Summer Movie Preview: June 2011

June 3

Beautiful Boy

Michael Sheen and Maria Bello star in one of the most depressing movies ever made. Sheen and Bello star as parents trying to pick up the pieces after their son (Kyle Gallner, A Nightmare on Elm Street) commits a mass-murder on his school campus. I love Sheen and Gallner, and Bello is always good in stuff like this, but there’s no way I’m seeing this movie.

Beginners

Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Goran Visnijc (!!!), and the fantastic French actress Melanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds) star in this indie drama about a son who is shocked by his father’s revelations—he’s dying of cancer and has a younger male lover. I’m probably Netflixing this one. I’m not dying to see it but I like everyone involved, especially Laurent. I thought she was the unsung hero of Inglorious Basterds. And it comes from Mike Mills, who made Thumbsucker, which I really enjoyed.

Love, Wedding, Marriage

Poor Mandy Moore. She’s better than this. She’s not a terrible actress and I’d rather watch her in a rom-com than, say, Katherine Heigl. But she gets stuck in terrible trite stuff like this. Moore stars as a marriage counselor, newly married (to Twilight’s Kellan Lutz) who struggles with her parents’ divorce. This is the directorial debut of Dermot Mulroney, and I have zero interest it. There’s no way I’m seeing this movie, either, but unlike Beautiful Boy, which I won’t see because it’s too disturbing to me, I won’t see this one because I don’t care about it at all.

Submarine

British import Submarine is a dramedy starring Sally Hawkins (Happy Go Lucky, Made in Dagenham), Craig Roberts (Jane Eyre), and Paddy Considine (who made a big splash at this year’s Sundance with his feature film directorial debut, Tyrannosaur). Produced by Ben Stiller, Submarine is about Oliver (Roberts), a fifteen-year-old who is out to lose his virginity before his next birthday, and he also has to deal with the returning presence of a man in his mother’s life. And it’s set in the 1980’s. It’s been generally well-received on the festival circuit and writer/director Richard Ayoade directed Abed’s birthday episode of Community. Fun fact.

X-Men: First Class

I was and am nervous about this one because the marketing has been SO BAD since day one, yet as critics screenings have been rolling over the last couple of weeks early word is that X-Men: First Class is pretty damn good. General opinion seems to be that this does for the X-Men franchise what JJ Abrams’ Star Trek did that for that franchise. Based on this buzz, I’m moving X-Men: First Class up my list and am putting it down as the #1 superhero movie of the summer (current standings: X-Men, Captain America, Thor, Green Lantern). Michael Fassbender will be the breakout star but Lainey told me I should prepare to love Nicholas Hoult (UK’s Skins, A Single Man) extra hard after seeing him as geeky Hank McCoy/The Beast. And I’m sure James McAvoy is as delicious as ever, for those of you who dig him. I don’t seem to love him as much as everyone else.

June 8

One Lucky Elephant

This documentary is for the animal lovers among us. One Lucky Elephant traces the years-long quest of David Balding, a circus producer, as he tries to find a permanent home for Flora, the elephant he raised from infancy and wants to retire from performing when he realizes she doesn’t like to do it. Along the way Balding deals with issues such as diminishing natural habitat, the nature of wild animals, and his own bond with Flora. I suspect this will make me a cry a lot.

June 10

The Chameleon

Based on a true story, The Chameleon traces the path of Frederic Bourdin, a con artist who convinced a family that he was their missing thirteen-year-old son. Sort of a dark Catch Me If You Can. This movie hasn’t gotten stellar reviews, however, there was a throw-down between the director and the producer over the final cut, which the producers won and they recut the film without the director. So there’s some word that the director’s cut is better than the theatrical one. Which just makes me want to wait for the director’s cut to come to DVD, if I bother with this at all.

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

Heather Graham is in this! Remember when she was a big deal? And then it turned out she really wasn’t that good an actress, that she was basically just Rollergirl? Oh Rollergirl. This is solid kiddie fare, a vehicle designed for your tween daughter to enjoy. Based on Megan McDonald’s YA book series, Judy Moody reminds me of Ramona and Beezus—young girl creating mischief with her family. No idea if that’s an accurate comparison but it’s the one that strikes me. And as I’m not ten years old, I’m not likely to find out if I’m right or not. Alas and alack.

Road to Nowhere

Oh my god, this one has Shannyn Sossamon (A Knight’s Tale)! Remember her? She was supposed to be the second coming of Angelina Jolie (I think solely because she also has a big mouth), but then she named her kid “Audio Science” and there went her career. Dominique Swain (Lolita) is also in this, and she, too, was once supposed to be a big deal. Road to Nowhere is where former “next big things” go to die, apparently.

Super 8

I’m looking forward to this one. Though JJ Abrams burned me with the terrible, terrible ending of Cloverfield, I’m generally willing to see where he takes me. He has no follow through but few filmmakers have such imagination as Abrams. Super 8 has been under tight, tight wraps but the marketing (and an affiliation with Steven Spielberg) has drawn comparisons to ET. People who have actually gotten a peek at the movie, though, compare it to Stand By Me. Super 8 is about a group of kids in the 1970’s who witness a train wreck and then something is unleashed on their town. Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights COOOAAACCHHH) stars along with Elle Fanning (Somewhere), and newcomer Joel Courtney. The embargo is harsh and so far has been obeyed by the film press but expect a deluge of adoration as soon as it lifts. This one will be BIG.

The Trip

I reviewed The Trip earlier this year—see the complete review here. Suffice it to say, this movie is well worth your $11.

Trollhunter

A Norwegian import, Trollhunter isn’t a straight horror movie but an action hybrid about a group of students who stumble across a troll hunter. It played to solid reviews at Sundance in January. This is one I’m interested in finding if it comes close enough.

Viva Riva!

Another foreign import, Viva Riva! comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The action revolves around the criminal element in Kinshasa and a store of gasoline. Reviews are mixed and my interest is nil.

June 17

The Art of Getting By

Confession: I’m not a huge Emma Roberts fan. I’m not a big Julia Roberts fan, either, and everything that bugs me about the aunt is present in the niece. Emma’s not the worst young actress out there, but she’s definitely not earning her keep with me. The Art of Getting By is another Sundance selection (then titled Homework), and it’s about high school kids. Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and how is now virtually unrecognizable courtesy of puberty) also stars, as a depressed outcast high school student who finds an unexpected kinship with the popular but misunderstood girl (Roberts). Gee. Sounds faaaaaaaascinating.

Green Lantern

Of all the superhero movies, this is the one I think will do the worst. Not that I expect it to completely tank, I just think it won’t do as well as the others. The character is little-known by the general public and though Ryan Reynolds is popular, people seem to prefer him in comedies, not action movies. Also, the SFX of Green Lantern are concerning. I can’t be the only one who thinks that Reynolds’ CGI suit is ridiculous. And then there’s Blake Fucking Lively, who was so terrible uttering just one line in the first trailer that they’ve edited her out of subsequent trailer cuts. Did they really expect people to believe Lively as an avionics engineer? I mean, really?

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

After reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins as an eight-year-old, I wanted a penguin of my own SO BAD. Every time I went to a zoo or aquarium I tried to think of ways to smuggle a penguin out. I would name him Pippen The Penguin and he would live in my bathtub, which I would fill with ice. I had it all planned out. But I am no longer eight and I’m not sure that present-day children are still reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and I’m also not sure that there is anyone left on the planet who still finds Jim Carrey funny, so I’m not feeling this one at all. This movie looks terrible all around.

My Afternoons with Marguerite

Gerard Depardieu stars alongside fellow French actor Gisele Casadesus in this story about an illiterate man (Depardieu) who becomes friends with a well-read older woman (Casadesus). It’s a pure friendship fable and reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. I was recently nonplussed by another French import, Queen to Play, though, so I might be a while warming up to My Afternoons with Marguerite. I’m also not a huge fan of Depardieu. I’ve always thought he was kinda overrated. Am I the only one?

June 24

A Little Help

Jenna Fisher (The Office) and Chris O’Donnell star in this dramedy about a widowed mother whose son lies a lot. They try to pass it off like the plot is more complicated than that but it isn’t. It’s just about a boy who is a lying liar and his mom. I like Fischer on The Office but she’s a TV Girl to me—any more than thirty minutes and I start getting annoyed with her presence. And I’ve never gotten the appeal of O’Donnell—SO BORING. Just like this movie. Boring and unspecial and not worth $11.

Bad Teacher

I’ve got Hopes for this comedy. The trailer cracks me up every time—maybe because I’m a sucker for Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, How I Met Your Mother). He outweighs my dislike for Cameron Diaz and her fucked up face (can’t tell if she’s fucking with it or just not aging well—too much sun exposure, Cammy?). Justin Timberlake also stars but he doesn’t irk me when he’s being funny. I didn’t hate him in The Social Network like everyone else, mostly because I thought he was basically playing himself, and I think he can be effective in supporting comedic parts. I don’t worry about him in this movie but I do worry about him in Friends With Benefits in July. He’s going to have to carry more of that movie than he does in Bad Teacher, where Diaz and Segel will be doing the heavy lifting.

A Better Life

I’m a little bit puzzled as to why this movie is getting a wide release. A Better Life follows Carlos, an East LA gardener (Demian Bichir, Weeds and Che) who commutes across town to care for the lawns and landscapes of wealthy Westside Los Angelenos and is trying to keep his son out of trouble in the barrio. It’s a small, human-driven drama that reeks of the arthouse, not the Cineplex. Color me confused. But it’s directed by Chris Weitz, whose previous credit is Twilight: New Moon, and A Better Life is being released by Twilight’s studio, Summit. That probably has a lot to do with it.

Cars 2

It’s Pixar. It’s the sequel to the popular kiddie flick Cars. It’ll make $500 million and be one of the top-grossing movies of the summer/year. But the Cars franchise is Pixar’s weakest link and no one expects this to be a big critical achievement for the animation studio. The story revolves around talking cars and the second entry into the series introduces a spy element. Spy cars. Okay. Interesting footnote: Cars preceded Ratatouille, one of Pixar’s harder sells. Cars 2 precedes 2012’s Brave, which is, to me, Pixar’s toughest sell yet. I don’t think that scheduling is accidental.

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop

TEAM COCO FOR LIFE.

This documentary follows O’Brien during his live Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On TV Tour after he was fired from The Tonight Show in that Jay Leno-induced debacle. The doc played to huge applause at SXSW earlier this year and if you saw Conan’s 60 Minutes interview, you know he had a lot (A LOT) of anger left over after his dismissal from The Tonight Show. Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop follows him through the darkest period of his career, before the light at the end of the tunnel emerged via TBS. I am really, really looking forward to this.

June 29

Transformers: The Dark of the Moon

This will be the biggest movie of the summer. The only thing that will come close to it is Cars 2. I don’t expect Transformers 3 to be a good movie in any sense of the term, but I did enjoy the original Transformers as a fun piece of mindless entertainment. At his best, Michael Bay combines flashy visuals with sarcastic humor and just enough plot to function. That formula worked for #1 and I expect it to be back at work in #3. A lot of this rides on Shia LaBeouf, which is why he was cast in this franchise in the first place. At current, he’s the only 25-and-under actor capable of carrying a movie this size. With Bay determined to prove he isn’t the shittiest filmmaker on the planet (debatable), and LaBeouf anchoring this movie instead of those stupid autobots (the shittiness of these movies is directly related to how much time the autobots spend standing around talking), Transformers 3 will undoubtedly be stupid, but it should also be fun.

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5 thoughts on “Summer Movie Preview: June 2011

  1. Okay, so is Jim Carrey broke? Because I saw the trailer for that penguin movie when, er, I saw Pirates last weekend (my husband and brother made me go!), and that’s the first thing that popped into my head (no pun intended).

    Will be seeing Bridesmaids this weekend, but I’ve got high expectations for it now.

  2. Kaylie

    I bet HP7.2 makes more money than Transformers. They’re both going to be in 3D, so they’ll probably both make a crapload of money.

    I heard Love, Wedding, Marriage was pretty much the worst thing ever. haha. So I won’t be seeing that one. Didn’t expect much with Kellan Lutz in the lead anyway.

    I’m dying to see X-Men and Super 8. Been hearing good things about both. I don’t really get people’s James McAvoy obsessions either… perhaps I’m missing something? The Super 8 reviews I’ve read have basically been saying that the movie is much more about the characters and their relationships than it is about the “monster” stuff. So I can totally see the Stand By Me comparisons.

    I’m really worried about Green Lantern, and that ticks me off because I think Green Lantern, as a character, is better than most of the Marvel properties. (I think a lot of the DC properties are better than Marvel, but that’s a different topic). I’m afraid they over-reached with the CGI, both with his costume and with the CGI environments. I can almost get on board with the CGI costume, but the CGI mask is still looking pretty bad. Also, Blake Lively. Really makes me sad that they didn’t cast someone who could actually act, or who might actually be a good female role model, since her character is pretty cool.

  3. Kim

    Transformers and Cars will have bigger box offices than Harry Potter? I mean, I’m not an HP fan (yes, I’ve heard it, there’s something wrong with me), but it seems like that movie is the definition of ‘sure thing’. Transformers might come close, but I don’t think it’ll take the summer crown.

    I like reading your previews, but they do make me long to live in a bigger city just for movie selection alone. I’ll get the mainstream studio flicks, but the indies and art house? Never.

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