Top 5 Starfests


One of the big draws of The Expendables (see review) is the star power; many of the biggest stars in the action genre of the last 20 years make an appearance in the movie. Loading up a movie with as many stars as you can fit in is nearly as old as Hollywood is itself; having multiple stars draws across various fanbases and give the movie a wider potential audience to draw from. Some movies exist for little reason beyond just getting those self-same stars into the same movie; how many people would have seen Heat for example had it not had both Pacino and De Niro in it? At their best, Starfests can be a romp allowing big stars to shine in small little-more-than-cameo roles. These are my favorites.

HONORABLE MENTION

There are several movies that didn’t make the top five but were worthy of mentioning here. Robin and the Seven Hoods (1962) was ostensibly a Rat Pack movie with Sinatra, Deano and Sammy, it also boasted Bing Crosby, Peter Falk, Barbara Rush, Victor Buono, Tony Randall and Edward G. Robinson, along with a number of Borscht Belt comics of the day. The Towering Inferno (1974) followed the tried and true disaster film formula of throwing a bunch of stars into a disaster situation and then have the audience watch to see who survives. Not only did it pair up Steve McQueen and Paul Newman for the first time, the stellar cast included William Holden, Fred Astaire, Jennifer Jones, Robert Wagner, Richard Chamberlain, Faye Dunaway, Robert Vaughn and OJ. Yes, that OJ. Clue (1985) was based on the popular board game and had the gimmick of shooting three different endings which varied depending on which theater you saw the movie in. The cast of characters included Madeline Kahn, Martin Mull, Tim Curry, Eileen Brennan, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean and Lesley Ann Warren. Finally, Mars Attacks! (1996) was director Tim Burton’s homage to a series of collectable cards issued in the 1950s that depicted all sorts of gruesome killings perpetrated by rampaging Martians. Here, he set up a spectacular cast only to kill them off in some horrible way, including Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Michael J. Fox, Danny De Vito, Annette Bening, Rod Steiger, Jim Brown, Glenn Close, Sylvia Sidney, Pam Grier, Joe Don Baker, Paul Winfield and Martin Short. Also cast in early roles were Jack Black and Natalie Portman before they were famous. 

5. THE GREAT RACE (1965)

 The Great Race

This Blake Edwards-directed ode to the daredevil motorists of the early1900s relied heavily on silent cinema conventions and star power to motor it along. The race from New York to Paris featured Jack Lemmon as the Dastardly Professor Fate, whose car contained among other inventions, a smoke machine, a cannon and a scissor lift. Tony Randall  Curtis was the Great Leslie, whose eyes and teeth twinkled and gleamed like the Northern Star, sure to set all sorts of female hearts a-flutter at the time. Along for the ride was an impressive cast including Natalie Wood, Dorothy Provine, Ross Martin, Keenan Wynn, Peter Falk, Arthur O’Connell, Larry Storch, Vivian Vance and Denver Pyle. It can be seen regularly on broadcast television and is usually not that hard to find at your local video retailer.

4. THE LONGEST DAY (1962)

 The Longest Day

The story of D-Day is an epic canvas in and of itself, and Hollywood just about outdid itself when it rolled out the red carpet for the stars who played both front line soldiers and officers behind the scenes where the invasion of Normandy was planned. John Wayne headlined the she-bang, but among those who were also involved including (deep breath now) Henry Fonda, Sean Connery, Richard Burton, Red Buttons, Robert Mitchum, Roddy McDowell, Curt Jurgens, Robert Ryan, George Segal, Edmund O’Brien, Sal Mineo, Fabian, Mel Ferrer, Robert Wagner, Stuart Whitman, Rod Steiger, Eddie Albert and Gert Frobe. It may not have been the longest day but it might have been the longest cast. It periodically shows up on broadcast television or basic cable; it can be difficult to find at video retailers, but as a classic is most certainly worth seeking out.

3. OCEANS 11 (2001)

Oceans Eleven 

George Clooney got together with his buddy Steven Soderbergh and decided to remake the Rat Pack classic of the same name, albeit much modernized but with the same jazzy sense of style. The two of them called a bunch of A-list friends to make a new Rat Pack for the 21st century and an impressive list of talent it is; Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Bernie Mac, Elliott Gould, Carl Reiner, Andy Garcia, Scott Caan and Casey Affleck. You got the feeling that robbing the casino was not so much the point as was having a three-month long party in Vegas. Fortunately, what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas – it was a smash hit and inspired two sequels and there might have been more but for the untimely passing of Bernie Mac. Currently, it plays cable TV regularly and occasionally shows up on TBS and it’s ilk. If you don’t want to wait for it to show up on TV, you can easily find it at most rental outlets or retail stores if you want to add it to your own library.

2. MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (1974)

Murder on the Orient Express

A classic Agatha Christie mystery became a box office smash and Oscar winner in the capable hands of director Sidney Lumet. Albert Finney starred as the natty Belgian detective Hercule Poirot faced with a vicious murder on a train that as he investigates, he determines it has something to do with an infamous kidnapping that was obviously based on the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. In this gorgeous period piece, everyone’s a suspect and when you have a cast like Lauren Bacall, Anthony Perkins, Richard Widmark, Ingmar Bergman, Sean Connery, Michael York, John Gielgud, Martin Balsam, Wendy Hiller, Jacqueline Bisset, Vanessa Redgrave, Rachel Roberts and Jean-Pierre Cassel, it doesn’t really matter who done it. This is one train ride I don’t mind taking over and over again and you certainly can; it makes regular appearances both on premium cable and basic cable. It is also fairly easy to find at video rental places, although generally you’re much more apt to be able to buy it online than you are in brick and mortar retailers.

1. AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (1956)

Around the World in 80 Days

Producer Michael Todd’s epic version of the Jules Verne novel was beyond scale or scope. One of the most honored films of all time with five Oscars (including Best Picture), the movie starred the urbane David Niven as Phineas Fogg, with the Mexican comedian Cantinflas as the loyal manservant Passepartout, the cast included most of the biggest stars of the day, with Shirley MacLaine as the lovely Princess Aouda, but also in varying roles from cameos to featured roles, Frank Sinatra, Robert Morley, Noel Coward, John Gielgud, Charles Boyer, Cesar Romero, Cedric Hardwicke, Ronald Coleman, Robert Newton, Peter Lorre, George Raft, Red Skelton, Marlene Dietrich, John Carradine, Buster Keaton, Joe E. Brown, Andy Devine, Hermione Gingold, Edward R. Murrow and Trevor Howard. This remains one of the most entertaining movies ever made. It used to be a broadcast staple, but rarely shows up on cable these days; you’re probably better off renting it or buying it from your favorite retailer.

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The Expendables


The Expendables

Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone and Randy Couture are all puzzled by the awful smell coming from the ceiling.

(Lionsgate) Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Giselle Itie, Mickey Rourke, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Charisma Carpenter, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Zayas, Gary Daniels. Directed by Sylvester Stallone

When we reach a certain age, we have a tendency to say things along the lines as “they don’t make them like that anymore” more and more often. In some cases, it’s just our memories of things from the past that color our perceptions. Once in awhile, we’re actually right – they don’t make them like that anymore.

Case in point, The Expendables. This is the kind of action movies that filled theaters with cheering, chest-pounding men and the women who put up with them. It’s the kind of movie that makes you want to cook some meat on an open flame, use power tools to make things that needed to be fixed even more broken, and drink several beers while watching football. You know, man things.

There’s a plot here but really, do you care? You’ve got Stallone leading a bunch of mercenaries into a fictional South American country to rescue a brave woman (Itie) with his besties at his side – mostly Statham and Li but also including Couture and Crews – against some rogue CIA agents (Roberts and Austin).  We’ve seen it more than once already this summer alone.

One of the big draws is a single scene in which Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger gather together in a church to essentially set up the story. It’s early on in the movie, last only a few minutes and then Willis and Schwarzenegger disappear forever from the movie. Still, you get an insane kick out of seeing these three action icons of the 80s and 90s together for the first time, with Stallone even getting in a jab at Schwarzenegger’s political aspirations.

Then there’s Mickey Rourke. Having seen his career resurrected in The Wrestler and further enhanced by Iron Man 2, he plays a semi-retired Expendable who runs a tattoo parlor slash garage where his old merc buddies get together to reminisce. He has a scene that he talks about why he got out of the game and gives at least a little insight into the toll of war on old warriors. Stallone, to his credit, centers the camera on a tight close-up on Rourke’s face except for a brief reaction shot, but essentially the entire speech is shot that way. It’s a stunning moment, one you wouldn’t expect to find in an action film like this and it serves to elevate the movie all by its lonesome.

Mainly though, this is about blowing things up, stabbing people every which way, kicking, punching and shooting people with guns, rocket launchers and whatever else is handy. The action is way over-the-top, loud and aggressive – in short, the way it used to be. You don’t have time to really think about how hurling an artillery shell at a helicopter with your bare hands isn’t likely to do much damage, let alone blow it up but Crews does just that and you pound your chest and grunt like a good monkey when he does.

Some of the fight scenes, particularly during the last battle, were difficult to follow. Stallone chose to use a more modern handheld camera approach, not realizing perhaps that the style was something of a novelty to begin with; combined with quick cuts, you get the sensation that the entire battle scene is hurtling by your head without really sticking onscreen. At times, you can’t tell who’s battling who, and it’s a shame because you wind up missing some of Jet Li’s martial arts moves which are unbelievable to begin with.

Still, this is a movie that will quell that action Jones you may have been craving for years now. I could actually feel my testicles swelling up while the movie was going on. Not an unpleasant sensation, let me tell you.

REASONS TO GO: A throwback action movie that gives you more bang for your buck than any action film this past summer.

REASONS TO STAY: Some of the fight scenes (particularly in the climactic battle) were filmed with handheld cameras and were insanely difficult to follow, so quickly were they cut.

FAMILY VALUES: Lots of action, lots of violence, lots of things go boom and lots of hand-to-hand mayhem. A few swear words too; probably older teens will be fine with this, but the very young should stay away.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The scene with Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis was filmed on October 24, 2009 and took six hours to film. Willis was in the midst of filming Cop Out and was given a pass by director Kevin Smith to appear in The Expendables; Schwarzenegger declined to accept any pay for his role, doing it as a favor to his longtime friend Stallone. It was Schwarzenegger’s first movie appearance in six years, since Around the World In 80 Days.

HOME OR THEATER: Big explosions should be seen on a big screen.

FINAL RATING: 7/10

TOMORROW: Taking Woodstock

New Releases for the Week of August 13, 2010


August 13, 2010

One of the evil ex-Boyfriends eats some Kroww.

SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD

(Universal) Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Alison Pill. Directed by Edgar Wright

When a slacker falls in love with a girl he should rightly have no chance with, to his delight it turns out she has feelings for him as well. Unfortunately, she has seven evil ex-Boyfriends who don’t take kindly to a bass-playing interloper, so Scott Pilgrim is going to need to nut up and take on the world…or at least, seven evil ex-Boyfriends. Fortunately, he has genius director Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) guiding his way.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and a featurette here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Rating: PG-13 (for stylized violence, sexual content, language and drug references)

Countdown to Zero

(Magnolia) Jimmy Carter, James Baker III, Tony Blair, Valerie Plame Wilson. Most people believe that when the Cold War ended, so did the threat of nuclear annihilation. After all, both superpowers have embarked on a mutual disarmament program. However, the fact of the matter is that more nations have nuclear weapons than ever before and many more have the technical capabilities of manufacturing their own. Terrorist groups are actively seeking fissionable material to construct their own Weapons of Mass Destruction and the possibility of a dreadful accident caused by human error grows every day. This documentary serves to educate people on the remaining nuclear threat – and to urge the world to demand zero nuclear weapons on the planet.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Rating: PG (for thematic material, images of destruction and incidental smoking)

Eat Pray Love

(Columbia) Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, James Franco, Viola Davis. A woman trapped in an unfulfilling marriage – heck, an unfulfilling life – decides to chuck everything in an attempt to go find herself. Apparently herself is hiding in India, Italy or Indonesia. It’s always in the last place you look, I say. In any case, it’s based on the bestselling book of the same name.

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Rating: PG-13 (for brief strong language, some sexual references and male rear nudity)

The Expendables

(Lionsgate) Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Bruce Willis. A highly skilled mercenary team goes on what seems to be a routine mission; to overthrow the bloodthirsty dictator of a small South American island nation. Betrayed by a rogue CIA agent, the team is forced to leave behind an innocent woman who will surely die for helping them. They must either walk away or turn around and finish what they started. In addition to the guys listed above, the cast reads like a who’s who of action movie stars, including the Governator himself – Arnold Schwarzenegger – in a cameo role.

See the trailer, clips and interviews here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Rating: R (for strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language)

Nora’s Will

(Menemsha) Fernando Lujan, Veronica Langer, Silvia Mariscal, Juan Pablo Medina. A man finds out that his wife of 30 years whom he lost contact with after an acrimonious divorce has committed suicide and left him executor of her estate. Due to religious obligations, the burial must take place immediately or else wait five days before she can be laid to rest. Preparing for the funeral, the man finds a mysterious photograph that will take him on an unexpected journey.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Rating: NR

Four-Warned: August 2010


Four-Warned: August 2010

Every month I’m going to look at every movie on the release schedule and try to assign them a numerical value corresponding to how anxious I am to see it. The lower the number, the more I want to see it. A one means I would walk through hell and high water to see it; a four means there’s no interest whatsoever. The numbers are not arrived at scientifically but they aren’t arbitrary either.

The numbers aren’t a reflection of the artistic merit of any of these films, but merely a reflection of my willingness to go to a movie theater and see it. The top four scores will be gathered as a means of reflecting the movies I’m anticipating the most; you may use that as a guide or not.

Each entry is broken down as follows:

NAME OF FILM (Studio) Genre A brief description of the plot. Release plans: Wide = Everywhere, Limited = In selected markets. RATING A brief explanation

Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.

FOUR TO SEE 

1. SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD (1.5)
2. THE EXPENDABLES (2.4)
3. NANNY MCPHEE RETURNS (2.5)
4. THE OTHER GUYS (2.7)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE) 

1. LEBANON (1.9)
TIE. TALES FROM EARTHSEA (1.9)
3. THE TILLMAN STORY (2.2)
4. THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED (2.4)

TIE. THE WILDEST DREAM: THE CONQUEST OF EVEREST (2.4)
 

RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see

AUGUST 4, 2010

SICILIAN GIRL (Music Box) Genre: Crime Drama. The true story of a 17-year-old Sicilian girl who broke the Sicilian code of silence by testifying against the Mafia. Release Strategy: New York Only. RATING: 3.0 Sounds like a powerful drama; hope I can see a trailer for this soon.

AUGUST 6, 2010

CAIRO TIME (IFC) Genre: Romantic Drama. A 40-something fashion editor is assigned to Cairo and finds that the exotic city awakens strong feelings in her. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 A Harlequin romance for the indie film set?
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED (Anchor Bay) Genre: British Crime Thriller. A young heiress is kidnapped and held for ransom by two ex-cons, but she doesn’t intend to be used as a pawn. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.4 This looks to be the sleeper suspense movie of the summer.
FLIPPED (Warner Brothers) Genre: Romantic Comedy. Boy meets girl in grade school. Girl thinks its love, boy thinks she has cooties. Boy and girl grow up. Stuff happens. Release Strategy: Limited (Opening wide on Aug. 27). RATING: 3.0 Could be a really sweet coming-of-age story despite my smart-assed summary.
LEBANON (Sony Classics) Genre: War Drama. An Israeli tank crew gets caught up in a life-or-death situation during the first Lebanese War of 1982. Release Strategy: New York (Opening in Los Angeles on Aug. 13). RATING: 1.9 Could very well be Das Boot for tanks.
MIDDLE MEN (Paramount Vantage) Genre: Comedy. An entrepreneur gets involved with Internet porn and makes a fortune but turns his life upside down. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.9 These “based on a true story” Internet tales are coming thick and fast.
THE OTHER GUYS (Columbia) Genre: Action Comedy. Two deskbound NYPD detectives are called upon to support the department’s reigning supercops. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.7 Anything that reunites Talladega Nights director Adam McKay with Will Ferrell is aces in my book.
THE OXFORD MURDERS (Magnolia) Genre: Thriller. A professor of logic and one of his students races against time to solve a string of murders. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 John Hurt is one of my favorite actors so this is a slam dunk for me.
STEP UP 3D (Touchstone) Genre: Urban Drama. A tight-knit break dancing team from the Bronx enters a global competition. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 4.0 Not a single thing about this movie appeals to me, but then again I’m as far from their demographic as you can get.
THRU THE MOEBIUS STRIP
(Hannover House) Genre: Sci-Fi Animated Feature. Age-old enemies must learn to work together against a common enemy to save their humans. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Supposedly based on the works of Heavy Metal artist Jean “Moebius” Giraud, who I must admit I admire a great deal.
TWELVE
 (Hannover House) Genre: Gritty Urban Drama. A drug dealer on the decadent Upper East Side sees his life turned upside down when his cousin is arrested for murder. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.7 An impressive cast but the trailer held no magic for me.
THE WILDEST DREAM: CONQUEST OF EVEREST (National Geographic) Genre: Documentary. A young British mountaineer attempts to re-create George Mallory’s ill-fated 1924 climb to see if it’s possible that he might have summated Mt. Everest before perishing. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 I love these types of documentaries; nobody does ‘em like NatGeo.

AUGUST 13, 2010

ANIMAL KINGDOM (Sony Classics) Genre: Aussie Crime Drama. A young boy is brought into a notorious Melbourne crime family after his mother dies. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 This has been getting all sorts of accolades worldwide; might be the real thing.
EAT PRAY LOVE (Columbia) Genre: Dramedy. A married woman chucks her marriage, her house and her life in order to embark on a journey of self-discovery. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.1 Despite the presence of Julia Roberts as the lead, I’m thinking this is an ode to self-worship.
THE EXPENDABLES (Lionsgate) Genre: Action. A team of mercenaries finds themselves fighting for their lives after a job goes horribly wrong, and may end up having to do the right thing in spite of themselves. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 Nearly every notable action star of the last 20 years is in this; either it’ll be classic or a real mess.
LA SOGA (7-57 Releasing) Genre: Action Thriller. A sensitive young boy witnesses the brutal murder of his family by a Dominican drug lord; he is eventually transformed into an amoral assassin for the Dominican Secret Police. Release Strategy: New York Only. RATING: 3.1 Haven’t yet seen a trailer for this, but the concept is intriguing, sort of a Latin La Femme Nikita.
SALT OF THE SEA (Lorber) Genre: Romantic Drama. A Brooklyn-born woman of Palestinian descent returns to her homeland to claim what’s hers. Release Strategy: New York Only. RATING: 3.3 This could pique my interest, but again I haven’t seen a trailer for this one either.
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (Universal) Genre: Trendy Comic Book Action Mash-Up. A young dweeb who plays in a band falls hard for a much cooler girl than he deserves and is forced to fight her seven evil ex-boyfriends for the right to woo her. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 My son Jacob has an absolute chubby for this movie, which means that seeing it might make me hipper or merely depress me over the state of modern youth culture.
TALES FROM EARTHSEA (Disney) Genre: Fantasy Anime. A young ambitious wizard must right the wrongs he loosed on the world through his own recklessness. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 The latest from Studio Ghibli and the first from Goro Miyazaki, the son of the legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki; also based on the beloved fantasy novel by Ursula K. LeGuin.

AUGUST 18, 2010

VAMPIRES SUCK (20th Century Fox) Genre: Horror Spoof. A young human girl must choose between competing boyfriends – who happen to be vampires. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.9 I agree that the Twilight saga richly deserves a spoofing but lately these types of movies have been majorly craptacular and at worst, unwatchable.

AUGUST 20, 2010

DOWN TERRACE (Magnet) Genre: Dark Comedy. A father and son struggle to keep a crime family together even while an informant in their midst threatens to tear it apart. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Sounds a bit like “The Sopranos” on Ritalin.
LOTTERY TICKET (Warner Brothers) Genre: Urban Comedy. A winning lottery ticket puts a quiet neighborhood into an uproar. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.8 Sorry, the trailer looked kinda awful.
MAO’S LAST DANCER (Goldwyn) Genre: Biography. The story of international ballet star Li Cunxin who overcame tremendous odds to realize his dream. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 I’m not usually a big fan of movies about dancing but the trailer for this one looked very good.
NANCY MCPHEE RETURNS (Universal) Genre: Family. The magical nanny comes to rescue a family whose father is off at war. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.5 I actually liked the first film very much, so interested in seeing what they do with the second.
PIRANHA 3D (Dimension) Genre: Horror. Mutant flesh-eating fish take over a Spring Break hangout and prepare to munch on a co-ed buffet. Release Strategy: Wide (3D). RATING: 2.9 The original wasn’t John Sayles’ finest hour; did we really need a remake of it?
THE SWITCH (Miramax) Genre: Comedy. A neurotic man switches the donated sperm for his best friend’s baby with his own. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.4 The trailer made this look like 90 minutes of awkward.
THE TILLMAN STORY (Weinstein) Genre: Documentary. The story of the pro football star that gave up the NFL to serve his country and would later be killed by friendly fire. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 This could well be the Best Documentary Feature Oscar winner.
WHAT IF… (Jenkins Entertainment) Genre: Christian Drama. A man who gave up the cloth and his high school sweetheart for a business career gets to see what his life would have been like if he’d chosen differently. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.7 Sort of like It’s A Wonderful Life for the God squad.

AUGUST 27, 2010

CENTURION (Magnet) Genre: Swords and Sandals. A Roman legion charged with wiping out the savage and terrifying Picts find themselves battling for their own survival behind enemy lines. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Looks like a cross between Gladiator and Last of the Mohicans.
CHANGE OF PLANS (IFC) Genre: Indie Drama. A group of ten friends gather for a summertime dinner party, where their personal issues begin to surface. Release Strategy: New York Only. RATING: 3.3 Yet another look at the failing relationships of a group of 20-somethings.
GOING THE DISTANCE (New Line) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A couple fall madly in love, then have to continue their relationship via long-distance. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.9 An attractive young couple (Drew Barrymore and Justin Long) make this appealing.
THE LAST EXORCISM (Lionsgate) Genre: Supernatural Horror. A priest agrees to document his last exorcism, with unexpected results. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.8 Looks like a real good frightfest.
THE MILK OF SORROW (Olive Films) Genre: Indie Drama. A woman is severely affected by the psychological effects of a war on terror in Peru. Release Strategy: New York (Opening in Los Angeles Sept. 3). RATING: 3.3 Not for the squeamish or the sensitive.
TAKERS (Screen Gems) Genre: Action. A group of high-tech bank robbers try to stay one step of the cops as they pull off their biggest heist yet. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.4 The trailer didn’t excite me any.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES

The Other Guys, Middle Men, Eat Pray Love, The Expendables, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Nanny McPhee Returns, Going the Distance

2010 Summer Movie Preview


Ah summertime, when living is easy. A time for napping contentedly in the heat of the day, an ice cold glass of lemonade at your side. The days of baseball and beaches, backyard cookouts and pool parties. The pace of life slows down just a little in the heat of the summer, only to pick up on warm summer nights in amphitheaters, nightclubs and concert halls. It is the season of the theme park, when the kids are out on summer vacation and bored out of their minds. It is a time to look forward to.

The cool darkness of a multiplex beckons seductively in the summer heat and the studios make sure you show up in droves by releasing their biggest, baddest movies of the year. These are the blockbusters, the movies that you’ll be talking about all year long and the ones you’ll want to own on DVD or Blu-Ray when they come out at Christmastime.

In 2009, Hollywood set box office records and the summer season was a big reason for that. Movies like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Up, Star Trek and The Hangover all made the cash registers sing at theaters across the world and the studios raked it in like never before. When times get tough, the tough go to the movies…and so do the not-so-tough.

This year promises to be even better with a glut of spectacles that will fire up the imagination, taking us places like ancient Persia, the Old West, modern China and the human mind itself. We will renew acquaintances with Woody, Iron Man, Shrek and Edward Cullen, while making new friends as well. Directors Ridley Scott, M. Night Shyamalan and Christopher Nolan will be showing off their talent and imagination, while stars like Tom Cruise, Leonardo di Caprio, Russell Crowe and Julia Roberts will hope we love them just a little bit more.

Comic books will continue to be big as we see movies like Iron Man 2, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Jonah Hex while videogames will get their due with Prince of Persia: The Sand of Time. There will be remakes of television shows like The A-Team and movies like The Karate Kid. We’ll see legends like Robin Hood and kids shows like The Last Airbender. Comic strip icons like Marmaduke will wrestle for the box office dollar with new pop culture icons like Twilight: Eclipse.

Hollywood will try to make us laugh with Killers and make us cry with Letters to Juliet. They will thrill us with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and appeal to the kid in us with Despicable Me. They will blow our minds with Inception, scare us silly with The Last Exorcism and lighten our wallets with Toy Story 3 (you don’t think you’re going to get away with not getting any Woody and Buzz merch this summer do you?) while transporting us to other worlds with Predators. As always, there will be sequels like Sex and the City 2 and buzz-laden indie films like Winter’s Bone and Get Low.

So if you like Jonah Hex, Get Him to the Greek with The Other Guys so they can have Dinner for Schmucks – try to stay light on the Salt. So whether or not you Eat Pray Love make sure you call Nanny McPhee 2 for the Babies because its Grown Ups only in the cinema and that will make things Just Wright.

MAY

Iron Man 2GRAND SLAM

IRON MAN 2

RELEASE DATE: May 7, 2010

STUDIO: Paramount

STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Gwynneth Paltrow, Mickey Roarke, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Garry Shandling, Samuel L. Jackson.

STORY: Now that the world knows Iron Man is Tony Stark, everyone wants his armor but Tony is reluctant to cede control of it to anyone. With his faithful assistant Pepper Potts at his side, he will take on a rival industrialist and a Russian psychopath in this sequel to the 2008 smash.

PROSPECTS: Imprecise as they are, internet polls are saying this is the most-anticipated movie of the summer. Director Jon Favreau did a great job with Iron Man and the fans love him, so they should be flocking to this in droves.

OBSTACLES: There aren’t a lot. Comic fans are notoriously fickle, so Favreau will need to make this one at least as good as the first Iron Man. He should have a talk with Sam Raimi if he doesn’t believe me.

FACTOID: Terrence Howard was replaced as Colonel Jim “Rhodey” Rhodes by Don Cheadle due to a falling out between Howard and Marvel Studios.

HOME RUNS

SHREK FOREVER AFTER

RELEASE DATE: May 21, 2010

STUDIO: DreamWorks Animation

STARRING THE VOICES OF: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Jon Hamm, Kathy Griffin, Kristin Schaal

STORY: Shrek meets It’s a Wonderful Life as he discovers what Far Far Away would be like if he had never existed.

PROSPECTS: The filmmakers have announced that this will be the last movie in the franchise, so that will get people into the theaters on its own. This is the most popular animated film franchise to date.

OBSTACLES: The public may be getting a bit tired of Shrek as those who were kids when the first one came out are well into their teens and early 20s now.

FACTOID: This will be the first Shrek movie to be released in 3D.

PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME

RELEASE DATE: May 28, 2010

STUDIO: Disney

STARRING: Jake Gyllenhaal, Sir Ben Kingsley, Gemma Arterton, Alfred Molina, Toby Kebbell, Reece Ritchie

STORY: Based on the 1993 videogame, a young prince of ancient Persia comes into possession of a dagger which when used can reverse time and finds himself allied with a mysterious princess against dark forces that wish to control the dagger and by doing so, rule the world.

PROSPECTS: Producer Jerry Bruckheimer has produced two tentpole franchises for Disney; Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure. Judging on the spectacular trailers, this will be his third.

OBSTACLES: Movies based on computer games have traditionally not fared well at the box office.

FACTOID: Rey-Phillip Santos was to have played the part Toby Kebbell plays in the movie, but he was injured in a motorcycle accident while on location and was unable to continue.

INSIDE THE PARK

BABIES

RELEASE DATE: May 7, 2010

STUDIO: Focus Films

STARRING: Ponijao, Bayar, Mari, Hattie

STORY: A documentary following the first year of life of four babies in four disparate places – San Francisco, Tokyo, Mongolia and Namibia.

PROSPECTS: The trailer, which has been playing in theaters for months, has been attracting a whole lot of “awwwws” from women everywhere it has been shown.  

OBSTACLES: There isn’t going to be much of a demand for this from those who aren’t interested in babies per se – that means you, teenaged boy.

FACTOID: There is some maternal nudity in this French-made documentary.

INFIELD SINGLES

MAY 7, 2010

MOTHER AND CHILD (Sony Classics) is a trio of tales that all have to do with the effects of adoption on the lives of three different women; one who gave her child away to adoption, another who was adopted as a child and a third considering adoption for herself. Bring plenty of Kleenex.

MAY 14, 2010

JUST WRIGHT (Fox Searchlight) stars Queen Latifah as a personal trainer who is falling for a pro basketball player she’s rehabilitating from a career-threatening injury, only to find that she has competition for his heart from her best friend, a beautiful, sexy playa who’s more interested in the lifestyle than the love. LETTERS TO JULIET (Summit) has a starry-eyed young American volunteer (Amanda Seyfried) to a group that answers letters from the lovelorn to Juliet (the Shakespearean one) getting involved with a 50-year-old love letter that may prove that true love knows no age. The trailer shows plenty of the absolutely intoxicating Italian countryside. ROBIN HOOD (Universal) reunites star Russell Crowe with director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, A Good Year) in a new re-telling of the legend of Robin of Locksley, the bandit who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Ironically, the very rich studios will be getting a whole lot of money from the much less financially stable general public for this one.

MAY 21, 2010

MACGRUBER (Rogue) is based on the Saturday Night Live spoof of MacGyver. Will Forte is the cool-as-lava agent who can defuse a bomb (as long as it only has three wires) or make one himself out of duct tape and Twinkies. He is called to face down his long-time nemesis who has smuggled nuclear weapons into the United States and intends to detonate them…unless MacGruber can save the day!

MAY 27, 2010

Carrie and her friends once again get into mischief and talk fashion, New York City and sex – and take their act on the road in the chick-est of chick flicks, SEX AND THE CITY 2 (New Line).

MAY 28, 2010

GEORGE A. ROMERO’S SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD (Magnet) is the latest in the horror master’s Living Dead series. Here, two families on a remote island clash over their philosophies on how to deal with the zombies, leading to a remarkably violent confrontation.

JUNE

Toy Story 3GRAND SLAM

TOY STORY 3

RELEASE DATE: June 18, 2009

STUDIO: Disney/Pixar

STARRING THE VOICES OF: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Keaton

STORY: When Andy goes off to college, his toys are donated to a child care center. Woody and Buzz find themselves trying to adjust to a new and unfamiliar situation.

PROSPECTS: The movie that started it all gets its third installment, and the Disney publicity machine will leave no stone unturned to make sure a whole new generation of kids gets caught up in Toy Story Mania.

OBSTACLES: Most of the kids who grew up with the Toy Story movies are less likely to see this more than once, if that. Disney will have to rely on attracting new viewers for this to be the massive hit they’re anticipating it will be.

FACTOID: Blake Clark is the new voice of Slinky Dog, replacing the late Jim Varney who passed away in 2009.

HOME RUNS

KNIGHT AND DAY

RELEASE DATE: June 25, 2010

STUDIO: 20th Century Fox

STARRING: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis, Maggie Grace, Paul Dano, Olivier Martinez, Mark Blucas

STORY: A blind date turns from Mission: Impossible to The Spy Who Loved Me as an ordinary woman’s life is turned upside down by the spy she is hooked up with.

PROSPECTS: It’s something of a weak month as blockbusters go and this looks to be the best action film in the pack.

OBSTACLES: Cruise doesn’t have the box office cachet he once did, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t good for at least a fair number of butts in seats.

FACTOID: Cruise was looking for an espionage thriller that was unlike his Mission: Impossible films and passed on Salt and The Tourist because he felt they were too much like M:I. He said yes to this movie because of the comedic elements.

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE

RELEASE DATE: June 30, 2010

STUDIO: Summit

STARRING: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Bryce Dallas Howard, Dakota Fanning, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed

STORY: As graduation approaches, Bella Swan must choose between her love for vampire Edward Cullen and her friendship with werewolf Jacob Black, even as a rival vampire is plotting revenge and Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings.

PROSPECTS: Summit is wisely striking while the iron is hot, releasing the third film in the series seven months after the last one. Pre-teen girls and their moms have flocked to the first two movies in the series and there’s no reason to believe that they won’t show up in droves for this one.

OBSTACLES: I don’t see a whole lot of them. Backlash? Only among those who aren’t in the target audience so who cares? Burnout? Not likely.

FACTOID: Because Chris Weitz was too busy completing The Twilight Saga: New Moon, he was unable to direct Eclipse because of the fast turn-around that the studio wanted. David Slade was selected instead to become the third different director in the three-film series.

INSIDE THE PARK

JONAH HEX

RELEASE DATE: June 18, 2010

STUDIO: Warner Brothers

STARRING: Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Michael Shannon, Michael Fassbender, Aidan Quinn, Julia Jones, David Patrick Kelly

STORY: A scarred gunslinger who has one foot in our world and the other in the next is given an offer he can’t refuse from the U.S. government; all his warrants will be forgiven if he can take out a terrorist who is preparing to unleash hell. Jonah Hex, however, has already been there. This is based on a DC graphic novel.

PROSPECTS: Brolin has been on a roll with excellent work in No Country for Old Men, W. and Milk. Fox is a fanboy favorite and her presence alone might draw some folks into the theater.

OBSTACLES: Westerns haven’t fared well at the box office lately and while comic book films have, this isn’t one of DC’s biggest sellers. This is more of a cult favorite and those can blow hot and cold with fans. The buzz about this movie has been positive but not overwhelming.

FACTOID: Thomas Jane and Emile Hirsch were both considered for the title roll until Josh Brolin got the part.

INFIELD SINGLES

JUNE 4, 2010

GET HIM TO THE GREEK (Universal) has Russell Brand return to his role from Forgetting Sarah Marshall as Aldous Snow, rock legend that intern Jonah Hill is dispatched to fetch to do a show at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. Of course, with a rock star of Snow’s ilk, nothing is really simple. This is the latest comedy from producer Judd Apatow. KILLERS (Lionsgate) stars Katherine Heigl as a newlywed whose husband Ashton Kutcher has a secret – he’s an international hitman. Now that can raise some trust issues, no? MARMADUKE (20th Century Fox) is based on the beloved newspaper comic strip about a lovable Great Dane, with Owen Wilson voicing the title character in this live action flick with CGI elements. Anyone remember Garfield? SPLICE (Warner Brothers) is a dark science fiction thriller which has a couple of brilliant gene splicers creating an ultimate creature using the DNA of animals…and humans. Their new creation turns out to be something uncontrollable as well as deadly. Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley star.

JUNE 11, 2010

THE A-TEAM (20th Century Fox) is a remake of the popular ‘80s television show of the para-military group betrayed and imprisoned for a crime they didn’t commit, escaping and becoming mercenaries for hire. Liam Neeson, who apparently is in every single movie coming out this year, takes on the George Peppard role. THE KARATE KID (Columbia) is a remake of the iconic ‘80s film with Jackie Chan assaying the Pat Morita role, Jaden Smith (whose dad Will’s Overbrook Films production shingle is one of the producers of the movie) taking over for Ralph Macchio and China subbing for L.A. COCO CHANEL AND IGOR STRAVINSKY (Sony Classics) is not a remake but rather a biopic in limited release of the legendary clothes designer and music composer’s torrid romance. Finally, WINTER’S BONE (Roadside Attractions) is a movie I saw at the Florida Film Festival that is marvelous, worth seeking out and also coming out in limited release.

JUNE 18, 2010

I AM LOVE (Magnolia) is a highly acclaimed Italian movie opening in limited release starring Tilda Swinton as the wife of a wealthy industrialist whose affair with her brother-in-law’s partner shakes the family to its core.

JUNE 25, 2010

WILD GRASS (Sony Classics) is the latest from legendary French director Alain Resnais, regarding a lost wallet and the romantic directions it leads both the man who finds it and the woman who lost it. It opens up in limited release only, I’m afraid. GROWN UPS (Columbia) is about the summer reunion of a championship basketball coach whose lives have taken wildly divergent paths and yes, it’s a comedy. It boasts an all-star cast of comic superstars including Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, Maya Rudolph, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Maria Bello and Salma Hayek.  

JULY

InceptionGRAND SLAM

INCEPTION

RELEASE DATE: July 16, 2010

STUDIO: Warner Brothers

STARRING: Leonardo di Caprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine

STORY: Very little detail about this movie has been released thus far but director Christopher Nolan describes it as a contemporary science fiction action movie taking place within the architecture of the mind.

PROSPECTS: Nolan’s last movie was the massive hit The Dark Knight and he has deliberately kept this movie as under wraps as possible in order to build up buzz and he has succeeded in doing that big time. The trailer for the movie looks like it has something to do with a corporate cover-up and the imagery is pretty wild.

OBSTACLES: Sometimes too much secrecy can actually hinder a film’s buzz particularly when it’s up against big summer blockbusters like what you see above.

FACTOID: This is Nolan’s first film to be based on entirely original material since 1998’s Following. All his movies since have been based on graphic novels, short stories or books.

HOME RUNS

DESPICABLE ME

RELEASE DATE: July 9, 2010

STUDIO: Universal

STARRING THE VOICES OF: Steve Carell, Russell Brand, Jason Segel, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Danny McBride, Miranda Cosgrove

STORY: Gru, the world’s most despicable criminal has another nefarious plan in mind; to steal the moon. Standing in between him and his evil plan are three orphans who see Gru   in a way nobody else does – as a potential father.

PROSPECTS: Everyone who’s seen the trailer has proclaimed this to be one of the funniest animated trailers ever. Universal is promoting the heck out of this.

OBSTACLES: This isn’t coming from an established property (like a children’s book or a graphic novel) and Universal is not used to promoting animated features.

FACTOID: Universal did a special Earth Day trailer for the movie.

THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE

RELEASE DATE: July 16, 2010

STUDIO: Disney

STARRING: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina, Teresa Palmer, Monica Bellucci, Toby Kebbell, Alice Krige, Ethan Peck

STORY: A centuries-old wizard tries to defend Manhattan against his arch-nemesis but realizes that he needs help. He discovers Dave, an average guy with an unusual amount of potential. Together they must face down the forces of evil and, maybe, get Dave a date.

PROSPECTS: This is the team – Disney Studios, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Jon Turtletaub and star Cage – that made the successful National Treasure franchise. Early trailers look pretty spectacular.

OBSTACLES: The look reminds me a bit of The Shadow and while I liked that movie a lot, I was pretty much alone. Magical franchises that don’t have Harry Potter in them have not done well box office-wise.

FACTOID: This is loosely inspired by the Mickey Mouse short of the same name.

INSIDE THE PARK

CYRUS

RELEASE DATE: July 9, 2010

STUDIO: Fox Searchlight

STARRING: Jonah Hill, Catherine Keener, Marisa Tomei, John C. Reilly, Matt Wash, Katie Aselton, Tim Guinee

STORY: A young man who lives with his mother isn’t eager to share her with her new boyfriend, who in turn is willing to do anything to win the woman he loves. This battle of wits turns into all-out war.

PROSPECTS: An outstanding cast highlights this movie from the studio that had a major success with (500) Days of Summer at the same time.

OBSTACLES: Improvisational comedies can be very hit or miss.

FACTOID: The Duplass brothers, who wrote and directed this, have a respectable indie resume including Baghead and The Puffy Chair.

INFIELD SINGLES

JULY 2, 2010

THE LAST AIRBENDER (Paramount) is a live action version of the hit Nickelodeon animated series from director M. Night Shyamalan. Here the nations of Air, Water, Earth and Fire are at war with one another, have been for more than a century and there’s no rest in sight. The key to peace lies in the hands of Aang, the last Avatar with the power to manipulate all four elements. RESTREPO (National Geographic) is a documentary about a year spent with the Second Platoon in Afghanistan in one of the most strategically crucial valleys in the country as the soldiers attempt to push the Taliban back into the mountains. Although listed for wide release, this may come out in limited release when all is said and done.

JULY 7, 2010

PREDATORS (20th Century Fox) reboots the Predator franchise under the aegis of producer Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Spy Kids, El Mariachi) as elite warriors – and one disgraced physician – find themselves on an alien planet as prey of the Predators. However, these aren’t your daddy’s Predators. Adrien Brody and Laurence Fishburne star.

JULY 23, 2010

SALT (Columbia) is a spy thriller in which CIA operative Evelyn Salt, played by Angelina Jolie, is fingered by a Russian spy as a sleeper agent. Salt must martial her considerable skills to clear her name and discover why she is being framed, figuring out once and for all whether she is who she thinks she is. DINNER WITH SCHMUCKS (Paramount) stars Paul Rudd as an ambitious career builder who needs to capture the attention of his boss. The perfect opportunity presents itself at the annual Dinner for Extraordinary People, where the employee who brings the most eccentric character to the dinner wins a prize. Rudd’s choice is Steve Carell as a quirky, socially inept sort who has a thing about dressing mice up to imitate famous works of art. Who thinks up this stuff?! RAMONA AND BEEZUS (20th Century Fox) is based on the beloved series of children’s books by Beverly Cleary about an exasperated 10-year-old named Beezus and her 4-year-old sister Ramona who live on Klickitat Street.

JULY 30, 2010

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (Universal) is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick (who wrote the sources for Blade Runner and Total Recall, among others) and stars Matt Damon as a Senate candidate who must fight the forces of Fate (yes, with a capital “F”) in order to be with the woman he loves. BEASTLY (CBS) is a retelling of the “Beauty and the Beast” tale set in a contemporary high school milieu. Teen idols Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens star. CATS AND DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE (Warner Brothers) is a sequel to the 2001 film that chronicles the high-tech agents in the never-ending war between cats and dogs for control of the Earth. GET LOW (Sony Classics), based on a true story, is opening in limited release and is about a Tennessee hermit who decides to play his own funeral party – which he plans to attend while still alive. A superb cast includes Robert Duvall and Bill Murray.

AUGUST

Scott Pilgrim vs the WorldGRAND SLAM

SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD

RELEASE DATE: August 13, 2010

STUDIO: Universal

STARRING: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman

STORY: When rock and roll slacker Scott Pilgrim falls in love, at first things are pretty suh-weet. However, he discovers his latest flame – and true love if his dreams are to be believed – has seven evil ex-boyfriends that he must vanquish in order to claim her for his own, well, he does what any self-respecting 21st century guy would do – he kicks ass and takes names.

PROSPECTS: Based on an acclaimed graphic novel and directed by Edgar Wright (he of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), the movie has accumulated an intense buzz factor.

OBSTACLES: Having Michael Cera as your headlining actor is not a guarantee of big numbers; other than Superbad his movies have generated mediocre box office. The fact that Universal is slating this movie for August doesn’t show a whole lot of confidence in the movie’s prospects.

FACTOID: The original comic by Bryan Lee O’Malley was published as six black and white digest editions by Oni Press. The film Whiteout was also based on a comic book published by Oni Press.

HOME RUN

THE OTHER GUYS

RELEASE DATE: August 6, 2010

STUDIO: Columbia

STARRING: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Ray Stevenson, Steve Coogan

STORY: You know the cops that always solve the most difficult cases, survive even the most terrifying shootouts and always get that primo parking spot in front of the station? These aren’t those guys – they’re the other guys.

PROSPECTS: Director Adam McKay has Talladega Nights with Ferrell to his credit, and judging from the hysterical trailer, this is a return to form after the whole Step Brothers misstep.

OBSTACLES: Two words: Cop Out.

FACTOID: Paris Hilton has a role in the movie.

THE EXPENDABLES

RELEASE DATE: August 13, 2010

STUDIO: Lionsgate

STARRING: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Steve Austin, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Randy Couture, Charisma Carpenter, Eric Roberts, Terry Crews

STORY: A group of mercenaries accept a job overthrowing a military dictatorship in a small South American country, only to discover they’ve been betrayed. They will have to survive enormous odds to…wait a minute, haven’t we already seen this movie?

PROSPECTS: Oh yes, gentle reader, you have indeed but this version has nearly every action hero known to man, including the Governator (you read that right). The trailer for this got louder cheers than the movie it was in front of.

OBSTACLES: Yes, there are a ton of action stars in here but there are also a bunch of second raters. Maybe too many stars?

FACTOID: This was Brittany Murphy’s final feature film. Asked to make cameos but unable to for a variety of reasons included Jean-Claude van Damme, Steven Seagal, Robert Knepper, Denis Leary and Danny Trejo.

INSIDE THE PARK

NANNY MCPHEE 2

RELEASE DATE: August 20, 2010

STUDIO: Universal

STARRING: Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rhys Ifans, Maggie Smith, Asa Butterfield

STORY: In the sequel to the 2005 children’s movie, Thompson returns as the magical nanny who this time comes to the aid of a harried and exhausted mom whose running the family farm while her husband is off at war.

PROSPECTS: Beloved worldwide, the first movie was a big international hit, hence the all-star cast for the second go-round.

OBSTACLES: While the movie was popular overseas, it was only a mild hit here.

FACTOID: Writer/producer Thompson made a sly poke at Pink Floyd’s Animals by flying a pig-shaped battery balloon over Battersea Power Station, just as in the album cover.

INFIELD SINGLES

AUGUST 6, 2010

MIDDLE MEN (Paramount) has a straight arrow businessman develop the first online billing system for the adult entertainment industry, bringing him into a world of porn stars, Russian mobsters, federal agents and fast-talking con man, putting everything he’s built in jeopardy. STEP UP 3D (Touchstone) is the third in the street dancing series and brings the fad global, giving the rest of the world yet another reason to hate us.

AUGUST 13, 2010

EAT PRAY LOVE (Columbia) stars Julia Roberts as a discontented housewife who chucks everything – home, marriage, community standing – to find herself as she travels the world. It’s based on the real life story of Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote a book on her experiences that gives the movie its title.

AUGUST 20, 2010

THE SWITCH (Miramax) features Jennifer Anniston as a single woman who hears her biological clock ticking down to zero and decides to have a baby on her own, despite the objections of her neurotic best friend. Years later when the little tyke begins to show signs of having the same neuroses as the best friend, the awful truth begins to emerge. TAKERS (Screen Gems) is a heist caper that is being pulled by the best team in the business. Things begin to unravel when suspicions rise about the suave character who set up their latest job and with the police bearing down on them, they need to use all their skills to get away scot free, but can trust each other enough to rely on one another to do it? THE LOTTERY TICKET (Warner Brothers) is an urban comedy about the effects of a winning lottery ticket on an African-American neighborhood and specifically on those closest to the guy holding the winning ticket.

AUGUST 27, 2010

GOING THE DISTANCE (New Line) is a romantic comedy that explores that most 21st century of romances – the long distance romance. When the couple involved is Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, you know the cuteness factor is ratcheted up through the roof, even if they are on opposite coasts. THE LAST EXORCISM (Lionsgate) has a fraudulent exorcist bringing a film crew along to document his last “exorcism”. When the possession turns out to be legitimate, the priest – who never believed before – finds that he must find his faith or an innocent child may suffer horrific consequences, and he himself may find himself sharing them. PIRANHA 3D (Dimension) is that most dreaded of horror films, the “re-imagining.” This time, the victim is a cult classic from John Sayles, here unspooled as an outbreak of man-eating prehistoric fish that are unleashed on a resort town full of spring break partiers. Bon appétit.  

So that’s our summer and it’s shaping up to be a pretty good one. As always, be aware that release dates are subject to change, particularly the farther out you go so be sure and check your local listings before going out to the multiplex. For those who think this is it for the blockbusters for 2010, take cheer; the studios are holding several in reserve for the fall which you can check out in our Fall Preview coming out in August. Until then, grab yourself some popcorn and an ice cold soda, settle into your seat and enjoy.