Sumer is icumen in. Are you ready for some sequels? You'd better be, because that's what you're gonna get (also threequels, fourquels, fivequels and eightquels). Plus remakes, reboots, robots, pirates, aliens and lots of spandex. There will come a day when it will be too hot to move and all your popsicles have melted, and you'll end up in a theater seeing something on this list. Choose wisely and beware of titles with colons in them.
(Note: I haven't actually seen any of these movies yet, so recommendations are based purely on films' trailers and pedigrees, Internet conjecture, and my own likes, dislikes, and infallible intuition.)
CGI-filled blockbusters that might have also CG'd the screenplay
"Fast Five" (in theaters)
Another "The Fast and the Furious" movie, another battle between drug lords, federal agents, and bad drivers, this time in Rio. I have no idea why they keep remixing the title for this franchise. "Fast Five" sounds like a diet plan. This installment is directed by Justin Lin, who directed "Tokyo Drift," series reboot "Fast & Furious," and the underrated/excellent high-school crime movie "Better Luck Tomorrow" (plus the just-announced upcoming Schwarzenegger-starring "Terminator" reboot). Vin Diesel is as confused as you are about what happened to his career. Paul Walker is just confused. Oh, wow, The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) is in this one? SOLD! (Not joking. I love the Rock). This series will live forever because nobody ever gets sick of cars doing cool stuff. Frankly non-robotic hot-rod cars doing CGI-aided stunts beat the hell out of robot cars in space. I'm an especially big fan of "The Fast and The Furious" movies because previous ones depicted a fantasy Los Angeles (diverse, fun, interesting) that resembles the one I live in a lot more than "Crash."
"Transformers: Dark Of The Moon" (July 1)
Some things you could do instead of seeing the third installment of Michael Bay's autobots, cleavage, and tedium trilogy:
- Watch "The Wizard of Oz" while listening to "Dark Side Of The Moon."
- Watch "Transformers" dubbed with the audio from "Transformers 2."
- Watch "Transformers 2" while listening to "The Piper at the Gates Of Dawn."
- Bring an air horn to a laser show.
- Take acid at a monster truck rally.
- Watch "Transformers" on an iPad at a Roger Waters show.
- Read a book (perhaps Tina Fey's "Bossypants")
- Punch yourself in the stomach.
- Ask Megan Fox how she feels about being replaced by a Victoria's Secret model.
- Google pictures of Megan Fox's stunt thumb.
- Community service.
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" (July 15)
The eighth "Harry Potter" movie brings the series to a close. You know when a band does too many encores? And you can tell that even the most hard-core fans in the audience are like, "Yeah, OK, cool wrap it up already," and then the band is like, "And now to bring out all of our opening acts and do 'Dark Star.'" And everyone groans as they applaud because they're already thinking about the inevitable traffic jam in the parking structure on the way out. But then as soon as the show's over, everyone's like, "Wow that was great; I'm so glad they kept playing" but really they're just saying that because it's finally over? But then in the post-show gridlock they're like, "Hey, you know, I could really have stood to hear a few more jams actually," and they genuinely mean it?
If you see only one: "Fast Five," because it proves that you don't have to buy a name-brand franchise, you can just build one on awesomely tight action sequences.
Menchildren behaving badly
"The Hangover 2" (May 26)
Let's get one thing out of the way: Zach Galifianakis is incredible. And he was fabulously weird in "The Hangover," turning the strange homoerotic bonding rituals of bromances into his own private show, where all the narrative suspense in every single scene came from whether he might actually give Bradley Cooper or Ed Helms a reacharound. I'm not anti-Todd Phillips or anything. I love "Old School" (Will Ferrell's performance in that is just as virtuosic). But I guess what I love about Ferrell and Galifianakis is that their presences both seem to say that they understand that the premises of both movies are tow up. "Women are so horrible that you must escape them and live among men!" Anyone who actually believes that is an idiot/very sad. Terrible gender politics aside/included (thanks for sparing us the Mel Gibson cameo), "The Hangover 2" will probably make a ton of money, ideally while murdering the overdone genre it's a part of. Hopefully at some point Zach will get his hand down some pants.
"Horrible Bosses" (July 8)
This is directed by Seth Gordon, of the documentary "The King Of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters," and co-written by John Francis Daley (aka Sam Weir from "Freaks And Geeks)". This movie has "cult hit" written all over it, provided, of course, that it's actually funny. Jennifer Aniston as a bad boss certainly has potential, and she knows her way around a comedy cult hit ("Office Space," "Friends With Money," "The Good Girl"). But putting a hot guy in a fat suit (Colin Farrell) does not automatically equal hilarity, for real.
"30 Minutes or Less" (Aug. 12)
Pizza-delivery comedy. Dream-team cast. Guy who directed "Zombieland." Michael Peña, Aziz Ansari, and Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg). I'm wired in.
If you see only one: "30 Minutes or Less," because Michael Peña stole season two of "Eastbound & Down" from Danny McBride, and that is a mean feat of comedic strength.
Menchildren making good
"Jumping the Broom" (May 6)
A Martha's Vineyard wedding movie about two clans uniting for a wedding. This is the kind of movie I will watch on TBS 10 times in a row some Sunday when I'm putting off work. LORETTA DEVINE!
"Larry Crowne" (July 1)
Tom Hanks as a middle-aged white guy who loses his tedious retail job and goes back to college, co-written with Nia Vardalos by Hanks and directed by Hanks himself. "Billy Madison" as a dramedy? "Back to School" starring Forrest Gump? "Eat Pray Love" with sad dudes (Bryan Cranston) but also with Julia Roberts again (but no Javier Bardem :( )? It's not a coincidence that this movie is Cockney rhyming slang for "Falling Down."
"Crazy, Stupid, Love." (July 29)
Crazy, stupid, title (sorry, that was way harsh, Tai). Ryan Gosling appears to be branching out from his patented nice-guy persona by playing a douchebag. Steve Carrell does not appear to be branching out from his uptight virgin/nice-guy-who-gets-dumped persona. This looks like your standard bromance fantasy (bromantasy) where a sexy player dude teaches a stick-in-the-mud nerd guy how to pick up stupid women by being a jerk to them. I could list all the movies with this plot that have come out in the past few years, but I'll cry. Gosling's character looks just like Diplo.
If you see only one: "Jumping The Broom," because director Salim Akil has been turning it out on television for a million years with shows like "The Game" and "Girlfriends."
We can see heroes
"Thor" (May 6)
A vehicle for Marvel superhero Thor (he has a giant hammer) directed by Kenneth Branagh. Kenneth Branagh (who did the worst Woody Allen impersonation of all-time in Woody Allen's "Celebrity") has hired some poor sap (Chris Hemsworth, fairly memorable in the first five minutes of "Star Trek") to do the worst Kenneth Branagh impersonation of all-time. Why would Kenneth Branagh think anyone would be interested in a superhero that (totally coincidentally) looks just like Kenneth Branagh appears in his most exquisite phantasies? Did you see how many close-ups of his own face the dude put in Hamlet? Perhaps he missed the memo about the universal distaste for flesh-colored blond Spencer Pratt beards. This entire movie can be redeemed if Thor does the St. Crispin's Day speech from "Henry V." It's a superhero fish-out-of-water movie, and Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings look embarrassed to be there (hey, ladies, wanna star in a "Birds Of Prey" reboot? No Thors allowed). Branagh presumably wanted a blond superhero to rescue blond men from their film status as villains, nerds, and James Spader (villainous nerds) but "Thor" is probably not going to do the trick. The trailer gives off a heavy "Flash Gordon" vibe, but not a knowing one. It looks super campy. Sidenote to Kenneth Branagh: the reason ripped blond men aren't portrayed as superheroes = World War II. "THOR"!
"X-Men: First Class" (June 3)
Director Matthew Vaughn ("Kick-Ass") reboots the "X-Men" franchise with a period piece about the original group of mutant crime fighters and their special gifted school. People wearing costumes and fighting crime is inherently ridiculous. The difference between "The Dark Knight" and "Burlesque" is negligible (Cher is The Joker, think about it. THEY'RE BOTH SO COOL). So "X-Men: First Class" looks pretty promising in that it seems to embrace some of the campier aspects of superhero films by being set in the '60s (and when you think about it, the School for Gifted Mutants is really just like a sleep-away camp, with summer romances). January Jones as Emma Frost has a lot of "Showgirls" potential. She looks like Olivia Newton-John in "Xanadu" and shatters into a mist of CGI sparkles. Kevin Bacon is rocking heavy Herman's Hermits hair, "Winter's Bone" (Jennifer Lawrence) is Mystique, and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) looks like Oscar Wilde. Could be good!
"Green Lantern" (June 17)
Ryan Reynolds as the titular superhero, cocky handsome test pilot Hal Jordan who receives a magic ring that changes his life and launches a movie franchise. I want good things for Ryan Reynolds, because he seems like a hard-working Canadian actor who realizes that nothing comes for free. I tried to find a trailer for "Green Lantern" on YouTube, but I ended up watching a fan-made trailer for two minutes before I noticed the lead guy was not Ryan Reynolds. It was an exceptionally good fan-made trailer! I predict Ryan Reynolds will be hot and cocky and fly planes, be temporarily humbled by a supervillain (Peter Sarsgaard), win the girl (Blake Lively) after some back-and-forth sassing, and end on a victorious high note that points toward a sequel. (Hollywood: "We r straight killin' it on originality this summer just like every summer. See you in the champagne room!")
"Captain America: The First Avenger" (July 22)
Chris Evans as the eponymous embodiment of American ideals and Hugo Weaving as his arch-nemesis, the Red Skull. I also want good things for Chris Evans, for the same reasons I want good things for Ryan Reynolds, but seeing all these movies lined up, I sure feel like there might be space in the superhero genre for something besides Cocky Handsome Tall White Guy. Like, at least Wolverine is short, and Batman is cripplingly depressed. Give me something to work with here.
"The Change-Up" (Aug. 5)
A body-switching comedy with Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman. I wish I didn't tune out the moment I hear the phrase "body-switching comedy." No, you know what, I don't wish that. Because there's a reason I tune out. The gold standard is the Jodie Foster version of "Freaky Friday," and anything less just sucks. Like "Green Lantern," this is another movie where Ryan Reynolds turns into someone more interesting via magic, in this case Jason Bateman. I bet he wishes he could turn into Sean Penn, and then punch himself in the face.
If you see only one: "X-Men: First Class," because January Jones as Emma Frost is bound to make for some awesome "Mad Men"-and-mutants crossover fan-fiction.
Movies from our corporate parent about which we have only nice things to say (synergy!)
"Prom" (in theaters)
A teen comedy about prom (promedy). The only thing that I ever think about my own prom is "I wish I'd made a mix CD for the limo." Did you know they didn't have high-school proms in England, but they've started doing them a lot more because of the influence of American pop culture where proms are constantly being portrayed as the ultimate event in a teenage girl's life? I didn't lose my virginity and hotel security poured our alcohol out in the sink. Prom sucks.
"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (May 20)
The fourth "Pirates Of The Caribbean" movie, involving Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow and Geoffrey Rush's Barbosa on a quest for the fountain of youth (and Penélope Cruz). Ian McShane villainizes as the dreaded pirate Blackbeard. Whatever keeps Johnny Depp's children in French day-schools, and Johnny Depp in fedoras, leather charm necklaces, and unflattering glasses that manage to look good on him anyway because of his enduring handsomeness, and then allows him to do weird art films where he plays the brain of a plant or something long into old age, is OK by me.
"Cars 2" (June 24)
The sequel to "Cars." I really liked "Cars"! So sue me. Sure, it lacks the high-minded genius of other Pixar films, but it's great! If I were 5, I would watch it every day. Owen Wilson as a car? That's already better than Owen Wilson as a Woody Allen. I don't get why people were creeped out by sentient automobiles in the original "Cars." Is it really that much creepier than a sentient talking animal/monster/toy? I mean I get why it's scary in a "Christine" kind of way, but did any kids see "Toy Story" and then just lie awake every night worrying their toys were going to come to life and eat them? It's a real fear.
"Winnie the Pooh" (July 15)
Disney attempts another traditional-animation comeback? Sure why not?
If you see only one:" Cars 2," because otherwise cars will come to life and eat you.
Remakes, reboots and miscellaneous do-overs
"Friends with Benefits" (July 22)
Justin Timberlake really wants us to know he thinks he is funny, but mostly we still really want him to get back in the studio and stop making movies that aren't "The Social Network," unless he is going to sing and dance. He should team up with "Step Up 3D" director Jon Chu and remake a bunch of Elvis movies where he sings and dances (in 3D). And human beings have still been having emotionally confusing casual sex in the months since ostensible plot clone "No Strings Attached" came out.
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (Aug. 5)
James Franco IS Mark Wahlberg IN "Say Hi To Your Mother For Me 3D.
Fright Night" (Aug. 19)
Now this remake (of Tom Holland's 1985 classic comedy-horror hybrid) doesn't make a ton of sense to me, because the original "Fright Night" is already a great movie that I can't really imagine being improved upon. But it's part of one of the narrative sub-themes of this summer -- "Colin Farrell branches out into comedy" (he dons a paunch and bald cap for "Horrible Bosses") -- and the other sub-theme ("a bunch of stuff got greenlit because of Twilight").
"Conan the Barbarian" (Aug. 19)
JASON MOMOA. That is what people will be talking about. I am already talking about him from "Game Of Thrones," and remaking "Conan The Barbarian" is a totally decent idea. Redoing campy/imperfect movies is smart. Nobody expects anything and that leaves a lot of room to surprise people with quality. B-Movies that know they are B-Movies are less offensive than B-Movies that act like A-Movies (i.e. all superhero movies). Because what's so bad about B-Movies? B implies cheap and A implies "we spent a lot of money on this" but spending a lot of money on something in no way guarantees that it will be good. That's entertainment!
If you see only one: "Conan The Barbarian," so that we can all encourage Hollywood to cast Jason Momoa as a superhero by next summer.
Venus nerd traps
"Hobo with A Shotgun" (May 6)
Now that's a movie title. This is an expanded version of one of the fake trailers from "Grindhouse," and the hobo is Rutger Hauer. This sounds like a bootleg version of "Death Wish," which is pretty bootleg (and awesome) itself.
"Priest 3D" (May 13)
Paul Bettany as the 3D priest in question. All I'm saying is when I hear "Priest 3D," my mind goes straight to the gutter, and I can't really tell you what's in the gutter because this is a family website.
"Super 8" (June 10)
Written and directed by J.J. Abrams and set in the '70s, this top-secret-but-probably-about-aliens movie has good buzz and that's exactly why I'm trying to avoid learning anything about it. I want the full "Blair Witch" experience going in. J.J. Abrams is like a hyper-evolved new kind of fanboy-turned-producer. He knows what nerds like, and he knew what I would like in 1998 ("Felicity"). Steven Spielberg produces, adding to the original-"Poltergeist" vibe.
"The Troll Hunter" (June 10)
I always like it when a regional hit goes mainstream (I still listen to D4L's "Laffy Taffy"), and a Norweigan movie called "The Troll Hunter," which is a mockumentary about students investigating mysterious bear killings, sounds like my kind of regional hit.
"Cowboys & Aliens" (July 29)
Jon Favreau directs Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford, and Daniel Craig in a sci-fi-comedy-western. I am wary of movies that sound like the trailer will play well at Comic Con, because while it is true that I love cowboys and aliens, putting them together does not automatically ensure double the enjoyment. So who knows, but Jon Favreau did turn "Iron Man" out.
If you see only one: "Hobo With A Shotgun" and "The Troll Hunter" = great double bill.
Small movies that must not have been good enough for Oscar season
"Passion Play" (May 6)
Megan Fox as an angel, Mickey Rourke as a down-on-his-luck trumpet player, and Bill Murray as a character named "Happy Shannon." This sounds so bad that it has to be interesting.
"The Beaver" (May 6)
Jodie Foster directs Mel Gibson as a man who talks to a hand puppet. No.
"Midnight in Paris" (May 20)
Woody Allen directs Owen Wilson as a nebbishy guy cheating on his wife (Rachel McAdams) with a mysterious Frenchwoman (Marillon Cotillard). There is something so comforting about these Woody Allen movies shot in Europe. Maybe it's because they are lit-paced and plotted exactly like European soft-core porn. And just like European soft-core porn, they're mostly about sensual infidelity and finding excuses for sex scenes. I ain't mad at cha, Woody. Certainly I'm not mad that he started casting Javier Bardem and Owen Wilson so the sensual infidelities make more sense.
"Tree of Life" (May 27)
Brad Pitt as Sean Penn's father (movie magic!) in a Terence Malick film about the 1950s and dinosaurs. Terence Malick sometimes seems like that boring "difficult" author you're embarrassed to admit you find boring because that implies you are not smart enough to handle "difficult" movies. But what if you just have attention deficit disorder and need more explosions and less father-son narratives with dinosaurs in them, and more dinosaurs in other movies? DINOSAURS!
"The Debt" (Aug. 31)
British spy thriller heavy on the flashbacks/flashforwards and starring Helen Mirren and Sam Worthington, hopefully as lovers.
If you see only one: I guess "Tree Of Life," because you know, DINOSAURS.
Hours of air-conditioned peace with your hopefully quiet kids
"Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil" (in theaters)
Little Red Riding Hood returns in this sequel to "Hoodwinked." I feel bad for these bootleg computer-animated film companies that have to compete with Pixar. But I also feel mad at them for not trying harder, because pandering cynically to children ("Oh, they'll see ANYTHING!") is evil and punishes the adults that take them to see movies. I'm not saying everything has to be "The Incredibles," but "one step up from video game cut-scenes from 10 years ago" is some really faint praise for a theatrical release. At least they hired Patrick Warburton.
"The Lion of Judah" (May 20)
Shockingly enough, this is a Christian computer-animated movie. I was really into "VeggieTales," and it took me a long time to notice it was trying to indoctrinate me with the teachings of Jesus. Kids' movies almost always have positive messages, but, boy, do you remember the ones that don't ("Old Yeller).
"Kung Fu Panda 2" (May 26)
Sequel to the super-successful "Kung Fu Panda." Jack Black is a really great movie star. He livens up award shows, and I'm always stoked when he shows up in a comedy ensemble. I want him to play Danny McBride's brother in a sequel to "Stepbrothers" called "Steppierbrothers." I didn't see "Kung Fu Panda," but I imagine I might see "Kung Fu Panda 2" on a plane someday, and it will be pretty good.
"Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer" (June 10)
Based on the popular series of children's books about "a third-grader with plenty of attitude." Sold. My third-grade teacher haaaaated me. I can't blame her, though. I was a third-grade Spicoli.
"Mr. Popper's Penguins" (June 17)
Jim Carrey in an adaptation of the much-loved children's book. OK, yeah, sounds good, and I always remember the part of the book where he freezes his basement to turn it into a better environment for penguins. This could be the best Jim Carrey children's film since "Earth Girls Are Easy."
"Monte Carlo" (July 1)
Teen-girl faves Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, and Katie Cassidy in a mistaken-identity-in-Paris comedy. It all depends on the script, but I'm obviously rooting for Leighton Meester's career because she's so good on "Gossip Girl."
"The Smurfs" (July 29)
CGI Smurfs with celebrity voices? No. Go to the corner where "The Beaver" is standing.
"Spy Kids 4" (Aug. 29)
Even Robert Rodriguez's kids are like "Come on, Dad, no more Spy Kids. Or at least just combine it with 'Sin City 2' and make it one overly CGI'd movie starring Jessica Alba that nobody wants to see. Jessica Alba deserves better roles than 'ultra-sexy stripper' or the Spy Kids' mom." The first Spy Kids is actually pretty great, so maybe this will be a return to form? Plus, Danny Trejo as Machete!
If you see only one: "Kung Fu Panda 2," unless you have easy access to serious hallucinogenic drugs, in which case you'll see "The Smurfs" (but not in a movie theater).
Horror movies that should have kept their original titles
"Final Destination 5" (Aug. 26)
The original title was "5nal Destination," which both looks good on a poster and loans itself easily to porn parody.
"Shark Night 3D" (Sept. 2)
Not as good as "Untitled 3D Shark Project," the original title, which had me opening my wallet automatically. The suspense was all in the "Untitled."
If you see only one: "Shark Night 3D." You can't beat sharks (in 3D).
Female-aimed movies that might not pass the Bechdel Test
Something Borrowed (May 6)
A chick flick (in the purest sense of the term) starring Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin, featuring this line in the trailer: "You're 30, you can't afford to be picky." OOH, GIRL, WHERE DO I START WITH YOU? Ginnifer Goodwin, I loved you on "Big Love." But "He's Just Not That Into You" made me sad. Like super, super sad. Because that movie did not like women at all, and you were the focal woman that it did not like! And it was so unlikable that it made me not like a lot of things, including movies, for a little while. There is something rotten in rom-coms, and movies like "Something Borrowed" are the crux of the problem. It's not Ginnifer Goodwin's fault, and it's not Kate Hudson's fault, either. But don't start a Bride War over who can be in more terrible even-the-very-premise-is-insulting-to-women rom-coms, because that is rom-com Vietnam.
The Art Of Getting By (June 17)
Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts in a coming-of-age high-school romance. Sounds like your standard Manic Pixie Dream Girl flick, with Emma Roberts as the bubbly free spirit with no problems of her own that changes a nerdy guy's life, but the bonus is Alicia Silverstone playing a teacher.
One Day (Aug. 8)
Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess in a romance about two lovers torn apart and reunited over time. I'm not saying Anne Hathaway is definitely going to take her top off, but there's always a chance.
If you see only one: "Shark Night 3D."
Ladies not playing uptight career women for once
"Daydream Nation" (May 6)
Good teen girl coming of age movies are hard to come by and this looks like it might be great. Kat Dennings is channeling "Reality Bites"-era Winona Ryder as a teenager struggling with her inner demons and bad reputation.
"Bridesmaids" (May 13)
So much is riding on "Bridesmaids," the Judd Apatow-produced all-female ensemble comedy starring and co-written by Kristen Wiig. I think it is going to deliver/help make up for the existence of "Something Borrowed." Test screenings of "Bridesmaids" have reportedly been awesome. The flawless cast rounds up some of the best and most underrated comedic actors in town (Wendi McLendon-Covey!) and it's directed by Paul Feig of "Freaks And Geeks." With god as my witness, there will be female "Caddyshacks" and "Animal Houses."
"Melancholia" (May 26th)
Kirsten Dunst gets married and a planet crashes into the earth. Lars Von Trier convinced her to do the Von Trier master cleanse, and I, for one, am super excited! It's the ultimate challenge for an actress, kind of like how Sasha Grey wanted to do her first movie ever with Rocco Siffredi. Dunst about 2 go H.A.M. (Hard As a "Melancholia").
"Bad Teacher" (June 24)
I have always liked Cameron Diaz, and I want this to be funny. Something has to help lift the fatwa on depicting sluts as heroes in movies (as explicitly detailed in the horrifying New Yorker article about Anna Faris). Diaz has definitely always seemed really chill. Casting her as a gold-digging substitute teacher is an awesome start, and so is casting Phyllis Smith as the Stevie Janowski.
"Our Idiot Brother" (Aug. 26)
Paul Rudd looks like he's auditioning for a "Big Lebowski" prequel. I am down with that, and I am down with this. Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Rashida Jones are all in this, too, and it's about time they got to be funny in a movie and not just have to play someone's dream girl (or in Banks's case, scary slut). They are talented comedic actresses with completely different styles, and they deserve their own plotlines/jokes, although they probably sold this movie with "Rashida and Zooey play a lesbian couple" (they do).
"Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" (Aug. 26)
Throwback-style haunted-house horror co-written by Guillermo Del Toro from first-time director Troy Nixey. I'm feeling the Guy Pearce comeback season. Katie Holmes is in this. Why are Tom Cruise's wives always so good in period horror movies?
If you see only one: "BRIDESMAIDS!" Because the terrible reign of bromances must end and make way for a duarchy with their sister-friend genre: the sismance.
Molly Lambert is a popular blogger who was most recently the managing editor of This Recording. She is a regular contributor to Grantland.com.