Now that we’ve all taken a little time to enjoy the outdoors—and we’re all nursing our sunburn and bug bites with the appropriate creams and lotions and gels—it’s time to step back inside for another look at the summer’s biggest (and smallest) movies. After you take a minute or two to recap May and June, let’s move on to the movies of July and August.
Another holiday weekend gives the box office another kick in the pants. This Fourth of July, you can choose to see Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp in Gore Verbinski’s western, The Lone Ranger. Or, if you’re planning a family outing, you can take the kids to see Gru turn (kinda) good in Despicable Me 2.
Meanwhile, for something a little smaller, there’s also The Way, Way Back, a coming-of-age comedy directed by Nat Faxon and Community’s Jim Rash—and starring AnnaSophia Robb, Steve Carell, and Allison Janney, among others.
Kristin’s Pick of the Week: As much as I adore Johnny Depp, I’ve got to give my holiday weekend pick to Despicable Me 2. I think I’ve watched the original five or six times—and I love it more with each viewing. So, sequel or not, I can’t wait to see the follow-up.
This year’s July 4th weekend seems pretty low-key. Instead of heading to theaters on the Fourth to see the latest big-budget explosions, you’ll have to wait an extra week for the action and boom. Guillermo del Toro’s latest, Pacific Rim, appears to be a mix of Battleship and Transformers. If the very thought of that pairing makes you more than a little bit hesitant, you’re not alone. I can only hope that del Toro makes it better than it sounds.
Speaking of pairings that should make you more than a little bit hesitant, Grown Ups 2 also hits theaters this week, reuniting Adam Sandler with old pals Kevin James, Chris Rock, and David Spade.
Kristin’s Pick of the Week: Again, I can’t say that I’m exactly thrilled about seeing either one of this week’s new movies—but, since I’ve got a more faith in Guillermo del Toro than I do in Dennis Dugan, I’ll give my pick to Pacific Rim.
Bruce Willis once again teams up with John Malkovich and Helen Mirren for Red 2. And, since Morgan Freeman’s character made his departure at the end of the first film, he’ll be replaced by Anthony Hopkins.
Meanwhile, the original Red’s director, Robert Schwentke, also has a new acronym adventure out this week. R.I.P.D. stars Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges as undead cops trying to hunt down the bad guys.
For more thrills this week, there’s The Conjuring, a horror flick directed by Saw’s James Wan. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star as paranormal investigators on a haunting case.
And, finally, for the kids, there’s Turbo—a very different Ryan Reynolds movie. In this DreamWorks animated adventure, Reynolds stars as a snail who’s set his sights on winning the Indy 500.
Kristin’s Pick of the Week: This week offers quite a variety of options—but I’ve got to go with Red 2. I loved the original, and I’m hoping that the sequel will be every bit as over-the-top.
He already appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Now Hugh Jackman returns in the brilliantly titled The Wolverine—in which the blade-wielding mutant travels to Japan and encounters an old enemy.
Woody Allen’s latest, Blue Jasmine, also makes its way to theaters this week. Allen is keeping quiet about the plot—which adds a little bit of intrigue. And the cast—which features everyone from Cate Blanchett to Louis C.K.—makes it even more intriguing.
And, finally this week, Sundance darling Fruitvale Station tells the true story of Oscar, a young man who decides to get a head start on his resolutions on New Year’s Eve of 2008, encountering friends and enemies along the way.
Kristin’s Pick of the Week: Woody Allen is a pretty hit-or-miss director—but since he got his latest miss out of the way with last year’s To Rome with Love, I’m hoping for a hit with Blue Jasmine.
Generally speaking, August tends to be a time of corny comedies, silly thrillers, and action movies that weren’t quite up to the highest summer blockbuster standards. So keep that in mind when we take a look at this week’s releases—like 300: Rise of an Empire. The sequel to 2007’s monotonous adventure replaces director Zack Snyder with the guy who directed indie dramedy Smart People. So we’ll just have to wait and see how that works out for him.
Meanwhile, in another action movie, 2 Guns, Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington team up to play a couple of crime fighters who are supposed to be investigating one another.
For the kids, there’s The Smurfs 2 (opening on July 31st), the sequel to a movie so bad that thoughts of the follow-up already give me nightmares. And, for the teens, there’s another Sundance hit, The Spectacular Now, starring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley.
Kristin’s Pick of the Week: In August, pretty much everything is a toss-up. But since Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington are two of the most lovable action stars around, I’ll give 2 Guns my pick.
2009’s District 9 was a huge August surprise. Now, director Neill Blomkamp hopes for the same success with his long-awaited follow-up, Elysium. The futuristic thriller promises similar sci-fi grit—only with a big-name cast led by Matt Damon.
For a slightly younger audience, there’s Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, the sequel to 2010’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Though the cast has been scaled back a bit, it includes Nathan Fillion, which makes it just fine in my book.
And, for an even younger audience, there’s Disney’s Planes. Originally planned as a straight-to-video 3D adventure, this Cars-inspired kids’ flick stars kid-unfriendly comic Dane Cook as the voice of Dusty, a crop duster who’s afraid of heights.
And, for a few laughs, there’s We’re the Millers, a comedy about a drug dealer’s plan to create a fake family to help him smuggle pot from Mexico.
Kristin’s Pick of the Week: Really, this week’s releases could go either way. I’m holding out hope for all four—but I’ve got to give Elysium my most hopeful pick of the week.
The next in a long line of summer sequels is Kick-Ass 2, which reunites Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Kick-Ass with Chloë Moretz’s Hit Girl. As the dynamic duo teams up with other superhero hopefuls, Kick-Ass’s old friend plots revenge.
Meanwhile, a bunch of other films scramble to hit theaters before the end of the summer, including the R-rated high school comedy (no, it doesn’t make sense to me, either), The To Do List, The Sitter, and director David Gordon Green’s latest comedy, Prince Avalanche. For some drama there’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, by Terrence Malick’s pal, David Lowery. And, for some corporate thrills, there’s Paranoia, starring Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, and Liam Hemsworth.
Kristin’s Pick of the Week: Well, you’ve definitely got plenty of options this week—but I’ll give my pick to the superheroes of Kick-Ass 2.
If you’re a fan of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments novels, you’ll be counting down the days until August 26th, when the paranormal teen fantasy, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, hits theaters.
Or, for a light look at the end of the world, there’s Edgar Wright’s The World’s End, which once again stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (as well as Martin Freeman and Rosamund Pike) as pub-crawling revelers who are forced to battle a mysterious threat.
Since August wouldn’t be complete without a few horror flicks, there’s also You’re Next, an indie thriller about a family that comes under attack by a group of ruthless killers.
And, for a little kung-fu action, there’s Wong Kar Wai’s long-awaited Grandmasters.
Kristin’s Pick of the Week: This one’s a no-brainer for me. Edgar Wright is one of my favorite directors—and he’s at the top of his game when Pegg and Frost are at his side. So I can’t wait for The World’s End.
As is usually the case, another summer ends not with a bang but a whimper. This Labor Day weekend, tween girls will be flocking to theaters to see the concert doc One Direction: This Is Us (which—believe it or not—was directed by Morgan Spurlock, who must have needed a quick paycheck).
The rest of the week’s releases, meanwhile, are of the thriller variety. In Getaway, Ethan Hawke stars as a race car driver who teams up with a hacker (played by Selena Gomez) to try to find his kidnapped wife. In Closed Circuit, Rebecca Hall and Eric Bana team up as a pair of defense attorneys hired to defend an international terrorist. And Ashley Greene stars in Random, a horror flick about a college girl who comes under attack.
Kristin’s Pick of the Week: This last week of the summer is typically a pretty tough one. But, since I enjoyed director John Crowley’s Is Anybody There?, I’ll give Closed Circuit my pick.
Whew! We’ve made it through our look at another summer full of superheroes, sequels…and silly comedies. Pick up your tickets, and stop at the concession stand for a jumbo popcorn, a sugary drink, and a box of candy, too. Be sure to save me a seat—because I’ll be seeing you at the movies!