By Amy Ryan
December 19, 2005 at 12:00 PM EST

Our take on notable new trailers:

American Dreamz (April 14, 2006). It’s one thing to see Will Forte and Darrell Hammond make fun of President Bush and Vice President Cheney every weekend on Saturday Night Live; it’s another to see big movie stars like Dennis Quaid and Willem Dafoe doing it. (This clip is worth watching just for the hilarious sight of a bald, bespectacled Dafoe.) Not sure how easily the movie will shoehorn geopolitical satire into a plot that also spoofs American Idol (here, Hugh Grant, left, is the exasperated Simon Cowell stand-in, while Mandy Moore is the predictably plastic Carrie Underwood wannabe), but if anyone can do it, it’s Paul Weitz, the increasingly deft director of About a Boy and In Good Company. Cross your fingers.

V for Vendetta (March 17, 2006). Okay, I was worried about this one before; the potential for messing up Alan Moore’s comic-book dystopia is too great, and the Wachowski brothers are too unfocused lately (at least in the all-over-the-map second and third Matrix movies). But this trailer gives me renewed hope. I love the visuals — a mix of both the comic’s shadowy visuals and 1930s-style Soviet propaganda posters, with some balletic Matrix-fu martial arts action thrown in to keep things moving. Plus, Natalie Portman looks striking, with or without hair. Count me in.

Catch and Release (April 28, 2006). Yes, this looks like every chick-lit inspired romantic comedy of the past decade, with Jennifer Garner as a widow who finds her late husband’s womanizing pal (Timothy Olyphant) more appealing with each new shocking revelation about her dead hubby. Yes, the trailer telegraphs the entire plot of the film. Still, this movie looks solidly and sturdily crafted, down to the comic support from the unlikely duo of Kevin Smith and Juilette Lewis. As on Alias, Garner seems charming no matter what indignity is foisted upon her, like a scene where she boasts she can force her whole fist into her mouth but won’t demonstrate that talent because it’s too ”Traci Lords.” Aww, c’mon, Jen, show us!

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