Summer Grows Up

For once, this season's movies don't ask you to check your brains at the door

Explosions, pratfalls, and robots; heroes, aliens, and blondes—it must be summertime at the movies.

Beyond the flash, though, it's striking to note how many movies will require us to actually think this summer—aren't we supposed to save thinking for the fall? Maybe it's the election, but some serious flicks are coming our way—documentaries and foreign films and dramas that don't guarantee a happy ending. It's a welcome trend, and as an act of support, we're taking the pledge: For every movie we see that's playing on more than one screen at the multiplex, we vow to see one film that might be good for us. Because after all, as with pop idols and presidents, we get the movies we deserve.

Thrills & Chills

The summer in action and horror

Brick Lane
Brick Lane

June 13

The Incredible Hulk: Edward Norton goes green.

June 27

Wanted: Angelina Jolie, once again channeling her inner assassin, teaches James McAvoy the tricks of the trade in this adaptation of Mark Miller's graphic novel. With Morgan Freeman.

July 2

Hancock: Will Smith as a modern-day superhero who's becoming more famous for being drunk than for his ability to lift a whale with one hand.

July 11

Hellboy: The Golden Army: Ron Perlman returns as the lobster-hued demon with the mean right punch, and this time he's guided by Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro.

July 18

Mad Detective: Hong Kong action masters Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai team up for this tale of an insane detective (literally) and his search for two missing cops. Watch for the split personality/split screen scene.

July 25

Red: When teen hoodlums shoot Brian Cox's dog Red, the pissed-off owner seeks revenge—but the little killer's dad (Tom Sizemore) has evil ideas of his own.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe: David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson return as Mulder and Scully, a sorta-kinda couple whose kid must be in high school by now.

July 18

The Dark Knight: Batman (Christian Bale) versus the Joker (Heath Ledger). And an excuse for the tabloids to rehash Ledger's death for newsstand sales. Christopher Nolan directs.

August 1

Midnight Meat Train: Bradley Cooper stars as a Manhattan photographer who becomes obsessed with finding a subway serial killer. The first in a series of films to be based on Clive Barker's hardcore horror collection "Books of Blood."

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: Brendan Fraser, lifelong mummy catcher, goes to China.

Transsiberian: An American couple (Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer) find themselves enmeshed in a murderous drug plot aboard the fabled express train between China and Russia. With Ben Kingsley.

August 15

Mirrors: In this remake of a South Korean film, Kiefer Sutherland battles a vengeful ghost in a haunted department store. In other words, stay out of the dressing room.

August 22

Bangkok Dangerous: Nicholas Cage is a hitman on assignment in this action thriller from China's talented Pang Brothers (The Eye), here remaking their 1999 debut film.

August 29

Traitor: A CIA terrorist thriller starring Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce and based on a story idea from...wait for it... Steve Martin.

Babylon A.D.: Vin Diesel in a near-future world all gone to hell, trying to protect a woman whose baby will be the next Messiah. Don't worry: Vin will save us.

But Seriously, Folks

The summer in drama

June 13

Quid Pro Quo: A mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga) leads a young radio reporter (Nick Stahl) into the strange world of those who desire—and not necessarily in a sexual way—to be disabled or maimed.

June 20

Brick Lane: A young Muslim woman (Tannishtha Chatterjee), born in Bangladesh, rebels against convention in modern-day London.

Expired: Love—or is it abuse?—blossoms between a shy meter maid (Samantha Morton) and her aggressive co-worker (Jason Patric). This film marks a welcome return to the screen by the recently ill, and always delightful, Teri Garr in a dual role.

July 11

August: Josh Hartnett is a Manhattan entrepreneur riding the rise and rapid fall of the boom-and-bust. (Not a horror movie.)

July 23

Boy A: After spending most of his life in prison for a notorious crime, a young man (Andrew Garfield) adjusts to life on the outside.

July 25

Baghead: In a film reported to be heavier on character development than psycho-terror, two couples in a remote cabin are being watched by a potential killer.

Brideshead Revisited: Evelyn Waugh's classic novel of English manners—and a wildly popular '80s PBS miniseries—comes to the screen with Matthew Goode as Waugh's narrator and Emma Thompson as the lady of the manor.

Henry Poole Is Here: A dying man (Luke Wilson) is forced to face his religious beliefs when his neighbors begin to see Christ's face in a stain on the side of his house.

The Longshots: Although it's probably the last film people would have expected him to helm, rock star Fred Durst makes his directorial debut with the true story of the teenage girl who became the first female to play on a Pop Warner football team. Keke Palmer stars, with Ice Cube as the coach.

Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America: Two Vikings lost in 11th-century North America attempt to survive, and then rebuild, while struggling to overcome their instinct toward war. Features very little dialogue and a reportedly intense rock soundtrack. Head bangers take notice.

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