Summer Movie Preview

A guide to summer’s hottest new flicks.

14 weekends, 32 movies—think you can see it all?

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Ahhh, the summer movie season. It’s the time of year when studios pull out the big guns: big budgets, big laughs, and big explosions. With so many films jockeying for position in the release schedule, which ones should you choose? Grab a big bucket of popcorn and we’ll help you navigate through this summer’s tales of super-spies, private eyes, and robots in disguise.

 

June 1

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Our Pick: Knocked Up

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Writer/director Judd Apatow follows up his sleeper hit, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, with another quirky-but-cute misfit love story. This time, perma-slacker Ben Stone (Seth Rogan) discovers he’s impregnated a one-night stand (Katherine Heigl) and the pair tries to make a go of the relationship before baby makes three.

 

Also Opening: Mr. Brooks, a creepy psycho-thriller that has Kevin Costner playing a serial killer caught in the act by an amateur photographer.

 

June 8

 

Our Pick: Ocean’s 13

 

 

 

Okay, so Ocean’s 12 was a mess. Let’s hope Al Pacino can straighten things out when he becomes the new mark for George Clooney’s band of charismatic criminals. (Yes, they’re all back.)

 

Also Opening: Riding in on the wave on penguin-mania is Surf’s Up, another computer-animated outing about those adorable avians—only forget marching; these guys hang ten. For those who don’t do cute, Hostel: Part II gives a grim dose of gory horror as student travelers discover a lodging owned by murderous fiends.

 

June 15

 

Our Pick: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

 

 

It’s clobberin’ time—again. This time, Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, The Human Torch, and The Thing (my personal favorite) square off not just against perennial villain Doctor Doom, but the otherworldly Silver Surfer as well. The Surfer’s silvery veneer and cosmic powers are sure to make for some good special effects at the very least.

 

Also Opening: Plucky P.I. Nancy Drew makes a big-screen appearance starring Emma Roberts (Julia’s niece) as the young detective, while New Zealand makes a showing with its answer to Napoleon Dynamite, Eagle vs. Shark, a love story between two endearing but socially awkward kiwis.

 

June 22

 

Our Pick: A Mighty Heart

 

 

 

Michael Winterbottom, a director known for taking on risky subjects, adapts Mariane Pearl’s heartbreaking story of her husband, Daniel, the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan. See Mamaroneck native Dan Futterman, writer of Capote, take on the difficult role of Daniel.

 

Also Opening: Black Sheep tells the story of a genetic experiment gone bad, resulting in a flock of bloodthirsty mutant sheep. (Yes, you read that right.) Also hailing from New Zealand, this film already has a cult following lusting for the little lambs. Think of it as this year’s Snakes on a Plane. (Sheep on the plain?)

 

June 29

 

Our Pick: Ratatouille

 

 

With the big hubbub over those giant rats in the NYC KFC, you might not be inclined to see a movie about a rat who lives in a fancy Parisian bistro and dreams of becoming a famous chef. But what if we tell you it’s a Pixar movie from the director of The Incredibles?

 

Also Opening: Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the theaters, Live Free or Die Hard has Bruce Willis’s John McClane taking down terrorists yet again.

 

July 4

 

Our Pick: Transformers

 

 

 

Eighties nostalgia buffs, robot enthusiasts, and moviegoers enamored with director Michael Bay’s theory of blowing stuff up (do it big, loud, and often) are foaming at the mouth for this live-action adaptation of the old cartoon. In it, two alien races of shape-shifting robots bring their outer-space war to Earth. Explosions ensue.

 

Also Opening: Robin Williams is a priest who puts The Office heartthrob John Krasinski and pop-star Mandy Moore through a hellish marriage-preparation course in License to Wed. No robots, we promise.

 

July 13

 

Our Pick: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

 

 

A mere eight days before the boy wizard’s concluding tome is released in print, the fifth chapter of his magical saga conjures up on the big screen.

 

Also Opening: Nothing good. Not even he-who-must-not-be-named would release his movie against the box-office Goliath that is Harry Potter.

 

July 20

 

Our Pick: Hairspray

 

 

 

This is director Adam Shankman’s film based on Broadway’s musical based on John Waters’s 1988 movie. Sound too confusing? All you really need to know is that John Travolta dresses in drag while singing and dancing. Needless to say, it’s going to be campy.

 

Also opening: Speaking of campy, comedy goofballs Adam Sandler and Kevin James become straight firefighters who play gay and marry for the domestic-partner benefits in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (let’s hope they keep the homophobia jokes to a minimum), while indie film Son of Rambow tells the story of two sheltered children who decide to make a home-movie sequel to their favorite action flick.

 

July 27

 

Our Pick: The Simpsons Movie

 

 

The Simpsons have been on for 18 seasons and they’ve never made a movie—d’oh! But all that is about to change—woo-hoo! More then 10 of the most beloved writers from the show’s almost-two-decade-run have returned to write the screenplay. There’s some nice-looking animation, too—all of it yellow.

 

Also Opening: In No Reservations, Catherine Zeta-Jones plays the most glamorous chef on the planet in the remake of 2001’s German film Bella Martha.

 

August 3

 

Our Pick: The Bourne Ultimatum

 

 

 

Another chase-filled, shoot-out, beat-’em-up chapter in the troubled life of Jason Bourne, spy extraordinaire. United 93 director Paul Greengrass picks up where his Bourne Supremacy left off, with the agent fighting more nefarious bad guys from his pre-amnesia days.

 

Also Opening: It’s a good weekend for comedy fans. First, Saturday Night Live comedian Andy Samberg stars in Hot Rod, a movie about a stuntman preparing for a big jump. Meanwhile, comedy veteran David Wain offers
up The Ten, a series of humorous
vignettes each inspired by one of the Ten Commandments.

 

August 10

 

Our Pick: Stardust

 

 

Based on the bestselling novel by superstar fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, Stardust tells the story of young Tristan, a simple villager who tries to win a girl’s affection by promising to bring her a fallen star. Awww. Only when he finally tracks one down, he finds it’s not a star at all, but a woman—and evil princes, ghosts, witches, and other fantasy nasties are out to get her, too.

 

Also Opening: Nada, unless a movie inspired by the Bratz dolls is up your alley. And we hope, for your sake, that it’s not.

 

August 17

 

Our Pick: The Invasion

 

 

 

The movie you’ve always yearned for but never knew it: a high-class re-make of Invasion of the Body Snatchers starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig.

 

Also Opening: Star Wars nerds—excuse me, fans—will love Fan Boys, a film about a group of Midwestern teens who bring their dying friend to the Skywalker Ranch to try and see Episode I: The Phantom Menace before its release. Sounds like too adolescent-boy for you? Try Penelope, a fairytale film about a girl (Christina Ricci) who is cursed with a pig face.

 

August 24

 

Our Pick: Nothing

All this movie-watching is really tiring. Take a break,  it’s summer—why don’t you spend some time outside? Besides, there’s nothing good coming out this weekend.

 

Also Opening: If you really must get yourself into the theaters—and we’re talking the A/C is broken in 100-degree weather desperation here—there’s The Comebacks, which is some kind of inspirational sports-movie spoof with Anchorman’s David Koechner. That’s really the best we’ve got.

 

August 31

 

Our Pick: Wristcutters: A Love Story

 

 

It’s another lean weekend, but if you’re game you might want to check out a little film titled Wristcutters: A Love Story. The film-festival favorite, about a purgatory-style afterlife reserved for suicides, is actually a comedy.

 

Also Opening: For those who like their laughs less, well, dark, there’s always Mr. Bean’s Holiday.

 

Disclaimer: Movie studios are nervous, fickle, and twitchy about release dates. Please  take these dates with a grain of salt and check your local listings (http://movies.yahoo.com) before heading out to the theaters. Happy viewing!

 

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