Brow Beat

Trailer Critic: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Still from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) and his father Thomas Schell Jr. (Tom Hanks) in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Photo by Francois Duhamel – © 2011 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

If you love Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, you can’t help but feel protective. Few books spend so many pages ingratiating themselves with the reader, and ELAIC does this in an extraordinarily clever, cute, and heartbreaking manner—effectively making literary doe eyes at the reader through the page. (It’s about an adorable little boy, for God’s sake. Leave Oskar alone!)

So I’ve been particularly resistant to the ELAIC movie—directed by Stephen Daldry, the man behind Billy Elliot, The Reader, and The Hours, and due out this Christmas—ever since it was announced. But here’s what I now realize, especially as I watch this new trailer: Resistance is futile. You may think you can snicker at this ELAIC trailer on your laptop, but take it in at the megaplex, trapped in the dark, cowering below the big screen, and it is the emotional equivalent of Ryan Gosling stomping your head in.

Is this okay? I’m more sympathetic to schmaltz than most—subtlety is too often an excuse to privilege what you get over what others don’t—but the idea of a September 11th movie trying to comfort me, and by sending an omnibenevolent Tom Hanks to mug tenderly at the camera no less, makes me want to gag in his face. This is the second trailer for the movie, and the only improvement over the previous one is that it wisely replaces the old uplifting finishing-moveHoppípolla” with another rouser that’s at least a little less clichéd.

The novel, to be fair, isn’t such a gooey, Daddy’s-going-to-make-everything-okay slushblanket. It’s oppressively sad, sure, but—appropriate for an unjustifiable tragedy like the attacks of September 11th—it doesn’t try to make anything seem fair. You get a glimpse of that in this trailer—Sandra Bullock crying, “It’s never going to make sense, because it doesn’t”—but here’s hoping that there’s a lot more of that hopelessness in the feature film.

Grade: C-