Flick off!

Twenty summer movies, ruthlessly assessed before we’ve even seen ’em!

SN&R Photo Illustration By David Jayne

ASS=Another Stinking Sequel
WT=Wasted Talent
DSM=Dubious Source Material
PSM=Promising Source Material
IQ<U=What kind of insultingly moronic tripe is this?<br>IQ>U=smarter than thou
SRC=Socially Responsible Content
BSU=Blowin’ Shit Up
FU=Fully Unnecessary

Behold SN&R’s official summer movie preview. We make the snarky remarks so you don’t have to. No, that’s not true. You may have to.

Which is to say that the ’07 summer movie crop looks like a whole lot of movie crap. What’s new, right? The season is laden with sequels, repurposings and all manner of cartoonishness. But that hardly means there’s no fun to be had. Hell, we’ve already had loads of fun at these movies’ expense—and that’s without even seeing them yet. (Well, have you seen them yet, smarty-pants?)

Please note that our survey has not included every single studio-sanctioned film due for wide release over the next few months, because that would consume too much space and depress us all. Nah, we figured 20 will get the point across. Plus, don’t miss our list of 10 local happenings that movie lovers might actually be proud to pay for.

It is also with your short attention span in mind that we present this handy key (at right) to the films’ common elements. Happy watching.

1. 28 Weeks Later …
Release date: May 11

Stars: Robert Carlyle, Idris Elba, Rose Byrne

Premise: Six months—or 28 weeks, since that reads better on a theater marquee—after the Rage virus decimates London, the U.S. Army (?) restores order and allows the first wave of inhabitants back into the formerly quarantined city. But when a virus carrier returns to Big Benland, Rage returns—and boy is she pissed! Oh, the incongruities: The action happens within the same year—2003—as the first deadly virus outbreak in Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. But early-bird moviehawks report online that vehicle registration tags and buildings in the London skyline appearing on screen would not yet have existed in ’03.

Alternate title: 28 Soakings of the Moviegoer Later

What we’re hoping for: If Weeks equals the nasty fun of 28 Days Later, infect us, baby!

What we’re bracing for: Another lame-ass horror/sci-fi/thriller sequel by a different director (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo) than the masterful originator—which could reinforce fears that 28 Days Later wasn’t really as great as we thought, either, but just seemed that way because of the fancy British accents.

PSM, ASS (possible), WT (bloody likely)

2. Delta Farce
Release date: May 11

Stars: Larry the Cable Guy, some other guys

Premise: Army Reservist Larry and pals think they’re in Fallujah but actually it’s Mexico. Now, to avoid confusion with The Delta Force, that bubbly 1986 romantic comedy with Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin, remember this:
Chuck: badass.
Larry: bad, ass.

Alternate titles: Shit-R-Done, Blue Collar Comedy Whore

What we’re hoping for: Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

What we’re bracing for: Embargoes from Mexico.

Fun factoid: Because Chuck Norris allusions are not enough, the Delta Farce poster also spoofs the poster for Full Metal Jacket, at last making the Cable Guy-Kubrick connection that cinema encyclopedias so desperately need.

DSM, IQ<U, FU</i>

3. Shrek the Third
Release date: May 18

Stars: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz

Premise: When something other than the Rage virus sickens King Harold (John Cleese), Shrek (Myers) is in line to become ruler of Far, Far Away. But, choosing swamp over crown, Shrek props up Arthur (Justin Timberlake) for the king gig. Meanwhile, Artie’s cousin, Princess Fiona (Diaz), and her royal girlfriends fend off a coup by jilted Prince Charming (Rupert Everett).

Alternate title: The Cash Cow That Offsets Dreamworks’ Box Office Duds

Cyberspace chatter of note: “It smelled a bit like feet to me. Perhaps Shrek’s feet, I can’t be sure, as he’s an animated character and likely smells more like pixels or ozone.” —from the Candy Blog (typetive.com/candyblog) taste and smell test of the special green ooze-filled Snickers bar celebrating Shrek the Third’s release.

What we’re hoping for: This thing tanks and Myers finally applies his considerable talent to rich film characters rather than hack franchise players (Shrek, Austin Powers, Wayne Campbell).

What we’re bracing for: The inevitable future sequel that finds Shrek stepping into the ring to fight Rocky Balboa.


4. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Release date: May 25

Stars: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley

Premise: Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann must gather sea-faring help from the globe’s four corners—globes have corners?—to battle a dark alliance aimed at wiping all pirates off the map.

Alternate title: At Least It’s Not Three Movies Based on “It’s a Small World”

Cyberspace chatter of note: “The trailer looks yummy, but so did the trailer for the last one, and that was a clusterfuck of a movie.” –Kristina

What we’re hoping for: A reason to finally see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

What we’re bracing for: Justification for never having seen Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

ASS, WT, DSM, IQ<U, BSU </i>

5. Ocean’s Thirteen
Release date: June 8

Stars: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Al Pacino, their egos

Premise: Avenging a betrayal by a casino owner (Pacino), Danny Ocean (Clooney) assembles his squad of casino robbers (everybody else) and robs the casino owner’s casino. Suavely. So this is how director Steven Soderbergh funds all his wacky, uneven cinematic experiments.

Tagline: Too good looking to be unlucky.

Cyberspace chatter of note: “All in all, it’s a movie (that you ultimately have zero control over), calm down.”

What we’re hoping for: A better sequel to Ocean’s Eleven than Ocean’s Twelve.

What we’re bracing for: Clooney and Pacino coasting on charisma for two hours. And, for that matter, Pitt and Damon and everybody else, too.

Pending question: Did the real rat pack ever wear out its welcome this way?


Robert Patrick reprises his role as the T-1000 in&#8212;oh, no, wait. Sorry, that&#8217;s Doug Jones, or some CGI composite thereof, as the Silver Surfer.

6. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Release date: June 15

Stars: Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Doug Jones

Premise: Jessica Alba. Let’s be honest.

Tag line: Because four lame characters are not enough.

Alternate titles: Fantastic Four: Fall of the Box Office Revenue

Cyberspace chatter of note: “Shiny!” —synergyred

What we’re hoping for: Add to the grab-bag of goofball superpowers a nude metallic guy on a flying surfboard, via computer graphics circa Terminator 2, and this thing could be camp-ariffic. Also, you just gotta love Michael Chiklis, because if you don’t, he’ll pound your face in. And, yeah, Alba.

What we’re bracing for: Fantastic bore. Oh, what, you saw that line coming from a mile away? Yeah, well, now maybe you’re ready for the experience of sitting through this movie.

Telling snippet of dialogue from the trailer: “Everywhere this thing goes, eight days later the planet dies.” And, ah, who said that, the distributor?


7. Evan Almighty
Release date: June 22

Stars: Steve Carell, Lauren Graham, Morgan Freeman

Premise: God (Freeman) has a mission for Jim Carrey, but he’s off making something mind-numbing like The Number 23. So the Big Guy turns to Evan Baxter (Carell), who since 2003’s Bruce Almighty has gone from Buffalo TV newsreader to U.S. congressman. (In other words, a demotion.) God enlists Evan to build an ark for the coming flood that is going to wipe out every form of life on this planet. High jinx ensue.

Alternate title: What’s a Cubit?

What we’re hoping for: Another in an improbable string of show-stealing performances in hilarious motion pictures by Carell, who also conquered television (The Office and The Daily Show).

What we’re bracing for: Derivation. Come on, we already know this tired story. What’s that? No, not Bruce Almighty, Genesis, chapters 6-9.


8. Live Free or Die Hard
Release date: June 27

Stars: Bruce Willis, Timothy Olyphant, Justin Long

Premise: Wrong-place-wrong-time-right-hook New York cop Willis finds himself in Washington, D.C., just as cyber-terrorist Olyphant begins crippling America’s infrastructure. This might seem like same-old stuff for big Bruce, but co-star/computer-hacker sidekick Long should consider it a real step up from those Apple “Get a Mac” spots. Consider the evolving banter:

2006: Justin Long: “Hi, I’m a Mac.” John Hodgman: “And I’m a PC.”

2007: Justin Long: “You just killed a helicopter with a car!” Bruce Willis: “I was outta bullets.”

Tagline: Ypkya, Mofo

Cyberspace chatter of note: “This film is gonna have a load of deaths.” —them1926

What we’re hoping for: A reasonably good story.

What we’re bracing for: The likelihood that the one-liner about the bullets is as good as it’ll get.


9. Ratatouille
Release date: June 29

Stars: Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Brad Garrett, Peter O’Toole, Janeane Garofalo, Pixar Animation Studios

Premise: In Pixar’s eighth animated feature, a rat (Oswalt) dreams of becoming a great chef. He’s in Paris, so that’s a start. But he’s also a rat, in the sewer. So there’s that. What Cars did for NASCAR fans at Route 66 nostalgists, Ratatouille does for, um, rodent-identifying foodie Francophiles? Something like that. But if anyone can work these ingredients into an effectively tasty allegory about following our bliss, it’s writer-director Brad Bird, of The Iron Giant and Pixar’s The Incredibles.

Alternate titles: On Your Knees, Moviegoer, For We Are Pixar
Untitled Pixar Rodent Project (that one’s real, actually)

Cyberspace chatter of note: “It’s from Brad Bird and it doesn’t have Larry the Cable Guy, so I’m immediately more interested in this than Cars.” —fabfunk

What we’re hoping for: Another stellar example of sophisticated, family-friendly animated entertainment—and the usual corresponding humiliation of Dreamworks (Flushed Away, anyone?).

What we’re bracing for: Long-term appetite suppression. Sure he’s cute and culinary, but our hero comes from a family of garbage eaters. Hang on, is this just another variation on that stale old joke about French hygiene?


10. Sicko
Release date: June, TBA

Stars: Michael Moore, uninsured Ground Zero rescue workers who went to Cuba for free health care that they would’ve had to pay for in the States, testy HMO administrators, pharmaceutical-company executives and FDA officials.

Premise: Fresh from Cannes, Moore’s semi-secretive, long-awaited follow-up to Fahrenheit 9/11 is billed as an exposé of America’s health-care system. With rumors of covert cameras in doctors’ offices and actors posing as drug reps, it’s no wonder that the anticipation for this movie is giving Big Pharm the chills.

Alternate title likely to be proposed by Pfizer and/or Limbaugh: Sucko

Cyberspace chatter of note: “If people ask, we tell them Sicko is a comedy about 45 million people with no health care in the richest country on Earth.” —Michael Moore

What we’re hoping for: Catharsis. Well, those 19,000 “health care horror stories” that Moore reportedly gathered through his blog had damn well better be funny.

What we’re bracing for: The peculiar schadenfreude that comes from scoring points off of people’s suffering. Sloppy, self-indulgent, sensationalist investigative journalism. Sloppy, self-indulgent, sensationalist criticism.


Hey, wait up! I have the exact f&#8217;ing change! Don&#8217;t make me transform and race your ass. Ugh. Goddamn L.A. bus drivers.

11. Transformers
Release date: July 4

Stars: Some CGI effects, Shia LeBeouf, Megan Fox

Premise: Two opposing armies of huge, shape-shifting robots use Earth as their final battleground. From director Michael Bay, Hollywood’s highest-paid kid in a sandbox smashing stuff together and making loud explosion sounds.

Tagline: Love the ’80s? We want your money.

Cyberspace chatter of note: “Whack. Gigantic robots dont need lips, or any moving mandible parts to talk, thats just silly. Wouldnt it make a large clanging sound every time they came together?” [sic] —SebringMGB

“I still think this movie will blow me away. And if it doesn’t, it will the second time after I get some weed in me.” —Thunderous Thor

What we’re hoping for: Hot robot-on-robot action.

What we’re bracing for: Less than meets the eye.

Geek placation factor: Peter Cullen, the guy who played friendly heroic tractor-trailer Optimus Prime in the 1984 Transformers TV cartoon, also plays Optimus Prime in the movie. Hugo Weaving takes over for David Kaye as the voice of Megatron, who was always the cooler character, but whatever.

Related swag: Hasbro’s $90 action figures, coming this fall.

Fun factoid: Star LaBeouf on director Bay in the LA Times last month: “He’s General Patton. He has to be. You don’t want the director—when your hair is on fire and your legs are on fire and you are burning to death—to come up to you and say, ‘Let’s talk about your emotional history.’”


12. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Release date: July 13

Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson

Premise: Harry begins his fifth and possibly most challenging year at Hogwarts with his friends acting secretive, a new witch turning Hogwarts upside down and authorities there ignoring Harry and Dumbledore’s warnings about Voldemort’s return. Hopefully the preceding sentence makes sense to someone, ’cause it sure don’t make sense to the mortal who banged it out.

Alternate title: J.K. Rowling Now Owns Oprah

Cyberspace chatter of note: “i used to think Harry Potter was good looking till I heard about the fact that most of the 5th film had to be airbrushed because of his acne…NICE!!!!! not as sexy then.”

What we’re hoping for: World peace. A reason to live. A new pony.

What we’re bracing for: Having never made it all the way through any of these Potter pics, more of the same.

ASS (but the kids love it), WT, DSM or PSM (depending on what you read your kids at night)

13. 1408
Release date: July 13

Stars: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack

Alternate title: A Room With a Boo

Premise: A writer of hit books on supernatural phenomena (Cusack) sets out to spend the night in a New York City hotel’s notorious room 1408 to debunk horror stories—which he believes are based on myths, rumors and “fair and balanced” Fox News reporting. But the hotel manager (Jackson) emphatically warns the writer of the room’s danger. Besides, it’s next to the ice machine.

What we’re hoping for: That 1408 excels like Stand By Me, which was also based on a Stephen King short story.

What we’re bracing for: That 1408 sucks like—well, pick any film based on a Stephen King book.

Spoiler alert: As anyone who has read the story knows, the end reveals the monster to be … Ralph Nader! See, 1408 is how many votes he cost Gore in Florida, and … never mind.

DSM/PSM (see above), IQ>U (very likely)

Michelle Pfeiffer gets a bang out of her portrayal of evil mom Velma von Tussle in the musical version of John Waters&#8217; <i>Hairspray</i>.

14. Hairspray
Release date: July 20

Stars: John Travolta, Nikki Blonsky, Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer

Tagline: A movie based on a musical based on a movie … aw, hell, it Can’t be worse than The Producers.

Alternate titles: Waters Torture; Saturday Night Tranny Fever

Premise: Titanic Tracy Turnblad (Blonsky) drools over a hunky guy on an after-school teen shindig TV program—much to the dismay of her mom Edna (Travolta, yes, Travolta). So she auditions for The Corny Collins Show and, amazingly, wins her 15 minutes of fame and more—much to the dismay of a rival daughter and mother (Brittany Snow and Michelle Pfeiffer, yes, Pfeiffer).

What we’re hoping for: Something based on John Waters source material that can remotely spark the reaction that his classically wrong pictures from the late ’60s and early ’70s did.

What we’re bracing for: Vinnie Barbarino in drag, which could inspire a remake of Waters’ first film, 1964’s Hag in a Black Leather Jacket.

WT (like most of these movies aren’t WT … oh, never mind), DSM, IQ

15. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
Release date: July 20

Stars: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel

Premise: Two straight Brooklyn firefighters—now there’s a stretch—pretend to be a gay couple so they can receive domestic-partner benefits.

Alternate title: I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Buck and Suck and Fuck

What we’re hoping for: That ol’ Dennis Dugan magic. As much crap as Sandler gets (and deserves) for cranking out mindless comedies, under director Dugan (Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy) he’s produced some wickedly funny scenes. Aw, come on: Carl Weathers, the ’gator who got his hand and Abraham Lincoln waving down at Happy from heaven? Tell me that shit wasn’t funny! OK, maybe that’s the pot talking.

What we’re bracing for: It is the pot talking.

What we’re gonna do if we see the trailer to this flick one more time: Scream. Cry. Punch a nun.

Useful memory aid:
Chuck: the fatass
Larry: the femme

DSM, IQ<U, SRC </i>

As Matt Groening&#8217;s alter ego, Homer first kills Bart, then his self-respect and finally, mercifully, the entire <i>Simpsons</i> franchise.

16. The Simpsons Movie
Release date: July 27

Stars: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright

Premise: Homer must save the world from a catastrophe he created. The plot to every flippin’ Simpsons episode, in other words.

Alternate title: Tonight We’re Gonna Party Like It’s 1991

Cyberspace chatter of note: “I was really hoping The Simpsons Movie would feature Marge naked instead of Bart.” —an item on Bumpshack.com (“Where the news always bumps”) about a scene showing Bart’s pixilated, uh, penal colony.

What we’re hoping for: That we’ll still care about something with the words “the” and “Simpsons” in the title.

What we’re bracing for: Who still watches The Simpsons?

ARMHTKTO’CWDGAS (Ask Rupert Murdoch how to key this one ’cause we don’t give a shit)

17. The Bourne Ultimatum
Release date: August 3

Stars: Matt Damon, Paddy Considine, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn

Premise: Still sleuthing out his own forgotten past with the usual grim stoicism, superspy Bourne, if that is his real name (it’s Matt Damon, actually), dodges assassins and kicks much ass among exotic locales. So: the usual.

Alternate titles: Good Thrill Hunting

Cyberspace chatter of note: “In order to beat Jason Bourne, you’ll need to combine the powers of Ethan Hunt, James Bond, MacGyver, John Rambo and Jesus Christ!” —Korsan

What we’re hoping for: More tense, taut, mature and mighty filmmaking from Bourne Supremacy and United 93 director Paul Greengrass.

What we’re bracing for: 120 humorless minutes.


18. Rush Hour 3
Release date: August 10

Stars: Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan

Premise: Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan

Fun factoid: The eighth most anticipated movie of the summer according to some guy we know who read that somewhere.

Before you go: See Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2 to make sure you understand what’s going on.

DSM, IQ<U, FU, ASS</i>

19. Arctic Tale
Release date: August 17

Stars: A polar bear and cubs, a walrus and calf, Queen Latifah (narrator).

Premise: This documentary combines production talents from March of the Penguins and An Inconvenient Truth to bring us the lives of wildlife in the Great North—watching their world melt out from underneath them.

Tagline: The feel-bad feel-good movie of the summer.

Cyberspace chatter of note: “Both Will Smith and Martin Lawrence abuse movie-goers everywhere with their special brand of ‘funny’ movies. I am sick of them. I am sick of half-assed jobs. I am sick of string after string of ‘that’s OK, a lot of white fish can’t do it jokes.’ I am just sick to death of people not even trying to be creative anymore.” —RalphDClark

Oh, wait, sorry. That was about 2004’s Shark Tale.

What we’re hoping for: A vivid cinematic inquiry into the wonders and perils of our natural world. Also: cute, cute animals.

What we’re bracing for: The reek of cynical hipster-lefty target marketing, which dresses up voracious box-office capitalism as animal-friendly progressive environmentalism. Does it really need music by Cat Stevens and the Shins?

20. A Mighty Heart
Release date: September 14

Stars: Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman, Archie Panjabi

Premise: It’s the heart-wrenching, life-and-death account of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, as told through the eyes of his wife, Mariane Pearl, as portrayed by the smokin’ bod of Jolie.

Alternate title: I Gots Me My Third-World Babies, Now I Needs Me a Best Actress Oscar

What we’re hoping for: More inspired greatness from director Michael Winterbottom (Welcome to Sarajevo, 24 Hour Party People, The Road to Guantanamo).

What we’re bracing for: An intimate portrait of a martyred journalist’s wife’s struggle to maintain her family, composure and sanity—you know, a typical Lifetime weepy.

Related swag: Hoping to unload unsold dolls, Playmates Toys is putting replica Target dresses over all its remaining action figures from the Tomb Raider movies and repackaging them as the A Mighty Heart Momma’s Gonna Kick Butt Collection.