Thursday, February 7, 2008

Superbowl Summer Teasers

What with the dominance of 3D over last weekend, we never got to mention the movies chosen to be promo'd during this years Superbowl broadcast on Fox. The usual strength of Superbowl advertising, in our eyes, has grown relatively weak on the creative side in recent years, perhaps a product of overly hyped expectations. Aside from doing the cute (Budweiser's take on a Rocky-esque Clydesdale in training), the animated (Sobe's "Thriller" lizards), and Justin Timberlake repeatedly getting yanked on his ass for Pepsi, the only remaining interest in staying in the room during commercial breaks was to see what movie studios were willing to pony up premium portions of their advertising budgets to hawk their shots at a blockbuster summer. To my count there were 6 1/2 pitches to get dibs on your ticket money, 1& 1/2 (I'll get to that "half" in a moment) that hyped movies opening this month, 1 that pushed a flick not really opening in contention as a bona fide event movie and 4 that are legitimate contenders for serious box-office mega-dollars.

Opening just around the corner this month, Jumper from Twentieth Century Fox aired their most recent trailer. A high concept sci-fi "thriller" built around the idea that the lead characters have the ability to willingly jump to any location (seemingly) on Earth. 
If you saw it and recognized it, you've likely seen earlier trailers where the emphasis was very heavily focused on the effects, which on television are never all that impressive. As the release approaches, the focus has smartly zoomed in on Jumper's only hope at "star" recognition by giving up lots of screen time to Samuel L. Jackson's character (who looks like an aging brother to Wesley Snipes' Simon Phoenix  from 1993's Demolition Man). 
After all, how impressive is it to watch someone "jump" across their kitchen to their refrigerator (which was the inexplicably idiotic first shot in earlier advertising). Jumper is opening on Valentines day for all of those adolescent movie dates where Mom and Dad will be driving high school teens to the local mall.

Opening in early April, Universal helped stoke some advertising for George Clooney's Leatherheads, the comedy follow-up to his Oscar nominated turn as Michael Clayton. Not all that impressive on a movie screen, this limp, period sports fluff looks far more at home on a small screen. While talking about lame sports humor, lets get back to that "1/2" pitch. New Line may have gotten the best value for their buck by partnering with Budlight and letting Will Ferrell roll out his really worn sports idiot spoof schtick for the new Semi-Pro which opens on Leap Day. That seems appropriate in that it would be a giant leap to think that there could possibly be any humor left to bleed out of the dead creative concept of over-the-top goof-ball sports characters. In an ad for beer rather than a movie trailer, basketball team owner/player/coach of the Michigan "Tropics" Jackie Moon (Ferrell) pitches suds. From my memory of having once tasted a Bud Light, the beer tastes every bit as bad as the movie looks. My once found respect for Will Ferrell's refusal to reprise his oafish role in Elf, has been chained to a locker and put in the path of a speeding team bus. I can only hope that Will's comedies will someday find the audience they deserve, the French. 

The real blockbuster glimpses came from three remaining studios. Disney (and Disney's Pixar) presented their substitutes for Pirates and Ratatouille, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and from Pixar, Wall•e. Both look like they will attract the usual fans, but like so many others, the sword and sorcery, talking animals fantasy stuff is wearing incredibly thin. Pixar's efforts once again look superior to every one else in that business so there still doesn't seem to be reason to think that Wall•e will be anything less than serious money in the bank.

Columbia aired the first trailer (also currently playing in theaters) of Adam Sandler's upcoming You Don't Mess with The Zohan. For our ticket money, Sandler's following up last summer's abysmal I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry with another pathetic effort. We've talked a little about the movies we'll be rooting for and against this year (Cloverfield being one of the first solidly ensconced in the "against" column). Zohan, and Sandler himself for that matter, will be right there as well. If you honestly don't think Sandler has burnt through the screen with unfunny material and performances since his very earliest outings, you are suffering from some brain cell deficiencies. The last time I unconsciously laughed aloud at Sandler in a movie was '98's The Wedding Singer. Ten years. No more excuses for making bad movies.

And that brings us to Iron Man. Ahh, Iron Man. Marvel meets Robert Downey Jr. I love the whole idea of this. Paramount even had the class to cut together a special TV trailer just for the Superbowl. Could this be a studio actually confident and excited about what they have in store for us? The trailer barage of special effects, great art direction and perfect-take, understated lines ("Yeah, I can fly"), just looks like what every big budget super hero flick should look like (and what none of them looked like last year), pure, wall-to-wall, high concept FUN. Iron Man is scheduled for it's opening weekend on May 2. Mark it in your calendar. For movie fans, this will be the start of summer.

So here's the winner of the Suerbowl Summer Teasers through the courtesy of YouTube. This is as high a resoution copy as we could wrangle, so if your computer processors are less than heroic, let it load first. Then hit play and day dream about those summer movie nights that are fast approaching.

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