October 06, 2005 at 10:36 PM EDT

Four hot new trailers for you:

Syriana (Nov. 23) This clip grabs you right out of the box with a voiceover about… rising gas prices? Pretty compelling topic these days, and a signal that Syriana is a thriller that’s more about impressing you with its intelligence and insight than with fireballs and explosions (though there are a few of those too). Between shots of a sleek Matt Damon (as an arrogant young oil executive), images of a shockingly puffy and shaggy George Clooney (left, as a veteran spy), and lots of John Le Carré-esque talk about our government allowing political chaos to thrive in the Middle East because it benefits U.S. petroleum companies, this drama from Traffic screenwriter Stephen Gaghan looks like it’s going to be the timeliest, brainiest thriller in ages.

Curious George (Feb. 10, 2006) After watching Furious George, how about Curious George as a palate cleanser? This adaptation of the classic children’s books about an inquisitive monkey doesn’t look from the trailer to be especially imaginative (”Get ready for the ride of your life,” says Voiceover Guy), but it does look like a pleasant way to pacify kids for 80 minutes. Will Ferrell tones down his wackiness as George’s yellow-hatted benefactor, and the animation has a lovely, watercolor feel.

Over the Hedge (May 19, 2006). More computer-generated talking animals, from the folks at DreamWorks who brought you Shrek and Madagascar. Actually, this satirical look at suburbia through the eyes of hungry parkland critters looks pretty clever and funny. The animal voices are convincingly cast, which is to say, I didn’t recognize any of the famous voices portraying various squirrels, turtles, and raccoons until the actors’ names appeared near the end of the trailer.

The Ringer (Dec. 23) Here’s Johnny Knoxville in the role he was born to play: a man pretending to be mentally challenged (so he can fix the Special Olympics). Judging by the trailer, this comedy from the Farrelly Brothers’ factory will hew to Farrelly formula, meaning that the so-called ”special” actors are the only ones who’ll come out of this with their dignity intact. Knoxville certainly knows how to wring laughs out of slapstick masochism. I suspect this is a movie I’ll hate myself for enjoying.

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