The summer season has been creeping earlier for quite some time now; but I don't think I'd ever seen an April release trumpeting itself as the first Summer Movie. Until this year. We'll get there soon in enough; in the meantime, I can think of no meta-narrative to cover a slate of films that, even by the standards of a month that often doesn't seem to know if it's coming or going, is oddly dischordant.
Fun fact: there has not been a single year in the last decade - and probably longer, but that's all the farther I checked - in which we got as far as the end of the first quarter without a single film having ruled the U.S. box office on two separate weekends: until this year. 12 weeks, 12 different #1s. A poor sign of Hollywood's quality, I suspect, and I'll make no predictions as to whether this month changes things.
At any rate, the month is getting a strong start, with a movie in which Russell Brand, the suddenly-overexposed former delightfully kooky Brit, plays the son of the Easter Bunny, who moves to Los Angeles to become a rock star and teams up with James Marsden. Haha, April Fool! Nobody would ever come up such a stupid-
Elsewhere in a shockingly packed weekend, Duncan Jones, director of Moon and son of David Bowie, makes his second feature, Source Code, which will hopefully prove to be the kind of brainy thiller that can't be reduced into a trailer, because that trailer makes it look kind of blandly "power of love" -ish. Also, Insidious, a bastard stepchild of Sawmeisters James Wan and Leigh Whannel and Paranormal Activity's Oren Peli. All the good buzz in the world can't convince me that it's going to be even marginally good.
Then there are the limited releases: Super, or "Kick-Ass without the troubling fetishisation of a preteen girl killing people", and Trust, director David Schwimmer's tale of sexual assault between teenagers in the internet age. You read that right
Speaking of Russell Brand overexposure: he's playing the lead in a remake of Arthur. Which I still don't get. What possible reason is there to remake Arthur? Does anybody in the history of life actually enjoy the original? Is this a brand name that gives anybody the slightest feeling of hope? Are there plans to remake On the Rocks as well?
Moving into more comforting areas, Joe Wright and Saoirse Ronan reunite for Hanna, a movie that looks so profoundly obvious from the ads that I'm guessing it's not even meant to have twists, but it certainly has the aura of a really solid thriller about it, especially if the Chemical Brothers score hinted in the trailer is as fucking awesome as seems likely. Fans of inspirational true stories can take refuge in the heartwarming tale of a girl whose arm gets eaten by a shark, Soul Surfer; fans of inspirational cute true stories will have to do with Born to Be Wild, a documentary about cute wittle owangutans and ewephants.
Fans of Satan must make do with Your Highness, in which onetime savior of indie cinema David Gordon Green shepherds medieval pot jokes and ceases to matter to me in any but the most abstract intellectual sense.
Yeah, yeah, Scream 4 (don't like the series, but as far as horror has degraded in ten years, I'm still looking forward to it), Rio (oh boy, talking animals who make pop culture references), and The Conspirator (Robert Redford directs a political harangue in period garb). For me, the weekend is all about the probably infinitesimal release of Atlas Shrugged: Part I, boasting a trailer of the most utterly piquant ghastliness - I have mislaid the name of the commenter who first brought it to my attention, but you have my deepest thanks - promising something along the lines of a collaboration between the Ayn Rand Fan Club of Akron and the people who make Syfy Original Movies when The Asylum is asking for too much money. Heaven help me, I'm more excited for this than pretty much any summer tentpole this year.
Every time I hear the title of Disney's newest Earth Day nature documentary, African Cats, I want it to be a blaxploitation film. This is because I am an irreversibly broken human being.
Moving along: in amongst about ten dozen movies that will probably never play outside of New York, there's a new Madea film - and my relationship to the cinema of Tyler Perry has become complex in the last few months, not because he is a good filmmaker, but because he is fascinatingly bad - Madea's Big Happy Family, as well as the Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson period circus love story Water for Elephants, which will not be fascinatingly bad nor fascinatingly good nor anything involving the word "fascinating" unless it is combined with the prefix "anti-"
Are you ready for summer to begin? The producers of Fast Five - which, unintuitively, is an entry in the Fast and the Furious series - certainly hope you are, because that is the exact claim being made in the last trailer. Marvel Studios must be pissed.
If you'd rather stretch the crappy in-between doldrums out longer, you can do it with Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, which is a title so unfathomably hateful that I would want the movie to fail even if Hoodwinked,six years ago, had been the second coming of Jean Renoir. Or some kind of vampire/zombie melodrama thing, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night. Or best of all, Disney's latest attempt to sell high school to 10-year-olds, Prom.