Thursday, June 23, 2011

TRAILER THURSDAY: Bad Teacher, Bad Robots edition

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2011 at 8:42 AM

Here's a hint, kids, when you have this many wide releases opening on the same weekend in summer (three), you know that one or all of them suck. Bad Teacher was never going to be a blockbuster, so it makes sense the rom-com-quasi-satire got counter-programmed against a kids film (Cars 2) and a robo-action epic (Transformers 12 or whatever).

The latter two films, though, come from major franchises, so the fact that they're competing all but guarantees one or both of them aren't living up to expectations (in the marketing push pre-buzz sense, if not the actually-sucks sense).

Our advice, if you're going to pick one or the other — given the respective track records of Pixar and Michael Bay — we'd say bet on Cars.

A refreshing breath of just-so-wrongness. Director Jake Kasdan never invites us to feel sorry for Cameron Diaz’s unrepentantly terrible educator, so there never comes that squicky feeling of discomfort as we laugh at her own-worst-enemy antics. More a parody of romantic comedies than it is yet another crude gross-out, this is an unexpectedly smart pleasure: Kasdan (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) is rare among American filmmakers in being able to maintain a consistent comedic tone of not-so-dumb crassness. (MJ) Rated R

This Pixar sequel doesn’t present Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) getting lost in the desert — this time, it’s Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) getting mistaken for an international spy and being pursued by two James Bond-style cars (Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer, Shutter Island and November’s Hugo Cabret). Less NASCAR, more Formula One, still fun. (MB) Rated G

In 1950s New York, Harvey Keitel is a Mafia don who wants his doofus Korean love-child (Hyung-rae Shim) to succeed him. Problem is, Shim acts like the love-child of Jackie Chan and Jerry Lewis (but without their gift for subtlety). (MB) Rated PG-13

Director Kelly Reichardt spins out another film along the lines of her Wendy and Lucy: one that’s long and slow and in which not many things actually happen. Three mid-19th-century families make their way west, guided by Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood), who, ummm, may not know where he’s going. Cameras watch people walk and ride, a kid reads from the Bible, an Indian warrior gets lost, one woman (Michelle Williams) picks up a shotgun. Who are these people? Even after watching the film, heck if I know. (ES) Rated PG

In a remote desert town, there's a killer on the loose. His name's Robert. He's a tire — you know, black, round, goes on your car. This tire should be considered armed and dangerous. Well, actually, he isn't "armed" — tires don't have arms, silly. Yeah, with its one-joke premise, the entire movie is kinda like that. (MB) Rated R; at Magic Lantern only

Back in the '60s, when the USA and the USSR were trying to outdo each other in the race to the moon, it wasn't Khrushchev versus Kennedy. That was just a sideshow. The real battle was between Optimus Prime and Shockwave. But forget the subplots involving Sideswipe and Starscream. All that matters is: Lots of stuff gets blown up real good. (MB) Rated PG-13; opens Wed 6/29 at River Park Square, with sneaks on Tues 6/28 at 9 pm and midnight

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About The Author

Luke Baumgarten

Luke Baumgarten is commentary contributor and former culture editor of the Inlander. He is a creative strategist at Seven2 and co-founder of Terrain.