No surprise that the trailer for Denzel Washington‘s The Great Debaters (Weinstein Co., 12.25) is smart, engaging, and clearly presented. Since there’s no question about Washington (Antwone Fisher) being an above-average director it’ll be no surprise if it turns out to be a good or exceptional film.

But let’s be honest and admit it’ll be a surprise if this inspirational true-life story delivers any surprises. We all know the inspirational movie template. We’ve seen these films time and again (i.e., gifted teacher inspires underdogs to think and perform like winners, resulting in a third-act competition against a heavily-favored championship team), and we all know how they play. But I want to see it anyway. Washington obviously knows about the familiarity syndrome, and you have to figure he’s done one or two things differently.

The only present-tense surprise is that there’s a Great Debaters website, which is virtually unheard of for a Weinstein Co. release. I’m guessing Washington paid for it himself.