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10 SUMMER MOVIES I WANT TO SEE [May. 17th, 2007|11:38 pm]




It's time again for summer movies and of course summer movie hype. This year I'm surprised at how cold the crop of expected megahits leaves me. After examining the lineup, I came up with 10 I think will be worth paying for. Here's my list (in chronological order) and the reasons why I actually want to check them out.

PUSS IN BOOTS ADVENTURES (Friday): Also known by it's alternative title, Shrek the Third. Because we still haven't seen that direct to video Puss in Boots spinoff, this is our chance to get a fix of the most electrifying character in the Shrekiverse. Anything the big green guy or the talking donkey does is a bonus.

PIRATES OF THE CARRIBBEAN (May 25): Sure, the second installment had that trying-too-hard vibe, and it left us hanging with a so-called ending as abrupt as the "Who unplugged the record player" finish on Abbey Road's "I Want You." But it didn't suck, and I want to see how it all turns out.

Recently I sat through several big-time 2007 Summer O Fun trailers, and the only one that made me legitimately interested in the flick it was pimping, the only one that worked on its own merits without an emotional attachment to the franchise, was the one for Pirates 3. It offered fun, thrills, excitement--and it didn't even bother showing Keith Richards! I expect this will deliver where its predecessor didn't and end the trilogy on a high note.

MR. BROOKS (June 1): What can I say? I have an affection for that name. And who doesn't have an affection for Kevin Costner and William Hurt? OK, just about everyone in Hollywood. But Costner has been so willing to Act lately and so proud of this particular movie that I can't help but root for the guy. Meanwhile, Bill Hurt has been quietly (well, nothing quiet about him in History of Violence) turning in standout performances in everything he does lately, entertaining the hell out of me each time out.

That's two good reasons to support this one, and I haven't even mentioned the premise: Costner is a hitman who talks to his imaginary friend, played by Hurt.

LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD (June 27): I should know better. The fourth of anything is never totally successful. Studies even show that 83% of parents with 4 kids like their youngest the least. But enough time has passed since the third installment of this golden oldie that the franchise has almost come back around to feel fresh again. And unlike some other past-their-prime movie series, I WANT this one to be good. I just like the character.

Will the movie reward my goodwill? Sources tell me (translation: I read in Entertainment Weekly) that Bruce Willis himself picked Len Wiseman to direct after watching Underworld: Evolution. I didn't see Underworld: Evolution, but that was because the first one kind of stunk. What did Willis see that was of any value except Kate Beckinsale in leather? I really hope he's not planning on donning all black skintight duds and then having Wiseman's baby, because if that's what's in store June 27, I choose to Die Hard.

RATATOUILLE (June 29): A blockbuster animated feature starring...Patton Oswalt? As a rat? Well, no one can accuse Pixar of pandering. The trailer I've seen doesn't even look impressive. But, ah, back up to where I said "Pixar," and there you have the reason I expect an excellent movie. Patton Oswalt or no, Pixar movies are reliably funny and well-crafted, and when we start having to worry about them, then we're in real trouble as far as summer movies go.

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (July 13): I still haven't read any of the novels, but I have seen all the movies, and they are reliably solid entertainment. I know the wife is into this one, I certainly don't mind it, so--baM--one half of date night coming up. The only decision is steak or seafood after the movie.

HAIRSPRAY (July 20): I really don't know if I'll be able to take Travolta in drag, but if any movie this summer fails in spectacularly amusing fashion, it'll be Hairspray. Gigli wasn't amusingly terrible enough to earn its status as the "go-to" flick for snarky box office bomb references. This looks to me like a no-lose situation: Either it's fun, feel-good entertainment, or it's the Battlefield Earth of musicals.

THE SIMPSONS MOVIE (July 27) : This can't possibly be as good as I want it to be, and I think I'm almost to the point where I've been NOT watching the show as long as I watched it. Still, it's the Simpsons, man, and I will be there.

Besides, this offers the single coolest movie standee in the history of motion picture exhibition: The giant lobby display of the family on the couch. One of my local theaters has a sign next to theirs urging patrons to sit next to Homer and have their picture taken. I'm waiting to find a movie my wife and I can go to so she can take a snapshot for me. Because, you know, it would just be sad for a grown man to ask an usher to do that.

BOURNE ULTIMATUM (August 3): I'm sick of seeing the films in this series referred to as some variation of "the thinking man's action movie," and I almost wish they'd just go way over the top, Michael Bay style, and make a "dumb man's action movie" to see how the critics would respond. It's like it's OK to enjoy these Bourne films, and everyone is assuming the third one will also be acceptable. Truth is, I enjoy 'em, too. The second one wasn't perfect, and I question the need for another sequel, but there are worse ideas being brought to the big screen.

TALK TO ME (limited release beginning in July): We all need a solid, entertaining, sort of middlebrow movie that is only a Summer Movie because it happens to appear in the summer. It lets us feel like cultured filmgoers a cut above the popcorn and candy crowd. It has to be somewhat under the radar so that it's not endlessly hyped from January on, but not too obscure. After all, we have to be able to recommend it to our friends without forcing them to go to an arthouse cinema in Manhattan to track it down. They have to actually see it so they can gush about, well, not how brilliant the movie is, but how brilliant we are for telling them about it.

I have selected Talk to Me as this year's leading candidate. It's based in the sixties and based on a true story. Don Cheadle plays Petey Williams, a Washington D.C. ex-con turned DJ who shakes up the airwaves. I saw the trailer a few months ago and was suitably impressed. Maybe this can be "that" movie this summer.