Trailers of the Week: This is 40, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Brave and More

This is 40 (Christmas)

Silver: I find my complete indifference to this trailer vexing. For a film written and directed by Judd Apatow I feel like I should have been laughing more. Even the bits with Apatow ringers like Jason Segel and Melissa McCarthy only elicited a smile from me. In just three films (This is 40 being the fourth) Mr. Apatow has proven that he’s successfully stolen the melodrama torch away from Cameron Crowe (for the time being). Apatow makes such a concerted effort for his films to tonally and thematically slalom down the narrative hill between humor and drama that films like The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up felt unnecessarily long, and a film like Funny People played like two different movies. So for a trailer positioning a film as THE holiday comedy it would have been nice to have a few legitimate laugh-out-loud moments (“Ah! Kelly Clarkson!”). Nevertheless, I’m going to chalk this up to bad marketing, this is a film (and filmmaker) I am more than willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

Browne: So yeah, bad trailer. Maybe the least funny Apatow trailer I’ve ever seen. I just watched it five times in a row, and after some quick analysis, I think I know the two main reasons why:

  1. Bad song choice. Sure, it’s perfect for the message and the lyrics (“We Are Young”), but it’s sort of dull, which only works if the trailer isn’t dull. But the trailer’s dull. So it doesn’t work.
  2. Paul Rudd looks tired and uninterested. I can’t put my finger on it, but for the whole trailer, he had a look on his face like someone forced him to do this film. It’s almost as if he knows this isn’t as funny as the others. This is a weird light to see him in, because he’s usually so perfect. Very odd.

I did have a minor LOL moment, when the youngest daughter put her iPhone to her mouth, but that was pretty much it. I’m sure the movie will be good, based on it being Apatow and the gang, but I hope we’ve seen the worst of it. I really do.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (June 29)

Silver: The disappointment I’m feeling right now should have been expected. A 30-second Super Bowl spot piqued my interest, and my hopes were set for a fun, tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek summer actioner. One with the possibility to be a rare, obvious money-grab sequel that surpasses the original (Rush Hour 2, Blade 2). But alas, those hopes have been dashed, as it’s now clear that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is essentially a carbon copy of the first one. This time with The Rock and Bruce Willis delivering all the one-liners left on the cutting room floor of Fast Five and all the Die Hard films.

Browne: Wait, did we watch the same trailer? Are you sure you aren’t talking about Battleship or We Bought a Zoo, because the 2:53 I just saw looked awesome. I will admit, I never saw the first one, so maybe my excitement for the sequel makes sense. I’m assuming I can leap into the sequel without getting a full tutorial about what happened in the original, correct? Also, just to give another potentially embarrassing admission on my part, the career resurgence for Bruce Willis is something I fully support. Between this and Looper, he’s now becoming the obvious choice for “was the original badass, got out the game, and is now back.” Art imitates reality and I’m not mad at it.

Brave (June 22)

Silver: There are certain filmmakers like Wes Anderson, Woody Allen, Terry Gilliam, and Martin Scorsese whose style is so distinguishable that it can even be identified in a short trailer. Although PIXAR is a movie studio, and not a “filmmaker,” I’d argue that their films (maybe minus Cars and Cars 2) have all shared a distinctive sense of humor, a whimsical yet emotional tone, and intimate narratives played out on a grandiose scale. This brief 2:30 trailer contains all these elements (and glimpses at some pretty enticing action sequences), which lead me to believe that this is going to be yet another PIXAR classic.

Browne: I’ve said on numerous occasions that animated films just aren’t “my thing,” more often than not. I enjoy them, but don’t get as excited about that as I used to. HAVING SAID THAT, oh my goodness this film might take me back to near-Toy Story 3 levels of emotion. Actually, I don’t think anything can begin to wreck me as much as Toy Story 3, but considering I entertained the notion with Brave for about 10 seconds, that’s really saying something. I’m excited for this. Girl Power.

Lawless (August 31)

Silver: Lawless had me sold at the promise of seeing a quirkily accented Guy Pearce and crazy-eyed Gary Oldman wielding Tommy guns. And with an amazing cast rounded out by Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, and the cinematic equivalent of a brick shithouse (a.k.a. Tom Hardy), this film might wind up being great despite Shia LaBeouf’s obviously foolish attempt to act against anything other than a robot car. His dumfounded look and annoying teacup saucer eyes feel quite out of place without the necessary Bayhem rolling out in the background.

Browne: So Lawless did not have me excited from the jump, because I really try to maximize my non-Shia time whenever possible. His voice and face being the first thing you’re greeted with really seems like an act of terrorism, but as the trailer rolled on and it became more of the Tom Hardy show, I got into it. Really into it. I’m not a violent man, but as you mentioned, Silver, it’s hard to not smile when Gary Oldman is waving around a Tommy gun like it’s a handkerchief. So happy about that.

Ruby Sparks (July 25)

Silver: All those involved with Ruby Sparks can rest easy, I’m officially granting it my emo-indie film stamp of approval that I know they’ve so desperately been wanting. Quips aside, Ruby Sparks looks like an intriguing counter offer to the typical summer fare. It’s the first official follow-up for Jonathan Dayton and Valarie Harris, the co-directing team behind Little Miss Sunshine, and was written by (and stars) Zoe Kazan, the grand daughter of Elia Kazan (On the Watefront, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Gentleman’s Agreement). So don’t get so depressed when you get sold out of The Dark Knight Rises, just buy a ticket to this. You might enjoy it. Probably not as much TDKR. But still, it won’t be a wasted night out.

Browne: I wrote the same screenplay, but instead of Zoe Kazan, it’s Rashida Jones, and it’s all about her following me on Twitter. But then she didn’t. So now I don’t believe in love.

Even with my own love-life now in shambles, this movie looks great and it makes me happy to watch a happy Paul Dano. I always want him to be happy. Zoe Kazan is his film boo and his real-life boo. That also makes me happy. I can’t believe Rashida won’t follow me.

Cosmopolis (TBD)

Browne: With each trailer, I leave knowing less and less about what this film is actually about. It still looks cool, they still have the part where Robert Pattinson shoots himself through the hand, but the new addition of the tagline “The first film about our new millenium” almost makes me never want to see this film. That’s just dumb. Don’t throw that in my face. Silver, what do you think? I feel like you’re nervous but excited about this.

Silver: Paul Giamiatti’s sincere and believable dialogue delivery (better referred to as “acting”) feels out of place when everyone else seems to be wooden and speaking as if they’re ordering off a diner menu. Alas, this means nothing, because Cosmopolis is David Cronenberg’s return to sci-fi and psychological prognostication, a genre his fans like to see him play in as he always delivers something unique, if not always entertaining. So I find it appropriate that this trailer leaves elicits both anticipation and apprehension.

Hope Springs (August 10)

Silver: Despite their now pedestrian position in the cinema landscape, I find these seemingly seasonal adult rom-coms to be irresistible. Sitting in an air-conditioned movie theater to watch a non-cynical piece of fluff staring Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep, and Steve Carell is a pretty solid option to suffering through a muggy outdoor dinner in New York City. And in a total aside which I can’t explain, the thought which was top of mind as I watched this trailer was, “Meet the Parents would have been so much better if it starred Steve Carrell and Tommy Lee Jones.” I just want to see these two duke it out on screen.

Browne: I agree with everything you just said, Silver, but my only addendum is that these films must be made with Meryl Streep. No other older actress is allowed to spice up her love life besides Meryl. Additionally, Meryl is absolutely allowed to cycle through all the 60+ year old men until she runs out. She can do this because she’s Meryl. Oh, and because she has a separate Wikipedia page, just for the 2000s. She’s the Queen.

Filed Under: Cosmopolis, Lawless, Meryl Streep, Pixar, This Is 40, Trailers of the Week

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert