SUMMER IS UPON US! At least, as far as movies are concerned. Or maybe it already began with the release of FAST FIVE last weekend? Nah... I'm a traditionalist, and that means the summer movie season begins the first weekend in May! We've got a potentially solid mix of blockbusters in store, including a gaggle of big-name superheroes, ass-kicking robots, flamboyant pirates, Spielbergian nostalgia, dueling wizards and one hungover pack of wolves -- plus lots of intriguing indies and under-the-radar gems and stuff that sounds flat-out weird. I know I'm excited... and now, here's a long-winded rundown of some titles that have caught my eye:
THOR (May 6) -- Hard to think about Thor and not think about ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING, but I am nevertheless intrigued by this Marvel superhero offering, directed by Kenneth Branagh, of all people. Also co-stars the suddenly-ubiquitous Natalie Portman, who seems to be trying a little bit of everything these days... and continues to suck at all of them.
SOMETHING BORROWED (May 6) -- I think Ginnifer Goodwin is very cute, and I do not overtly dislike Kate Hudson... but this chick flick looks pretty bad, despite the fact that it is directed by the guy who did THE GIRL NEXT DOOR (if only he’d involved Elisha Cuthbert somehow).
THE BEAVER (May 6) -- Mel Gibson tries once again to rebuild his career, this time as a troubled man who starts speaking through a beaver hand puppet in order to save himself. Directed by (and co-starring) Jodie Foster, I saw this tonight and it is as crazy as it sounds -- but also works (review coming soon).
LAST NIGHT (May 6) -- Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington star as a married couple who, while apart for a night in NYC, find themselves faced with temptation. I have an unabashed crush on Keira and it sounds like this one could be sexy.
THE PEOPLE vs. GEORGE LUCAS (May 6) -- A documentary that examines the love-hate relationship that Star Wars fans have with George Lucas following the perceived failure of the special editions, prequels, etc. I, however, am a Star Wars apologist, so I’ll probably just get pissed off by all this nay-saying. I got your back, George!
BRIDESMAIDS (May 13) -- Kristen Wiig finally gets her first legit starring role in this hard-R-rated chick flick that lampoons the crazy process of being a Maid of Honor. Produced by Judd Apatow and featuring a stellar supporting cast, it’s some funny stuff -- read my review HERE.
PRIEST (May 13) -- Seems like this movie has been in the works for a long, long time, but here it finally is. Paul Bettany stars as a kick-ass Priest who must wage war against vampires and other unholy things. The power of Christ compels you to see this... I guess?
HESHER (May 13) -- I saw the trailer for this one, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s long-haired, nasty, dangerous metal-head reminded me of Beavis & Butt-head for some reason, though I’m sure that’s not remotely accurate. Also stars Rainn Wilson with a beard, and Natalie Portman (her fifth movie in 2011, for those keeping count), undoubtedly the weak link once again.
EVERYTHING MUST GO (May 13) -- Alcoholic Will Ferrell comes home one day to find that his wife has locked him out of the house and thrown all his stuff on the lawn, so he decides to hold a yard sale to rid his life of crap both literally and figuratively. Could be a good vehicle for Ferrell to do his thing AND show some acting chops.
A SERBIAN FILM (May 13) -- One of the most controversial movies in recent memory, it’s about an aging porn star who agrees to star in an art film, only to find that he has gotten involved in a snuff film featuring rape, pedophilia, necrophilia and God knows what unspeakable nastiness. Supposedly it is very, very graphic and very, very fucked up and could put my horror film desensitization to the ultimate test.
PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES (May 20) -- Generally speaking, fourth installments are rarely good ideas. Trilogies are just so much tidier! But the PIRATES movies have far surpassed all reasonable expectations already, the trailers look awesome and Captain Jack Sparrow remains Johnny Depp’s best role since Hunter S. Thompson. I’m all for this one.
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (May 20) -- Woody Allen continues the European tour that has revitalized his career, this time stopping in Paris with new friends Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams (who could be a perfect fit) and Marion Cotillard. Very interested in this one.
THE HANGOVER PART II (May 26) -- THE WOLFPACK IS BACK, BABY! I am crazy excited for this sequel, even though there’s no way that they can possibly capture lightning in a bottle again. Or can they? The first HANGOVER is a modern classic so I’ll give these crazy bastards the benefit of the doubt.
KUNG-FU PANDA 2 (May 26) -- The first KUNG-FU PANDA was surprisingly good & fun, so of course, they have to run it into the ground with a sequel. It will be worth it, though, if Jack Black uses the paycheck to finance an epic Tenacious D reunion album/tour. Make it happen, Jables!
THE TREE OF LIFE (May 27) -- A Terrence Malick film is always an Event with a capital E, and this is his first since 2005’s THE NEW WORLD (which in turn was his first since 1998’s THE THIN RED LINE). Something about a family in the 1950s and the loss of innocence and the history of the world, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. Will surely be incredible.
MELANCHOLIA (May TBA) -- Here’s the IMDb summary for this one: “Two sisters find their relationship challenged as a nearby planet threatens to collide into the Earth.” Now consider that it is written & directed by Lars von Trier. Hear that? That’s the sound of your mind being fucked. Insanity, starring Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, awaits.
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (June 3) -- I enjoyed the X-Men trilogy for the most part, but I would not consider myself to be a big X-Men fan, therefore I was not exactly clamoring for an X-Men prequel. Trailers looks good, though, and it seems to be well-cast (Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique FTW!), so I’ll keep an open mind.
BEAUTIFUL BOY (June 3) -- Michael Sheen and Maria Bello play parents whose lives are thrown for a loop when their son shoots up his school and kills himself. Interesting perspective on a tough subject.
SUPER 8 (June 10) -- J.J. Abrams invokes old-school Spielberg, with the assistance of Spielberg, in this alien invasion yarn. I literally got chills when I saw the trailer because it reminded me so much of, say, E.T. Not even really sure what it is about, but it is easily one of the most anticipated movies of the summer.
TROLLHUNTER (June 10) -- I saw this at the Tribeca Film Festival and it immediately leapt to the top of my favorite movies of 2011 so far. It’s a Norwegian faux documentary about a man who hunts trolls for the government, and friends, IT IS AWESOME. Must be seen to be believed, but for now, read my review HERE.
GREEN LANTERN (June 17) -- Yet another superhero that I know absolutely nothing about, and I haven’t been particularly overwhelmed by the trailers, either. Ryan Reynolds stars in the titular role, and Blake Lively is in it, too, so at the very least, you know there will be some physically fit physiques on display.
MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS (June 17) -- Jim Carrey as a ruthless real estate developer whose icy heart is warmed when he inherits a bunch of penguins. A flock of penguins? A pride of penguins? I don’t know. But Jim Carrey rules.
CARS 2 (June 24) -- After 15+ years of touting Pixar’s virtues from the peak of the highest mountains, I gotta admit, I am kinda underwhelmed by the thought of this sequel to what I consider their “worst” film. Granted, an underwhelming Pixar film could still very easily be the best animated film of the year, but this is the very first time I’ve ever had even the slightest inkling of doubt. I feel weird!
BAD TEACHER (June 24) -- I like the idea of a black comedy starring Cameron Diaz as a lewd, foul-mouthed high school teacher. I also like that her co-stars are Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake. Trailer looks pretty funny; this could be the surprise R-rated comedy gem of the summer.
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (July 1) -- As much as I consider the TRANSFORMERS films to be two of my favorite guilty pleasures of the past few years, I admit that #2 was pretty bad overall. Michael Bay admits it, too, and you know what? I believe him. I believe that he has something to prove with #3 and I, for one, am F’ING PSYCHED to see what awesome badassery he has in store. AUTOBOTS, TRANSFORM AND ROLL OUT!
LARRY CROWNE (July 1) -- No idea what this is about, but for God’s sake, it stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, and it’s Tom Hanks’ first directorial effort since 1996’s THAT THING YOU DO, one of my favorite movies of all time. I’m in.
HORRIBLE BOSSES (July 8) -- Jason Bateman, Jason Sudekis and Charlie Day plot to kill their respective bosses, played by Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston. OFFICE SPACE 2K11? Perhaps!
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 (July 15) -- The eighth and final installment of one of the all-time great movie sagas is unquestionably my most anticipated movie of 2011, and quite possibly my most anticipated movie since STAR WARS: EPISODE III. I will be seeing this at midnight in IMAX 3D and it is going to fucking rule.
WINNIE THE POOH (July 15) -- The idea of Disney bringing back Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and the rest of the gang in an all-new hand-drawn adventure in the Hundred Acre Wood makes me ridiculously happy. The trailer looks like pure joy. So psyched for this.
ANOTHER EARTH (July 20) -- I am intrigued by this indie sci-fi flick in which a planet identical to Earth is discovered on the same night that a woman kills a family in a drunk driving accident. Sounds like a feel-good movie if I ever saw one!
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (July 22) -- Gotta wonder if the death of Osama bin Laden will catapult this comic book adaptation to the top of the summer heap? Play up the patriotism and the American public could eat it up like so many Freedom Fries. Seriously, though, this looks damn good.
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS (July 22) -- Pff, I liked this movie, which stars Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake as would-be fuck-buddies, a lot better when it starred Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher and was called NO STRINGS ATTACHED! No, wait... I hated that movie... and this looks like shite, too.
COWBOYS AND ALIENS (July 29) -- Jon Favreau directs Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in a sci-fi western that, by all powers of the universe, should kick all unholy ass. Definitely looking forward to this one.
CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE (July 29) -- I automatically resent this movie because it’s probably part of what made Steve Carell leave THE OFFICE. But it has an amazing cast (Carell, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei) and looks great, so I GUESS I’ll see it. Also, anyone else think that Kevin Bacon is only in there to help keep the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game fresh?
THE SMURFS (July 29) -- Simply horrific. Neil Patrick Harris, what are you thinking?!
THE FUTURE (July 29) -- Miranda July’s first film since 2005’s ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW, a tiny film that left a big impression on anyone who saw it, for better or worse.... ))<>(( This one, about a couple who adopts a stray cat with life-changing results, sounds weird, and probably is.
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (August 5) -- James Franco vs. an army of damn, dirty, super-intelligent apes portrayed by motion-capture master Andy Serkis! Didn’t think much of this until I saw the trailer and was kind of taken aback by the atmosphere. Now I’m down with the apes.
THE CHANGE-UP (August 5) -- It’s, like, FREAKY FRIDAY with Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds, from the writers of THE HANGOVER and the director of WEDDING CRASHERS. I think that’s all we need to know!
HIGHER GROUND (August 12) -- The subject matter sounds somewhat religious, which does not appeal to me, but two words guarantee that I will see this movie as soon as it opens: VERA FARMIGA, who stars and directs. Love her!
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (August 12) -- Saw the trailer for this recently and was creeped out by some of the visuals. That it’s co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro just adds fuel to the notion that we may actually get a halfway decent late-summer horror flick!
30 MINUTES OR LESS (August 12) -- Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride and Aziz Ansari in an R-rated bank heist comedy? Say no more!
CONAN THE BARBARIAN (August 19) -- Really?
SPY KIDS 4: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD (August 19) -- Really??
FINAL DESTINATION 5 (August 26) -- REALLY?!?
A GOOD OLD FASHIONED ORGY (August 26) -- Jason Sudekis attempts to get all his thirty-something high school friends together for a big orgy as one last hurrah before they all go off and get married and have kids and stuff. Hmmm, that gives me an idea.... (KIDDING!) (Or am I...?) (Yes.)
OUR IDIOT BROTHER (August 26) -- Paul Rudd plays a long-haired, bearded, hapless stoner who ends up crashing with his three sisters (Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, and Elizabeth Banks... damn good genes in that family) and, like, hijinks ensue, I guess. I don’t rightly know... but this movie had me at Paul Rudd.
THE DEBT (August 31) -- Been seeing the trailer for this for a long time. Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and CIARAN HINDS portray elder versions of Mossad agents who hunted hidden Nazis in the ‘60s, and must later tie up some loose ends. Yes, folks, it’s a new addition in the ever-popular KICK-ASS JEWS sub-genre (see such films as MUNICH and DEFIANCE).
Aaaaand there we have it. Lots of good stuff... and some not-so-good stuff that I will undoubtedly see anyway. Should be an interesting summer at the movies, so be sure to mark your calendars and plan your vacations accordingly. The games begin this Friday!