Not So Hot...

Air conditioning helps as sequels and remakes compete for your summer movie dollar

By Luke Y. Thompson, Jordan Harper, Melissa Levine, and Robert Wilonsky

Summer is the season of high expectations and profound disappointments. That suntan looks more like sunburn, your beer stays ice cold till the moment it's opened, and fat guys are the only ones hanging by the pool in bikini briefs. So it goes with summer movies: Sequels to beloved faves have all the flavor of week-old popcorn, blockbusters make pennies on their many dollars, and somewhere there's Adam Sandler pouring sour lemonade when you were craving something more refreshing. Maybe there's more hope this year, if only because last summer was such a bummer. Monster-in-Law, Stealth, or Dukes of Hazzard, anyone? Thought not.

Alas, what with the returns of Superman, Crockett and Tubbs, Jack Sparrow, and Dante and Randal, much of what you'll find below feels like yesterday's movies reheated—like someone went to Blockbuster and cut-and-pasted everything on the comedy shelf.

Drug dealers, speedboats, guns, flashy suits, bad accents, et cetera: Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell in 'Miami Vice'
Universal Pictures
Drug dealers, speedboats, guns, flashy suits, bad accents, et cetera: Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell in 'Miami Vice'

—R.W.

JUNE 16

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Starring: Lucas Black (Jarhead), Bow Wow, and Zachary Ty Bryan
Directed by: Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow)
Written by: Alfredo Botello, Chris Morgan (Cellular), and Kario Salem (The Score)
What it's about: Brightly colored cars in illegal street races...this time in Japan. The bad news is that efforts to bring back Vin Diesel fell through. The good news is Paul Walker's gone too.
Why you should see it: Better Luck Tomorrow showed that Justin Lin had the chops to direct an edgy youth movie...
Why you should not: ...but Annapolis proved he's capable of much worse.

Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties
Starring: Bill Murray, Breckin Meyer, and Jennifer Love Hewitt
Directed by: Tim Hill (Muppets From Space)
Written by: Joel Cohen (Cheaper by the Dozen)
What it's about: America's favorite fat cat 20 years ago takes a trip to Jolly Old London and switches places with a rich, fat feline in this essential sequel to 2004's Garfield. For more information, read Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper.
Why you should see it: Old pro Bill Murray can get laughs reading obituaries.
Why you should not: He's Bill Murray, not He Who Is Risen.

The Lake House
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, and Shohreh Aghdashloo
Directed by: Alejandro Agresti (Valentin)
Written by: David Auburn (Proof)
What it's about: It's like Speed, but without a bus, bomb, or Dennis Hopper. And with a mailbox that transports love letters through time. A remake of the Korean film Il Mare, in which a man and woman write each other letters, only to discover that they're both living in the same house, but in different time periods two years apart.
Why you should see it: Could Keanu plus time travel equal an excellent adventure?
Why you should not: Every other love story Keanu has ever done. Also, Valentin was cloying, annoying crap.

Nacho Libre
Starring: Jack Black and Efren Ramirez
Directed by: Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite)
Written by: Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess, and Mike White
What it's about: Black (Nacho) plays a Mexican cook who stuffs his face into a wrestler's mask to save his financially strapped orphanage.
Why you should see it: Mike White wrote the best part Jack Black's ever been given, as Dewey Finn in The School of Rock.
Why you should not: Because Napoleon Dynamite was a great four-minute movie that went on just a little too long.

JUNE 23

Click
Starring: Adam Sandler, Christopher Walken, and David Hasselhoff
Directed by: Frank Coraci (The Waterboy)
Written by: Jack Giarraputo, Tim Herlihy (almost every Sandler movie to date), Steve Koren & Mark O'Keefe (Bruce Almighty), and Sandler
What it's about: Sandler obtains a magic universal remote control that can control the universe! Pausing, rewinding, and slow-motion-replaying the world around him is a lot of fun...until the remote gets stuck in fast-forward.
Why you should see it: Whatever you may think of Sandler, a movie that brings Walken and Hasselhoff together cannot be all bad.
Why you should not: Seems like a good premise, but so did The Benchwarmers' at one point.

Waist Deep
Starring: Tyrese Gibson (Four Brothers), Meagan Good (Roll Bounce), and Larenz Tate (Crash)
Directed by: Vondie Curtis Hall (Gridlock'd)
Written by: Hall, Michael Mahern (Mobsters), and Darin Scott (Tales From the Hood)
What it's about: An ex-convict (Gibson) is driven to desperation when his son is kidnapped and held for ransom by a vicious crime lord. He begins to rob banks to raise the ransom—but only banks where the thug has an account.
Why you should see it: It's rated R, and based on the preview it looks like the two beautiful leads get sweaty.
Why you should not: Hall directed Glitter. Yep, that Glitter.

Wordplay
Starring: Will Shortz, Bill Clinton, and Jon Stewart
Directed by: First-timer Patrick Creadon
What it's about: A documentary about puzzle master Will Shortz, longtime editor of The New York Times' crossword and weekly guest on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday.
Why you should see it: 13 Down: J-O-N-S-T-E-W-A-R-T.
Why you should not: Virtually no chance of car chases or steamy sex.

JUNE 28

Superman Returns
Starring: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, and Kevin Spacey
Directed by: Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2)
Written by: Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris
What it's about: Set five years after Superman II, more or less, Superman returns from self-imposed exile to find Lois Lane with a kid and Lex Luthor out of prison, with yet another plan for world domination.
Why you should see it: Singer made the X-Men movies into something accessible to mainstream audiences without sacrificing its comic-book roots; he made superheroes human.
Why you should not: Look, it can't be any worse than Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.

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