Sick of sitting through the pointless comedies and painful chick flicks that are so prevalent during the dreary winter months? Well, never fear, my movie-loving friends! The Movie Dead Zone is behind you—and Summer Blockbuster Season is beginning! Sure, summer may not officially arrive for weeks, but you and I know that summer doesn’t really start with the summer solstice. It starts with the first big-budget blockbuster of the year—the one that hits theaters on the first weekend in May.
This year, Robert Downey, Jr. kicks off the long-awaited Summer Blockbuster Season when he returns as Tony Stark in Iron Man 2, starting four whole months of over-the-top, action-packed movie goodness. The winter blahs are behind us; here are some of the highlights of what we’ve got to look forward to:
Did I mention that Iron Man 2 is opening on May 7th? Can I possibly be any more geeked? Probably not. Sure, I realize that, as a film critic, I’m supposed to stay completely objective. But, after four months of sitting through stuff like this and this, I think I deserve to be just a little bit excited about some super-slick, brainless, big-budget action.
But, if superheroes aren’t your thing, you can always see the documentary Babies instead.
Kristin’s Pick: Do you really have to ask?
Iron Man 2 may dominate the first weekend of the summer movie season, but it’ll get some friendly competition on the 14th from Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe as Sherwood Forest’s favorite outlaw.
Meanwhile, for the ladies (those who don’t have a thing for Russell Crowe, that is), there’s the romance Letters to Juliet, starring the ever-present Amanda Seyfried, teamed up with the ever-charming Gael García Bernal. And Queen Latifah stars in Just Wright, a chick flick about a physical therapist who falls for her basketball-playing patient.
Kristin’s Pick: Though the Russell Crowe / Ridley Scott pairing hasn’t really been much of a success since Gladiator, I’m hoping for a hit with Robin Hood.
After a couple of weeks of movies for the grown-ups, kiddie favorite Shrek returns for his fourth—and (please, let it be the) final—feature, Shrek Forever After.
Meanwhile, Will Forte stars in the SNL skit / Pepsi commercial adaptation, MacGruber. My critic pal Jason Zingale saw it at this year’s South by Southwest, and his response was pretty positive—but only time will tell whether I’ll be able to get beyond my pre-teen crush on Richard Dean Anderson and enjoy a full movie of MacGyver ribbing.
Kristin’s Pick: I’ll give MacGruber my pick, mostly because Val Kilmer plays the villain—and after recently seeing him again in Tombstone, I was reminded of just how awesome he can be.
Actually, Memorial Day weekend starts a day early this year, with the release of Sex and the City 2 on the 27th. This time, the girls end up on a movie set in Morocco, where they end up wearing all kinds of fabulous fashions. Fortunately, the sequel is shorter than the 2008 original. Let’s just hope it’s a little less painful, too.
Also this weekend, Jake Gyllenhaal—who’s always been like the cool, indie version of Tobey Maguire—stars in Disney’s video game adaptation, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. He goes to battle against George A. Romero’s latest, Survival of the Dead—and, in limited release, Micmacs by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (of Amélie fame).
Kristin’s Pick: Though it isn’t opening in all markets this weekend, I’m hoping that Micmacs will be opening in a theater near me—because I can’t wait to see it.
On the first weekend in June, Katherine Heigl once again teams up with The Ugly Truth director Robert Luketic for Killers. If the two couldn’t make a rom-com with Gerard Butler work, I have to admit that I don’t have a whole lot of faith for one with Ashton Kutcher.
Perhaps the teaming of Jonah Hill and Russell Brand in the Judd Apatow-produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall spin-off, Get Him to the Greek will be better. We’ll just have to wait and see whether Brand will be outrageous and funny…or outrageous and obnoxious.
Meanwhile, for the kids, there’s Marmaduke. And, if you don’t fit into one of the demographics already covered this week, you can always check out Adrien Brody in the sci-fi thriller, Splice.
Kristin’s Pick: The pickins are pretty slim this week, so I’ll cross my fingers and hope for a few good laughs in Get Him to the Greek.
It’s remake week! Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, and District 9’s Sharlto Copley team up for The A-Team, while Will Smith’s son, Jaden, becomes the next Karate Kid.
Kristin’s Pick: I’ll admit that I barely remember the old A-Team, but I’m eager to see how Copley handles his sophomore role.
On the 18th, animation powerhouse Pixar celebrates the release of its latest mega-hit, Toy Story 3. It doesn’t even matter if it’s any good (though it’s Pixar, so it probably will be); it’s guaranteed to be huge anyway.
Meanwhile, Josh Brolin stars in the comic adaptation Jonah Hex. With a cast that includes John Malkovich (yay!), Megan Fox (boo!), and Will Arnett (huh?), this one could go either way.
Kristin’s Pick: This one’s a no-brainer. There are few sure things in life, but it seems as though Great Pixar Movies are on the short list.
Adam Sandler seems to be getting rather introspective lately. Last summer, he starred in the not-really-funny Funny People—and, this summer, he stars in Grown Ups, a comedy about a bunch of old friends who reunite at their basketball coach’s funeral. The cast is packed with people who were, at some time, pretty funny, but we’ll just have to wait and see if they can pull off the aging-funnyman schtick.
Meanwhile, speaking of aging stars, Tom Cruise stars in Knight and Day, an intriguing action-comedy with Cameron Diaz.
Kristin’s Pick: This one’s a toss-up, but after Cruise’s hilarious cameo in Tropic Thunder, I’m kinda cheering for the guy again. So I’ll pick Knight and Day.
Actually, Fourth of July weekend starts on Wednesday, June 30, with The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. I suppose this means that I’m going to have to dust off my copy of the book and actually read it—or maybe I’ll just skip it this time and go straight for the movie.
Also this holiday weekend, oh-so-humble director M. Night Shyamalan rejoices in the release of his family-friendly adventure, The Last Airbender, and moody teens rejoice (again!) in the release of Twelve, starring Chace Crawford and Emma Roberts.
Kristin’s Pick: I’m kinda backed into a corner with this one. Do I pick a film in a series that lost me at “hello,” an action film by a director who’s disappointed me a few too many times, or a moody teen drama by Joel Schumacher? Then again, it doesn’t really matter what I think; Twi-hards will be camping out to see Eclipse anyway.
Despite those obnoxious teaser trailers, Despicable Me might not be half bad. If nothing else, Steve Carell should be entertaining as the voice of a struggling super-villain who adopts three cute little orphans.
Also this week, Adrien Brody stars in yet another sci-fi thriller (see Splice, June 4), Predators. And, in limited release, John C. Reilly faces off against his new girlfriend’s son, played by Jonah Hill, in Cyrus.
Kristin’s Pick: I’m still a sucker for Steve Carell—and struggling animated super-villains—so I’ll keep my fingers crossed for Despicable Me.
Ever since I saw the first teaser trailer for director Christopher Nolan’s Inception, I’ve been dying to see it. I still don’t totally understand what it’s about, but I don’t even care. It sounds like Memento + The Dark Knight ( = awesome).
Also this week, my favorite guilty pleasure, Nic Cage, teams up with geeky twenty-something stereotype Jay Baruchel for Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. I’m hoping for some high-energy, cheesy fun.
Kristin’s Pick: Did I mention that I can’t wait to see Inception? Yeah, I thought I might have.
Steve Carell is back—this time, in Jay Roach’s live-action comedy, Dinner for Schmucks. Carell plays a crazy IRS employee who befriends a rising executive, played by Paul Rudd.
Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie takes on her latest action role—as CIA agent Evelyn Salt in Salt. No matter what you think of her relationships or her ever-growing brood, you’ve got to admit that Angie can make a killer action movie—and Salt promises to be a whole lot of hard-hitting fun.
And, finally, for kids, there’s the adaptation of yet another beloved kids’ book—this time, Ramona and Beezus. As a fan of the books, I’m hoping that Disney darling Selena Gomez (who plays Beezus) and Joey King (who plays mischievous little Ramona) will do Beverly Cleary proud.
Kristin’s Pick: As much as I love Paul Rudd, I wouldn’t even dream of choosing against Angelina Jolie—mostly because she could beat me up, even if she were carrying all 25 of her children and baking cupcakes for a birthday party at the UN at the same time.
The new CBS Films has released just two movies, but since those two films were The Back-up Plan and Extraordinary Measures, I’ve already begun to dread any future releases. I’m not holding out a lot of hope for Vanessa Hudgens’s teen fairy tale, Beastly, either. But, hey…I’ve been wrong before.
Also this week, another kids’ comedy, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. If the title sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the follow-up to Cats & Dogs, which came out nine years ago. But I’m pretty sure that fans of the original will be too busy moving into their college dorms to take notice.
And, in limited release, Jim Carrey stars with Ewan McGregor in I Love You, Phillip Morris and Robert Duvall and Bill Murray star in Get Low.
Kristin’s Pick: It may be a very un-summer film, but I’m intrigued to see Duvall and Murray together in Get Low.
By August, Summer Blockbuster Season generally starts to slow down—and it seems like this August is no different.
This year, the cool-down month begins with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg playing detectives in director Adam McKay’s buddy-cop comedy, The Other Guys, while Luke Wilson and Giovanni Ribisi navigate the seas of Internet commerce in Middle Men.
Meanwhile, dance films take on a whole new dimension in Jon Chu’s Step Up 3-D.
Kristin’s Pick: Adam McKay and Will Ferrell have made some pretty funny movies together—and I’m hoping they can do it again for The Other Guys.
The weekend of the 13th is, by far, the coolest weekend of August—with everyone who is (or has been) anyone in the action genre getting together for Sly Stallone’s The Expendables. It could be awesome, or it could be awesomely bad. Either way, I look forward to finding out for myself.
Meanwhile, for the girls, there’s Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love, based on the best-seller about a recent divorcee who journeys around the world to find peace and fulfillment.
And, finally, everybody’s favorite lovable loser, Michael Cera, stars in yet another comic book adaptation, director Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
Kristin’s Pick: It’s no secret that I adore Edgar Wright’s work—and I can’t wait to see what he and Michael Cera have up their collective sleeve.
Now, on the 20th, we’re back to the same old August movies—with Matt Dillon as a detective in Takers, Jennifer Aniston in the artificial insemination comedy The Switch, and Bow Wow in Lottery Ticket. Oh, yes…and Emma Thompson returns in Nanny McFee Returns.
Kristin’s Pick: I will gladly see anything with Emma Thompson. So count me in for Nanny McFee.
And, finally, the summer of 2010 ends with the usual horror movies—The Last Exorcism and Piranha 3-D—along with Going the Distance a fluffy chick flick starring Drew Barrymore and on-again-off-again boyfriend Justin Long as a couple trying to maintain a long-distance relationship. And, in limited release, the Sundance hit, Happythankyoumoreplease.
Kristin’s Pick: I do love Drew—and I once maintained a long-distance relationship of my own—so I’ll be spending the last weekend of the summer watching Going the Distance.
And, with that, we come to the close of another Summer Blockbuster Season—a season of thrills…of chills…of ridiculously bloated production budgets. Only time will tell which ones will hit and which ones will miss, but you can rest assured that I’ll be there, in the theater, keeping a sweatshirt handy to fight off those air-conditioned theater chills. I’ll be taking it all in and reporting back to you—so you can make the most of your precious summer free time.