Goodbye summer blockbuster, hello …

A CN&R preview to the slew of good, bad and ugly films hitting multiplexes this fall

Ah … summer isn’t what it used to be. And as the theaters reserved for each presumptive blockbuster fail to deliver, little room was left for the smaller flicks. This particular summer provided blockbusters that for the most part hit the ground and fizzled, and has finally moved into its final stages, a cinematic battlefield strewn with the fallen soldiers that failed to stand and deliver: A Superman that couldn’t fly. X-Men that played as if the cast was composed of Wendy Carlos, Renee Richards and Christine Jorgensen. A Lady in the Water that sank like a stone. A summer of fizzle during which the only sizzle was reserved for a flouncing pirate.

It was only the cool allure of a dark, air-conditioned multiplex screening room as an escape from the furnace blast of Chico summer that made these misfires worth the ticket prices. Barely.

And now the acrid smell of Hollywood despair fades off with the advent of the cool fall air and the support troops move in to erase the summertime debacle from our collective minds. It’s time to see what multiplex joys await us amid the fall of leaves, and which ones will stand and deliver.

Aug. 25

Mark Wahlberg dons some ‘70s threads and bad hair as he portrays a Philly bartender who, after his personal life hits the skids, wins a spot on the Philadelphia Eagles lineup in this inspirational, true-life story. Rated PG.

Hip-hop duo Outkast promotes a soundtrack album with a feature-length music video set in the Prohibition-era deep South. A speakeasy owner and his piano player contend with gangsters who have their eyes on his real estate … and we’re not just talkin’ ’bout the club. Rated R.


As its payoff for bringing Dukes of Hazzard to the big screen, the Broken Lizard comedy team of Super Troopers gets a shot in the big-time arena of competitive beer drinking. Rated R.

The Protector
Director Prachya Pinkaew follows up Ong Bak with this lackluster attempt to bring the next Bruce Lee to the international stage. After an evil gang steals his elephant, a poor Thai boy must go to Australia to retrieve it. The big question is, how much would the shipping be to bring it back? Not rated.

How to Eat Fried Worms
Now they’re remaking ‘80s made-for-television movies. A put-upon grade schooler faces down the school bully after a dare is laid out involving the titular premise. Rated PG-13.

Sept. 1

This Film is Not Yet Rated
A documentary investigating the behind-the-scenes maneuverings, implicit hypocrisy and theocratical leanings of the Motion Picture Association of America, the folks who censor our films of adult content but generally give a by to onscreen mayhem. Not rated.

A seeming riff on the old film noir classic DOA infused with more than a few lines from Speed. Jason Statham (The Pink Panther, Snatch) plays a hit man who learns that he’s been dosed with a deadly drug that gives him only a few hours to track down his killers before he dies. Only problem is, if his heartbeat falls below a certain level in the interim, he cashes out immediately. Rated R.

The Wicker Man

The Wicker Man
Completely unnecessary remake of the ‘70s cult Brit movie involving a cop investigating the case of a missing young girl and stumbling across the odd paganistic activities going down on a remote island. Nicolas Cage gets to mope around some more with that silly quizzical look on his face. Only worth it if he suffers the same fate as the original protagonist, executed with better effects in loving detail. Rated PG-13.

Sept. 8

The Covenant
So this is how far once-wunderkind action director Renny Harlin (still doing penance for Cutthroat Island) has sunk. A quartet of GQ models play immortal collegiates whose supremacy is threatened in this fratboy version of The Craft. Aka: Lost Frat Boys. Rated PG-13.

A cop investigates the suspicious environment surrounding the supposed suicide of George Reeves (Ben Affleck), television’s original Man of Steel who apparently wasn’t faster than a speeding bullet. Rated R.

DOA: Dead or Alive
Oh boy … another movie based on a video game. At least this time schlock director Uwe Boll is nowhere around. Rated PG-13.

Sept. 15

Gridiron Gang
The Rock gets another chance to spend a movie cocking his eyebrow in the purported inspirational and based-on-a-true-story (they really do need to come up with one word that combines those two elements) movie about a former NFL coach who takes a bunch of convicts under his wing and runs them through The Longest Yard. But without the funny. Rated PG-13.

The Last Kiss
Crossword-clue deb Zach Braff gives being taken seriously as a dramatic actor another try in this piece about a man debating whether he wants to do the right thing with his pregnant girlfriend. Sounds like the perfect first-date movie. Rated R.

The Guardian
Kevin Costner attempts to surface for the nth time, this time as a sea rescue swimmer who lost his crew and retreats to instructing, but ends up having to return to the roiling waves for a climactic rescue of his headstrong student played by Ashton Kutcher. Not yet rated.

The Black Dahlia

The Black Dahlia
Neo-noir shenanigans from Brian De Palma in this dark flick based on the book by cult writer James Ellroy, in turn based on the infamous ‘40s case involving the unsolved murder and dismemberment of a Hollywood ingénue. Rated R.

Everyone’s Hero
Animated family film involving a small boy’s cross-country mission to return Babe Ruth’s baseball bat before the big game. Rated G.

Sept. 22

The Science of Sleep

The Science of Sleep
More French oddness from screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s frequent collaborator Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) about a man whose dream-life creeps into the day-to-day as he tries to woo his lovely next-door neighbor. Or is it the other way around? Freaks. Rated R.

Jackass: Number Two

Jackass: Number Two
Apparently, truth in advertising is sometimes applied in Hollywood. Sequel to the inexplicable cult phenomenon MTV freakshow and its theatrical adaptation—stupid people do stupid things, and across America the Darwin Awards get more nominees. Rated R.

The movie that Ronny Yu bailed Snakes on a Plane for, with the supposed martial arts swan song of Jet Li as … well, does it matter what it’s about as long as it kicks down with the asskicking? Rated PG-13.

All the King’s Men
Remake of the classic film based on the equally classic book, this time with Jude Law. Rated PG-13.

Ever wonder what happened to the last Project Greenlight production? Well, here is your two-day chance to find out before it’s released on DVD in October. By all accounts, a delirious splatterfest in the style of the Evil Dead series. Rated R.

Sept. 29

Open Season
Hey … it’s an animated film with anthropomorphized critters. You don’t see that every day. A deer hooks up with a grizzly bear to survive hunting season and avoid getting caught in the crossfire between Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck. I wish. Rated PG.

Children of Men
In an apocalyptic future with the world’s populace rendered sterile, a man must escort through great odds the last hope of humanity to a sanctuary. Rated R.

Action piece set in the air over the battlefields of WWI, involving a bunch of American fliers seeking the acceptance of their French counterparts. Obviously not based on a true story. Rated PG-13.