Summer movie season! You know it, you love it, you gently make fun of it. More often than not, summer offers a better variety of movies than it's given credit for. Looking forward at this particular summer ... well, there are some diamonds, but also a good bit of rough.
Previously: Part 1
Movie: X-Men: First Class (Matthew Vaughn)
High-Concept Synopsis: It's prequel/reboot time for the mutant superheroes, as we get to see how Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and bestie Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) formed their little band of mutants ... and how it blew apart.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of an X-Men film series that has been wildly divergent in quality but has shown to be capable of greatness. Fans of the super exciting cast, including McAvoy, Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones, Nicholas Hoult, and Rose Byrne. Fans of the emerging "superhero period piece" genre who are excited to see the mutants take on the '60s and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who justifiably gave up on the X-Men after that pretty terrible The Last Stand or the actively awful Wolverine movie. Hormoneless wonders who are immune to the charms of either McAvoy or Fassbender (or January Jones, for that matter). People who have been dissatisfied with director Vaughn's Stardust and Kick-Ass and don't really believe in that three-strikes thing.
Why I'd See It: I am an unrepentant fan of the X-Men movies, even after those bad ones. I love these characters, and when they're suddenly played by James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence and all sorts of really interesting young performers? And with a cool '60s setting. And with a director who I think has something to prove? I'm electrified with excitement. June 3
Movie: Beginners (Mike Mills)
High-Concept Synopsis:Ewan McGregor deals with the one-two punch of finding out that his elderly father (Christopher Plummer) is gay and has terminal cancer. Hello, ideal indie comedy setup!
Who Will Be Seeing It:Fans McGregor's particular brand of meticulously crafted aw-shucksiness. Fans of director Mills' previous adventures in warm-hearted indie quirk, Thumbsucker. Old gays.
Who Won't Be Seeing It:People who find the premise a smidge too cutesy (the ascots Plummer is sporting don't entirely help in that regard). People who have watched McGregor travel down the path of bad movies and bad habits and now find him so affected and faux-genial onscreen that they can barely look at him. Young gays.
Why I'd See It:Thumbsucker wasn't a perfect movie, but I liked the sweet tone of it, so I'm interested to see how Mills deals with decidedly older protagonists. But man, I just cannot get up for another Ewan McGregor movie. June 3
Movie: Super 8 (J.J. Abrams)
High-Concept Synopsis:Childlike wonder meets aliens meet the American heartland meets grandma's apple pie meets Reese's Pieces meet lens flares meet Spielberg meets Kyle Chandler meets Elle Fanning meets wild fanboy anticipation.
Who Will Be Seeing It:Anybody who grew up on Spielberg movies who want to feel like kids in a simpler America again. J.J. Abrams fans eager to see him hit another summer-blockbuster home run after Star Trek.Friday Night Lights fans happy to see Coach get such a plum career opportunity.
Who Won't Be Seeing It:The Spielberg- and Abrams-averse (you'd think there would be more of them, but they're apparently not on the internet). People who get frustrated by the general opaqueness of the footage we've seen so far (yes, but what's IN the train?). People who have seen the trailers and can't shake a certain whiff of the Shyamalan about the whole thing.
Why I'd See It:I'm totally going to see it, of course. But I'm not as gaga about it as the rest of the entire internet is, and I can't exactly put my finger on a reason why. I guess this just means I'll be able to hold out until its second weekend and avoid some of the nuttier crowds? June 10
Movie: Green Lantern (Martin Campbell)
High-Concept Synopsis: Ryan Raynolds inherits an all-powerful ring that makes him the next in a long line of alien guardians of the universe. ...Seriously, did the rest of you know that's what the Green Lantern was all about? (Blake Lively and Peter Sarsgaard co-star.)
Who Will Be Seeing It: DC Comics enthusiasts looking to put a hurt on Marvel's dominance of the summer season. People for the Advancement of Ryan Reynolds as a Leading Man. Blake Lively fans (holla) who are hoping she can get some positive shine here and then go back to playing trashy bar wenches in Boston movies.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who like their superhero movies a little more grounded-in-reality, Dark Knight-style affairs and not neon-green journeys to space heaven. People turned off by the decision to use CG animation to create Reynolds's green space-suit. Blake Lively fans (holla) who've been hearing alarm bells ever since the first trailer and might rather stay home than watch their girl flounder in a thankless role.
Why I'd See It: You know, this thing looked mighty stupid when I first saw that trailer, but the more I see about the mythology and the aliens and Ryan Reynolds intensely reciting that "neither rain nor sleet nor glowing-green snow" credo -- I guess I'm really drawn to un-gritty comic book movies this summer. June 17
Movie: The Art of Getting By (Gavin Wiesen)
High-Concept Synopsis: Enigmatic and oh-so-dark-and-brilliant high-schooler (Freddie Highmore) needs to shape up, meets a dark-eyed girl (Emma Roberts) and ... I dunno, prepares to enter the real world or something.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who have somehow not gotten enough of movies where smart-ass prep schoolers learn to overcome their personality disorders. People who have invested heavily in Emma Roberts becoming the next Kristen Stewart.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who tired of this type of achingly profound brat protagonist back when Igby was going down. People who can't trust Freddie Highmore and his tiny eyes. People who have caught on to the fact that anything with a title that starts with "The Art of..." must've been written by a douche bag. Yeah, Sun Tzu, I said it!
Why I'd See It: I'm not 100% opposed to this kind of movie -- the recent Ceremony certainly had its moments. But Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts are not the people to attract me to a narrative arc I've seen this many times. June 17
Movie: Cars 2 (John Lasseter, Brad Lewis)
High-Concept Synopsis: All the loose ends left by the original Cars will finally be addressed.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who longed for the redneck automobiles from Cars to take their talents to Europe and Asia. Fans of voice-cast additions Michael Caine and Cheech Marin (I know, I was surprised they'd sign up too). Pixar contrarians.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Pixar snobs. Animation fans who are lining up on the Kung Fu Panda side of the summer divide. People angry that Pixar didn't go the extra mile and digitally render Paul Newman's voice to reprise his role.
Why I'd See It: I really don't have any great animus against either of the Cars movies. They stay where they are, I stay where I am, and we're just fine. June 24
Movie: Bad Teacher (Jake Kasdan)
High-Concept Synopsis:Cameron Diaz plays a teacher. A baaaaaad teacher. Jason Segel, Lucy Punch, and Justin Timberlake co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It:People who are willing to give ol' Cammy a shot at playing a vulgar, mean-spirited chick who's a little too old to make bad behavior seem cute. The folks in Hollywood who have been waiting for Jake Kasdan to be the next big legacy for what feels like ten years now. (Wait...it's been ten ACTUAL years now.) The rare Justin-Cameron shippers hoping for a reunion.
Who Won't Be Seeing It:Character-actor fans annoyed that A-lister Diaz gets the plum role while the arguably more talented Punch has to play the foil. JT-haters (HATERS!) annoyed that they have to put up with him twice this summer. People who realize the writing team of Gene Stupinsky and Lee Eisenberg wrote the hated "Scott's Tots" episode of The Office.
Why I'd See It:Well, first of all: gotta support the team, with "the team" obviously being Justin. That being said: I can veer wildly when it comes to my appreciation of Cameron Diaz, but I like her best when she's not overly concerned with being likeable (look to something like In Her Shoes for a perfect example of that very quality). The trailer looks pretty funny, Jason Segel appears to be in fine form playing The Jason Segel Character. Not sure if I fully trust the Jake Kasdan sensibility, though. June 24
Movie: Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Michael Bay)
High-Concept Synopsis: They're robots! They fight! Or so you would assume! The reality is, Michael Bay has all the filmmaking skill of a toddler and you can't really tell what's happening with the big cartoon robots. Part three!
Who Will Be Seeing It: The apparently millions of people who saw the first and second and somehow didn't feel like they were being slapped in the face with a pair of robot testicles (which were in the movie). Audiences who are glad that mouthy Megan Fox has been replaced by mute sex doll Rosie Huntington-Whitely. Rubes who hated the first two but feel like the addition of this moon subplot is really going to make things interesting.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who learn their lessons. People who can't bear to watch Frances McDormand do this to herself. People who oh, say, have an allergic reaction to Ken Jeong and thus find themselves unable to attend more and more movies.
Why I'd See It: When Transformers: Rise of the Machines came out, I was advised by a friend to not even see it to marvel at how gloriously bad it was. I'm going to assume the same applies here.
Movie: Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks)
High-Concept Synopsis: Tom Hanks gets laid off, takes a moment to register for Symbol of Our Hard Economic Times status, then pursues an adult education course taught by an unusually sour Julia Roberts.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who long to live in the days of 1990s Hollywood hierarchy. People who have been clamoring for Julia Roberts to be cast in the role of a woman who's chronically grim-faced. That Thing You Do fans who have been waiting fifteen years to once again experience that Hanks directorial magic.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who resent the kind benevolence of Hollywood royalty. People who recognize the Cedric the Entertainer Seal of Approval for the bellwether of quality it is. Ditto the "co-written by Nia Vardalos" seal of approval.
Why I'd See It: Look, I like Julia Roberts. I've settled into a place where I like Tom Hanks. But everything about this seems so joyless and witless and not at all what I'm looking for in a summer movie. July 1