Get Inside—It's Summertime!
Summer movie season has arrived. There are an insane number of films on the following list, and plenty of room for optimism. To that end, we've tried to cut back on the snarky comments about pointless sequels and loathsome actors—although it's nearly impossible to let those infernal pirates sail by without a slap or two. But, hey, they can take it, because they're really, really rich, and because everyone knows pirates can't read. Happy summer, America.
HOSTEL PART II
Cast: Lauren German, Bijou Phillips, Heather Matarazzo, Roger Bart
Director: Eli Roth
In a decidedly unkempt Slovakian dungeon, three vacationing Americans are flayed, decapitated, and generally mistreated by insane rich men with knives. Summer movie fun for the whole family.
Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Al Pacino, Ellen Barkin
Director: Steven Soderbergh
A band of very pretty people rob a casino.
Voice Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Jon Heder, James Woods, Jeff Bridges
Directors: Ash Brannon, Chris Buck
Yet another penguin movie: A teenaged penguin travels from Antarctica to Hawaii for a surfboarding competition. Animated.
Cast: Jamel Debbouze, Rie Rasmussen
Director: Luc Besson
The first film in eight years from French writer-director Besson (Subway, La Femme Nikita) is a black-and-white love letter to his native Paris, centering on a one-armed vagabond (Debbouze) and the beautiful woman (Rasmussen) he saves from suicide.
Cast: Konstantin Khabensky, Maria Poroshina
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
The second film in Russian director Bekmambetov's proposed trilogy that began with last year's Night Watch promises more blood and dizzying camera work as the director explains how a 14th century Mongol conqueror and his "Chalk of Destiny" led to a modern-day battle between good and evil.
FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER
Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon
Director: Tim Story
In this sequel to a film every comic geek saw but few loved, a silver-skinned cool dude superhero on a surfboard joins forces with the Fab Four to once again defeat the evil Dr. Doom.
Cast: Billy Connolly, Carrie-Anne Moss, Dylan Baker, K'Sun Ray
Director: Andrew Currie
In 1950s suburbia, where an invasion of zombies has been thwarted and the flesh-eaters turned into household servants, young Timmy's family finally gets a zombie housekeeper/pet of their own, a benign, wise hulk that Timmy dubs "Fido."
Cast: Emma Roberts, Rachael Leigh Cook, Tate Donovan
Director: Andrew Fleming
The rare summer movie that may appeal to your grandmother, this big screen adaptation of the young-adult mystery series stars Emma Roberts (daughter of Eric, niece to Julia) as a modern-day version of the plucky 1930s teen sleuth. Give it a chance, though: Fleming wrote and directed Dick.
LA VIE EN ROSE
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Jean-Paul Rouve, Clotilde Courau
Director: Olivier Dahan
Raised in a brothel, blind for a time as a child, and suspected of murder, French chanteuse Edith Piaf is long overdue for a biopic. The year's first bit of Oscar buzz is building for Cotillard's fierce performance.
Cast: Elisha Cuthbert, Daniel Gilles, Pruitt Taylor Vince
Director: Roland Joffé
A fashion model (Cuthbert) and her chauffeur (Gilles) are kidnapped and tortured by one of her fans (Vince). Locked in a tiny room together, model and chauffer predictably fall in love and unite to defeat their captor. What's unexpected here is the presence behind the camera of Joffé (The Killing Fields, The Mission), who's either slumming for a buck or attempting to elevate the torture-horror genre to a higher plane. We'll see.
DOA: DEAD OR ALIVE
Cast: Jaime Pressly, Holly Valance, Sarah Carter, Natasha Malthe, Devon Aoki
Director: Corey Yuen
Scantily clad beauties fight evildoers in this live action version of a popular video game.
Cast: Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham
Director: Tom Shadyac
Morgan Freeman returns in what's shaping up to be the first talking deity series since George Burns started yakking to John Denver. In this not-quite-a-sequel variation on the Jim Carrey hit Bruce Almighty, God comes calling on an arrogant newsman, played by Carell, the new It-Man of Hollywood comedy (sorry, Jim).
Cast: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack
Director: Mikael Håfström
Stephen King, who knows a thing or two about scary hotels, penned the short story that inspired this scary movie about a professional haunted house debunker (Cusack) who checks into a room many have entered and few have exited. We will not reference the Eagles.
A MIGHTY HEART
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman, Will Patton, Irrfan Khan
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Angelina Jolie stars as Mariane Pearl, whose bestseller A Mighty Heart detailed her 2002 journey to Pakistan to search for her husband Daniel, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and killed by Islamic fundamentalists. Futterman (who wrote Capote) portrays, in flashback, the late Daniel Pearl.
Cast: Jon Voight, Trent Ford, Tamara Hope, Terence Stamp
Director: Christopher Cain
A bearded Stamp plays Mormon leader Brigham Young in this dramatization of the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre, when 120 settlers in the Utah Territory were murdered by a Mormon militia. Don't expect a Salt Lake City red carpet premiere. And sorry about the timing, Mitt.
SHOW BUSINESS: THE ROAD TO BROADWAY
Director: Dori Berinstein
This documentary promises unfettered backstage access as four musicals—Wicked, Taboo, Avenue Q, and Tony Kushner's Caroline, Or Change—inch their way to opening night on Broadway.
LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD
Cast: Bruce Willis, Timothy Olyphant, Justin Long, Maggie Q.
Director: Len Wiseman
Twelve years and many flops after Die Hard with a Vengeance, Willis competes for box office gold as maverick cop John McClane, who takes on a cyber terrorist (Olyphant) with the help of a computer-geek sidekick who just happens to be played by Mac ad kid Justin Long.
DEATH AT A FUNERAL
Cast: Ewen Bremmer, Peter Dinklage, Matthew MacFadyen
Director: Frank Oz
A black comedy about a proper British funeral where the mourning family is slowly coming unhinged, thanks to accidental drug trips, unexpected trysts, and the unnerving appearance of the dead patriarch's secret gay lover. Great trailer.
EAGLE VS. SHARK
Cast: Loren Horsley, Jermaine Clement, Brian Sergent, Rachel House
Director: Taika Waititi
At a "dress as your favorite animal" party, a New Zealand oddball named Lily (Horsley), dressed as a shark, falls for a lonely guy named Jarrod (Clement), dressed as an Eagle. Love and comic mayhem follow.
Cast: Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Vanessa Redgrave, Patrick Wilson, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close
Director: Lajos Koltai
Novelist Michael Cunningham (The Hours) wrote the screenplay for this star-packed adaptation of Susan Minot's exquisite 1999 novel, in which a dying woman flashes back to a wedding 40 years earlier at which she fell madly, and tragically, in love.
Voice Cast: Patton Oswalt, Brian Dennehy, Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo
Director: Brad Bird
Pixar Animation and the director of The Incredibles team up to tell the inspiring tale of Remy the Parisian Rat, who dreams of being a master chef in a world that doesn't always respond enthusiastically to a rodent in the kitchen. Even a cute one.
Director: Michael Moore
After taking on the car industry (Roger & Me), the gun industry (Bowling for Columbine), and the war industry (Fahrenheit 9/11), Michael Moore shifts his obsessive gaze to the American health care system. Hey, insurance companies: No publicity is bad publicity, right?
YOU KILL ME
Cast: Ben Kingsley, Téa Leoni, Luke Wilson, Philip Baker Hall, Bill Pullman
Director: John Dahl
A crime noir comedy from Red Rock West director Dahl about an alcoholic Polish mafia hit man (Kingsley) ordered to dry out in San Francisco, where he finds love and a part-time job as a mortician.
LICENSE TO WED
Cast: Robin Williams, Mandy Moore, John Krasinski
Director: Ken Kwapis
Sadie (Moore) dreams of marrying her fiancé (Krasinski) at her family's church, but it's all booked up for the next two years. Except: There is one open day, and to score it, the couple must survive a marriage-prep course devised by a most unorthodox pastor, played by the ever unorthodox Robin Williams.
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, Anthony Anderson
Director: Michael Bay
Imagine if those nimble robot action figures gathering dust under your kid's bed decided to bulk up, rise up, and take over Earth. With the director of Pearl Harbor and Armageddon at the helm, expect a long, noisy war.
Cast: Nathan Meister, Peter Feeney, Danielle Mason, Tammy Davis
Director: Jonathan King
In this horror comedy from New Zealand, a young man with a pathological fear of sheep (yes, sheep) returns to his family's farm to find that it's been overrun by mutant, flesh-eating sheep (yes, sheep).
BRAND UPON THE BRAIN!
Director: Guy Maddin
This new 90-minute silent film from Canadian filmmaker Maddin is a black-and-white comedy/melodrama/tragedy about a man who's flashing back to a childhood spent in the orphanage his crazy parents ran inside a lighthouse, on a remote island. There's a mad scientist, twin teen detectives, and a mother who takes turpentine baths to "wash away the sin!"
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Director: David Yates
An obscure British import, for which there's very little advance publicity.
INTRODUCING THE DWIGHTS
Cast: Brenda Blethyn, Khan Chittenden, Emma Booth, Richard Wilson
Director: Cherie Nowlan
From Australia, a comedy about an overbearing mother and comedienne (Blethyn), her two devoted sons, and the new girlfriend who's coming between them all. Beware acid-tongued, jealous mothers.
MY BEST FRIEND
Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Dany Boon, Julie Gayet
Director: Patrice Leconte
A gentle comedy about a lonely, uptight businessman (Auteuil) who accepts a bet that he can meet and make a best friend within two weeks.
Cast: Sean Biggerstaff, Emilia Fox, Shaun Evans
Director: Sean Ellis
Filmmaker Ellis expands his Oscar-nominated short about a young art student (Biggerstaff) who, suffering from insomnia, goes to work at an all-night market. There he discovers that he can stop time, a trick that allows him to find unexpected beauties (female and otherwise) within the store.
Cast: John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken
Director: Adam Shankman
Filmmaker John Waters's lifelong dream of invading the suburban multiplexes of America finally comes true with this big-budget version of the hit Broadway play, which in turn was based on Waters's non-musical 1988 comedy. In full drag, John Travolta plays a '50s mom, continuing a tradition set by the late, great, and much-missed drag queen Divine, to whom the part will always truly belong.
I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY
Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel
Director: Dennis Dugan
About Schmidt and Sideways writers Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor go seriously mainstream, joining with co-writer Barry Fanaro (Kingpin) for this broad comedy about two perpetually single New York firefighters who pretend to be lovers in order to receive domestic partnership benefits.
TALK TO ME
Cast: Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Director: Kasi Lemmons
Don Cheadle stars as Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene, a legendary 1960s radio and talk show host who galvanized Washington D.C. by leading public protests against poverty and racism.
Cast: Bruno Ganz, Fabrizio Borsani, Teo Gheorghiu
Director: Fredi Murer
A 12-year old piano prodigy (real life virtuoso Gheorghiu) crumbles under family pressure in Switzerland's entry for last year's foreign film Oscar. The boy runs away to his grandfather (Wings of Desire angel Ganz), who helps the pianist rediscover both his childhood and his talent.
I KNOW WHO KILLED ME
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Julia Ormond, Neal McDonough, Brian Geraghty
Director: Chris Sivertson
After escaping from a sadistic serial killer, a young woman named Aubrey Fleming (Lohan) awakens from a coma to say that she is not who authorities believe she is, and that the real Aubrey Fleming is still out there, in danger.
Cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin
Director: Scott Hicks
An acclaimed Manhattan chef (Zeta-Jones) with no time for anything but cooking is suddenly given charge of her 9-year-old niece (little miss sunshine) at the same time a handsome, spirited sous-chef (Eckhart) joins her staff. Sparks fly.
THE SIMPSONS MOVIE
Director: David Silverman
Please be funny.
Cast: Jason Behr, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra
Director: James Isaac
Rival werewolf factions battle over a half-human, half-wolf 13-year-old boy who doesn't yet know that he's going to someday be furrier than the other boys at school.
Cast: Crusoe Kurddal, Jamie Gulpilil
Director: Rolf de Heer
Set in the Australian outback some one thousand years ago and drawn from Aboriginal stories passed down as oral history, this film dramatizes the tale of two brothers feuding over the love of one woman.
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony
Director: Leon Ichaso
Latin singing sensation Anthony stars as the wildly popular 1960s and '70s salsa star Hector Lavoe, who couldn't overcome his addiction to cocaine and heroine. J. Lo plays Lavoe's wife.
THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM
Cast: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Joan Allen, David Strathairn
Director: Paul Greengrass
In the final film of the Bourne trilogy, former CIA assassin Jason Bourne (Damon) dodges bullets and flying cars (again) while investigating (again) the mysteries of the past he can't remember (again). Regression therapy might have been easier.
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Robert Downey Jr., Hope Davis
Director: Jon Poll
Kicked out of private school, Charlie Bartlett (Yelchin) soon finds himself dispensing easily acquired Ritalin, Xanax, and Wellbutrin to his depressed public school classmates. Soon he's giving psychiatric advice from his bathroom, a development that makes him the enemy of school principal Robert Downey Jr.
Cast: Andy Samberg, Isla Fisher, Sissy Spacek, Ian McShane
Director: Akiva Schaffer
Saturday Night Live star Samberg plays Rod Kimble, a motorcycle stuntman who plans to jump 15 buses to raise money for a life-saving operation his abusive stepfather (McShane) desperately needs. Once said stepfather is healthy, Rod plans to kick his ass.
RESURRECTING THE CHAMP
Cast: Josh Hartnett, Samuel L. Jackson
Director: Rod Lurie
After realizing that a homeless man (Jackson) is a former boxing champ, sports reporter Hartnett tries to revive the boxer's career and also boost his own.
Cast: Paul Rudd, Jessica Alba, Winona Ryder, Adam Brody, Gretchen Mol, Famke Janssen, Liev Schreiber, Oliver Platt, Justin Theroux
Director: David Wain
Ten comic vignettes, set in the modern day, inspired by the Ten Commandments.
Cast: Jim Belushi, Peter Dinklage, Brad Garrett
Director: Frederik Du Chau
In this live-action family comedy, a lab accident gives a beagle superpowers and the ability to speak (via Jason Lee's voice). So when evildoers descend on the city, it's Underdog—complete with a cool cape—to the rescue.
BRATZ: THE MOVIE
Cast: Paula Abdul, Nathalia Ramos, Skylar Shaye
Director: Sean McNamara
A live action film inspired by a popular line of dolls. Barbie must be so jealous.
DADDY DAY CAMP
Cast: Cuba Gooding Jr.
Director: Fred Savage
Former child star Savage makes his feature directorial debut in this sequel to Daddy Day Care, in which Cuba Gooding, Jr. takes over Eddie Murphy's role as a dad who this time out opens a summer camp for kids.
Cast: Reece Thompson, Anna Kendrick, Nicholas D'Agosto
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Blitz, director of the popular spelling bee documentary Spellbound, helms this comedy about a chronic stutterer (Thompson) who joins his high-school debate team at the insistence of the school's beautiful debate team queen (Kendrick).
RUSH HOUR 3
Cast: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker
Director: Brett Ratner
The funny cop and the whirling dervish cop head to Paris to break up a Chinese crime gang. Quick, go rent the first two and bone up on the backstory.
Cast: A.J. Bowen, Justin Welborn, Anessa Ramsey, Scott Poythress
Directors: David Bruckner, Dan Bush, and Jacob Gentry
Told in three parts by three different directors, this horror film discovers what happens when a mysterious electronic transmission ignites a city populace's murderous aggressions.
Cast: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert DeNiro, Peter O'Toole
Director: Matthew Vaughn
A young Englishman follows a falling star and ends up in the fantasy land of Faerie, where the star is a beautiful girl (Danes) being hunted by an evil witch (Pfeiffer). Based on a graphic novel by the revered sci-fi/fantasy writer Neil Gaiman.
CUT SLEEVE BOYS
Cast: Chowee Leow, Steven Lim, Gareth Rhys Davies
Director: Ray Yeung
After the death of a friend, two perpetually single British Chinese men (Lim and Leow) vow to make themselves over (literally) to find new and lasting love.
Cast: Sam Huntington, Chris Marquette, Dan Fogler, Jay Baruchel
Director: Kyle Newman
A comedy about four sci-fi geek best friends who travel cross country in order to break in to George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch and somehow screen the as-yet unreleased Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace. One suspects that Mr. Lucas does not make a cameo.
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jeremy Northam
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
In the umpteenth riff on Jack Finney's classic 1955 novel, The Body Snatchers, a Washington D.C. psychiatrist (Kidman) comes to believe that the reason people around her are acting stranger than usual is that aliens have taken them over.
Cast: Christina Ricci, Catherine O'Hara, Peter Dinklage, James McAvoy, Reese Witherspoon
Director: Mark Palansky
A modern day fable about a young woman afflicted with a pig snout of a nose, the result of a family curse that can only be broken if she finds love, within herself as well as from without.
Cast: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Bill Hader
Director: Greg Mottola
A coming-of-age comedy about two lifelong buddies (Cera and Hill), nerds and virgins both, who head off to separate grad schools, and on one fateful night try to score with beautiful women. Produced by Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up) and directed by Mottola, whose debut film was the terrific indie comedy The Daytrippers.
Cast: Jason Biggs, Isla Fisher, Joe Pantoliano
Director: Michael Ian Black
After losing the girl of his dreams, Anderson (Biggs) spontaneously proposes to a waitress (Fisher), who accepts. Will love blossom?
Cast: David Koechner, Bradley Cooper, Matthew Lawrence
Director: Tom Brady
In this spoof of inspiring sports movies, the unluckiest coach in sports (Koechner) gets one last chance when he takes over a talent-less football team with the worst record in history.
GOOD LUCK CHUCK
Cast: Dane Cook, Jessica Alba
Director: Mark Helfrich
Poor Chuck (Cook) becomes a babe magnet for all the wrong reasons after word gets out that for some mysterious reason any woman who sleeps with him is destined to fall in love with the next man she meets.
THE KING OF KONG: A FISTFUL OF QUARTERS
Director: Seth Gordon
A documentary that follows a middle school science teacher as he battles a hot sauce mogul for the Guinness World Record on the arcade classic Donkey Kong.
BALLS OF FURY
Cast: Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, George Lopez, Maggie Q.
Director: Robert Ben Garant
At the behest of the FBI, agent Randy Daytona (Fogler), a former ping-pong champ, re-enters the fray on a secret mission to defeat his father's arch rival and possible killer (Walken). Watching Walken ping his pong may be worth the price of admission.
THE BROTHERS SOLOMON
Cast: Will Arnett, Will Forte, Chi McBride
Director: Bob Odenkirk
Saturday Night Live's two Wills—Arnett and Forte (who scripted)—play not particularly bright brothers, who want to fulfill their dying father's wish for a grandchild. One problem: They can't talk to women.
Cast: Kevin Bacon
Director: James Wan
A new adaptation of a 1975 novel by Brian Garfield, which was a sequel to Garfield's earlier novel, Death Wish, the book that spawned a hit film for tough guy Charles Bronson. In this updated version, a businessman (Bacon) turns vigilante after a street gang attacks his family. Bronson, Bacon, same diff.
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif, Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane
Director: Rob Zombie
In what amounts to sacrilege to many serious horror fans (including this one), rocker-turned-filmmaker Rob Zombie (House of 1,000 Corpses) remakes John Carpenter's 1978 horror classic, sending young Michael Myers out into his suburban neighborhood, slashing wildly, but with more psychological justification, or so promises Mr. Zombie.
MR. BEAN'S HOLIDAY
Cast: Rowan Atkinson
Director: Steve Bendelack
Mr. Bean enters a church raffle and wins a vacation to France, where he wreaks his distinct brand of havoc, including separating a father and son and getting mistaken for a kidnapper. Expect a wacky finale at a fictionalized version of the Cannes Film Festival, which is as close as films about Mr. Bean are likely to get to the real event.
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