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‘The Lion King’ and Other Trailers That Raise Questions for Us

Category: Art & Culture,Arts

In Hollywood, the circle of life has its own meaning. As evidenced by this week’s most interesting trailers, studios keep returning to properties that worked in the past. Here’s the new crop, ranked from most to least derivative.

The second promotional clip for Disney’s remake doesn’t answer the questions raised by the initial teaser in November, like: If it’s computer-animated, what sets it apart from the original cartoon? Is it a musical? (It is, although oddly only a snippet of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” can be heard at the trailer’s end.) And what do Donald Glover and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter sound like as Simba and Nala? Sorry, but we’re not quite feeling the love for this one yet.

Technically, this thriller from Luc Besson is a piece of original intellectual property, but it appears eerily reminiscent of the director’s “La Femme Nikita” (1990) and “Léon: The Professional” (1994), which also both followed young women trained to be assassins. (In this case, the title role is played by Sasha Luss, a model raised in Moscow.) It also looks a lot like “Hanna” — the 2011 film directed by Joe Wright that Amazon recently turned into a series — not to mention the Jennifer Lawrence movie “Red Sparrow” and the Jennifer Garner TV drama “Alias.” In the trailer, Anna is compared to a Russian doll, and this similarly seems like a copy of a copy of a … you get the point.

“Every family is different, but some families are more different than others,” the narrator notes in the first trailer for the animated film inspired by Charles Addams’s New Yorker cartoons. Scored with the ’60s sitcom version’s finger-snapping theme, the spot doesn’t promise a fresh take on the material, aside from a sly inside joke as Morticia (Charlize Theron) observes of a red balloon, “Strange, there’s usually a murderous clown attached to the end of these.” Finn Wolfhard, the “Stranger Things” actor who also appeared in the clown shocker “It,” voices son Pugsley, and the ensemble also includes Oscar Isaac (father Gomez), Chloë Grace Moretz (daughter Wednesday) and Nick Kroll (Uncle Fester).

As in “The Big Sick,” Kumail Nanjiani plays an Uber driver, but that’s the only parallel between his Oscar-nominated 2017 rom-com and this pedal-to-the-metal action comedy. Nanjiani’s hence-the-title character, Stu, picks up a Los Angeles cop (“Guardians of the Galaxy” behemoth Dave Bautista) and finds himself in hot pursuit of a murderer. The odd-couple setup feels a bit hackneyed, but if the film’s gags are as clever as the trailer’s tagline, “Prepare for the Rideshare of Your Life,” “Stuber” could earn a five-star rating.

Director-co-star Amy Poehler casts a bevy of fellow “Saturday Night Live” veterans (Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer and Tina Fey as well as writers Paula Pell and Emily Spivey) in this boozy comedy about a group of women who travel to the Napa Valley for a 50th-birthday party. With its mix of physical shtick and raunchy one-liners (“I did Molly in college, but she went back to her boyfriend”), the rollicking trailer for “Wine Country” suggests a middle-aged “Bridesmaids.” And that’s a trip we’ll happily take.

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