Trailers of the Week: Wanderlust, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and We Bought a Zoo

Wanderlust (February 24, 2012)

Silver: Wanderlust’s plot is so simple that even if you turned the sound off on the trailer you’d still be able to piece together the narrative. But like any good comedy, it’s all in the execution. Luckily here we have super producer Judd Apatow, director/co-writer David Wain (Role Models, Wet Hot American Summer), and a veritable who’s who of performers from the alternative (but now mainstream) comedy world. But for all this, Wanderlust’s trailer is not that funny. Let’s hope this is just the marketers trying to paint the film as a broad comedy, and that Wanderlust delivers better than just trite R. Kelly jokes and recycled “awkward conversations while on the toilet” scenes.

Browne: Fun fact: I was in the library and had to watch this trailer on mute, and I still know exactly how this movie is going to play out. I’m surprisingly excited.

We Need to Talk About Kevin (December 9)

Browne: I can’t wait to see this movie. At 1:15 p.m. in a fully lit theater with six of my closest friends holding my hands and/or writing me notes saying “Everything’s going to be okay.” This looks terrifyingly fantastic. Basically, Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly have a kid and, for one reason or another, Tilda and her son don’t exactly see eye to eye (understatement of the century). I’m too spooked right now, Dan please shed some light on this movie. My hands are shaking. #NeverHavingKidsWithJohnCReilly

Silver: The Rosemary’s Baby-meets-The Omen vibe is very off-putting. So yeah, I’m all in on this one.

Safe House (February 10, 2012)

Silver: A CIA operative (Ryan Reynolds) and his prisoner (Denzel Washington) take to the streets of South Africa after their safe house is attacked. The trailer paints a picture of a very familiar-looking action thriller that surely contains some twists and surprises. What it does not provide is any indication as to why Oscar winner Denzel Washington and nominee Vera Farmiga would appear in a film with box-office albatross Ryan Reynolds.

Browne: This has everything I want in a trailer: Denzel, Violent Denzel, Captured Denzel, Graying Denzel, Arrogant Denzel, Smiling Denzel, Wise Denzel, Sweating Denzel, Life-Lessons Denzel, Squinting Denzel, Running Denzel, Gun-Toting Denzel, Driving Denzel, Malcolm X-looking Denzel, and the first track off of Watch the Throne. I think Ryan Reynolds is also in the film.

Project X (March 2, 2012)

Silver: After years of secrecy, audiences finally get their first glimpse at this Todd Phillips (The Hangover)-produced comedy. The trailer starts out playing on the found-footage conventions, but then devolves into a house-party montage with too-old-for-high-school-looking actresses acting suggestively. Then the “Yes, and …” improv rule takes over — geeks get the girls, yes, and the party gets out of control, yes, and a guy with a flame-thrower shows up, yes, and a car is driven into a pool … — and we’re left with something that feels like a hyperbolic version of Phillips’s own documentary Frat House.

Browne: If his trailer makes you envious, may I recommend high school and then college?

ParaNorman (August 17, 2012)

Browne: Not only was 2009 arguably the best year in the history of animated films (Up!, Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox), it was also the year I stopped being a loser and re-proclaimed my love for animation. From the makers of Coraline comes ParaNorman, a film about a boy named Norman who can speak to the dead and, following a zombie uprising, must save his town. If it’s not Thriller, I’m usually not trying to deal with things of the zombie persuasion, but this looks fantastic. Do I understand what’s going on in this trailer? No. Why bats are flying out of teddy bears’ mouths and rolls of toilet paper are attacking him while he’s trying to number-two? Not a clue. What I do know is that it looks quite good. The trailer uses a Donovan song and the grandma is voiced by my GIRL Elaine Stritch, so it’s probably going to be great.

Silver: Dropping the audio in favor of “Season of the Witch” is an inspired choice, and Coraline was excellent. This should be a good one.

The Innkeepers (February 3, 2012)

Silver: For a film that purports to be a horror-thriller, The Innkeepers‘ trailer contains few scares. The preview establishes the film’s ridiculous premise — on a spooky hotel’s closing weekend, the innkeepers try to make contact with the spirit of the woman who killed herself there — and employs almost all the standard horror-trailer clichés. The most frightening moment comes at 1:13, with the reveal of Top Gun’s Kelly McGillis as the hotel’s “creepy lady.” It’s certainly been a long time since this.

Browne: Although I embarrassingly disagree that this trailer contains “very few scares,” for fans of fright/those of you who sleep without a nightlight, you will probably be disappointed.

Shame (December 2)

Browne: Although I think it’s blasphemous that director Steve McQueen hasn’t changed his name yet, he is very good at his job. For December’s Shame, he reunites with Michael Fassbender for a film about a guy that looks like Michael Fassbender, so he can and does sleep with everyone he wants. Then, his sister (played by Carey Mulligan) moves in and seemingly ruins all the fun. I’m assuming, because this is a movie, this lifestyle catches up to him and he either changes his ways or dies. Either way, I’m excited. The Fassbender has been my boy since Inglourious Basterds and I’m excited to see if he can carry an entire movie on his Winklevossian shoulders.

Silver: From the looks of it, this might be the first film to break the “rated NC-17” box office curse. Come awards time, could this be another Midnight Cowboy (which was originally released with an X rating)?

We Bought a Zoo (December 23)

Silver: We Bought a Zoo’s first trailer was a tonally disjointed string of overly heartfelt moments that played so sappy it should have been bottled and sold as a breakfast condiment. So after almost six years away from mainstream filmmaking, the skepticism meter for Cameron Crowe’s latest was at 11. With the release of this international trailer, that meter should be dialed back to a comfortable five and fears should begin to subside. Although there are worrisome moments (Damon’s quitting scene feels very Maguire-ish), here the Crowe-ian beats are given slightly more context and room to resonate. And the new music choice for the second half of the trailer is probably a better indicator of the film’s true tenor.

Browne: I knew the title was We Bought a Zoo and I was still surprised he ended up buying a zoo. That’s not a good thing.

Filed Under: Project X, Shame, Trailers of the Week, We Bought a Zoo

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert