Summer of Same: June 2009

Director: Brad Silberling
Film: Land of the Lost
Studio: Universal Pictures
Cast: Will Ferrell, Anna Friel, Danny McBride, Jorma Taccone
Website: http://www.landofthelost.net/
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-06-05 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/l/landofthelostposter.jpg

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5 June

Land of the Lost

It seems like one of the more incongruous pairings this popcorn season — Will Ferrell and the psychedelic ’60s kid vid imagination of Sid and Marty Krofft. While many would look at such a combination and say “makes sense”, the truth is that many a Star Trek scribe found their way onto the set of the Saturday Morning sci-fi series about a family lost in prehistoric times. They took the storylines seriously, even if the special effects occasionally let them down. Now Ferrell steps in and brings his standard mischievous irony with him. How that will mesh with the Land of the Lost faithful is yet to be seen. Surely those expecting a CG enhanced experience will not be disappointed, but one imagines that this is the kind of high concept moviemaking that gives the term “reimagining” a bad name.

Land of the Lost

Director: Todd Phillips
Film: The Hangover
Studio: Warner Bros.
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Heather Graham, Justin Bartha, Jeffrey Tambor
Website: http://hangovermovie.warnerbros.com/
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-06-05 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/h/hangoverposter.jpg

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5 June

The Hangover

How can you tell when you have a sure-fire hit? When Tinsel Town plans on a sequel BEFORE your film hits theaters. That’s the case with this latest bro-mance comedy, a film by Old School‘s Todd Phillips which follows the madcap adventures of a group of guys who spend one of those clichéd nights in the City of Sin, only to wake up the next morning surrounded by all manner of liquor-induced trouble. With a cast that includes Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and surreal comic sensation Zach Galifianakis, the ads promise a bad taste ride through the ritual of men being men. There’s even a quick cameo by Mike Tyson (whose air drumming to Phil Collin’s “In the Air Tonight” remains a trailer treat). Here’s hoping that this film can tap into the still ample Apatow groove before that style of wit gets worn out and wasted.

The Hangover

Director: Donald Petrie
Film: My Life in Ruins
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Cast: Nia Vardalos, Richard Dreyfuss, Alexis Georgoulis, Harland Williams
Website: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/mylifeinruins/
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-06-05 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/m/mylifeinruinsposter.jpg

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5 June

My Life in Ruins

No, this is not the directorial debut of My Big Fat Greek Wedding‘s Nia Vardalos. That film is entitled I Hate Valentine’s Day and is tentatively scheduled for later in July…maybe. Instead, this is a nominal RomCom from the director of cinematic stinkers as Turner and Hooch, Grumpy Old Men, and My Favorite Martian. Ew. Still, Donald Petrie has a reputation for bringing in modest moneymakers, and with a script by the Simpsons’ Mike Reiss, this might have a chance.

My Life in Ruins

Director: Sam Mendes
Film: Away We Go
Studio: Focus Features
Cast: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Allison Janney, Jeff Daniels, Maggie Gyllenhaal
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-06-05 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/a/awaywegoposter.jpg

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5 June

Away We Go

After his criminally overlooked masterpiece, Revolutionary Road, failed to ignite audiences during the 2008 Awards Season, Sam Mendes stepped back and decided to make a pure comedy for a change — and he’s brought along John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph along for the ride. This post-modern road movie, about a couple seeking the perfect place to raise their expectant family, is apparently testing through the roof. Here’s hoping its success keeps the Mendes bashing at bay — at least for a little while.

Away We Go

12 June

Director: Tony Scott
Film: The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009)
Studio: Sony
Cast: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, James Gandolfini, Luis Guzman, John Turturro, Gbenga Akinnagbe
Website: http://www.catchthetrain.com/
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-06-12 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/t/takingofpelham123poster.jpg

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12 June

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

Fans are of two minds regarding this third attempt at bringing John Godey’s 1973 novel back to the big screen. A certain percentage believes the original 1974 film was flawless and doesn’t require a contemporary retelling. The rest never knew there was a movie made before the 1998 TV adaptation. This update does show promise — it offers Denzel Washington and John Travolta in front of the cameras, and Tony Scott, Brian Helgeland, and David Koepp behind it. Yet when the trailer appeared a few months back, there was an air of generic action and over-stylized license rendering everything sterile and uninvolving. Here’s hoping the film itself finds a way to mix modern sensibilities with old school thrills. Otherwise, the first group of miffed moviegoers will have even more material to fuss over.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009)

Director: Karey Kirkpatrick
Film: Imagine That
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Thomas Haden Church, Martin Sheen
Website: http://www.imaginethatmovie.com/
MPAA rating: PG
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-06-12 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/i/imaginethatposter.jpg

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12 June

Imagine That

The last time Eddie Murphy tried to tap into his flagging family film audience, the result was the repugnant Meet Dave. Even with a writer from Mystery Science Theater 3000 on the project, the movie reeked of stunted studio retooling. This time around, Ed’s a disgruntled dad who utilizes his daughter’s imaginary world as a means of solving his out of control career problems. The choice of Karey Kirkpatrick as a director is interesting, since he got his start in animation. Perhaps he can bring some of that cartoon magic to what is rapidly becoming this comedian’s second fall into commercial obsolescence.

Imagine That

Director: Duncan Jones
Film: Moon
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Sam Rockwell, Kaya Scodelario, Matt Berry
Website: http://www.moonthemovie.com/
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-06-12 (Limited release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/m/moonposter.jpg

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12 June

Moon

Sam Rockwell stars in this intriguing sci-fi story about an astronaut at the tale end of a three year mission who experiences something quite profound — and early reviews from SXSW suggest it’s a riveting tour-de-force. Kevin Spacey is even on hand as the voice of GERTY, Rockwell’s companion computer. While serious speculative films rarely crack the box office this time of year (see Danny Boyle’s 2007 masterpiece Sunshine), this film from David Bowie’s son Duncan Jones has lots of promise.

Moon

Director: Tommy Wirkola
Film: Dead Snow
Subtitle: Død snø
Studio: IFC Films
Cast: Charlotte Frogner, Ørjan Gamst, Stig Frode Henriksen, Vegar Hoel, Jeppe Laursen
Website: http://www.deadsnow.com/
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-05-12
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/d/deadsnowposter.jpg

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12 June

Dead Snow

When horror fans hear about the premise for this Norwegian terror treat, their macabre mind boggles. A group of medical students go on a skiing trip where they come face to face with…wait for it…wait…wait…OK, here it is. They come face to face with a group of Nazi Zombies! NAZI-FRIGGIN’-ZOMBIES! How cool is that? Well, according to already published reviews, not very. Yep — this might just be another case of a classic idea being badly mangled in the big screen translation. And that’s too bad. After all — NAZI ZOMBIES!

Dead Snow

19 June

Director: Harold Ramis
Film: Year One
Studio: Sony
Cast: Jack Black, Michael Cera, Olivia Wilde, David Cross, Paul Rudd
Website: http://www.yearone-movie.com/
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-06-19 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/y/yearoneposter.jpg

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19 June

Year One

There are a bunch of big questions marks hanging over this irreverent epic comedy, many left unanswered by the uninspired Super Bowl preview and recently released trailer. Former SCTV savant Harold Ramis has made come classic laughfests — Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, and Groundhog Day. But his recent resume is full of mishandled misfires (Analyze That? Bedazzled? ). Add in the questionable casting of Jack Black and Michael Cera as a couple of lazy Cro-Magnons setting out to discover the ancient world, and this could be an unfunny History of the World Part II. The sole saving grace may be one Judd Apatow. Taking an actual producer’s credit here, he’s capable of guiding even the most haphazard project into fits of fan hysterics — just look at Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story or Pineapple Express. Here’s hoping he can work his magic on this otherwise suspect project.

Year One

Director: Anne Fletcher
Film: The Proposal
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Malin Akerman, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Oscar Nuñez
Website: http://theproposal.movies.go.com/
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-06-19 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/p/proposalposter.jpg

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19 June

The Proposal

Sigh. Stop me if you’ve heard this premise before. A high strung career gal (Sandra Bullock) has a problem (in this case, an expiring Visa) that requires a quickie engagement/marriage to solve. She turns to the most unlikely of candidates (her desperate assistant played by Ryan Reynolds) and before you know it, the government is investigating the couple’s lovebird legitimacy. So it’s off to the family home for a weekend of misunderstandings, forced funny business, and of course, budding romance. While some may consider it the chick flick answer to a weekend ripe with frat boy buffoonery, the old maxim still holds some truth. Familiarity might just breed contempt here.

The Proposal

Director: Woody Allen
Film: Whatever Works
Studio: Sony Classics
Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Henry Cavill, Patricia Clarkson, Kristen Johnston, Larry David, Ed Begley Jr.
Website: http://www.sonyclassics.com/whateverworks/
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-06-19 (Limited release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/news_art/w/whatever.jpg

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19 June

Whatever Works

Woody Allen is back, this time returning to his recognizable Manhattan angst with this Larry David vehicle. As a substitute for the American legend, the Seinfeld scribe gets involved with a much younger woman. Their relationship fuels a series of comic misadventures with the massive May/December issues involved front and center. Many believe the Oscar winning genius behind Annie Hall, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and the recent Vicky Christina Barcelona is back to his winning ways. For those of us less enamored with his output, it remains a case of cautious optimism.

Whatever Works

26 June

Director: Michael Bay
Film: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Studio: DreamWorks
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro
Website: http://www.transformersmovie.com/
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-06-24 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/t/transformers2poster.jpg

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24 June

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Love him or loathe him, but Michael Bay is overcoming a great deal of geek-fueled hate to build a resume of reasonably effective schlock cheese spectacles. From The Rock to Armageddon, Pearl Harbor to The Island, he’s the go-to guy when you want mindless action and awesome effects. After Transformers became one of 2007’s biggest surprises, Dreamworks and Executive Producer Steven Spielberg demanded a sequel. Bay decided to amplify everything that made the first movie so much fun, adding more stunts, more robots, and more Megan Fox. This time, the Decepticons kidnap Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and he discovers the truth about the Transformers. Massive pyrotechnics ensue. The recent trailer promises a wide array of shape-shifting machines, and the battles look even bigger than before. Leave it to Bay. If he can find a way to enhance his already steroided vision, he will — and it looks like he’s done so here.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Director: Nick Cassavetes
Film: My Sister’s Keeper
Studio: New Line Cinema
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Alec Baldwin, Abigail Breslin, Sofia Vassilieva, Thomas Dekker
MPAA rating: N/A
First date: 2009
US Release Date: 2009-06-26 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/news_art/m/mysisterskeeper.jpg

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26 June

My Sister’s Keeper

What do you give the moms and sisters who just aren’t interested in seeing two hours of cars and helicopters turn into fighting automatons? How about a four handkerchief weeper featuring Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin, and Alec Baldwin? This story of a teenage girl who discovers she was conceived as a genetic “harvest child” donor for her dying sibling already has fans of Jodi Picoult’s 2004 novel outraged over rumors that a last act “tragedy” has been changed for something more “Hollywood-friendly”, and with stiff competition from Bay’s boys, it’s hard to see this making more than a minor dent in the pre-July 4th weekend.

My Sister’s Keeper

Director: Dennis Lee
Film: Fireflies in the Garden
Studio: Senator Distribution
Cast: Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson, Carrie-Anne Moss
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2008
US Release Date: 2009-06-26 (Limited release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/f/firefliesinthegardenposter.jpg

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26 June

Fireflies in the Garden

As one critic recently pointed out recently, dysfunctional families are a dime a dozen. Instead, film should focus on normal clans just for the sheer narrative novelty. No such luck here. Julia Roberts is on hand to add a sense of heft to this indie production, and she’s joined by other noted performers as Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Heroes Hayden Pannetierre. Still if you’ve seen one collection of reeling relatives rocked by a sudden tragedy, you’ve seen them all.

Fireflies in the Garden

Director: Stephen Frears
Film: Cheri
Studio: Pathe
Cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Friend, Kathy Bates, Felicity Jones, Frances Tomelty
Website: http://www.cherithemovie.co.uk/
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2008
US Release Date: 2009-06-26 (Limited release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/c/cheriposter.jpg

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26 June

Cheri

Stephen Frears is back, and it’s taken three years since his Oscar nominated work in The Queen for him to return to theaters. This time out, he has a fetching period piece about a young man who retreats into a fantasy world when his courtesan mother forces him to end a relationship with a much older woman. The costume drama looks spectacular, and the cast including Michelle Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates appears can’t miss. Audiences expecting blockbusters won’t be showing up, but brainy viewers may want to give this a go.

Cheri

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