Summer School: Previewing the Best Movies of Summer 2011!
In an effort to try and make all our lives a little easier, I decided to put our annual Summer Movie Preview together as a mini-schedule. I've highlighted one movie from each weekend starting today and ending on August 26. That's one movie a week from now until the end of summer. Think of it like summer school and this is your assignment.
What was interesting about this is that there aren't really any bum weeks. At no point did I have to stop and think, wondering, "What the hell would I want to see this weekend?" That's not to say all these movies will be good. History has told us that most of these movies will just be OK, a few will be great and a few will be complete stinkers. Our job is to try and find out which is which.
There are obviously some weekends where a few movies come out against each other so a little Honorable Mention section would include KUNG FU PANDA 2, THE TREE OF LIFE, PRIEST, CARS 2, THE CHANGE-UP, FINAL DESTINATION 5 and CONAN THE BARBARIAN.
What about you? What would your picks be? After you read through my picks, I encourage you to post your own lists below. In a summer this jam-packed with entertainment, where do you draw the line? What 10 movies do you HAVE to see this summer?
Is this the year that summer officially begins in April? It would certainly seem so as FAST FIVE is due for a big opening weekend, possibly even bigger than what THOR is bringing the next week. All because of a simple formula: fast cars x tough guys + hot babes.
THOR is probably flying under the radar compared to the summer's other superhero films (GREEN LANTERN and CAPTAIN AMERICA) but early reviews have been surprisingly positive. It may not break the bank but it seems ready to satisfy the hardcore fans. Just do yourself a favor and skip the 3D.
This may be cheating because I've already seen BRIDESMAIDS but if you're looking for that one chick flick to offset dragging your girlfriend to the nerdfests that are GREEN LANTERN and THOR, you couldn't do better than BRIDESMAIDS. It's the chick flick that doesn't suck and you'll find yourself laughing just as hard as your lady. Depending on how THE HANGOVER, PART II turns out, this could be the funniest film of the summer.
You know what's strange? I don't know anyone who's really excited about this movie. I hear a lot of buzz surrounding many of this summer's other franchise films but rarely a peep about PIRATES 4. Did the last two installments leave a bad taste in audiences' mouths and will ON STRANGER TIDES effectively be able to reboot the franchise with a new cast of supporting characters? And more importantly, will anyone care?
THE HANGOVER, PART II
Comedy sequels don't exactly have the best track record. I mean, has there ever been a sequel to a comedy that was even as funny as the first? And with the trailers, nothing seems to be entirely different about THE HANGOVER, PART II - it really is the first movie, all over again. But is that a bad thing? If it's funny, then no, not really. But if it's not...
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS
Matthew Vaughn was riding a lot of goodwill following the fanboy success of his last film KICK-ASS. He was brought in to breathe new life into the X-MEN franchise with FIRST CLASS, a film designed to tell the origin story of Charles Xavier and Magneto (along with some other familiar mutants). But the schedule has been rushed and fan reaction to some of the sketchy publicity materials hasn't given the film the buzz it deserves. Few superhero franchises have run the gamut from awesome (X2) to terrible (THE LAST STAND) like X-MEN. Where will FIRST CLASS fall?
It's a movie that's not a sequel, it's not based on a comic book and it's biggest star is "That Guy From 'Friday Night Lights'." But when you have JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg collaborating for an original and mysterious sci-fi film, that's about all you need to get excited. Will SUPER 8 be the movie that proves to studios there's a healthy appetite for original films?
I don't know what to think about GREEN LANTERN. I want to be excited for this movie for the sheer geeky, sci-fi-ness of it all. But some of the FX I've seen in the footage so far has been sketchy at best. But then there's word that they're spending an additional $10 million to fix those problems. I don't know what to expect from this film but I expect to be sitting in the theater eager to find out.
It's rare you get one female-led, R-rated comedy in a year but two in one summer? Following Kristen Wiig in BRIDESMAIDS, Cameron Diaz tries her hand at R-rated comedy with BAD TEACHER, where she plays a filthy, sexed up, druggie of a teacher looking to snag the new teacher in school (Justin Timberlake) for his money. I'm assuming she learns a lesson along the way but maybe that's a bad assumption? Come for Cameron Diaz at a bikini car wash and stay for Cameron Diaz getting pelted in the face with a dodge ball.
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. It's that old maxim that keeps running through my head when I think about DARK OF THE MOON. I couldn't have been more excited for REVENGE OF THE FALLEN but that movie was awful in ways I couldn't possibly have imagined. I see the trailers for DARK OF THE MOON and I feel that same surge of excitement but I can't help but remember how let down I was by the second installment. Will Michael Bay make it up to us as he's been promising or is this another expensive disaster?
I think HORRIBLE BOSSES is the only movie on this list for which we've yet to see a trailer for (or poster even). I'd normally never want to suggest a Jennifer Aniston comedy to you but one in which she plays a foul-mouthed sex addict might actually have something going for it. Aniston stars with Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell as three really, ahem, horrible bosses and Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day are their three workers who conspire to bump them off. Oh and Jamie Foxx plays a character called Motherfucker Jones so...
As a non-POTTER fan, I'm much more excited about DEATHLY HALLOWS than you'd think. I saw, and enjoyed, PART 1 and the new trailer for PART 2 is so good, I'm looking forward to seeing the final HARRY POTTER movie more than I ever thought I would. It's rare to see a franchise make it eight movies in and have the movies continue to get better (though FAST FIVE seems to be on that same track). Getting to see Voldemort and Harry finally face off will be an exciting thing to realize on the big screen.
I'm still not entirely sure why they didn't open this on the Fourth of July weekend in the US but that's another story entirely. It's our second period superhero film of the summer (following X-MEN: FIRST CLASS) and the last standalone movie we'll get before THE AVENGERS next summer.
COWBOYS & ALIENS
This movie has too many cool elements to ignore: Jon Favreau, Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Steven Spielberg, "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof and, most importantly, cowboys and f*cking aliens. It looks like a hell of a lot of fun and, guess what? It's not in 3D!
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
There were parts of the RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES teaser that looked like an insane amount of fun (Gorilla jump-attacking a helicopter? Yes, please.) and there were parts that looks cheesy and rote. The balance of those moments have been the linchpin of the PLANET OF THE APES franchise but will they be able to find it?
30 MINUTES OR LESS
30 MINUTES OR LESS boasts an impressive pedigree. It stars recent Oscar-nominee Jesse Eisenberg, it was directed by Ruben Fleischer (ZOMBIELAND) and co-stars legit hilarious dude Aziz Ansari and Danny McBride. Action-adventure-comedies aren't always easy to pull off but Fleischer made it work big time with his last film and, with the cast he's assembled here, it looks like he could be back for another win.
FRIGHT NIGHT is a cult classic horror film from the 80s being remade at Disney, something you can imagine has some fans up in arms. But at least the vampires in this movie don't mope around and actually have giant rows of fans and attack and kill things. Early test reviews have varied from bad to mixed to actually pretty good and I'm curious to see how audiences respond (and what Colin Farrell looks like as a bloodthirsty vamp).
DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK
We've had to wait quite a while for the Guillermo del Toro-produced horror flick, which has been sitting on the shelves of Miramax while the complicated deal was worked out between Disney, the Weinsteins and whoever was taking control of the Miramax slate. But all that will be resolved at the end of this summer when this creepy little thriller comes crawling out of the dark.