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Yes, No, Maybe So: "The Giver"

Normally we don't cover "teasers" in the Yes No Maybe So trailer series but we'll make an exception with The Giver because it is trapped somewhere between a short teaser and a full length trailer. And because we might not want to talk about it again, if this 'traiser' is evidence. Despite two of the world's greatest actors (Jeff Bridges & Meryl Streep) helping it along our appetite is not whetted.

The movie, based on a fantastical YA bestseller (aren't they all?), is about a boy living in an utopian future that is actually a dystopia. SURPRISE! La Streep plays the Elder, who likes to be the figurehead of the repressive harmonious society and Jeff Bridges, her mirror on the other side, who helps our young hero to see the truth.

The trailer and our YNMS breakdown after the jump


  • Um...
  • No, I'm sure I have something...
  • Just a second...
  • Oh, yes. The creepy shot of the protagonist pulled up tractor beam-like while holding a baby. It conveys outmatched hopelessness which is a good place to put your protagonist
  • Brendon Thwaites is kind of adorbs, at least visually
  • I do like the weird souring of the musical plinking as the title card appears, nice anti-fanciful touch


  • aIiiYeeeek, Katie Holmes. No one warned me of this. Not nice! Don't scare me like that.
  • So, if they don't take their injections they suddenly see the world for what it is? Matrix much? 
  • God even the title card design is generic
  • When is Jeff Bridges going to do a non-affected normal-voiced character again?
  • This will betray my political bias a bit but I'm not crazy about utopias that are actually dystopias in fiction. What is so scary about idyllic harmonious societies? It seems the human race fears peace far more than they fear war and that's often mirrored in our art. I guess 'better the devil you know...' It reminds me of my central issue with Gattaca: the human race would never breed out violence and agression and anger if we could control our DNA because, for better or for worse, we value those things highly. 


  • "When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong." - Yeesh, it's not exactly poetry. That line actually reminds me of why I couldn't get into The Bates Motel because of mundane everyday dialogue ("I suck. Everyone sucks.") that has no art or gorgeous phrasing to it, the kind that you might hear on the street daily but has no business being in scripted art because it's just too boring. 
  • I don't normally worry about Production Design in a movie trailer but a lot of the backgrounds look mighty bare. Underfunded? Unfussy minimalism is very difficult to pull off unless you have the confidence of Gattaca. That said Jeff Bridge's lair -- he plays the title character -- looks cool.
  • I haven't read the source novel. Maybe it's better than the teaser suggests the movie could be?

I regret to inform that I'm a complete "NO" on this 1½ minute taste and since I'm not a true completist with either Bridges or Streep despite being a life long fan of both (no, I'm not going to see Lions for Lambs or RIPD; you can't make me!) I am likely to remain so unless the reviews are surprisingly strong. How about you?

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Reader Comments (45)

The young adult novel is a staple of classroom reading now, and I remember it being one of the only books I fully fell in love with during my middle school years. It's a fast, tight, fantastic read, and this cockamamie attempt to translate it into an action picture does the source material more of a disservice than I can possibly say. What a disappointment.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

This looks unoriginal and boring. What is Streep doing here?

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

The original novel is a beautiful, accessible, brilliant piece of writing and this trailer offends me on every level. HARD no.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

Brenton Thwaites was a friend of mine in college. I wonder how adorbs I'll find him in this. Has anyone else come across a situation like this - separating what one knows off-screen to what one must believe on-screen?

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJulien Faddoul

EWW Taylor Swift is in this? Fucking ewww. I can't deal with Taylor Swift AND Katie Holmes. Fuck no.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

A bit harsh for a teaser trailer....??

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

It's Meryl Streep in a Weinstein film, I smell Oscar nomination #19 ;-)

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRami

I'm screwed because I am a Streep completist. I liked Lions for Lambs!

I don't understand why she wastes her time and talent in a project like this. Why isn't she doing a Broadway play instead?

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

The book was a compelling and tight read that really captured my 4th grade imagination. I haven't read it since but I have the feeling it's power hasn't diminished any.

Jeff Bridges seemed like good casting (not so sure now) but everything else about this movie raises red flags. Only P.T. Anderson or Spike Jonze could have done this material justice sans all the blockbuster excesses apparent in this trailer.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterW.j.

Was the novel written before or after "The Matrix" because I need to know which ripped of the other?

Katie Holmes's appearance actually excited me, as for some inexplicable reason, I suspect that she's never mined the territory of her full potential.

Nathaniel, I think the argument these films *attempt* to make is the cost we're willing to pay for peace -- tranquility void of passion, individuality, expression, etc. I guess the assumption tends to be that the only way to achieve that kind of utopia is to breed a neutered human existence.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

OMG. Is that Cher's natural hair color? That's the color I want. Yes, I'm too gay to function.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLalaland

Are they paying Meryl a shitload of money to do this film? Yes, Yes or Maybe Yes.
This looks like the generic last in the line after the hunger divergent whatever crap is out.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterV

I read this in school as well, I don't remember much about it but I always imagined the setting to be more low-key and less technologically advanced as the one being portrayed here. I have no idea if that's inline with the book, though. Jeff Bridges is great casting, but the styling is way off from what I imagined. It also just looks really bland and not visually dynamic at all so...no.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

NO: The movie should not be in color.


NO: The Giver should have a longer beard. :P

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbuttface

Nat, i know you've looked at previous trailers for Maleficent but can you give us your thoughts on the new one...they can be brief!!

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjohn

The best thing about this trailer is Meryl's wig. She's giving me Anjelica Huston realness right now, and that of course is giving me life.

Brendon Thhlkahdfliwes is too damn old to play the main character. Katie Holmes? TAYLOR SWIFT? Bitch, please. This film adaptation better not ruin one of the best YA novels in existence.

YES to the book.
NO to this "traiser."
But I'll see this opening weekend, because you know.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDorian

Nothing about this looks appealing at all.

The Maze Runner looks halfway decent, though.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Unless, that is, they're going to have Thwaites run around like this for most of the movie:


Which seems tragically unlikely.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Meryl is channeling Anjelica and I love it!

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Dorian, I 100% thought it was Huston when I saw her.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

Well, I don't know the original book either and I'm more friendly towards adaptations because.... most of them I've seen weren't that bad as people try to convince me. Yes, that even includes The Golden Compass.
This obviously wants to ride the Hunger Games wave, even if they are probably missing it. Can't blame them for at least trying.
And I really love Meryl's hair. She has never worn anything like that before.
I doubt this will get anywhere on awards traction, but not every film with Meryl did, so whatever.
So I'm a YES, as always.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

Lion for Lambs is underrated. There, I said it.
No really, Tom Cruise gives one of his best performances there.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

Meryl took a break during Into the Woods filming for this movie... I doubt the role is that big and probably because Harvey asked...

As for the book... Very well known, read in schools, and probably inspired some of the YA movies of today...

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

YES--to the Weinstein logo. I think its one of the best in the business. Clears and calms the mind visually and aurally so you are ready to watch what follows.

NO--to everything that follows in this case. Especially Jeff Bridges as Yoda.

MAYBE SO--Maybe it will be the new Showgirls. I see legions of Cher, Meryl, Angelica trios, all dressed alike at Halloween, looking over the other costumes and repeating "When people have the choice to choose, they choose wrong." And the look---That wig! Why has every hair and make-up person reduced the future to a bad hair day?

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Peggy Sue, I've been wondering why Streep hasn't returned to Broadway for years. Her current acting style is much better suited for the stage.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike M.

YES: ....uuhm give me 2 seconds

NO: ooks so boring, nothing new, Taylor Swift, Jeff Bridges monotone voice, Katie Holmes

MAYBE: Meryl's hair looks like a cross between Tilda Swinton and Anjelica Huston

I am not gonna see this movie

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

don't diss Katie Holmes, she's given wonderful performances in The Ice Storm, Wonder Boys, Abandon, and Pieces of April.

I realize that that's 11 years ago--- but give her time to recover from the Tom Cruise Career Curse, a curse he also placed Nicole Kidman under, mind you, before she broke free and started to deliver her best work.

team Joey all the way!!!

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterUlrich

The book is so good though. Remember reading it in middle school ten years ago. Hope this turns out well

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

That haircut is not doing Meryl any favors. Yikes.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Umm complete NO to the fact that this is in color. That doesn't even make sense?

But also, I don't like that this is being grouped with Divergent, Hunger Games style book to film adaptations. They are nothing alike. The Giver (the book at least) is very low-key and action-free. Really hoping they don't try to make it like those others.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Completely agree, this looks like shit.

Although I don't completely get the hate for Katie Holmes.

Yes she's not the most gifted actresses but she's put up a few decent performances here or there - and definitely doesn't stand out in a bad way from the rest of the cast in the trailer. Don't forget her performance in Batman Begins, although not great by any means, was 10 X better than the blandness and utter waste of space that was Gyllenhaal was in The Dark Knight.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

"When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong."

Meryl, talking about her career/director choices I assume.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

The book was great. This traiser looks awful, which is kind of sad since Bridges has owned the film rights for such a long time. The lead looks way too old for the part, ok with Bridges. Also, Streep fans--don't obsess too much, unless they've rewritten the part, the Chief Elder role is very small. She may be lending her name to TWC for marketing purposes, or as a favor to Bridges.
I've lost faith in most recent Hollywood adaptations of good books (e.g., The Book Thief). David Heymann and crew were the last ones to do it right with the Harry Potter series, which IMO were great adaptations.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

What have they done to this book? The Giver is one of the young adult novels out there...it has real poignancy, and it should have been shot in black and white for obvious reasons. Ughhhhh. I hate Hollywood sometimes. I hope this teaser isn't indicative of the quality of the actual product. Looked like they sucked the soul of this book and tried to place it with that of The Hunger Games. Hollywood, please realize that not everything needs to be The Hunger Games. For as much of as I love Meryl and the source material, I'm a big NO on this.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLindsay

I'm disappointed because The Giver has always been one of my favorite books from the first time I read it in middle school and I guess I expected the movie to match, but who am I kidding? This looks like a blander version of the snoozer that is Divergent, when it's way way way less action-based or technological. Yikes.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

when I read the novel for the first time 2.5 years ago I imagined Jeff Bridges playing the Giver character

& what do you know, 2.5 years later Jeff Bridges is playing the Giver character.

I love the book and I'm watching this because of Meryl.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

Sad Man -
"This looks unoriginal and boring. What is Streep doing here?"

LOLL. Please tell me you didn't say that with a straight face. Take a quick look at Streep's career post-Adaptation, and with a couple of exceptions, everything she's been in has been unoriginal and boring. She won an Oscar for The Iron Lady for pity's sake.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Lmao @ Jordan. Yeah, this film looks totally bland for such a compelling and vibrant book. With the talent behind it-Streep, Bridges, Philip Noyce-you would assume better.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

I've heard really good things about this book and usually I can find at least one thing to like about a trailer, but nope. I'm a 100% NO on this.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Uhhhhh... yeah, it's not a bad trailer, but for The Giver (at least how I remember the book), it's AWFUL. TOTALLY agree with everyone who says it should have been filmed largely in black and white, but for obvious reasons (kids just don't see B&W films) it was never going to be.

And Meryl and Tom Cruise are both GREAT in Lions for Lambs. Even though the film itself, though underrated, is not really any great shakes.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Amir: I don't disagree with you but she's always the lead or plays an interesting character, even if the movies aren't that great. This seems to be neither of those.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

I'm guessing your completist idol is La Pfeiffer. (She is for me). Or is it Julianne Moore?

March 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

Meryl = Overrated.

March 20, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdave

God this kills me.

I'm already dreading the reviews that will call this a YA cash-in, especially considering this book was written well before Hunger Games or Divergent, and is infinitely more thoughtful. This is the kind of book with the substance to be taught in English classes, let's put it that way.

I'm also incredibly disappointed that they shot it in color. A key plot point in the book is that people only see in black and white. Think of how cool it would have been if the film had followed suit: imagine the scene when the boy "discovers" the color red, for example!

Such a missed opportunity.

March 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBryan

God, you people are so persuasive! One extremely cynical asshole wrote how bad this movie sounds, yet he hasn't even read or heard what it is about. I doubt any of you actually bothered to see this movie, and if you did I highly doubt that you did't like it. Its a beautiful movie with a great message about life's beauty and peoples perceptions about it, as well as how people communicate their emotions. Now I know the trailer did not represent the movie well, but just because of that you guys are dissing amazing actors like Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges? PLEASE! I doubt any of you are qualified to critique their acting. All of you need to watch this movie, then give your opinions and I assure you your feelings will change.

August 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCatia

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