"Well what do you want from a summer movie?" a colleague who I bet is going to be one of the "counterintuitive" ravers asked me... Had I had my wits about me a little more I could have mustered a good one-word answer: "Jaws."Which sums up my feelings towards this summer perfectly. I don't like to think of myself as anti-fun, but when I scan over the releases of the first two months of Blockbuster Season, I can't find anything other than Super 8 that I really honestly enjoyed, popcorn movie-wise. And that sucks - elitist snob or not, I want as much as anybody to actually have a good time watching special effects movies. I'm not made of stone.
Some well-intentioned counter-programming to the already-released Transformers: The Moon Hits Your Eye: a Selena Gomez picture, Monte Carlo, that shares a title but presumably not a plot with one of the few flaccid Ernst Lubtisch comedies of the early '30s; because 12-year-old girls need movies just like the 12-year-old boys do, though the rest of us aren't expected to have an opinion. Middle-aged folks get Larry Crowne, in which writer-director Tom Hanks shows how damn charming leading man Tom Hanks can be in a romantic comedy. Co-writer Nia Vardalos, noted perpetrator of crappy, over-achieving romantic comedies, is on hand to suck out any charm that accidentally sneaks in.
I love movies that wear there pitch meetings on their sleeves. In the case of Zookeeper, it could not be more obvious that the hook was "Night at the Museum at a zoo", only instead of a slumming Ben Stiller, we get the ghastly Kevin James as our human proxy this time. If I had kids, I might use this as a reason to take them to an actual, y'know, zoo; or maybe just throw lock them in the basement without food, because I imagine that would be more humane than bringing innocent children to a Kevin James/talking animals picture.
The strangely durable R-rated comedy spate of the summer continues with Horrible Bosses, which has, if nothing else, the best cast of any of them: Justin Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey. I can be on board for that.
Like a cool glass of water in the desert, here comes Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Part of me can't get terribly excited for this movie, because it seems like such an anti-climax in a way; after 7 movies, doesn't it kind of feel like we've already seen it? And yet, that's the comfort of it, because unlike every other movie this summer, there's no surprises in store: we all know exactly what it's going to be like, and whether or we're going to like it, and probably the specific reasons why we're going to like it. My gut says: I'm going to give it 7/10, be grateful it's so much better than the wobbly-paced Deathly Hallows: Part 1, hate on the incompetence of how the epilogue, already the worst part of the book, was executed, and rank it fourth of the eight movies (barely ahead of Prisoner of Azkaban, which looks better but can't compete with the action setpieces in the new one).
Meanwhile, the film of the whole summer that I've been anticipating with the greatest mixture of dread and excitement: the Walt Disney Animation Studios' 51st animated feature, Winnie the Pooh, which the rest of the world has already seen. My affection for the original Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is established; and I can say that from the trailer, I'm already deeply concerned that the voices sound all wrong, but that is the kind of idiot fanboy nitpicking that I'd mock if it were, say, toy robots and not toy tigers in question. Anyway, it's going to be a treat to see these characters, animated in such a stripped-down style, on the big screen, though I have to ask what the hell is going on at Disney that they'd open the film on the one single weekend in the entire calendar year where it's guaranteed to fail.
All along, my hopes have been highest for Captain America: The First Avenger out of the summer's four superhero movies, and now that they've all let me down, there's nothing left but to hope that Joe Johnston, of all unlikely directors, and Chris Evans, of all unlikely stars, can pull something out of their collective asses. On the other hand, if it sucks and if it fails (one does not depend on the other), then maybe the superhero craze is finally over, and we can go back to any other kind of tentpole movie at all?
Meanwhile, another R-rated comedy, and the year's second "friends with benefits" comedy, Friends with Benefits. Hard to say whether it's going to be better than No Strings Attached; NSA'sIvan Reitman is at least one or two steps above FWB's Will Gluck; Natalie Portman is undoubtedly a better actress than Mila Kunis (whose rise to stardom confuses me); Ashton Kutcher is just as undoubtedly a worse actor and human being than Justin Timberlake. The trailer sucks gnat balls, that much I can say; but I feel that it will get to its inevitable "hetero-normative pair-bonding" ending with less contrivance than NSA did.
Cowboys & Aliens. Can you resist that title? I can't. Screw the trailers (though they are very bad). It's called Cowboys & Aliens. You know what I bet it has? Cowboys and aliens. That's a high concept, right there.
Another comedy with a great cast, but it's not rated R, in the form of Crazy, Stupid, Love. and despite how utterly I despise the use of punctuation, there's no way to not catch your breath when you see the names: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Julianne Moore, Kevin Bacon... I have no idea who the directors are, though, and screenwriter Dan Fogelman is massively inconsistent (from Tangled to Cars 2 in just seven months!).
Lastly, a live-action Smurfs movie is something that exists now.