To any successful movie trailer, there's an element of balance: The trailer must convey enough of the content -- characters, storyline, tone -- of the movie to let us know what we're getting into while simultaneously withholding enough to hook us. In that way, the trailer for The Company Men is a lot like that dude you meet at the bar who's initially attractive enough, but who's slovenly all-cards-on-the-table advances are so openly wounded and painfully inept that within the space of, say, about two minutes and thirty seconds, you know enough about him to know that you have no wish to know anything more.
Like that sad guy, this trailer starts off with some promise. The tone is almost Kafkaesque, a portrait of the absurd rituals and crushing banality of life in the corporate sphere; plus, Ben Affleck appears to be playing a smarmy douchebag, which suits him. In fact, it's not until exactly 0:52 that we really know this trailer is about to get ridiculous, based on that Tommy Lee Jones as high-powered exec gives a shit about the people his company has laid off. Ah, so it's going to be touching. Kind of less interested now.
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But that's just a hint of the treacle that's about to beset this trailer. In the immortal words of Bachman Turner Overdrive, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Over the next minute and a half, building with the swell of a very inspiring soundtrack, the trailer chucks every heartstring-pulling cliche in the Hollywood screenwriting machine-program at us, from the kids-say-the-darndest-but-touchingly-true-things prayer to the teary-eyed declaration of solidarity. And given the amount of saccharine spewed at us in the first 2:25, the last five seconds here is just shocking. Really? The old "I'm the king of the world" trick?
It's meant to be triumphant, but it's more like watching this trailer blow a load in its pants.