With June winding up a tad bit on the mediocre side, I suppose it was time for a breather before summer finally pulled out its big guns. The studios are prepped and ready with something for everyone and its high time they started earning your hard earned cash again. Let’s delve a little deeper and see what’s in store to break box office records or get trampled along the way.
With its ever changing release date finally set for 9:00 p.m. June 28, its time for Michael Bay’s rock ‘em, sock ‘em, special effects extravaganzas to take over the summer’s box office as Transformers discover what’s lurking on the Dark of the Moon. With a real script on hand courtesy of more miss (Scream 3, The Skeleton Key, Blood and Chocolate, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Impostor, Reindeer Games) than hit (Arlington Road, The Ring) scribe Ehren Kruger, at least this time they have one. They’ve also brought along James Cameron’s Fusion cameras, replaced Megan Fox with a Victoria’s Secret model (Rosie Huntington-White), and scrambled up a better supporting cast in John Malkovich, Alan Tudyk, Ken Jeong, and even Frances McDormand! Cross your fingers that this installment harkens back more to the original than that dismal sequel.
Having been in the acting game for over 30 years now, it’s no wonder that everyone knows the name Tom Hanks. Aside from the fact that he’s also known for always giving a great performance no matter how lame the film he’s in (the Dan Brown adaptations anyone?), he’s also pretty keen when he’s sitting in the director’s chair. While his credits may only include That Thing You Do! and some TV episodes of Tales from the Crypt, A League of Their Own, and his own From the Earth to the Moon and Band of Brothers, he definitely knows how to make for winning entertainment. With Larry Crowne, here’s hoping his re-teaming with co-star Julia Roberts (Charlie Wilson’s War) can be as charming as the trailer and TV spots make it look, and that co-writer Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) doesn’t over-saturate the thing with too much schmaltz. I believe in Hanks. For the kiddie set, there’s also some flick starring Selena Gomez called Monte Carlo involving mistaken identities and a Gomez-filled soundtrack.
When a film has a mass of writers attached to the credits it typically spells written by committee. And when said film is also attached to Happy Madison Productions, stars Kevin James, and an onslaught of talking animals, you know the film is going to make plenty of money while making most of the film-going audience wondering what exactly is wrong with all the people who willfully spent an evening watching it.
Yes, James is starring in Zookeeper in which he plays the titular character looking like they aren’t even trying to cover up the fact that its just James reprising his supposed “everyman” role with which he’s been fooling audiences since King of Queens. Whatever happened to the once hopeful performance he gave us in Hitch? Oh wait, somewhere down the line he made best friends with Adam Sandler and it’s been all down hill from there.
Thankfully, on the upside of things, we get something better than that with Horrible Bosses. Here we get a grand comedic cast featuring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis being terrorized by their bosses from hell with the likes of Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston. If you’ve seen the ads for this you know it’s going to be a raucous good time. While director Seth Gordon may have not lived up to his promise when it comes to feature films after his debut with the documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, it’s time for his big screen presence to reach its full potential. After all, he’s been honing his craft in the TV worlds of Parks and Recreation, Community, The Office, and Modern Family, and let it be known that Four Christmases was just his way of getting a foot in the door.
Here we have the tale of two family fare movies. It’ll be no surprise to see whether our friends at Pooh Corner stand a chance against the final chapter of Hogwarts but alas, for some reason Disney found it acceptable to open their silly old bear, Winnie the Pooh, against Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. The best part about this is that Pooh takes things back to basics with traditional animated storytelling while Warner Bros. has decided to go all out for their grand finale where something finally happens and has added post-production converted 3-D into the mix. I think these two films speak for themselves and both will wind up in the top two spots this weekend because if you aren’t able to get into one, the other will surely be starting soon.
Marvel goes retro with Captain America: The First Avenger finally rounding out its Avengers tie-ins.
Director Joe Johnston may not have the best track record, but he does know how to make for an entertaining time at the movies (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Rocketeer, Jumanji, Jurassic Park III, The Wolfman). Even if most of them have wound up being guilty pleasures. Either way, when your cast consists of Chris Evans in the title role, Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull, with Stanly Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones also in tow, the stage is set for Marvel to once again rule the cinematic universe. The only thing capable of possibly killing the fun would be Paramount’s choice of writers (Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely), who only have the last two overwrought Chronicles of Narnia films under their belt. I’m sure everyone involved knows that there’s far too much at stake here for Marvel and Paramount to blunder right at the finish line.
On the flip side of things comes a new comedy from Will Gluck (Easy A). Justin Timberlake has been known to be funny when he’s doing stints with “The Boys” of Lonely Island on Saturday Night Live and managed to get some laughs in Bad Teacher, but now he’s up against the likes of Mila Kunis who’s been bringing the funny since 1998 when she was cast as Jackie on That ‘70s Show. In a R-rated comedy centered around being Friends with Benefits, here’s hoping that this film succeeds even better than No Strings Attached (2011). With the movie featuring game backup players Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Richard Jenkins, Woody Harrelson, Andy Samberg, and even Emma Stone, I think things look pretty safe here.
And the award for the month’s busiest day officially goes to July 29. With four big movies popping up, let’s take a gander. Two of the smaller offerings happen to be better looking than at least one of the two bigger films opening. When your prior string of hits consists of writing Bad Santa, Bad News Bears, and directing I Love You, Phillip Morris, let’s hope that for Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s second outing behind the camera pans out with Crazy, Stupid, Love. Ironically, in this case they didn’t write the screenplay. Credit this time goes to Dan Fogelman, who’s resume reads strictly Disney (Cars, Bolt, Tangled) and the atrocious Fred Claus). Here’s hoping Fogelman’s first foray into big screen adult oriented live action pays off since we already know Ficarra and Requa know how to bring the funny. It doesn’t hurt that they’ve got such a grand cast consisting of Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Julianne Moore, and Kevin Bacon.
Meanwhile, Edgar Wright performs producer duties helping chum Joe Cornish get his aliens-invade-South- London opus, Attack the Block, into theaters on this side of the pond. While Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) may be the only familiar cast member to U.S. audiences, the trailer looks like it’s right up the alley of anyone waiting for Wright, Frost, and Simon Pegg to close their Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy.
Also today, we get a healthy does of CGI characters thrust upon us with director Raja Gosnell’s (Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Yours, Mine and Ours, both Scooby Doo’s, Big Mommas House, Never Been Kissed, and Home Alone 3) lackluster cartoon adaptation upon us. This time he thought it was a good idea to give The Smurfs the Alvin and the Chipmunk/Garfield treatment and to drag Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, and Hank Azaria through the mud with him. As if anyone ever questioned whether these things are good ideas or not; they’re not.
So finally, comes the film that looks to be exactly what its title suggests: Cowboys & Aliens. The Wild Wild West is set for invasion with Jon Favreau taking the reigns. After building his resume with such films as the Iron Mans, along with Zathura and Elf, it also can’t hurt to have a few of J.J. Abrams’ closest buddies (Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof), along with his Iron Man writers (Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby) helping out with the screenwriting duties. Judging by the previews, the movie takes some major liberties with the original comic book by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. And thank jeebus! The original comic is pretty bland and features some awful storytelling, so there’s no way James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) can’t save the day as stylishly as you’d suspect. Not to mention they’ve got Olivia Wilde along for the ride in the female eye candy department, and Sam Rockwell too!
I feared that July would be the month to beat this summer, but so far the end of April through early June have given it a good run for its money. In the end, only the box office will tell what truly succeeded in spite of whatever we critics think. But of course I’ll be here to help you along the way in figuring out which films are wholly worth your time and money. Meanwhile, sit down and buckle up as July 2011 tides us over until next summer comes to blast us all away with its glutton of awesomeness.
Photos courtesy Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, Screen Gems