Summer movie guide 2011

Harry Potter, Cars 2, and more

It's the summer movie season, when we willingly pay to see movies we know will be bad. But there are some intriguing flicks well worth watching, and not just to escape the heat. Here is a rundown of the good, the bad, and the we-will-reserve-judgment-for-now. Enjoy the summer, movie fans. (As always, release dates are subject to change, and some films may premiere later in the Twin Cities.)

JUNE 24

Bad Teacher. Sure, she drinks Jack Daniel's in class, smokes pot on break, and ridicules her students, but junior high teacher Ms. Halsey (Cameron Diaz) sure is pretty, and now that she's trying to snare a hopelessly wholesome substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake), she might stop sleeping in class. Jake Kasdan directs.

Cars 2. Radiator Springs' resident racecar champ, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), is off to Europe for the World Grand Prix, along with his best buddy, Mater the tow truck (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy). Michael Cain and Emily Mortimer voice the spy cars who think Mater's a secret agent. Directed by John Lasseter.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Jaap Buitendijk
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
The Trip
Phil Fisk
The Trip

Conan O'Brien Can't Stop. Filmmaker Rodman Flender follows Conan O'Brien on the 32-city comedy tour he embarked upon shortly after losing his Tonight Show hosting gig. Jim Carrey, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert appear in selected concert segments.

Page One: Inside the New York Times. Filmed over the course of 14 months, Andrew Rossi's documentary captures the Times and its staff—with a special emphasis on media journalist David Carr—as the Gray Lady is besieged by financial woes, internet competition, and a bad case of the jitters.

The Trip. In this re-edited version of a six-part BBC series, comic actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon travel England's Lake District in search of fancy restaurants for Coogan to review in print. Mostly, though, the men riff and ramble and do killer impersonations of Al Pacino, Richard Burton, and Woody Allen. Directed by Michael Winterbottom.

JULY 1

Larry Crowne. Newly unemployed, the perennially optimistic Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) enrolls in junior college and begins to woo a perpetually cranky professor (Julia Roberts). Hanks directs, from a script he wrote with Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

A Little Help. A recently widowed, possibly alcoholic woman (Jenna Fischer from The Office) tries to pull herself together for the sake of her young son. Chris O'Donnell, Rob Benedict, and Lesley Ann Warren co-star for writer-director Michael J. Weithorn.

Monte Carlo. The dream trip 18-year-old Grace (Selena Gomez) and her two friends (Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy) have taken to Europe is going horribly wrong until the press mistakes Grace for a British heiress. Suddenly, fancy hotel rooms, champagne, and hunky men are flowing their way. Directed by Thomas Bezucha (The Family Stone).

Terri. Terri (Jacob Wysocki) is an overweight 15-year-old with no friends and no parents (he lives with his crazy uncle). When he starts wearing pajamas to school, the vice principal (John C. Reilly) decides to begin weekly counseling sessions, sparking a friendship that has unexpected repercussions for both. Directed by Azazel Jacobs.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Shia LeBeouf, Josh Duhamel, and Tyrese Gibson, seasoned veterans of the never-ending robot wars, head to Chicago to stop a fresh assault by the evil Decepticons. Michael Bay directs. In 3-D!

JULY 8

Horrible Bosses. Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day star as three men who decide to actually do what so many worker bees have dreamed of doing: kill their bosses. Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston co-star as the respective targets. Directed by Seth Gordon (The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters).

The Ledge. A man (Charlie Hunnam) stands on the edge of a high building, preparing to jump. The cop (Terrence Howard) trying to talk him down gradually learns that the jumper is involved in a complicated love triangle (Patrick Wilson and Liv Tyler) and that this suicide attempt may actually be part of a murder scheme. Written and directed by Matthew Chapman.

One Day. They were made for each other, but it takes Emma (Anna Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) half a lifetime to figure that out in this time-jumping romance, based on David Nicholls's bestseller. Directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education).

Project Nim. Filmmaker James Marsh's follow-up to his Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire uses archival and re-enacted footage to tell the weird, sad, crazily true story of Nim, a chimpanzee who, in the 1970s, was taught sign language and raised as if he were a human child.

Zookeeper. The animals are talking to the zookeeper (Kevin James) and—even better—giving him sage advice on how to improve his love life. Rosario Dawson co-stars. Directed by Frank Coraci (The Wedding Singer).

JULY 15

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. "Voldemort had raised his wand. His head was still tilted to one side, like a curious child, wondering what would happen if he proceeded. Harry looked back into the red eyes, and wanted it to happen now, quickly, while he could still stand, before he lost control, before he betrayed fear...." Starring Daniel Radcliffe and Ralph Fiennes. Directed by David Yates.

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