Trailers of the Week: Life of Pi, Stoker, Paranormal Activity 4, and More

Identity Thief (February 8 )

Silver: I can’t think of another performer who had a breakout year like Melissa McCarthy did in 2011. I also can’t think of another performer who wouldn’t have seized upon that success and rushed into cash and any starring role offered to them. McCarthy went back to her day job on her CBS sitcom, took a small role in Judd Apatow’s upcoming This Is 40, and, smartly knowing that she still may not be ready to carry an entire film, took the co-lead in Identity Thief. Now here’s the bad news: Identity Thief looks pretty terrible. The film feels like a tossed-aside sitcom premise, extended and stuffed to fit 90 minutes of screen time. I love Jason Bateman, but outside of Michael Bluth, he’s pretty much emptied his tank on the ne’er-do-well-pushed-to-the-brink role (I much prefer him as the snarky, smarmy, and dickish guy). At least McCarthy isn’t playing her role as a retread of Megan from Bridesmaids. The only genuine laughs I got from this trailer were when McCarthy throat-punched Bateman … twice. Because who doesn’t love throat punches? Even if this film is a turd, if it gets McCarthy back hosting SNL, then we all win.

Browne: I’m still pretty bummed out that Horrible Bosses has a sequel on the way, so for me, leading with “from the director of Horrible Bosses” wasn’t an ideal way to ease into this trailer. I think it might be funnier than you think, Silver, but when it comes down to it, how long can the audience really be invested in a cat-and-mouse chase between Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy?

Paranormal Activity 4 (October 19)

Silver: If the people at the end of the Paranormal Activity movies weren’t all dead, some documentary producer should hire them. These people have their cameras on all the time, and they certainly know a thing or two about framing. Boo.

Browne: I’m going to see this. In theaters. Alone. I’m tired of being a coward. I don’t know what it is about this scary film versus the other 100 I’ve vowed never to touch, but go figure, the fourth installment of Paranormal Activity has got me interested.

Side note: Possessed children are the most terrifying thing ever created by God and/or Satan.

Stoker (March 1)

Silver: “Personally speaking, I can’t wait to watch life tear you apart.” Said the mother to her own daughter. And when uttered by Nicole Kidman (who looks like she’s back in fighting shape), these callous words signal that Stoker is not your typical horror thriller. I would have been sold on Stoker simply if the title card “From the visionary director of Oldboy” was all that appeared onscreen, but this 2:28 teases a unique tonal and visual experience. Goode and Wasikowska’s performances are sufficiently cold and vapid, and complement Kidman’s Ice Queen nicely. In all honesty, I’d forgotten this film was coming, so this trailer was a nice surprise. Based on this first look, I don’t think it’ll disappoint.

Browne: Any movie that centers around people spying on each other as they do bad things, typically within the confines of a single home, is something I want to see. Rampant paranoia? I’m in. Creepy family members? Yes, please. Incest? Duh. This film looks great.

Price Check (TBD)

Silver: Where has this Parker Posey been the last decade? Has Price Check been sitting in a time capsule since the late ’90s? I can’t wait to say how much I want to see this film, miss it in the theater, add it to my Netflix queue, then drop it down so I can get the DVD of Here Comes the Boom first, and then delete it from the queue because the interest in the film is gone. Can’t wait.

Browne: Between this trailer and her appearance on Louie, I’m pretty sure 2012 will either go down as the year Parker Posey took over the world, or the year a giant meteor hit Earth, completely overshadowing Parker Posey’s comeback. Either way, PP IS INVOLVED.

Life of Pi — Trailer No. 2 (November 21)

Silver: I’ll take it as a good sign for Life of Pi that my Sherlock Holmes–esque powers of movie trailer deduction sensed traces of two other spiritually uplifting films: Beasts of the Southern Wild and We Bought a Zoo. Now wouldn’t it be great if in an after-credits sequence Pi’s boat floats past Hushpuppy’s?

Browne: This movie essentially looks like an iTunes visualizer with a plot. I’ll probably see it 100 times.

Fat Kids Rule the World (TBD)

Silver: Directed by Matthew Lillard? What? Why is that credit buried at the end of this trailer? I would have been much less willing to unwarrantedly deride this seeming retreat of emo-indie fluff if I’d known Stu from Scream directed it. It still may be all those things, but I’m always open to seeing an actor’s first foray behind the camera. Sometimes you get Whip It (Drew Barrymore’s almost unmatchable rookie outing), and sometimes you get Frailty (Bill Paxton’s disturbing and well-crafted first film).

Browne: This is an episode of MTV’s MADE in film form. I’m sure I’ve seen this episode three times. These are not insults. MADE is one notch below the American Dream.

The Comedy (October 23 — iTunes / November 9 — Theaters)

Silver: Although they did not write or direct The Comedy, it’s easy to forget that this film is not a Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (better known as Tim and Eric) production, since they’re both so prevalently featured. Being a fan of their irreverent, surrealist comedy, it’s evident that their sense of humor really thrives when it’s bucking conventional expectations (see their Absolut Vodka short film/ads), so instead of Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, which is a much more conventional (at least for them) silly spoof of Hollywood and the “comedy genre,” I feel they would have been staying truer to form with this emo-dissection of the human condition. I did dig this trailer, though. I liked its vibe, and it’s nice to see that James Murphy is keeping himself busy.

Browne: I’m very excited for this film to get super heavy at the drop of a dime. In the same vein as a Bamboozled, this film seems as if it will lure you in with comedy and then — BOOM — you’re questioning your place in the cosmos. Yes, it’s just one trailer, but this one got me like few have this year.

Filed Under: Life of Pi, Trailers of the Week

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert