Trailer Mash

'Man on a Ledge' or 'One for the Money'? It's our weekly opening-movie montage

This is a direct quote from the first line of Adweek's Trailer Mash" is what you'll read should you find this story via a retweet bot on Twitter. Our mash this time (above, by Kate Rose) unites Sam Worthington and Katherine Heigl as though the worlds of Man on a Ledge and One for the Money were the same, which in a real way they are. And to spare you the moil of sitting through every trailer, here are a few ideas of what to expect from the new releases based exclusively on their own advertising.

According to the uncommonly precious trailer for How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr Foster?, the Christ was not a Nazarene carpenter's son living under Roman occupation a couple thousand years ago but a bald old Englishman who walks among us today, in a very fine suit. Filling space with structures of purpose that not only tell the story of our times but ineluctably describe how beauty is a mere aspect of good design, Foster's works could inspire despair among any mighty who happen to look upon them. All it would take to topple this artfully constructed edifice is the possibility of an encomium from Bono. Oops.

The trailer for The Grey is one of those object lessons in brevity that the industry graces us with every now and again. So deft in its presentation, so confident in its storytelling, it leaves one struggling to imagine what more entertainment might be wrung from the movie's remaining 115 minutes and 33 seconds. At the very moment we realize Liam Neeson is mourning the apparent death of his wife in a snow-related accident (touchingly authentic or creepily exploitative, your call), we find ourselves in a classic man-against-nature stand off—specifically, Liam, fingers bedecked in a broken bottlenecks knuckleduster, about to have a fistfight with a pack of wolves. We must pity the wolves even as we chortle away at broken bottleneck knuckledusters. 

There are some, no doubt, who have held off on making the major decisions of life until the time came when Sam Worthington would appear onscreen in a mullet. For them, that happy day has come. In this trailer for Man on a Ledge, Sam and his mullet stand on a ledge to provide a distraction so that Jamie Bell from Billy Elliot and King Kong can do a robbery to clear his name. Ed Harris is in there, too, apparently impersonating a 300-year-old skeleton who set the mullet up, while Elizabeth Banks is the smart but hot negotiator duped into talking him down. Such a preposterous name for a movie, Man on a Ledge, it demands to be put through an Internet anagram generator, and the best result is "Lemon Agenda." For those still undecided about those key decisions, be assured that the Worthington mullet will return, in Wrath of the Titans, or White Hot Ant Farts.

Insofar as she never seems as though she will transcend the material, Katherine Heigl might well be the female Sam Worthington. Luckily for Katherine, her new vehicle, One for the Money, doesn't require her to. It appears to be a dopey and happy-to-be-so romantic comedy about a newly appointed New Jersey bailbondswoman tasked with bringing in her old high school flame, and it's all pleasingly random. Debbie Reynolds fires a gun at a roast dinner, Katherine's clothes fall off quite a bit, and there's even a female best friend, or sister probably, to exchange frustrations with at the end of a phone. As for her quarry, Jason O'Mara is yet another of those production-line slender and twinkly Irishmen with instant female appeal, the kind of fellow all us other men just love to be around. Michael Fassbender is already consulting with his agents.

Opening a trailer with Laurie Anderson's "Oh Superman" is like finding a hidden armor cache at the beginning of the video game Doom—unexpected protection against what is to come. But follow this with a French couple so perfect you immediately want to be one-half of one just like it, cinematography so discreetly glamorous you can barely tell how cleverly you're being seduced by it, and then a moment to do with a baby that makes your stomach drop like a rock down a well, all in the space of 90 seconds, and it's apparent that no armor will defend you, and you instantly understand why the first thing you saw when the trailer for Declaration of War began was Official Entry France Best Foreign Language Film Academy Awards 2012.

Around the world there are a number of well-attended and established horror-movie festivals, a few listed at the beginning of the trailer for The Theatre Bizarre. As though only to keep these festivals going, some 1 million or so cheap and tacky horror movies are made every week. Some—few—are not even about zombies. The Theatre Bizarre is one such film, and promises to be a charming medley of horror's greatest hits that meshes in a modernly self-aware plot of some kind. Just to hammer the gag home, bloodily, a woman occupying the Christ position in a Last Supper tableau bats a gigantic eyelash and mews, "It's all about moderation." Yawn. Whatever happened to exploitation films with brains in the script as well as sprayed up the walls? In fact, don't even bother watching this trailer, watch this one instead. Where are Brian Yuzna and Screaming Mad George when you need them?

In England, the 1973 movie The Wicker Man is part of the cultural heritage, a much-loved artifact reflecting a national psyche that never quite lost its urge for the paganism that prevailed before Joseph of Arimathea docked at Albion's white cliffs. You can see this sense memory carved into the green men on the bosses of churches up and down the length of the land, those vinous creatures hauling good Christian souls back into the immoral flesh of the earth. It's the England of Druids, the Great Beast Aleister Crowley, and Alan Moore, who worships a snake. For this reason alone, the American and sometime Mormon Neil LaBute's 2006 re-interpretation of the story as another chapter in his life's work of rationalizing misogyny was doomed from the off. (And don't let's even start on the incongruent idiocies of the annual Burning Man self-indulge-athon.) But now the director of the original, Robin Hardy, never entirely happy with it, as decades of interviews have revealed, has returned with a reboot, The Wicker Tree. The silence that precedes the film's imminent release is not a good augury, but when Christopher Lee explains mankind's relationship with fate, you'll be hard pushed not to feel a catch in your throat. As for the rest, it could be heaven or hell, at least according to this trailer.