For the last few weeks, spring has been a bit of a tease—sunshine and warm breezes one day, icy chunks of hail the next. So it was pretty hard to imagine that another Summer Blockbuster season was right around the corner. But here we are, my movie loving friends. The first weekend in May is just days away, and it’s time to start planning your summer movie schedule.
Here in Film Critic Land, I’m gearing up for another summer of explosions and outrageous laughs. I’m marking my calendar and checking it twice, and I’ll be sure to let you know which movies are naughty and which ones are nice. But, in the meantime, here’s a look at the next four months of loud, laugh-filled, air-conditioned goodness at your neighborhood theater.
Hugh Jackman kicks off the season with X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But since Fox has announced that they won’t be screening their X-Men prequel for critics, I’ll be checking out the 3D animated sci-fi flick Battle for Terra and Matthew McConaughey’s Christmas Carol-esque chick flick, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past instead.
Director J. J. Abrams picks up the Star Trek franchise with his tale of the Enterprise crew’s origins. Believe it or not, it’ll be my first-ever Star Trek movie experience—and I’ve been looking forward to it (while trying to resist the urge to TiVo any Star Trek stuff I can find) for months. Also on the 8th, Mos Def, Mike Epps, and Donald Faison star in the dark comedy, Next Day Air, and Y Tu Mamá También’s Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna team up as soccer-playing brothers in Rudo y Cursi (in limited release).
Tom Hanks gets a new haircut (phew!) as he reprises his role as symbologist Robert Langdon in Ron Howard’s The DaVinci Code follow-up, Angels & Demons. Meanwhile, Jennifer Aniston and the always-hilarious Steve Zahn team up for the romantic comedy, Management, and director Rian Johnson’s caper comedy, The Brothers Bloom finally gets a limited release. The film opens in more markets on the 29th.
A very angry Christian Bale (admit it…you’ve listened to the “Christian Bale Remix” dozens of times since it hit the Internet) opens the weekend early (on Thursday, the 21st), starring as John Connor in Charlie’s Angels director McG’s Terminator Salvation. Then, on the 22nd, Ben Stiller returns to the Smithsonian for Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, the Wayans family spoofs dance movies in Dance Flick, and Jessica Biel stars as a new bride whose mother-in-law (Kristin Scott Thomas) doesn’t approve in the period piece, Easy Virtue (in limited release).
Animation powerhouse Pixar closes out first month of Summer Blockbuster Season with Up, starring Ed Asner as the voice of an old codger who takes to the skies to see South America—with a young stowaway. In an industry of hits and misses, it seems as if Pixar just can’t fail. Could this be their next Oscar winner? We’ll just have to wait and see. Also on the 29th, Spider-Man (and The Evil Dead) director Sam Raimi releases his latest horror film, Drag Me to Hell, about a loan officer who’s cursed after foreclosing on a poor old lady.
June opens on a lighter note, with a handful of chick flicks and comedies—like Will Ferrell’s sci-fi comedy, Land of the Lost. Nia Vardalos of My Big Fat Greek Wedding stars in My Life in Ruins as a Greek travel guide who’s looking for love. Three groomsmen awake from a crazy bachelor party in Vegas to find that their room’s been trashed and the groom is gone in Old School director Todd Phillips’s The Hangover. And, finally, Away We Go, by Revolutionary Road director Sam Mendes, stars John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph as expectant parents looking for the perfect home.
Didn’t get enough of Eddie Murphy in last summer’s Meet Dave? (Really? You didn’t?) Then try Imagine That, another family movie, in which Murphy plays a finance executive with a young daughter who gives him stock advice. Meanwhile, in the remake of 1974 action film, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, John Travolta stars as an angry nutcase who’s out for revenge on the city of New York—so he takes a subway train and its passengers hostage.
Love is in the air on the 19th, with a couple of romantic comedies: Woody Allen’s latest, Whatever Works, and The Proposal, with Sandra Bullock starring as a Canadian businesswoman who decides to marry her assistant (Ryan Reynolds) so she can stay in the States. Also this week, to be filed under “Summer Movies I’d Rather Not Think About,” Jack Black and Michael Cera star in the Stone Age comedy, Year One.
The last weekend in June starts early, when Michael Bay releases Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (the follow-up to 2007’s Transformers) on the 24th. Later that weekend, The Queen director Stephen Frears releases Cheri, starring Michelle Pfeiffer as an aging courtesan from 1920s Paris. Cameron Diaz, Alec Baldwin, and Abigail Breslin star in My Sister’s Keeper, based on the novel by Jodi Picoult. Julia Roberts stars in the family drama, Fireflies in the Garden. And David Lynch’s daughter, Jennifer, walks in her father’s perplexing footsteps for the serial killer thriller Surveillance.
July starts with a bang—with Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp as ‘30s gangster John Dillinger. Meanwhile, the Ice Age gang tries to keep the franchise from melting away (in 3D!) in their third outing, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.
On the 10th, Borat’s Sacha Baron Cohen returns for more lawsuit-worthy pranks as Austrian fashion reporter Brüno. But geeky guys everywhere will want to opt for I Love You, Beth Cooper, the story of a high school valedictorian who gets a chance to hang out with the love of his life, the hottest girl in school, Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere).
Teen wizards rejoice! Harry & Co. return on Wednesday, the 15th, for part six, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (and it’s about time!). But if you’re all Quidditched out, check out (500) Days of Summer, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in the story of a young man’s year-and-a-half-long relationship with the girl he believes is his destiny. Or even All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, an entertaining little thriller that’s been on and off release schedules since 2007.
On the 24th, Disney releases G-Force, a 3D adventure starring animated guinea pigs—which, let’s face it here, are a lot less annoying than Chihuahuas. Also that weekend, The Ugly Truth stars Katherine Heigl as a morning news show producer who’s forced to deal with an obnoxious new star (Gerard Butler) in order to give her ratings a much-needed boost. There’s also Orphan, a thriller starring the lovely and talented Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard as a couple who adopt a little girl who might not be as angelic as she seems.
As July winds down, Adam Sandler stars as a terminally-ill comic in Funny People. Hugh Dancy stars as a sheltered young man who falls for his outgoing neighbor (Rose Byrne) in Adam (set for release on the 29th). And a group of kids fend off an alien attack during their family vacation in They Came from Upstairs.
August is typically a bit of a movie dead-zone—but this August might actually have a bunch of good movie-going options. The month opens with The Mummy director Stephen Sommers’s CG-heavy G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel team up for Disney’s When in Rome (which is sure to have me reminiscing about last fall’s Italian vacation). Meryl Streep and Amy Adams once again team up for Julie & Julia, a film that’s based on a blog (and the book). And, finally, Robert Rodriguez’s latest, Shorts, is a family fantasy about a kid who finds a magical wish-granting rock.
It’s rarely a good sign when a movie is bumped from an award season release to an August release, but I’m still holding out hope for The Time Traveler’s Wife, based on the stunning novel by Audrey Niffenegger. Meanwhile, director Ang Lee’s latest, Taking Woodstock, also gets the dreaded August-release treatment. Set in 1969, it tells the true story of Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin), a man who was influential in making Woodstock what it was. Also this weekend, Jeremy Piven stars as the ultimate used-car salesman in The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard. And musical comedy Bandslam features Disney’s Vanessa Hudgens and Alyson Michalka as teen rockers.
Another surprising August release this year is Quentin Tarantino’s eagerly anticipated Inglourious Basterds, the story of a group of Jewish-American soldiers who are sent to spread fear throughout the Third Reich by massacring Nazis. Also on the 21st, Post Grad stars Alexis Bledel as a college grad who loses her dream job and is forced to return home to her kooky family. And Robin Williams stars as a high school teacher in writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait’s World’s Greatest Dad (in limited release).
My critic pal Bill Clark can’t wait for August 28th. He’s been talking about it for ages. Why? Because that’s the release of Final Destination: Death Trip. In 3D. Sounds like a pretty entertaining way to end the summer, don’t you think? It’s going up against Rob Zombie’s H2, the sequel to his 2007 remake, Halloween. Also on the 28th, The Boat That Rocked stars all of your favorite Brits (plus Philip Seymour Hoffman) in a story about rock radio pirates in the ‘60s.
So there you have it…four months of thrills, chills, and buttery popcorn at your friendly neighborhood theater. Be sure to check back all summer long as I report back on the hits and misses.