Contemporary movie trailers suck. Not only are they — like most of the movies they pimp — typically lowest-common-denominator dumb but they also mislead viewers about a given movie’s true nature in an attempt to entice the broadest possible audience. (For example, check out the stupid, disjointed Inglourious Basterds’ trailer, which tried to sell Quentin Tarantino’s arty, longwinded, multilingual revenge epic as a straightforward Brad Pitt-centered World War II action flick.)
Worse, movie trailers nowadays often reveal important plot points that impact an essential aspect of any narrative-based art form: the element of surprise. Why should I go to a movie if I already know what’s going to happen?
All of which is why I rarely watch movie trailers online or even before theatrical screenings. An exception is when I have to write a preview blurb for this column. This week Death at a Funeral, a U.S. remake of a 2007 British comedy, was the only film for which we didn’t have a review in our print edition (read tt stern-enzi’s freshly-posted review below). After watching the YouTube version of the trailer, I couldn’t help but notice some of the remarks in the comments section — another endeavor I tend to avoid due to the overabundance of hate-spewing trolls — most of which seemed to be fairly incisive in their analysis of Death at a Funeral director Neil LaBute’s descent into Hollywood hackery.
Check this courtesy of sallythescorpion: “Why remake after only 3 years? Obviously the original wasn’t widely watched in the USA. Why? Because Americans are so fucking obsessed with themselves. Even the midget is the same. Wankers.”
Wankers is right.
DEATH AT A FUNERAL — The original Funeral’s zany British spirit failed to inspire legions to troop into theaters, but that film’s faithful base might want to return for a second helping, as long as they don’t assume that this is simply an urban audience niche-fest. While set in the cultural milieu of African-American suburban dwellers in Los Angeles, this remix keeps the melody and the arrangement largely intact with similar rowdy results. (Read full review here.) (Opens wide today.) — tt stern-enzi (Rated R.) Grade: B
GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO — The first film adaptation of the late Swedish novelist Stieg Larsson’s posthumously published Millennium Trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is an enigmatic mystery thriller fired by the growling intensity of its goth-girl heroine Lisbeth Salander (ferociously played by Noomi Rapace). (Read full review here.) (Opens today at Esquire Theatre.) — Cole Smithey (Rated R.) Grade: B
THE JONESES — The Joneses is an insightful, if not especially scathing, satire from debut director/co-writer Derrick Borte about consumerist manipulation. As a meta-message movie about America’s pre-financial meltdown state of insatiable greed, it's a canny footnote whose relevance to our economic depression has already passed. (Read full review here.) (Opens wide today.) — CS (Rated R.) Grade: B-
KICK-ASS — Somewhere deep in the mix, possibly beneath all the splashy flashy colors and the humorous digs at the gay subtext about guys running around in tight spandex costumes, the film that Kick-Ass should truly remind audiences of is Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan’s understated superhero origin story. (Read full-length review on here.) — tts (Opens wide today.) Grade: A
LOOKING FOR PALLADIN — The ghost of Robert Altman haunts this slight, occasionally amusing slice of life from writer/director Andrzej Krakowski about a slick Hollywood talent agent who attempts to track down an aged, Oscar-winning actor (Ben Gazzara) who long ago shunned the spotlight in favor of the laid-back, sun-baked pleasures of Guatemala. (Read full review here.) (Opens today at Mariemont Theatre.) — JG (Not Rated.) Grade: C