probably feel the exact same way I did about this trailer: confused over those fans existing.

Scott: Well, after Chris wrote so little, it is now my time to shine. This trailer did not really remind me of anything, so I guess that is good. I am currently trying to remember the trailer (which I watched only a minute ago) and cannot recall a thing, so I guess that is bad. How is it possible that I was able to forget something so quickly? Just sitting here and trying to mull over the situation, I already find myself very distracted. Partially I am thinking about the fact that Chris and I are going to see Pompeii on my dime, and wondering why the heck that ever came to be. I feel myself getting frustrated and upset at the mere mention of the film, and somehow I ended up convincing myself not to just go and spend the money, but to pay for another ticket as well so I don’t have to go alone. Remember how I mocked Chris earlier for R.I.P.D? Well, there is a good chance that I will be the one shouldering some blame when we go over our ‘worst of the year’ list at the end of 2014. You never know, we may come back and have something good to report, but the smart money is not on that happening as it looks like 300 mounted Gladiator and gave birth to a variant of Dante’s Peak. And with that, perhaps now is when I should stop writing and get some sleep.

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