Summer Movie Preview: The 50 Must-See* Flicks of the Season

by 7 years ago

There is literally a movie opening every weekend between now and the end of August for which you could easily talk yourself into plunking down 12 bucks, or $16 for the juiced-up 3D editions. Hollywood is hoping you do. The first quarter of 2012 has already seen a 43% increase in box office receipts over 2011 (thank you “Hunger Games”), and with the summer roster so chock full of “event”-status movies, don't be surprised if the entertainment media starts freaking out over records being broken every single weekend. This will no doubt be the biggest summer at the movies of all time.

So what to see? I've counted up more than 30 movies that are gunning hard for every Bro's attention and another 20 or so for the more adventurous types — or those who let their girlfriends drag them to the occasional rom-com in exchange for something extra special that night in the sack. A few trends I've noticed by compiling this guide:

  • The world sure needs a lot of saving. Thankfully we've got Batman, Spider-Man, Men in Black, Avengers, G.I. Joes, Expendables, Navy sailors, vampire-hunting 19th-century presidents, and neighborhood watch guys to get us out of a jam.
  • “Hard-R” comedies are back, motherf*cker. A deadbeat dad, a talking teddy bear, a dictator, and campaign rivals Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis will be cursing to high heaven all summer long.
  • Hot chicks are kicking ass. Expect to see a lot of Brooklyn Decker, Alice Eve, Chloe Moretz, Blake Lively, Charlize Theron, Adrianne Palicki, Rihanna, Emma Stone, and fine, even sad-old Kristen Stewart doin' work in tight-fitting costumes.
  • Big-time directors aren't holding their movies until Oscar season. Oliver Stone, Wes Anderson, Woody Allen, Steven Soderbergh, Ridley Scott, and Tim Burton all have new offerings in the coming months.

This guide is intended as a preview of the summer's offerings — in other words, I haven't seen any of these movies and so am just providing educated guesses as to their Bro-worthiness — and only those that have official release dates announced. The movies are presented in chronological order. Let us know what you're looking forward to seeing in the comments.

April (This Weekend)

“The Five-Year Engagement” (opens April 27)
After “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” I'll see anything Jason Segel co-writes and stars in.

“The Raven” (April 27)
John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe has potential, though reviews haven't been that kind. I'm more interested in Alice Eve, who played the hot girl in “She's Out of My League” and Vince's wife-to-be in the final season of “Entourage.”

“Safe” (April 27)
Jason Statham kicking ass, per usual.

“Bernie” (limited, April 27)
Jack Black plays a bizarro mortician who murders Shirley MacClain in this very black comedy. The real draw for me is Bro king Matthew McConaughey in full-fledge Texan wacko mode.

Up next in May, superheroes, a dictator, and a new Wes Anderson film…{pagebreak}May

“The Avengers” (May 4)
The superhero blockbuster to end all superhero blockbusters. Until the sequel in 2014.

“Dark Shadows” (May 11)
Never heard of the original TV show that inspired this movie about an 18th-century vampire who wakes up in the 1970s? Neither have I. But Tim Burton directing Johnny Depp is a combo that always produces interesting results. And I'm at a point where I'll see anything with Chloe Moretz.

“Battleship” (May 18)
I don't know how a board game about warring naval ships turned into an aliens-attack-Earth movie, but at least director Peter Berg was smart enough to cast Brooklyn Decker and Rihanna, plus Riggins and Landry from “Friday Night Lights,” in it. A popcorn flick if there ever was one.

“The Dictator” (May 18)
The latest trailers and TV commercials for Sacha Baron Cohen's new film have revealed that he spends most of the movie not as a ruthless dictator but rather as an anonymous, beardless guy working at a convenience store in New York City. Anna Faris co-stars. The video above is a sneak peek at the opening minutes of the movie.

“Men in Black III” (May 25)
Oh, Will Smith, did we really need another one of these? Well, if it means Josh Brolin gets to play a younger Tommy Lee Jones, we'll consider it. Alice Eve is also on the bill.

“Moonrise Kingdom” (May 25)
If you're a “Royal Tenenbaums,” “Rushmore,” or “Bottle Rocket” fan, you'll see any movie that Wes Anderson writes and directs. Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, and Bill Murray star in the film, but it's actually about a couple kids at sleep-away camp.

“Chernobyl Diaries” (May 25)
The first major horror flick of the summer — something makes us think a few locals didn't do so well when the infamous 1986 nuclear meltdown took place. By the same guy who did “Paranormal Activity.”

Up next in June, Adam and Andy, G.I. Joes, and Abe goes vampire hunting…{pagebreak}June

“Snow White and the Huntsman” (June 1)
This isn't the old Disney fairytale, or even the more lighthearted Julia Roberts-as-the-Evil Queen version that came out earlier this month. The dwarves have turned into “Huntsman,” the trailer promises a ton of action, and the smoking-hot Charlize Theron is making good use of that mirror. We'll overlook the fact that it's Kristen Stewart eating the apple.

“Piranha 3DD” (June 1)
They called the movie “3DD” — whatever you do, don't be a cheapskate and not spring for the glasses. By the way, David Hasslehoff is in this, alongside babes Danielle Panabaker and Katrina Bowden. Also, it's set at a water park. How exactly do piranhas get in a water park? Never mind.

“Prometheus” (June 8)
“Alien,” “Blade Runner,” “Gladiator,” “American Gangster”: when Ridley Scott makes a new movie, you should go see it. Especially if it's a sci-fi flick, and one of its co-writers worked on “Lost.” Starring Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, and Guy Pearce.

“Rock of Ages” (June 15)
A Broadway musical adaptation probably isn't on the top of your must-see list, but what if I told you all the music was by 1980s metal bands like Journey, Poison, Twisted Sister, and Def Leopard, the latter sung by none other than Tom Cruise as the long-haired rocker Stacee Jaxx? Trust me, this is a must-see. Co-starring Julianne Hough, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Malin Akerman.

“That's My Boy” (June 15)
After the abomination that was “Jack & Jill,” Adam Sandler needs a really funny, really good movie to right the ship, and it looks like he's pushing the limits of the “R” rating as far as he can in this father-son comedy co-starring Andy Samberg. Should be one of the raunchiest and funniest movies of the summer. [Warning: Red-Band Trailer is above.]

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” (June 22)
I know, it sounds weird, but it's a best-selling novel, and the book's fans swear by it. We'll wait till we read reviews before committing. Starring Benjamin Walker and Rufus Sewell.

“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” (June 29)
The ninjas have a sword fight on the side of a mountain: After you saw that in the Super Bowl teaser, did you need to see anything more? Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis, Adrianne Palicki, and Ray Park star.

Up next in July, Spider-Man and Batman do battle…{pagebreak}July

“The Amazing Spider-Man” (July 3)
Did they really need to make another Spider-Man movie? At least they chose the sublime Emma Stone as Mary Jane (though why the bangs, Emma?). Andrew Garfield (“Social Network”) is Spidey.

“Savages” (July 6)
Two pot growers (Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch) not only share a marijuana farm but also a girlfriend, played by Blake Lively. So what happens when a Mexican drug cartel run by Benicio Del Toro kidnaps her? They go after her. Directed by Oliver Stone.

“Ted” (July 13)
In his first movie, Seth MacFarlane lends his voice to Mark Wahlberg's best friend: a talking, walking teddy bear. If it has any of the irreverent humor of “Family Guy,” this one will be a can't-miss. Mila Kunis plays Wahlberg's girlfriend who wants Ted to move out.

“The Dark Knight Rises” (July 20)
No doubt the most anticipated film of the summer. I'm curious to see if it's good enough to garner a Best Picture nomination come awards season — after all, the rules for the top category at the Oscars were basically re-written when the original “Dark Knight” got snubbed. Christian Bale, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anne Hathaway star.

“Neighborhood Watch” (July 27)
Not exactly the name you want on your movie following the Trayvon Martin controversy, especially considering this is actually a sci-fi movie about Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayode fending off an alien attack in the 'burbs. Still, has potential with that cast.

Up next in August, a new Bourne, Ferrell and Galifianakis hit the trail, and Sly, Arnie, and friends are back…{pagebreak}August

“The Bourne Legacy” (August 3)
Really curious to see how Jeremy Renner steps into the lead of the Bourne series — Hollywood keeps pegging him as the next big action star, and “Hurt Locker” and the latest “Mission Impossible” promise big things. Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton co-star.

“Total Recall” (August 3)
I really don't know why we needed a remake of “Total Recall,” but with Colin Farrell, Bryan Cranston, and Kate Beckinsale starring, we'll give it a look.

“The Campaign” (August 10)
There's no trailer available yet (the above video is just an interview) but this comedy starring Will Ferrell as an incumbent Congressman running for another term against challenger Zach Galifianakis should be a hilarious send-up of modern American politics — and just what we need as the 2012 campaign drags into late summer.

“The Expendables 2” (August 17)
Sure, why not. Here's your cast of aging bad-asses: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Jean Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Premium Rush” (August 24)
Someone was bound to make a movie about a Manhattan bike messenger, and who better to play the part than skinny jean–wearing Joseph Gordon-Levitt? We hope he had a comfortable bike seat during filming.


“The Apparition” and “Hit and Run” (August 24)
No trailers for either of these yet. “The Apparition” is another horror movie before school starts up again, this one starring Ashley Greene. “Hit and Run” stars Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, and Bradley Cooper.

“Lawless” (August 31)
Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, and Gary Oldman play bootleggers in this period flick. Guy Pearce co-stars.

So those are the flicks that should definitely be on your radar for this summer. On the last page, check out 19 more that are at least worth your consideration…{pagebreak}

to rome with love

The Rest of the Summer Slate

“The Giant Mechanical Man” (limited, April 27)
An off-beat romantic comedy starring Jenna Fischer, Chris Messina, and Malin Akerman.

“The Pirates! Band of Misfits” (April 27)
The latest from Aardman, the brilliant Brits who do all the great claymation movies like “Wallace and Grommit.”

“Hick” (limited May 11)
I told you: I'll see anything with Chloe Moretz. She plays a gun-toting teen who goes to Vegas. Blake Lively, Rory Culkin, and Eddie Redmayne co-star.

“God Bless America” (limited, May 11)
Bobcat Goldthwait (“Police Academy,” hello?) directs. What more do you need to know?

“What to Expect When You're Expecting” (May 18)
I know, I know, but at least Cameron Diaz and Brooklyn Decker co-star, and the “guys' half” of the movie looks kind of funny. OK, fine, fight this one kicking and screaming.

“Hysteria” (May 18)
Maggie Gyllenhaal stars in a period piece about the man who invented the first vibrator. So it has that going for it.

“Safety Not Guaranteed” (limited, June 8)
An indie film about someone who places a classified ad claiming he has invented a time machine. Starring Aubrey Plaza from “Parks & Rec.”

“The Woman in the Fifth” (June 15)
A thriller set in Paris, starring Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott Thomas.

“Your Sister's Sister” (limited, June 15)
Mark Duplass is an indie actor-filmmaker who keeps getting bigger and bigger roles, including this one as one part of a love triangle with sisters Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt.

“Brave” (June 22)
I'll see any movie that Pixar makes, and this one looks like a strong bounce back after “Cars 2.”

“To Rome With Love” (limited, June 22)
Woody Allen hops the Eurail down to Italy and brings his “Vicki Cristina Barcelona” muse, Penelope Cruz, with him in this follow up to “Midnight in Paris.”

“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” (June 22)
The title pretty much says it all. I like the combination of Steve Carell and Keira Knightley in this one.

“Magic Mike” (June 29)
Channing Tatum as a male stripper, based on his real-life, pre-acting job. Olivia Munn co-stars. Steven Soderbergh directs.

“Madea's Witness Protection” (June 29)
The latest from Tyler Perry, with Eugene Levy and Denise Richards.

“People Like Us” (limited, June 29)
Chris Pine (“Star Trek”) and Elizabeth Banks as a brother and sister who have never met, but are reunited by their father's death. Michelle Pfeiffer and Olivia Wilde co-star.

“Take This Waltz” (limited, June 29)
Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen are a married couple with a new neighbor who Williams might, probably, definitely have a thing for. Sarah Silverman co-stars.

“Ruby Sparks” (limited, July 25)
Clever if not entirely original concept: Paul Dano plays an aspiring writer who creates a character named Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan), who one day shows up at his door step.

“Hope Springs” (August 10)
Steve Carell plays the marriage therapist for Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones.

“The Odd Life of Timothy Green” (August 15)
When Jennifer Garner stars, there are worst movies to be dragged to with your girlfriend.

Finally, earlier this week, Brandon told us about “High School,” a movie about a looming drug test that was supposed to be released back in 2010, but that will finally hit theaters this summer. Adrien Brody plays “Psycho Ed,” a drug dealer. No official release date yet.

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