What there is in the campaign, mostly looking at the trailer, sells a relationship drama that even if it doesn’t have anything hugely original to say does have something largely worthwhile to say. It’s unusual to see a movie about a less-than-ideal dad where that character isn’t played as a laughable loser or other kind of cliche. Owen looks like he gives a stoic performance, which seems to be in-line with the character and which will be relatable to a lot of dads.
…the emphasis here is clearly on Foster and his performance as Armstrong. Which makes it odd that he doesn’t get more big moments in the trailer and the rest of the campaign. Based on the marketing this looks like half cautionary tale about the dangers of doping and half investigative procedural, but I wish there were more moments here where those two halves met and coalesced into a single compelling narrative.
The main thing that’s being sold in this campaign is the mystery, which is part of the relationship between father and son. It’s easy to see why so many people have drawn comparative lines between this movie and the early works of Spielberg since the themes Nichols is drawing on seems to be similar to what Senor Spielbergo was putting out in the 70s and early 80s. What the campaign is selling is a story where the special power of the main character is a MacGuffin acting as a hook for the real point is to explore the power of familial love and responsibilities, no matter what the cost or consequences. It looks entrancing and moving and I can’t wait to see it.
One thing I notice is that there’s no redemption arc that’s even hinted at in the campaign. That might be because that’s not the movie the studio wants to sell, instead solely focusing on the nastiness of Hope and her abrasiveness toward everyone because they feel that’s the stronger angle. Or it might be because that part of the story simply doesn’t exist. That will remain to be seen. In the meantime, this campaign is for those who like their comedy as offensive and foul-mouthed as possible.
And what it sells is…nice. The movie doesn’t look like it’s going to blow the doors off of anything or really wow the audience. But it does look like it might be legitimately funny in that uniquely Pee-wee way, meaning, as I said before, it’s good-natured and pretty funny. It’s going to be hard to reach the heights of Big Adventure, which involved both Tim Burton and Phil Hartman, but it looks like an amusing return to the world of the character that should amuse and entertain everyone who remembers the character’s heyday while introducing him to a new generation of potential fans.