The Internship (June 7)
Silver: The Internship feels like the sad test-tube baby of Wedding Crashers, Old School, and Dodgeball released 10 years too late.
Now let me explain why, simply based on its trailer, this is one of the worst things I’ve ever said about a film.
Here’s a little insight into my movie mind. I’m a firm believer that all movies are an amalgamation of different elements appropriated from previously released films. And that “originality” should be determined by how filmmakers choose to stitch together these bits and pieces from cinema’s vast and dense history to create and present their own celluloid Frankenstein's monsters. So as a fan who still fancies himself a student, I take a great deal of pleasure in playing “Cinema CSI." It entails analyzing a film all the way down to its complex DNA strand and understanding its lineage, with the hope that I'll be able to fully understand its intentions. (Example: I appreciate Reservoir Dogs because I’m aware of how John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow I and II, Kubrick’s The Killing, and the original The Taking of Pelham One Two Three influenced it.) This is why I sometimes dislike films generally praised (The Lion King) —
Silver: — and adore films universally disregarded (Dark City). My examination of a film begins when I learn about the cast, crew, read an early synopsis, and see a few photos, but it really kicks in when I get a glimpse of the first trailer. This is also why in my trailer critiques I have a habit of writing things like, “This film feels like ...”; “This film is two parts (blank), one jigger of (blank) ...”; or even, “This film is the cinema lovechild of ...”
So now you understand the significance of my branding The Internship a tired version of itself. Furthermore, given that Vince Vaughn not only stars in the film, but also cowrote it and produced it, this, in my opinion, makes it even worse. What happened to Vaughn? He was once at the top of the comedy mountain, emulated and coveted. But where his contemporaries knew they needed to evolve to stay relevant (see Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller), he’s still making the same movies. This trailer made me very very sad.
(Note: If there were ever an indicator that Rem and I are now a married couple who know each other far too well, it'd be that I knew, that even after all the above, Rem’s response is going to focus on the fact that I don’t like The Lion King. Have at me, buddy.)
Browne: This movie looks tired and sad and lazy, but my main issue with it is that there's NO way they're getting that internship at that age. NO WAY. Sorry, guys.
That's all I have to say. Nothing more.
Monsters University (June 21)
Silver: The reason why the original Monsters, Inc.’s story resonated so well was that its underlying thematic intentions about relationships, and our collective desire as humans to be accepted and understood as who we truthfully are, were rooted in the relational triangle of Mike, Sulley, and Boo. Even when Boo wasn’t doing anything, the snappy repartee between Sulley and Mike was laden with extra significance by her mere presence (“Put that thing back where it came from”). And with Monsters University being a prequel, there’s no Boo. So despite the never-in-doubt chemistry between John Goodman and Billy Crystal, I’m a little worried that the blossoming relationship between Sulley and Mike won't be enough to carry this film. But this is Pixar, so I’m more than willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Browne: Going back to The Internship for a second, 90 percent of these monsters have a better shot at getting a Google internship than Vaughn and Wilson. That's how unrealistic everything about that movie is.
Oblivion — International Trailer (IMAX, April 12; Wide Release, April 19)
Silver: Further fleshed-out plot details, a better understanding of the characters, additional and expanded glimpses at the action set pieces — this is an incredibly successful second trailer for Oblivion. And its two-month separation from the first trailer has provided me enough time to get over my initial hesitations and to see the film with fresh eyes. Yet I feel I also have to give Ghost Protocol some credit here. My love of that film grows deeper every time I catch it on cable (which has been a lot lately); as such I feel that rose-colored prisms have fused to the part of my brain through which I consider all Tom Cruise films.
Browne: From the beginning, my focus in this film has not been Cruise, or the love story, or even the plot. It's been Morgan Freeman in a new take on a familiar role, as a seemingly omnipotent but also potentially evil character. I am very excited about that, enough to be all in on this film. I think this will be a winner. Also, there are so many opportunities in this film for Tom Cruise to run. Very thrilled for that.
Trance — Red Band (Limited Release, April 5)
Silver: I didn’t know it until this trailer ended, but this is the look at Trance I was craving. I halfheartedly praised the film’s first trailer, mostly saying, “It’s Danny Boyle, trust him.” But I had my doubts. The hypnosis story device did not feel properly balanced with the action of the art heist. If anything, it came off as contrived and, dare I say, corny. This latest trailer contextualizes all the action under the hypnosis conceit, thus making the film look much more like a series of dreams and/or flashbacks and the hypnosis feel much more believable and organic. And the promise of more half-headed Vincent Cassel doesn’t hurt either.
Browne: I did not get the Inception feel to this movie after the first trailer. But I did with the second one, and I'm stoked. I enjoy leaving trailers feeling like I know/understand somewhere in the range of 30 to 60 percent of what the film's about. Anything less and I'm destined to be confused for the duration of the film, and anything more feels like the trailer told too much of the story. The second Trance trailer hit the sweet spot. Also, that half-face is everything. There's no way you could have predicted a half-face.
The Numbers Station (TBD)
Silver: Given all the high-quality television shows currently being produced, this premise feels like it could have been better served as a prime-time TV series. The truncation of something so high-concept into a 90-minute thriller makes The Numbers Station feel like one of those direct-to-video thrillers staring Kevin Sorbo and Sean Young we all saw sitting on the discount shelf back when Blockbuster Video still existed.
Browne: While I agree (even the title The Numbers Station sounds like an NBC drama-thriller), I'm willing to give this a chance. If they did it right, it could be a better Safe House, which isn't the worst thing in the world. Also: Numbers are the best. Partially because I'm so bad at them, the sight of this in a film excites me like few other things do:
Come to think of it, I actually support this as a film, because if it were a television show, it most certainly would have been picked up, then canceled after a season. If that's the case, why not make a film out of it?
The Company You Keep (Limited Release, April 5)
Silver: Back in August, before The Company You Keep’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, I wrote, “We’ll get a better indication of how good this film is after it’s been picked up and its distributor sets a release date (Oscar season = good, anything else = bad).” Despite this more effective trailer, I’m sticking to my previous statement. Its impressive cast and Robert Redford's direction notwithstanding, if the film truly lived up to the menacing drama teased at in this trailer, even a piddling distributor would have taken a flier out and released the film during last year’s Oscar season, not burying it a week after the next Stephenie Meyer sure thing (The Host), and a week before the IMAX release of Oblivion, and directly up against Trance. I’ll see this film, inevitably, but most likely on VOD, on my couch, and in my cereal-stained sweat pants.
Browne: While I know you understand these release-scheme things better than me, how can this film be bad? I just don't see it. The cast assembled is like the drama version of New Year's Eve, but for a much better cause. Maybe it's not the Oscar film that it should be (even though I'm not fully convinced of that either), but it can't be a letdown, unless you live in a world where non-Oscar films are disappointments.
I don't live in that world, so I'm giddy over a film in which Robert Redford is a fugitive who jumps over fences and sneaks through the wild.
Silver: Maniac is a remake of a 1980 film of the same name, and this trailer makes it feel like a psycho killer version of Drive. But I don’t think we should sleep on this film. Elijah Wood’s work in Sin City and the underrated Wilfred have proven that he can play disturbed, menacing, and creepy exceedingly well. And who doesn’t want to see a mannequin-building, knife-wielding, innocent-women-beheading Hobbit?
Browne: Rarely do I want to watch a horror film, because I scare easily, but I'm so intrigued by this I might have to just curl up in my chair while biting my sleeve and fight through two hours of fear. This may seem like an odd comparison, but I think Elijah Wood is the thespian who James Franco wants to be. They are both all over the place with their professional roles and side/passion projects, but the main difference is that Wood seems to pull them off. And it seems as if this role is another example of that.
Fast & Furious 6 (May 24)
Silver: Nothing really new here, but who cares? As Dom says, “Take it or leave it.”
Browne: It felt brand new. I'm so excited.
Two Mothers (TBD)
Silver: I honestly don't know what to write since my thoughts aren't assembling themselves in a logical sequence, but are rather just a series of random brain droppings ...
This isn’t a 1960s French film, right? How can it be? Naomi Watts and Robin Wright are in it. Wait, Naomi Watts is also a producer? These ladies look much too young to have kids that old. This film should have been titled Rochelle, Rochelle. Sheesh, those dudes are good-looking ... and lucky as hell. Wow, that’s some steamy sexy stuff. Hold up, I think I’ve seen this before. It was just much funnier.
Browne: I'd pay so see Justin Timberlake's and Andy Samberg's faces as they sat in a room and watched this trailer. Poor film, if you had only come out five years ago, this would have been high art. Now, I can't stop thinking about two guys dressed like lost members from Color Me Badd.
I WILL BE SEEING THIS, THOUGH.
It’s a Disaster (VOD, March 5; Theatrical Release, April 12)
Silver: It’s a Disaster seems better suited for a fringe stage shown tucked somewhere down in the West Village. One of those quirky plays in which the cast interacts with the audience as if they were “guests.” If that’s what It’s a Disaster really was, and it featured the exact same cast, I’d absolutely go see it. But no, I don’t think I’m going to choose to sit in a darkened theater, much less pay money to sit in my own home to watch something that could have also easily worked as an SNL skit.
Browne: You're crazy, Silver. I laughed out loud five times in this trailer, which is saying something, because I'm an Ice Queen. Just to make my point explicitly clear, I left this trailer loving Julia Stiles. Do you know who has been no. 1 on my dislike list for over a decade? Julia Stiles. Now, suddenly, I'm in the fan club.
What's better than watching people lose their minds? Other than disaster movies, nothing.
OH WAIT. THIS IS ALSO A DISASTER MOVIE.
You're crazy, Dan. This is going to be marvelous.