While this summer is shaping up to be one of the best in quite a while, May’s offerings offered a mixed bag overall. Outside of The Avengers, which is about as sure a hit as they come, and the comic offerings of The Dictator and Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, the rest you could take or leave. But June looks to be the month where the smaller studios and distributors get adventurous as they offer counterprogramming. June sees the second Snow White film of the year, Abraham Lincoln like you’ve never seen him before, Tyler Perry in drag in witness protection, and Ridley Scott’s return to the realm of science fiction.
The start of the month offers three distinctly different releases geared towards specific audiences. Battlefield America is the latest in the Step Up/Stomp the Yard dance craze films that are cheap and easy to market. Snow White and the Huntsman looks to build on the visibility of both its stars Kristen Stewart (the Twilight series) and Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers), but it looks to be a film stolen away by Charlize Theron’s performance as the evil queen. Universal has produced a series of memorable trailers that entice viewers with action, but one worries that in the hands of a first-time feature film director (Rupert Sanders, with a rich commercial background) and multiple tinkerers with the script (including The Blind Side’s John Lee Hancock and Drive’s Hossein Amini) that this could be a flash in the pan. Just when you thought it was safe to go skinny-dipping in the lake here comes Piranha 3DD. Aside from the catchy title and David Hasselhoff playing himself (fingers crossed that he’ll be running by the lake in slow motion), the movie looks to reward those who made the previous non-Roger Corman produced Piranha a cult hit.
Pick of the Week: Snow White and the Huntsman (Watch the Trailer)
A week removed from Twilight’s Bella in armor and brandishing a sword, her glistening paramour (Robert Pattinson) stars in Bel Ami, a film that chronicles a young man’s rise to power in Paris by his manipulation of the city’s most influential and wealthy women (Uma Thurman, Kirsten Scott Thomas). If you’re not much for Pattinson or period pieces, there’s also a pair of indie comedies looking to be found. Safety Not Guaranteed, which I was fortunate enough to see at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, was one of my favorites from the fest and has remained my favorite comedy of the year. With a strong ensemble, including Park and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza, New Girl’s Jake Johnson and Mark Duplass, and a story involving three magazine employees looking to interview a guy who placed a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel what’s not to like? Lola Versus sees Arthur’s Greta Gerwig get dumped by The Killing’s Joel Kinnaman three weeks before their wedding and deciding on a series of adventures to help her have one of those self-actualizing moments of what it means to be single woman at 30. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted sees the Central Park Zoo escapees still unable to find their way back home. Now they have Frances McDormand out to apprehend them all across Europe. Finally, there’s Ridley Scott’s Prometheus – the is it or isn’t it prequel to Alien. With an impressive viral marketing campaign (Michael Fassbender is this year’s Cabbage Patch Doll) and a strong cast, not to mention its production design, Scott’s return to science fiction could be the summer’s most prolific.
Pick of the Week: Prometheus (Watch the International Trailer)
Seeing that Prometheus could be a multiple week juggernaut, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures are hoping ‘80s nostalgia and Adam Sandler could take away viewers of Prometheus or offering something for those who don’t like science fiction. Rock of Ages, based on the Tony-winning musical, comes from Adam Shankman, who is very familiar with adapting Broadway hits into hit films (see Hairspray). The wild card is seeing Tom Cruise as rock musician Stacee Jaxx belting out classic ‘80s tunes like Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.” Those who have wanted to see the pairing of Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg will get your wish with That’s My Boy, which gives us a comedy of what would happen if a horny middle schooler impregnated his teacher only to see himself as a single parent raising a son. Now the son is fully-grown and the father needs help in a big way financially. So he reaches out to reconnect and hilarity ensues. Or not. Finally, there’s Your Sister’s Sister, the second comedy in many weeks featuring Mark Duplass. The guy is on a roll this year with the recent film Jeff, Who Lives at Home, and supporting roles in Lawrence Kasden’s Darling Companion and the forthcoming People Like Us. In this comedy/drama he shares a cabin with Emily Blunt and Rosmarie DeWitt – lucky bastard. Without a phone, Internet or a single luxury, these three characters deal with several emotions as their introspective feelings come out in various ways.
Pick of the Week: Your Sister’s Sister (Watch the Trailer)
For the fourth week of the month we have two releases in which its characters have very specific weapons that they utilize. Up first is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, based on the best-selling revisionist history novel about Honest Abe and the vampire that killed his mother! Brandishing an ax, he looks to get even. Pixar delivers its first animated film with a female as its protagonist in Brave. Skilled in archery, Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), defies an age-old custom – arranged marriage? – and unleashes chaos in the kingdom. Way to go Ms. Independent. Steve Carell is Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and his neighbor across the hall, Keira Knightley, is up for to the task. Another year, another Woody Allen comedy. To Rome with Love sees Allen back on screen for the first time since 2006’s Scoop. He is joined by an impressive ensemble that includes Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page.
Pick of the Week: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Watch the Trailer)
Finishing off the month is what can best be described as movie overload, with six new releases of varying degrees and styles. You have two Channing Tatum movies squaring off against each other. Well, maybe. He’s been absent from the marketing of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which leaves me to think he bites it early, thus leaving Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Bruce Willis to take over. While they may be packing heat, Tatum will be making women overheated in Magic Mike where he plays a male stripper. The role wasn’t much of a stretch for Tatum who was employed as a male stripper before making the step up to features. Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, two of the minds behind the recent Star Trek (yay!) and two of the three Transformers movies (boo!) take a crack at dramedy with People Like Us starring Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks. Looks too melodramatic – it’s about a man delivering part of his inheritance to the sister he’s never met for crying out loud – with a deep rooted secret, but it may be the same kind of summer schmaltz that made The Notebook a hit years ago. Tyler Perry does his Madea thing with Madea’s Witness Protection. Here we see Jim’s Dad (aka Eugene Levy) be relocated to Madea’s home after being made the linchpin of his company’s mob-backed Ponzi scheme. Hilarity ensues? Take This Waltz has Michelle Williams falling for the artist neighbor (Luke Kirby) who lives across the street. Did I mention she’s happily married to Seth Rogen? Apparently, Rogen tones down his usual comic schtick in Sarah Polley’s (Away From Her) latest film. Last we have Beasts of the Southern Wild, the festival favorite that played to great buzz at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Featuring mostly non-actors, the story involves a six-year-old girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) dealing with an ailing father. When environmental changes force her to leave her Delta-community home in search of her mother, it also unleashes prehistoric creatures called aurochs.
Pick of the Week: Beasts of the Southern Wild (Watch the Trailer)
Tags: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Beasts of the Southern Wild, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Magic Mike, Piranha 3DD, Prometheus, Rock Of Ages, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Snow White and the Huntsman, That's my Boy, To Rome With Love