Summer movie guide 2011
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.)
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
Lucky. Life is looking up for Ben (Colin Hanks), an office worker who's just won the lottery, which might help him woo his dream girl (Ari Graynor). All good, but should Ben still pursue his goal of becoming a serial killer? Directed by Gil Cates Jr. Ann-Margaret co-stars.
Salvation Boulevard. Pastor Dan (Pierce Brosnan), TV evangelist, is all set to break ground on a pre-fab Christian community when he accidentally shoots a visiting atheist (Ed Harris). Greg Kinnear co-stars as the disciple who helps the good pastor cover up the mess. Directed by George Ratliff.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. The friendship between two women in 19th-century Shanghai is contrasted with a similar bond between two of their descendents, living in present-day China. Directed by Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) and based on Lisa See's 2005 novel.
Captain America: The First Avenger. Chris Evans stars as Steve Rogers, a runty little guy who volunteers for a World War II Army experiment that turns him into a muscle-ripped superhero ready to take on a Nazi weapons genius named Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). Tommy Lee Jones co-stars for director Joe Johnston (The Wolfman).
Friends with Benefits. "No emotion. Just sex," is the mantra agreed upon by two friends (Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake) who have decided that they're both too damaged for love and just need good, regular, no-strings sex. Good luck with that. Woody Harrelson and Patricia Clarkson co-star. Directed by Will Gluck (Easy A).
Senna. Winner of the World Cinema Audience Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival, this documentary by Asif Kapadia tells the life story of Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian racecar driver who died in a 1994 Grand Prix crash.
Cowboys & Aliens. In the Wild West of old, Lonergan (Daniel Craig) and Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) are enemy gunslingers, but their shootout will have to wait until they kill off the space aliens that have just landed in their dusty desert town. Directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man).
Crazy, Stupid, Love . Night after night, sad-sack Cal (Steve Carell), whose wife (Julianne Moore) has left him, sits in a bar and watches a young guy named Jacob (Ryan Gosling) effortlessly pick up women. Desperate, Cal asks him for a ladykiller makeover. Co-directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris).
The Devil's Double. The true story of the Iraqi army lieutenant who was forced to undergo plastic surgery to become the body double for Uday Hussein, Saddam's psycho-killer son, inspired this Scarface-like thriller. Dominic Cooper plays both versions of Uday. Ludivine Sagnier co-stars. Directed by Lee Tamahori (Die Another Day).
Life in a Day. On July 24, 2010, YouTube viewers from all over the world shot video documentaries of their day. Director Kevin Macdonald and film editor Joe Walker have whittled 4,500 hours of footage into this 90-minute film.
The Change-Up. Two buddies—a hunky single guy (Ryan Reynolds) and a bored married guy (Justin Bateman)—experience a magical body switch and discover the pros and cons of living the other's life. Directed by David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers).
Dirty Girl. It's 1987 and Danielle (Juno Temple), the bad girl of her Oklahoma high school, and Clarke (Jeremy Dozier), its beleaguered gay guy, strike up a friendship and eventually hit the road to find Danielle's birth father. Co-starring William H. Macy, Mary Steenburgen, Dwight Yokam, and Milla Jovovich. Written and directed by Abe Sylvia.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes. After altering the genetics of a chimpanzee, a young scientist (James Franco) is astonished when his test subject escapes and then launches a primate war against humans. Directed by Rupert Wyatt.
The Whistleblower. Rachel Weisz stars as the real-life Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska cop who went to Bosnia in 1999 as a U.N. peacekeeper and eventually uncovered a sex-trafficking operation with ties to the U.N. itself. Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci, and David Strathairn co-star for director Larysa Kondracki.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. Once upon a time—1973 to be exact—a TV movie about a woman being terrorized by whispering, invisible goblins living below her chimney scared the heck out of many a viewer. Katie Holmes stars in this long-in-the-works remake, with Guy Pearce as her clueless husband. Co-produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by newcomer Troy Nixey.
The Help. In 1962, a budding journalist (Emma Stone) returns to her Jackson, Mississippi, hometown and stirs up trouble when she begins interviewing and writing about the black women who work as maids for the town's rich whites. Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Sissy Spacek, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Cicely Tyson co-star. Written and directed by Tate Taylor, adapting Kathryn Stockett's bestseller.
Seven Days in Utopia. After suffering a public humiliation, a promising young golfer (Lucas Black) hits the road but gets stranded in a Texas town where he's befriended by a rancher (Robert Duvall) who happens to know a thing or two about golf, and about life. Melissa Leo co-stars. Directed by Matthew Dean Russell.
30 Minutes or Less. The only method Dwayne (Danny McBride) can devise to raise the cash he needs to hire a hitman (Michael Peña) to kill his father (Fred Ward) is to strap a bomb onto a pizza delivery guy (Jesse Eisenberg) and order him to go rob a bank. Directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland).
Amigo. The rarely discussed U.S. occupation of the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century is dramatized in the new film from writer-director John Sayles (Matewan). Joel Torre stars as a mild-mannered village elder torn between loyalty to his people and a desire to appease the Americans. Garret Dillahunt co-stars.
Conan the Barbarian. Jason Momoa stars as the sword-and-sorcery hero who battles ancient gods, monsters, and other big-pec'd men. Rose McGowan co-stars. Directed by Marcus Nispel.
Fright Night. Charley (Anton Yelchin), a suburban teen, isn't 100 percent sure, but he's starting to think that his suave, secretive new neighbor (Colin Farrell) is a vampire. Toni Collette co-stars in director Craig Gillespie's remake of the 1985 hit.
A Good Old Fashioned Orgy. The Hamptons home where 30-year-old Eric (Jason Sudeikis) and his friends have partied for years is being sold. What to do? Throw an orgy, of course. Lake Bell, Leslie Bibb, and Will Forte co-star. Written and directed by Pete Huyck and Alex Gregory.
Our Idiot Brother. Paul Rudd stars as the idiot in question, who is broke and homeless and creating havoc in the lives of his three sisters (Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel, and Elizabeth Banks). Directed by Jesse Peretz.
The Debt. In this remake of an Israeli film, Helen Mirren stars as a former Mossad agent whose assignment, in 1966, to track down a Nazi war criminal is coming back to haunt her. Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, and Tom Wilkinson co-star. Directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love).
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