Trailer Mash

It's back to the future with a pair of remakes opening this weekend

No one is ever going to mistake James Marsden for Dustin Hoffmann, but since nobody under 40 is going to watch Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, it hardly matters that the remake stars Cyclops from X-Men rather than Bernie Focker. As arcadian rape-revenge fantasy remake trailers go, this one is barely distinguishable from that of the recently revisited Last House on the Left. And as with all '70s remakes, the portentous trailer voiceover of old has been replaced with blindingly moronic onscreen text such as the timeless "But once you're pushed to the limit you'll know." Kate Bosworth (Marsden's Superman remake co-star) is photographed so as to mercilessly exploit the same ambiguous feelings Susan George invoked in the original all those years ago, although in a nod to contemporary appetites, so is Alexander Skarsgard. The main difference between the two is the attitude to the material. In 1971, it was raw and scary and so serious it needed a little leavening. Look how differently the line "There are five men outside with guns" is treated in each of the trailers. Now there is only jaded cynicism. Skarsgard does indeed at one point say of Marsden, "He's got some man in him after all."

There is a disquisition to be written on the games Nikola Winding Refn is playing by remaking the 1978 movie The Driver, calling it Drive and casting Ryan Gosling in the Ryan O'Neill part, but this isn't it. Suffice it to say that where the trailer for The Driver is cool as 3 a.m. neon and spends a lot of time explaining one simple concept (two men, opposite sides of the law, one winner), the trailer for Drive is overheated and blissfully incomprehensible. What it may be is a grinning summation of all that The Driver inspired over the past 40 years with everything from that berserk Peter O'Toole movie The Stuntman to the Grand Theft Auto games tossed into the mix. There's even homage to comedy actors playing gangsters (Caroll O'Connor in Point Blank, Alan King in The Anderson Tapes, et al) with the great Albert Brooks as some kind of villain. But it must be noted that Christina Hendricks + Carey Mulligan does not quite = Isabelle Adjani.

To many, the other big horror movie of the week would appear to be I Don't Know How She Does It, which revivifies the desiccated corpse of Carrie Bradshaw and inserts it into the role of a Manhattan housewife struggling to cope with being rich and middle class and having a cool job and children. Sarah Jessica Parker is reunited with her Mars Attacks! co-star Pierce Brosnan, there's Kelsey Grammar and Greg Kinnear as comfort food, and wouldn't you know it, that Christina Hendricks shows up again.

The other putative comedy, Stay Cool, starring Hilary Duff, Winona Ryder, Chevy Chase and introducing Mark Polish, in that order, is actually an '80s tribute act. For some reason, a writer (introducing Mark Polish) has to go back to school, where an inappropriately young girl (Duff) flirts with him and invites him to the prom, possibly chucking a spanner in the works of his desultory attempts at getting together with a former crush (Ryder). In case there remains any doubt about the self-awareness of this exercise, there is an appearance by Duckie from Pretty in Pink (now better known, though not among the geriatrics in this office, as Alan Harper in Two and a Half Men), and a few bars from "Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel. Uncredited cameos in the actual movie by Molly Ringwald and Phoebe Cates may be assumed.

While it's an axiom that the world needs more Gus Van Sant than it does horror-remake producer supremo Michael Bay, the trailer for his new movie, Restless, suggests he, too, is drawing on the movie love affairs of his youth. Back in 1971's Harold and Maude, Bud Cort played a funeral-obsessed kid who fell for a woman on the brink of death. In Restless, a funeral-obsessed young man falls for a woman on the brink of death, only this being 2011, the old and wizened Ruth Gordon has been replaced by the young and ethereal Mia Wasikowska. Oh, and the kid has an imaginary friend who's the ghost of a Kamikaze pilot. As you will have surmised, this trailer is an object lesson in how to pack every available moment with spoilers. But so what? Looks like a cool movie, and at least it has a brain in its head, albeit a fluffy one.

Publish date: September 16, 2011 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT