Every Month, Ken Low-…wait, he can’t make it? Well, who am I gonna get to replace him at this time of night?

Why, of course, Bully the Little Stuffed Bull! So please welcome Bully as my guest reviewer for trailers for films releasing in February, the official start of “oh man, get it into theaters, we need to recoup some money” season.

February 3rd

Big Miracle

BtLSB: Well, that was a pretty good mov…what? That was only the trailer? That wasn’t the entire movie I just saw in two and a half minutes? Well, I’d be surprised if there’s a story beat that makes a difference that hasn’t already been included in the trailer, from the inspirational sight of schoolchildren going off to dig through the ice to save icebound whales, to a Soviet icebreaker offering to save the day. My expectations of a guest appearance by Sean Connery as Captain Marko Ramius were dashed, however.

Since the movie’s name isn’t Big Disaster I’m guessing the whales get free in the end. Extra bonus: the movie’s URL is everybodyloveswhales.com. You guys did know that bigmiraclemovie.com was available, right?

DW: So I guess John Krasinski has just resigned himself to being Jim for all his roles from now on, huh? An affable guy with awkward romantic feelings in a job that isn’t fulfilling.

I don’t have much patience for “inspirational” stories, especially not when they’re about animals, and yeah, to top it all off, this is pretty much the entire film and all the important conflicts laid out and resolved in the span of two and a half minutes. So this is pretty much just a date night movie for people who want to see Jim and Lucy Whitmore stare longingly into each other’s eyes.

Maybe if they’d had Kristen Bell in there for more than a half-second they could have sold me on it.


DW: Oh, hey, a “found footage” movie! It’s been at least a couple of weeks since one of those came out.

I really and truly do not like this approach to film-making at all. It’s just incredibly off-putting to me and, paradoxically, enhances the artificiality of a film. Which makes it even more frustrating on those occasions when something that actually looks like it might be enjoyable comes along. This looks visually interesting, and a “super powers” movie that addresses the fact that powers just makes dicks into dicks with powers in a non-jokey way is something I’ve kind of wanted. But the way the story is being told is just going to annoy me.

BtLSB: I’m pretty sure we’ve already seen the entire movie, Dorian-you can watch the whole thing in reverse really fast at the end of the trailer. There! I’ve just saved you ten bucks! A shortrunner for the 2012 Academy Award for Movies that say the word “Andrew” three or more times in its trailer, Chronicle is an inaccurate representation of how ordinary humans get superpowers. There are no cosmic ray accidents due to faulty shielding or radioactive arachnid bites. There’s just young kids messing around with superpowers and being incredibly irresponsible about it. Ah, so it’s an adaptation of an Image comic, then.

There’s been a lot of money put behind this movie-I hope you noticed the impressive STP product placement. But I think I rather would have seen a wild teen comedy based on the same premise, so I’m going to take the trailer and re-cut and rescore it to Yello’s “Oh Yeah.” It could be the Zapped! of the 21st Century. I can see the tagline now: “With great power…comes a wicked awesome time, dude!”

The Innkeepers

DW: I have pretty mixed feelings about Ti West’s previous film, House of the Devil. I thought the blending of the late 70s/early 80s horror aesthetics with the nihilistic tone of modern horror films was well done and well made, but the film as a whole never really gelled and was somewhat unsatisfying, especially in terms of that “shock” ending that was pretty much visible from a mile away.

Still, I’m usually down for a good ghost story, and while the people running around an empty building angle has been done a bit much, there’s enough hints of style and self-awareness here in the trailer to keep me interested. West isn’t breaking new ground at all, but there’s something to be said for familiar material done well.

BtLSB: Wow, Red Roof Inn is really off the mark with this new commercial campaign they’re running.

The early part of the year always seems to bring on a slew of movies in suspense/horror/paranormal/hotel management genre, and this is certainly one of them. Sara Paxton and Pat Healy play attractive “nerds” attempting to “bust” ghosts in a run-down “hotel.”. I’d definitely go see this on the big screen just to get a full look at the starring attraction of the movie, that blue flowered wallpaper in all the rooms. Deftly out-acting Kelly McGillis in every scene, the blue flowered wallpaper shows signs of becoming one of 2012’s breakout stars and is sure to be featured in a later motion picture utilizing its impressive skills more.

The Woman in Black

BtLSB: In London a few years ago, I saw The Woman in Black on stage, where it’s become the second longest running play on the West End, after The Mousetrap. It’s performed by two players on a single stage. Here’s a movie edition with Daniel Radcliffe and a cast which I keep thinking includes Ian McKellan but doesn’t, in Radcliffe’s first of many likely foolish movie choices in his post-Potter career. I suppose you could hold a pair of spectacles up towards the screen to pretend Radcliffe is wearing them and that this is the first installment of Harry Potter, Paranormal Investigator.

DW: Like I said earlier, I’m usually game for a good ghost story, and this is a good one. Unlike some other works that have been adapted multiple times (*cough*Girlwithdragontattoo*cough-cough), I’ve seen the original BBC television version and read the novel and I’m still looking forward to seeing it as a big, lush, really gorgeously shot movie with an actor I’m hoping doesn’t get typecast. Yeah, it’s not really a “jump out and scare you” story, but making it look like one is probably a marketing requirement in this day and age.

I do think it’s interesting that this and The Innkeepers open the same day and cover very similar territory. Normally that might cause me to have to choose between one or the other, but my local theaters refuse to book films that premiere on On Demand services first, so Woman in Black it is this weekend.

February 10th


DW: There’s a lot of people whose work I really like in this story of Woody Harrelson as a corrupt LA cop in the 90s (and Anne Heche), but they sure do seem to be trying to sell this as an action movie when everything I’ve read about the film tells me that it’s a lot more complicated than that. The creative pedigree is strong, but even at the best of times a film about an angry, middle-aged white man is a Netflix rental, and depending on how the reviews go, maybe not even that.

BtLSB: You know, it’s nice to see Steve Buscemi do some film work for once. I think I would sit through this whole movie just to pretend this is what happened to Woody Boyd after he left his lucrative job at Cheers: he went to the police academy and had lots of goofy hijinks with Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith and that guy who made noises with his mouth, culminating in accidentally filling the Captain’s office with Cool Whip. After graduating and spending a few weeks on the beat, those hayseed redneck jokes Cliff and Norm and Frasier had been pointing at him all those years suddenly sink in, and Detective Woody Boyd snaps and becomes a bad cop on the loose™. It’s up to special guest Rhea Perlman to talk him down from a ballistic confrontation in one of the most intense psycho-sexual mindgames seen on the screen this year. Hey, did I just write my own Woody Boyd fan fiction?

Safe House

BtLSB: I hate it when movies lie to us. The movie’s title promises us a “safe house,” but the movie poster proclaims that “no one is safe.” Which one is it, Universal?

Safe House‘s trailer slathers the action movie clichés on like a layer of creamy mayonnaise. Count how many of them you can spot in this summary: rookie CIA agent and infamous violent suspected terrorist go the run, forced to work together for their own survival, because someone in the high echelons of intelligence is corrupt and has set them both up for termination. Also, one of them is white and the other one’s black. I have to praise the subtlety this movie had in not actually handcuffing them together.

DW: It just wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without a vaguely homoerotic action movie released as counter-programming to all the feel-good movies, now would it?

Yep, this is every spy action movie ever released ever mashed together into one film. It’s Bourne, it’s Salt, it’s Spies Like Us. It’s Ryan Reynolds bound and determined to test my dedication to watching movies with him in them because he’s so darn pretty by releasing something that just looks utterly dull and stupid. Yes, even in comparison to Green Lantern, smart guys.

By the way, did you know Denzel Washington once won an Oscar. I know, looking at his output since then, it’s hard to credit.

February 17th

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

BTLSB: Ghost Rider is one of those second-tier superheroes who some people like but I bet very few love, making him an ideal candidate for our pal Andrew’s “Nobody’s Favorite” feature.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is filmed in Europe, absolutely the first place you’d think a Ghost Rider story would take place. It’s filmed on the same Romanian roads that they do silly stunts on Top Gear, including the Transfägärä&#x0219an Highway. You know the rule: more than three accented letters in a location shooting automatically qualifies you for bargain bin DVD placement.

And oh, yes, the trailer does indeed include a juvenile visual of Ghost Rider peeing. Fire. I’m guessing that Nicolas Cage is one of those rare Hollywood actors who’s content with just having one Oscar already, then.

In 2011, when the movies Captain America and Thor came out, Marvel published approximately fourteen million Cap and Thor comic books. Now, Marvel just cancelled the Ghost Rider comic book series. I think that says it all, really.

DW: I liked Crank and Crank 2. They were ridiculous, over-the-top action movies with a unique style and vision that I thought showed that Neveldine and Taylor had something to say. Gamer was, well…Gamer was a thing that existed. You’d think matching their insouciant approach to film-making with an actor as mannered as Nicolas Cage would work well. But, uhm. Hmmm…

Maybe they should stick to directing Jason Statham.

This Means War

BtLSB: Joining the shortlist of movies named after Bugs Bunny quotes, here are three very good-looking people, 66% of whom have been in Star Trek films, shooting at each other and showing off cleavage for an entire movie, only not at the same time. Director McG was brought in to make certain the dialogue didn’t overwhelm the action and titillation, and I’m pretty sure there will be, a la 1980s music videos, a lot of glass breaking in slow motion. There’s plenty of CIA and sex jokes in it, which surprised me because I didn’t know they were making a live action version of American Dad!

This Means War looks to have a few shocks and surprises, chief among them that Katherine Heigl isn’t in it. It’s the type of movie that really only appeals to couples where the woman likes romantic comedy and the man likes shoot-em-ups and neither partner is willing to budge an inch on their movie night choice. So it oughta make a trillion bajillion dollars at the box office.

DW: When I first saw <a href=”http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=84595″>the poster</a> for this, I thought it was a movie about two gay spies who have to take out a female spy. (Why that poster never showed up here is anyone’s guess…)EDIT: Google failed me, off to Bing with my search engine dollars!

Now that I’ve seen the trailer, I’m pretty sure I like my idea more than an attempt to give a backstory to the old <i>Spy vs. Spy</i> strip.

Actually, even that sounds better than this.

February 24th


DW: There’s at least one reason to be thankful for the existence of Nancy Grace; she calls into question any ability to suspend disbelief for films like this now. A pretty young blonde girl goes missing and the police don’t immediately organize a massive manhunt and instead dismiss the report as the ravings of a crazy person? Okay, sure, absolutely cliché thriller plot point, but fairly unbelievable in the modern age. There’s no originality or creativity to the execution, and the premise is simple not credible.

But on top of that problem, it’s really starting to feel like these sorts of “nobody believes me”/on-the-run thrillers are now some sort of contractural obligation that teen idol performers with hopes of serious careers have to go through before being shuffled off into Nicolas Sparks adaptation purgatory.

BtLSB: I always think movies like this would be a lot more fun if, after ninety tense minutes of searching for her disappeared sister, Amanda Seyfried went back to her apartment, and her sister and all her friends jump out and shout “Surprise!” and start singing “Happy Birthday.” “Oh, you guys!” Roll credits; play “Raise Your Glass” by Pink.

Apparently taking place over a period of twelve hours, this is a poignant and moving portrayal and condemnation of our spoiled society of instant gratification, where we crave and demand immediate attention and response, like ordering pizza over the internet, or not allowing the police to finish their coffee break and do some paperwork before they get down to hunting for a missing woman, who, under Oregon criminal law, must be missing for at least 72 hours before being declared missing. Other scenes in this movie depict Seyfried parking in a handicapped space, harassing her letter carrier because her copy of Crazy, Stupid, Love. hasn’t arrived yet from Netflix and it’s already two days after she returned Hot Tub Time Machine, and placing her order at the deli counter even though her ticket says “52” and they only just called “50.” I will be eager to jump the line at any major movieplex to see this cutting drama of the addictive and abusive behaviors of our times.


DW: It is a new David Waind/Ken Marino film, and it stars Paul Rudd. Normally, that’s the sort of thing that I’d be jumping up and down, chomping at the bit to see. But I’m honestly not feeling this one at all. It feels so conventional, a retreat towards “feel good” humor with just enough of an edge to make people feel that it’s somehow transgressive when from all appearances it seems like the same messages about “real earthy Americans” that so many superficial comedies use. Heck, I’m actually almost offended by the notion that what people hurting in this economy really need is to just let go of their hang-ups about jobs and money, man…

Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong. But I’m not holding out much hope.

BtLSB: Hey look! A movie with the word “lust” in it that doesn’t co-star Anna Faris! I’m pretty sure the average American who has lost his job within the past year will be cheered to take his mind off his troubles by spending ten bucks (if buying a small popcorn, thirty bucks) to see the hilarious adventures of a lovable schmuck who lost his job. Then, I’m sure he’ll want to stay for the five minutes of credits that feature every name of the slightly more than six hundred people who were paid large amounts of money to work on this fluffy feel-good movie, including jobs like “Cat Wrangler,” “Craft Services (Vegetarian Division),” and “Miss Aniston’s masseur.” Then maybe they’ll go home on the urine-scented F train and, when they run into Paul Rudd coming out of a trendy and exclusive Brooklyn bar and bistro, fail to resist the impulse to punch him directly in the face over and over and over again. That’s my take on the target market for this film, and I’m looking forward to the entire experience, every laugh-til-you-cry moment of it.

3 Responses to “In A World for February 2012”
  1. elsie says:

    Nothing to see here, for me. And This Means War seems downright offensive in this economy. All this tax money wasted on a love triangle?

  2. “everybodyloveswhales.com”, eh?

    Like Joan Crawford loved wire hangars.

    Like General Zod loved Jor-El.

    Like Glenn Close loved Michael Douglas in Fatal Attraction.

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