May 31, 2015

Trailing Off: "American Ultra" (2015)

Left to right: Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart
Welcome to the weekly column Trailing Off in which I take a look at a trailer from the past week and analyze its potential. This will be done using an obnoxious amount of analyzing and personal thoughts on the cast and crew as well as expectations. Coming every Sunday (it's called Trailing Off for a reason), I will attempt to highlight films ranging from new blockbusters to lesser known indies and give them their due. Partially to spread awareness, I do believe that there is an art to the sell and will do my best to highlight why these trailers matter or don't with approval (trove) or disapproval (trash). So please stop by, recommend some trailers, and I will see you next time.

Trailer in Discussion

Directed By: Nima Nourizadeh
Written By: Max Landis
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Walton Goggins, Connie Britton

- Preamble -

I will say up front why I chose to tackle American Ultra of all films this week: I love Adventureland. It is one of my favorite movies. While it has mostly fallen under the radar since its 2009 release, its take on coming of age with romance and theme park attractions is something that has remained endearing to me. Also, it features a rather great chemistry between Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg; two actors that were arguably on the cusp of their mainstream prime. In the years following, they would continue to do great work (Stewart with Still Alice, Eisenberg with Night Moves). However, there has been a part of me that has wondered what would happen if they would team up again.
Then the announcement came of American Ultra. To be honest, I haven't paid much attention to the careers of these two in the years following their mainstream peaks. If they release a movie that seems interesting, I would check it out. However, I didn't go out of my way to look at all of their films. Yet there's something that seems enticing about them teaming up together again to do something.  From the looks of the posters, I don't think that we'll get a romance on par with Adventureland. It doesn't seem like we'll get anywhere close.
However, I do put some faith in the fact that at the core is Max Landis as a screenwriter. Since he is young, he doesn't have too many works to his credit. However, there are moments that worked in Chronicle and it does leave promise that he can bring more young and bratty characters to life in interesting ways. I could even imagine how he'll make Stewart and Eisenberg sound. There's only one way to find out. It's time to see what this movie is all about.

- Dissection -

To state, I had no idea what this film was about, so when I saw that it was essentially Pineapple Express, I kind of became abrasive. The characters definitely have the Landis tones to them. They're cursing and saying a whole lot of sarcastic things. However, there isn't much else that really grabs me from this trailer. A man takes drugs and begins murdering people. It seems like an interesting b-movie premise, but I don't necessarily think that it works here for me. It isn't that I don't think that Eisenberg and Stewart could do more action comedy fare. It's just that this seems like ridiculous for the sake of ridiculous. Neither good nor bad.
There is a chance that I would have blindly seen this without knowing anything about it. However, there is something to the bombastic nature of the trailer that is inevitably not interesting for me. It could be that while Landis is an interesting voice, he isn't my personal favorite. To summarize, had this been replaced with any other quality actor, I likely wouldn't have been over the moon about wanting to see it. I don't necessarily think that there's much here.
Then there's the music, which may just be a creative license part. It doesn't do the trailer any justice. If anything, it makes it seem goofier in more of an off putting sort of way. As a whole, it is just a film whose premise doesn't seem to be in my wheelhouse. If anything, I kind of want to see it less after seeing this. No offense to those that I like in it. It's no Adventureland 2.

- One Sentence Sell -

Jesse Eisenbeg and Kristen Stewart are back in a stoner action comedy with some salty language thrown in for good measure.

- Trove or Trash -

I'm sorry, but maybe I just am not the target audience for movies about people getting high and getting accused of murders. It could be good, but the trailer just introduces a movie with people I like doing things that I don't like to watch.

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