Anyone can tell you if a trailer "looks good" or not. But Drew Magary, who spent over a decade working in advertising, is here to tell you whether or not a trailer WORKS. This week's trailer? "Red Tails".
Cuba Gooding Jr.'s career has been in the gutter for so long now that even joking about his career choices has become a cliche. In fact, Gooding's recent IMDb profile reads like someone who registered to the site specifically to list all their student films. I mean, really. "Wrong Turn At Tahoe"? That was a movie? No, it wasn't. You made that up. You have to go down all the way to 2007 ("American Gangster") to find a real movie on Cuba's resume. It's a pity, because it's not as if Cuba Gooding Jr. is a horrible actor. He's perfectly good, so long as the role is good, and that's where his massive blind spot comes in. At any moment, there will be an indie director who makes it his goal to revive Gooding's career, the way Darren Aronofsky did with Mickey Rourke, or the way Quentin Tarantino did with about 60 different actors. Meanwhile, Gooding will be in what appears to be a major motion picture next year: "Red Tails," a World War II adventure film with a mostly black cast. Will this be the movie that gets Cuba back on top? Time to watch the trailer and ask a few questions.
Does the trailer let us know what the movie's about? Yes. It would appear that Cuba is the stern corporal (or whatever high rank you give Cuba Gooding Jr.) in charge of a bunch of cocky upstart African-American fighter pilots. And, since this is the early 20th century, evil Brian Cranston won't let the black pilots do any of the important bombing. And then Terence Howard is like, "You are RAYCESS. We want to bomb Nazis too!" And then they finally get to bomb Nazis and then they give lots of dramatic speeches about fighting.
Wait a second, this sound familiar. Sure does. In fact, it sounds exactly like the 1995 HBO movie "The Tuskegee Airmen," which starred... wait for it... CUBA GOODING JR. I feel like it was bad enough when Cuba was starring in rehashes of NON-Cuba Gooding pictures. I really hope he doesn't participate in a remake of "Chill Factor."
Wait a second, is that Mike from "The Wire"? It is! NICE. Love him. I hope he wears a hooded sweatshirt and guns people down.
Does this movie feature lots of young actors delivering lines that are totally anachronistic given the period setting? Oh, yes. This movie takes place during World War II, but the lines are strictly 2011, like: "How you like THAT, Mr. Hitler?!" It wouldn't surprise me if one of the pilots starts texting during a raid on Dresden.
Does lots of stuff blow up? Yep! There's a great train crash sequence at the beginning of the trailer, followed by lots of kick-ass aerial footage, all of it computer animated (but done quite capably). There's also a D-Day sequence that really makes me wish I were watching "Saving Private Ryan."
Do the pilots have a pre-flight huddle and start chanting WE FIGHT real loud? Yes. Just like in your history books.
Does this trailer work? No. Despite the nice visuals, this all feels very predictable and heavy-handed. It's basically "Glory Road," but with planes. I am not optimistic. Poor Cuba. He still needs to be rescued, perhaps by the dude who directed "Drive".