(Paramount; opening on, um, 01.18.08)
Tagline: Gargantuan explosion hurls the severed head of the Statue of Liberty onto the streets of New York.
Translation: It’s bad, dude. Get ready for your first real post-9/11 horror movie.
The Verdict: Twentysomething Rob’s going-away party to Japan gets interrupted by what seems like an earthquake but turns out to be the end of the world. The opening, a handheld video of the party, lends an impressive sense of realism, as does a fake disaster report from NY1. Then comes the clincher: “From producer J. J. Abrams.” Not bad for January.
BE KIND REWIND
(New Line; January 25, 2008)
Tagline: “Sometimes the best movies are the ones we make up.”
Translation: Michel Gondry gets inspired by YouTube.
The Verdict: A video clerk (Jack Black) becomes mysteriously magnetized and erases his store’s entire inventory. So he and co-worker Mos Def film their own low-budget versions of Ghostbusters, Rush Hour 2, Driving Miss Daisy, etc. The grainy videos of Black and Def running around in suits of aluminum foil are hilarious, yet the vibe is oddly feel-good: all about community and “movies with heart.” Here’s hoping that Gondry hasn’t lost his weird.
(Columbia; February 22, 2008)
Tagline: “Eight strangers. Eight points of view. One truth.”
Translation: Hang on, this might get very confusing.
The Verdict: At a rally in Spain, the president, played by William Hurt, gets shot. The camera flashes through witnesses: suspicious Middle Eastern types, Forest Whitaker as an unsuspecting tourist, Dennis Quaid as a Secret Service agent … and the president himself. Conspiracy-theory alert! Cue guns, explosions, exclamations of panic and disbelief. “If you think you’ve seen it all … look again!” Really? Because we think we’ve seen this exact same trailer 15 billion times.
(Paramount; March 21, 2008)
Tagline: “You know what this is? A wing. You’re under it. All three of you. Right there.”
Translation: God bless Owen Wilson.
The Verdict: Owen Wilson meets “the guys that brought you Knocked Up and Superbad.” A trio of high-school geeks hire him to pose as a teacher to protect them from bullies. It’s nice to see Wilson back onscreen—but even with all the McLovin wannabes, this trailer is too much his show. Makes you realize how much a movie about an underdog benefits from having a real underdog like Seth Rogen.