Big-screen summer

RN&R’s top picks for summer movies

Brutus finally made it to the movies, and he didn’t even get stuck behind that guy with the cell phone.

Brutus finally made it to the movies, and he didn’t even get stuck behind that guy with the cell phone.

Photo By David Robert

It’s a sad state of summer movie affairs when I find myself pinning hopes for blockbuster goodness on a film by Michael Bay (Transformers). So far, a lot of sure things have been letdowns, and I may have hit a personal record in May for most negative reviews in a row. Still reeling from Kickin’ It Old Skool. The season got off to a disappointing start with the bombastic Spider-Man 3, an overstuffed mess that did the webbed one no favors. Peter Parker danced with his fancy dark emo haircut, and everything went to blazes. It was supposed to be director Sam Raimi’s last go round with the character, and it would be sad to see him go out on such a mediocre note.

Still, all hope is not lost for the summer movie season. It has only just begun, and the deep-pocketed blockbuster producers have plenty of time to redeem themselves. This list encapsulates the films I’m most curious about. By curious, I don’t necessarily mean excited. I’m a little worried about some of these prospects and their potential to blow. With the eagerly anticipated Spider-Man 3 stinking up the place, all bets are off on other films.

Knocked Up
The latest from Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), with Seth Rogen attaining much deserved headliner status, has been cracking me up for months with its previews. A good nonstop laugh-fest appeals to me most, and this one appears to have the goods. That is one funky looking baby in the preview.

Live Free or Die Hard
It appears that the fourth Die Hard film will be a PG-13 affair—an unfortunate thing when the lead character’s catchphrase is “Yippee-Kay-Yay Motherfucker!” One of the appeals of Die Hard has been its unabashed violence and profanity, so cleaning up Bruce Willis’ language and toning down the bloodletting reeks of studio greediness. Willis is sans hairpiece in this one.

Evan Almighty
This is one of the stranger sequels to come down the pike in some time. Steve Carell takes his supporting character from Bruce Almighty, Evan, and gets his own movie. (Jim Carrey opted out of a sequel, which he might be regretting after his latest bombs.) The premise: Evan must build an ark while his beard grows to mythic Noah proportions. Looks pretty funny. Because it’s Carell, this could actually work.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
The first one was atrocious, but after the failure of Spider-Man, I’m looking for a satisfactory comic book movie. The trailers look pretty good, so, even though the same team that booted the first one is back, I’m willing to give them a second chance.

Stinky Potts Johansson and His Plate of Flaccid Peas
All right. I made this title up.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Wasn’t a big fan of chapter four, but this fifth installment looks pretty interesting. I’m a big fan of chapter three—a dark masterpiece—and this looks like serious ass-kicking, boy-wizard antics. The child actors are now young adults, and they have matured into decent performers. Ralph Fiennes and Gary Oldman look to have bigger parts this time out, and that’s a good thing. I just accidentally watched the preview in German, and it was rad!

The Simpsons Movie
Never met an episode of the show that I didn’t like. If this one is bad, we can just bag and tag the season and wait for next year.

It was a John Waters movie. Then it was a Broadway musical based on a John Waters movie. Now it’s a movie musical based on a play that was based on a John Waters movie. John Travolta sings again, this time as an overweight woman in a role originated by Divine. Amanda Bynes, Christopher Walken and Queen Latifah also star.

Based on a Stephen King short story, John Cusack stars as a mourning father looking to debunk alleged ghost hauntings. He stays the night in a legendary hotel room, and Samuel L. Jackson doesn’t make for the kindest of managers. He doesn’t execute promised wakeup calls and speaks in very ominous tones. The plot sounds a little like The Reaping in some ways, so this one could go either way.

A Mighty Heart
Somehow, while managing to adopt every available child in the world, Angelina Jolie has found time to make a movie, and a good-looking one at that. She stars as Mariane Pearl, wife of Daniel Pearl, the journalist beheaded after a 2002 kidnapping in Pakistan. As for drama this summer, this one looks to be the best bet. A tough subject, but the creative team is a good one.

The Ten
David Wain of comic troupes like The State and Stella and director of the very funny Wet Hot American Summer, does a comedic riff on the Ten Commandments with help from Paul Rudd, Winona Ryder, Justin Theroux and Michael Showalter. I just reminded myself that Stella was cancelled, and now I’m pissed. Not so sure how big a release this one will get.

Mr. Brooks
Kevin Costner is looking to boost his career by being bad. He plays an apparently clean-cut businessman who likes to kill folks on the side. He’s played a cold-blooded killer before (A Perfect World), so this one isn’t too much of a stretch. Perhaps playing a cold-blooded major league baseball player is in his near future? Make him a dude with a 125 mph fastball intentionally gunning for heads.

Halloween and Hostel: Part II
For horror fans, Rob Zombie looks to reinvent the long-suffering Halloween franchise with a remake/redo of the original. I’m not too keen on learning too much about Michael Meyers’s childhood, but The Devil’s Rejects was quite good, and I’m thinking Zombie could do some nasty things with “The Shape.”

As for Hostel: Part II, writer-director Eli Roth returns for a second helping of torture cinema. He makes good, sick movies, so I’m expecting to be appropriately uncomfortable during this one.

Ocean’s Thirteen
Hated Ocean’s Twelve, but with Al Pacino joining the party and Julia Roberts staying home, this looks like it could be fun. I like when George Clooney goes for laughs, and he has quite a few in the previews. Matt Damon and his prosthetic nose have also had me giggling.

Yes, it’s a Michael Bay movie, but I’ve managed to like his last two films, and this big-screen adaptation of the famous toy line looks impressive. Could go either way, but with new box office star Shia LeBeouf in the lead, it has a good chance of providing summer fun, and much transforming.