The funniest movie trailer these days probably isn't available at your local theater. • It's the red band trailer for No Strings Attached (R), starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher as newfound friends with benefits, reluctantly falling in love. • Paramount Pictures didn't offer No Strings Attached to critics in time for Weekend review, but the hilarious red band trailer — featuring nudity, profanity and bawdy behavior that some viewers would find offensive — ensures I'll see it and publish a review Friday on tampabay.com/features and Etc, Page 2B. • Over the years, red band trailers have become a popular means of promoting such movies, mostly online. You'll recognize them anywhere, by the bright red opening frame and note declaring: "The following preview has been approved (by the ratings board) for restricted audiences only." That means they can be shown in theaters only before R, NC-17 and unrated films where children aren't supposed to be. • Green band trailers are the typical ad, sanitized and "approved for appropriate audiences" by the ratings board. But where's the fun in that? • These five movies inspired the most shocking or titillating red band trailers I found browsing YouTube (not counting No Strings Attached). Certainly not-safe-for-work stuff. • Just go to YouTube.com and search for the movie's title, followed by "red band trailer." Or search that phrase to see all the restricted previews available. And send the kids out of the room.
Heart Condition (1990)
One of the oldest red band trailers found on YouTube. The same year Denzel Washington won an Oscar for Glory, he played a ghost hassling a racist cop (Bob Hoskins), who received the dead man's heart in a transplant. The preview drops a few profanities but went red primarily due to jokes involving a racially offensive sex toy that Hoskins receives in a hospital prank. The movie flopped, and Washington soon fired the agent who talked him into it.
Boxing Helena (1993)
If only the movie turned out as erotically intriguing as this trailer. Twin Peaks' Sherilynn Fenn replaced earlier choices Madonna and Kim Basinger in the role of Helena, who becomes an obsession for a mad doctor (Julian Sands). After a car accident, he amputates her lower body to keep her close. Bare breasts and explicit sex are shown, making this a movie Spike TV viewers would love to see. Don't.
American Psycho (2000)
This trailer perfectly captures the depravity of Mary Harron's movie, starring Christian Bale as a Manhattan banker whose personal tastes run toward sex and slaughter. A menage a trois with hookers that nearly earned American Psycho an NC-17 rating is referenced, along with gleefully violent flashes including Bale, naked with a chain saw, chasing a victim.
The ultraviolence of this trailer stunned even red band enthusiasts, making them reconsider skipping Sylvester Stallone's comeback movie. Stallone lops off heads, slashes a throat and blasts bad guys into crimson goo with heavy artillery at close range. Don't blink or you'll miss a heart being ripped from someone's chest. Some entire action movies don't have body counts equaling this trailer.
No way that a green band trailer could convey the raunchy verbal excesses of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's script. The red version holds nothing back, with hip gutterspeak aiming below the belt. Plenty of unprintable lines, including a police officer's (Rogen) reply when asked what it's like to carry two guns. Makes sense, in a dirty sort of way.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at tampabay.com/blogs/movies.