Jewish World Review
May 5, 2011
/ 1 Iyar, 5771
Our special snarky summer movie guide
When East Coast people spend too much time indoors because of bad weather, they suffer from a condition called "cabin fever," which makes them lash out at their California cousins.
"At least we have weather and a change of seasons," they are likely to say bitterly. "How do you people in California even know it's summer without a calendar?"
Well, we don't need no stinkin' calendar.
We recognize the change in seasons by the trailers we see in movie theaters.
For instance, I was in a theater recently when a trailer for a movie called "Cowboys and Aliens" was shown. At first, I didn't think it was an actual trailer. I thought it was a joke, or at the very least, a short promotional film for the preservation of classic films or something.
At some point, I realized that it was indeed a real movie, with a real director (Jon Favreau of "Iron Man" fame), real actors (Harrison Ford of "Indiana Jones" fame and Daniel Craig of "James Bond" fame) and a real producer (Steven Spielberg of Steven Spielberg fame).
Once I got over the shock of a genre-bending movie called "Cowboys and Aliens," I had a light-bulb-over-the-head realization: the seasons had changed, and summer was upon us.
Seriously, if "Cowboys and Aliens" is not the title of a summer movie, what is?
This is the season of silly movies, but it is an important movie season, when at least 40 percent of the movie industry's annual box-office take is collected.
But this column has trouble taking anything seriously, so here is our annual advance assessment of the silly summer season. It should be noted that our distinguished panel of movie professionals (me) is flying blind because no one has seen these movies. That's what so great about summer movies — you can mock them without seeing them because they generally fit into familiar categories, such as sequels, prequels, comic books, video games, toys and Disneyland rides.
Here is our guide to the summer's hottest movies, in order of opening dates.
1. "Fast Five" (April 29) — This is why calendars are useless. Hollywood keeps starting summer earlier, and the fifth chapter in the "Fast and Furious" saga kicked off the season with screeching tires. The franchise has been tweaked to make it look less like an ode to street racing, and more like an international caper film. To add weight to the production, The Rock was added to the cast.
2. "Thor" (May 6) — This is one of the biggest question marks of the season, and some people aren't sure if it can beat "Fast Five's" second week in theaters. The "God of Thunder" is not the best-known comic-book character, and the actor who plays him (Chris Hemsworth) is not exactly a known commodity. Oscar-winner Natalie Portman is part of the cast, but her name couldn't save a recent stoner film.
3. "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (May 20) — Johnny Depp decided to forgo his eight-figure salary so that an Oscar-worthy script could be commissioned for this latest money-making machine. Not really.
4. "The Hangover, Part II" (May 26) — I never made a secret of my bewilderment at the phenomenal success of this bachelor party comedy. I've watched it since, and I am only slightly more impressed. But a sequel was inevitable, and the man-children find themselves in a situation far from The Strip this time. What happens in Bangkok, ends up in a sequel in Bangkok.
5. "X-Men: First Class" (June 3) — When you run out of ideas, make a prequel. Tell fans how their favorite characters started. It worked for "Star Trek."
6. "Green Lantern" (June 17) — Ryan Reynolds as a super hero? He's tall, dark and handsome, but a bit of a lightweight comedy actor, don't you think? Maybe I'm wrong. This is an important film for comic-book fans, so they'll be the final arbiters.
7. "Cars 2" (June 24) — Pixar has a license to print money, and this will be no exception. With Pixar big shot John Lasseter at the wheel, this will not only do huge business at the box office, but it will probably be really good as well. In Pixar we trust.
8. "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (July 1) — Hey, where's Megan Fox?
9. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II" (July 15) — I felt cheated by Part I. The filmmakers split J.K. Rowlings' finale into two movies, and the first one felt like half a movie to me. Die-hard fans didn't care, of course, because Harry can do no wrong. I am hopeful that this will feel like a whole movie.
10. "Captain America: The First Avenger" (July 22) — Set in World War II, this film is a precursor to next year's comic-book adventure "The Avengers."
11. "Cowboys and Aliens" (July 29) — It's a sci-fi Western. What could go wrong?
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