A time to laugh, a time to cry
Earlier this week, we examined the biggest action, sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films coming this summer. Below, we take a look at this summer's remaining films: comedies, dramas, animation, documentaries, and more.
The list includes two Sundance winners, a highly-anticipated comic book adaptation, a pair of major animated sequels that could challenge for the summer's box office crown, edgy indie fare, and even a new drama from one of the worst filmmakers of the past decade not named Uwe Boll. And, for some reason, Sex and the City 2.
After you read up on these upcoming releases, don't forget to give us your Metascore predictions for the major summer films.
A physical therapist (Queen Latifah) falls in love with one of her patients, an NBA star (rapper Common).
Why it could work: The rom-com includes appearances from real-life pros like Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade.
Reasons to worry: All of director Sanaa Hamri's previous experience is in music videos and television. Screenwriter Michael Elliot has another basketball film to his name, and it wasn't very good.
Based on the Saturday Night Live shorts, this R-rated action-comedy follows special agent MacGruber and his elite team of experts as they attempt to track down a stolen nuclear warhead.
Why it could work: Ryan Phillippe and Val Kilmer join SNL's Will Forte and Kristen Wiig in the cast. The film goes all out in its action sequences, expanding beyond its original MacGyver parody to lampoon classic action movies as well.
Reasons to worry: There hasn't been a good movie based on an SNL sketch in 30 years. The MacGruber character already seems to have played itself out on television.
Sex and the City 2
In this sequel to the TV-series adaptation Sex and the City 53, Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda vacation in Abu Dhabi. Oh, and Aidan is there too.
Why it could work: All notable cast members return. The first film was an unexpected success, grossing over $150 million, and opening day screenings of this sequel have already sold out in multiple cities.
Reasons to worry: Was there really a need to continue exploring the lives of these characters? The plot seems to consist of nothing more than our fab foursome going on a trip to a foreign country.
The latest inventive, dark comedy from French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet centers on a man who seeks revenge against a weapons manufacturer for two life-changing incidents caused by their products. (It's a lot more playful than that description suggests.)
Why it could work: Jeunet's films (which include Delicatessen 66, The City of Lost Children 73, and Amelie 69) are pretty much unlike anything else on the big screen. The trailer looks promising, early reviews are strong, and the film generated great buzz at South by Southwest.
Reasons to worry: Jeunet's work can sometimes overdose on whimsy.
Get Him to the Greek
In this semi-sequel to Forgetting Sarah Marshall 67, a record-label intern (Jonah Hill, playing a completely different character than he did in the first film) is charged with escorting struggling, drugged-out rocker Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) to a concert in Los Angeles.
Why it could work: The Judd Apatow-produced Sarah Marshall was a delight, and Brand was memorable in a relatively small role (as Snow) in that film. There's a lot of good buzz about Greek's screenplay. The film features music written by Jarvis Cocker (Pulp) and Carl Barat (The Libertines), and cameos by several real-life pop stars.
Reasons to worry: There's no Jason Segel this time around -- either on camera or on the page. We're not certain if an expanded role for Russell Brand is a good idea or a bad one.
Five now-adult friends -- Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, Rob Schneider, and David Spade -- reunite for a Fourth of July weekend to mourn the passing of their high school basketball coach and re-live their childhoods.
Why it could work: As if all the big names at the top of the cast weren't enough, Salma Hayek, Norm MacDonald, and Steve Buscemi also turn up. Sandler himself co-wrote the script.
Reasons to worry: The trailer doesn't exactly inspire confidence that we're looking at an intelligent, original (or even particularly funny) comedy. Director Dennis Dugan's latest films -- including plenty of collaborations with Sandler (I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry 37, You Don't Mess with the Zohan 54) -- have been relatively weak.
The Kids Are All Right
The lives of a bohemian Los Angeles lesbian couple are upended by the sudden appearance of the once-anonymous sperm donor for their two now teenaged kids.
Why it could work: Kids was perhaps the most talked about film at this year's Sundance festival, and earned the highest payday of any title acquired there. The film looks like it could be a rarity: both intelligent and funny. The strong cast is headed by Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, and Mia Wasikowska. Director Lisa Cholodenko's previous movies include Laurel Canyon 61 and High Art 73.
Reasons to worry: Reviews for the Sundance screening were generally positive, but not stellar.
A recently divorced man meets the woman of his dreams, but he must compete with her grown son for attention.
Why it could work: The top-notch cast includes John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei and Catherine Keener. Cyrus was written and directed by the Duplass Brothers, who earned acclaim for indie films like The Puffy Chair 73 and Baghead 62. It promises to be far more unconventional and original than other summer comedies, and it looks like it could be a chance for Hill to expand his range a bit.
Reasons to worry: The dialogue was partially improvised (although with Reilly, that might be a big positive). Some critics who saw the film at Sundance were unappreciative.
Dinner for Schmucks
A man (Paul Rudd) seeking to advance his career agrees to attend his boss' unusual dinner party, where participants are instructed to bring along the most idiotic guests they can find. Along the way, he forms an unlikely friendship with his selected guest (Steve Carell).
Why it could work: The cast is strong all around; you'll also find the likes of Zach Galifianakis, Ron Livingston, and Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement in supporting roles.
Reasons to worry: It's based on a well-liked French comedy (1998's The Dinner Game 73), so it could be hard for it to live up to the original -- especially if it is tamed for American audiences, as it appears to be. Jay Roach hasn't directed a movie since 2004's Meet the Fockers 41. Carell and Rudd seem to be playing the same characters they always play.
The Other Guys
A pair of desk-bound NYPD cops seize upon a rare opportunity to get out in the field to work a major case in this buddy comedy.
Why it could work: It features one of the most interesting casts of any summer movie: stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are joined by Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes, Anne Heche, Michael Keaton, Rob Riggle, and Steve Coogan. Director Adam McKay has worked successfully with Ferrell in the past on films like Anchorman 63 and Talladega Nights 66.
Reasons to worry: Ferrell's last few movies haven't scored with moviegoers or critics. The movie will really have to deliver in the comedy department to overcome the formulaic nature of buddy cop films.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Based on Bryan Lee O'Malley's award-winning comic book series, the stylized action-romantic-comedy Scott Pilgrim follows a slacker/garage band bassist (Michael Cera) who has met the girl of his dreams but must first defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends, who are coming to kill him.
Why it could work: Comic book story + pop culture references + videogame-style action + indie rock soundtrack = one of the Internet's most anticipated summer films. The choice of director seems perfect: Edgar Wright, who also helmed the much-loved Hot Fuzz 81 and Shaun of the Dead 76.
Reasons to worry: Cera's last indie rock romantic comedy wasn't so hot. Expectations are awfully high among the film's target viewers. And will this play to a broader audience?
After a night of drinking, a man (Jason Bateman), upset that his best friend (Jennifer Aniston) has decided to be artificially inseminated by another man, secretly swaps his sperm with the donor's. She gets pregnant, time passes, and he must somehow confess his secret love for his best friend and his secret fatherhood.
Why it could work: It certainly can't be any worse than 2010's other artificial insemination movie. Jeff Goldblum co-stars. The film is based on a short story by Jeffrey Eugenides (The Virgin Suicides), and the original screenplay received some buzz before it was picked up. The movie was originally titled The Baster, so it could have been worse.
Reasons to worry: The film's release date has been bumped a few times. The story seems a bit contrived.
Going the Distance
This romantic comedy stars Drew Barrymore and Justin Long as a couple trying to survive a long-distance relationship.
Why it could work: This R-rated film is a bit raunchier than your typical rom-com. The casting of real-life on-again, off-again couple Barrymore and Long adds intrigue.
Reasons to worry: The film was originally scheduled for a fall release; being shifted into the late-August dumping ground is generally not a good sign. Director Nanette Burstein (The Kid Stays in the Picture 75) has only worked in nonfiction film prior to this feature, although that could be a good thing -- she could bring something fresh to a stale genre.
Mother and Child
This drama tells three different (but overlapping) stories of adoption, focusing on a trio of women: one who gave her daughter up 35 years ago after becoming pregnant at 14, another who herself was adopted, and a would-be mom eager to adopt a baby.
Why it could work: The cast includes Naomi Watts, Annette Bening, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson. For director Rodrigo Garcia (best known for his work in television, including HBO's In Treatment), it's a return to his comfort zone of smaller-scale ensemble drama with multiple storylines, after a disappointing detour into more conventional moviemaking (2008's Passengers 40).
Reasons to worry: A little film called Iron Man 2 opens on the same day.
Letters to Juliet
Amanda Seyfried (Big Love, Mamma Mia! 51) visits Verona, Italy, where she must choose between two men (Gael Garcia Bernal and Chris Egan) and help an older woman (Vanessa Redgrave) reconnect with a long-lost love. It's based on the book by Lise Friedman and Ceil Friedman.
Why it could work: Who doesn't like Italy?
A successful but womanizing car dealer watches his personal and business life deteriorate thanks to a series of poor decisions and indiscretions.
Why it could work: The film stars Michael Douglas, Susan Sarandon, Mary-Louise Parker, Danny DeVito, and Jesse Eisenberg, and blends a bleak character study with a few comedic elements. A screening at last year's Toronto film festival generated mostly positive comments.
Reasons to worry: Will audiences warm to such a flawed character and generally depressing story?
Set way back in the late 1990s, this coming-of-age drama starring Jesse Eisenberg is based on true accounts of Hasidic Jews who were operating as drug smugglers in New York.
Why it could work: The exact premise is something we haven't seen before.
Reasons to worry: Critical reception after a Sundance screening was middling at best; the film was mostly dismissed as formulaic.
This bleak drama is set in the woods of Missouri's Ozark Mountains, where a teenager searches for her criminal father after he abandons her and her two siblings.
Why it could work: Winter's Bone won the Grand Jury Prize for top American film at this year's Sundance festival, and was widely praised by critics for its acting (especially young star Jennifer Lawrence) and authenticity.
Reasons to worry: The film may be too slow and too dark for some audiences.
The Killer Inside Me
This crime noir centers on a small-town Texas sheriff (Casey Affleck) who goes on a brutal killing spree.
Why it could work: It's based on the novel of the same name by pulp fiction writer Jim Thompson (which was filmed once before, in 1976), and directed by Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People 85, Tristram Shandy 8, 9 Songs 43), who never makes the same film twice and is typically interesting even when he isn't fully successful. Jessica Alba also stars.
Reasons to worry: Easily one of the most controversial films screened at Sundance this year, Killer is extraordinarily violent, with much of that violence directed at women. Critical reception to that screening was mixed.
July 2 (Limited)
This soapy drama is based on Nick McDonell's novel about a group of wealthy Manhattan teens and their various vices. Gossip Girl's Chace Crawford and rapper 50 Cent play drug dealers.
Why it could work: It could be so bad that it's funny.
Reasons to worry: It was possibly the most reviled film to screen at Sundance in January. "Legendary" director Joel Schumacher (to quote the press release) hasn't made a decent film since 1987's The Lost Boys 63, and it's not for a lack of trying.
Life During Wartime
Todd Solondz's sequel to his 1998 dark comedy Happiness 81 revisits the same characters ten years later, but -- confusingly -- features an entirely different cast.
Why it could work: The somewhat surprising cast features Ally Sheedy, Paul Reubens, Ciarán Hinds, and Allison Janney. A film from the always-challenging Solondz is a rare occurrence, and is usually worth seeking out.
Reasons to worry: Reviews from festival screenings of the talk-heavy film have been mixed. Solondz hasn't made a well-reviewed film in a dozen years, and his films tend to express anything but happiness.
Set in rural 1930s Tennessee, this quirky dramedy stars Robert Duvall as a man who decides to throw himself a funeral. (Yes, while he's still alive.)
Why it could work: Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek also star, and Duvall's performance is already drawing raves. The film was a minor hit at the Toronto film festival, and also drew some positive notices at SXSW. It's the debut feature for Aaron Schneider, but the director is already an Oscar winner (for best short film, in 2003).
Reasons to worry: According to some reviewers, the film might be a little too overly charming, and a little too modest in scope.
Based on a true story, Middle Men chronicles the outrageous rise and fall of a Texas family man and entrepreneur (Luke Wilson) who made a fortune in the 1990s in the Internet porn industry.
Why it could work: The cast also includes Giovanni Ribisi, Gabriel Macht, and James Caan. The film often takes a humorous approach to its subject matter, and an early review is mostly positive.
Reasons to worry: The film was directed and co-written by George Gallo, whose sole good credit after 25 years in the film world is the screenplay for Midnight Run 78. The subject matter may be a turn-off for some.
Eat Pray Love
This drama is based on Elizabeth Gilbert's Oprah-endorsed, best-selling memoir about her globetrotting search for meaning in the year following her divorce.
Why it could work: The film stars Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, Billy Crudup, and James Franco (best known as Franco on General Hospital). Director Ryan Murphy is riding a hot hand; he's also the creator of Fox's freshman hit Glee (as well as the long-running Nip/Tuck).
Reasons to worry: While the source material had its champions, the book also had a number of detractors, who disliked its faux-spiritualism and narcissism. Murphy's previous feature film experience is limited to the mediocre Running with Scissors 52, another memoir adaptation.
Animation and Family/Kids
Shrek Forever After
The alleged final installment in the popular animated fairy tale series finds a complacent Shrek signing a magical contract to spend one last day as an ordinary scary ogre, only to find out that he was tricked into an alternate universe where he was never born. (Yup, it sounds like an episode of Lost.)
Why it could work: Key vocal cast members Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and Antonio Banderas return. The first three Shrek films collected a total of over $1 billion dollars in U.S. theaters alone, and a 3-D release for the fourth film will only add to its sure-to-be-massive box office take.
Blending live action and computer animation, this family comedy follows the Winslow family and their dog as they move from Kansas to California.
Why it could work: Luke Wilson provides the dog's voice. The film is based on Brad Anderson's comic strip of the same name, which someone must find funny: it's been running since 1954.
Reasons to worry: Here's the list of good movies based on comic strips: . (We exaggerate, but only slightly; and Marmaduke is a notoriously bad comic strip.) Director Tom Dey has given the world gems like Showtime 32 and Failure to Launch 47.
Toy Story 3
Why it could work: Both prior films were massive commercial and critical hits. The entire original vocal cast, including Tom Hanks and Tim Allen (though not the late Jim Varney), returns. The film was written by Michael Arndt, who also penned the surprise hit Little Miss Sunshine 80.
Reasons to worry: The film has a lot to live up to, both in terms of its two predecessors and Pixar's spotless record.
A 3-D, computer-animated comedy from Universal's new animation brand Illumination Entertainment, Despicable Me follows the evil Gru (Steve Carell) in his attempt to steal the moon and become the world's top-ranked supervillain.
Why it could work: The vocal cast also includes Will Arnett, Jason Segel, and Kristen Wiig. The visuals released so far look impressive, and the premise has potential.
Reasons to worry: Illumination Entertainment is still unproven, and when these types of films are made by production companies not named Pixar, critics tend to be less enthusiastic. Details about the plot have been slow to come out.
Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang
Emma Thompson returns as a magical nanny who assists a harried mother of three on a British farm during WWII in this sequel to 2005's Nanny McPhee 59.
Why it could work: The cast also includes Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ralph Fiennes, Rhys Ifans, and Maggie Smith. Reviews from its UK release last month were extremely positive.
Reasons to worry: The film is called Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang.
Other summer releases
Not every summer movie is a popcorn flick. The season's large crop of nonfiction films is highlighted by author Sebastian Junger's Restrepo, the Grand Jury Prize winner at this year's Sundance festival for its unflinching look at the ongoing war in Afghanistan, told from the point of view of American soldiers. Other documentaries include the following:
|Babies||Infants around the world||May 7|
|Casino Jack and the United States of Money||Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff||May 7|
|The Oath||Two al Qaeda members working for Osama bin Laden||May 7|
|Best Worst Movie||The making of, and unlikely following for, Troll 2||May 14|
|Picasso & Braque Go to the Movies||The relationship between art and film||May 28|
|Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work||Comedian Joan Rivers||June 11|
|South of the Border||Latin American politics (directed by Oliver Stone)||June 25|
|Restrepo||American troops in Afghanistan||July 2|
|Countdown to Zero||Nuclear war||July 9|
|Great Directors||10 film directors, from Bertolucci to Lynch to Frears||July 9|
|Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel||Playboy founder Hugh Hefner||July 23|
|Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child||Late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat||July 23|
|The Wildest Dream||Climbing Mount Everest||August 6|
|The Tillman Story||Late NFL star-turned-war-hero Pat Tillman||August 20|
We've already covered the major action and genre releases in Part 1 of our summer preview. Below, we list the remaining films -- generally, smaller releases -- not covered elsewhere.
|Happiness Runs||A young man seeks to leave a hippie commune||May 7|
|Princess Kaiulani||Romance set in 19th century Hawaii||May 14|
|Looking for Eric||Ken Loach-directed soccer comedy||May 14|
|Kites||A Bollywood thriller set in the Mexican desert||May 21|
|Perrier's Bounty||Irish gangster comedy starring Brendan Gleeson||May 21|
|Agora||Rachel Weisz is a philosopher in Roman Egypt||May 28|
|Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead||A movie about a play that's a vampire take on Hamlet||June 4|
|Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky||Biopic depicts an affair between designer and composer||June 11|
|I Am Love||Tilda Swinton is among Milan's unhappy elite||June 18|
|Let It Rain||A French politician vacations in Provence||June 18|
|Wild Grass||Alain Resnais-directed romance based on a novel||June 25|
|Love Ranch||Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci run a brothel||June 30|
|The Girl Who Played With Fire||A sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo||July 2|
|Le Concert||A French drama about a disgraced Russian conductor||July 16|
|Kisses||Two Irish kids run away during the holidays||July 16|
|Ramona and Beezus||Based on a Beverly Cleary children's novel||July 23|
|Valhalla Rising||A Viking epic from Denmark||July 23|
|Beastly||Yet another take on "Beauty and the Beast"||July 30|
|The Extra Man||Kevin Kline stars in adaptation of Jonathan Ames novel||July 30|
|I Killed My Mother||French-Canadian drama wowed Cannes audiences||July 30|
|Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore||3-D sequel to mediocre 2001 family film Cats & Dogs||July 30|
|Step Up 3D||Sequel to Step Up and Step Up 2 The Streets||August 6|
|Cairo Time||Patricia Clarkson has an affair while visiting Egypt||August 6|
|Centurion||Thriller set in the Roman Empire||August 6|
|The Disappearance of Alice Creed||British thriller focuses on a kidnapping||August 6|
|Mao's Last Dancer||Chinese ballet drama directed by Bruce Beresford||August 6|
|Lebanon||Tense drama is set during 1982 Israel-Lebanon war||August 13|
|Lottery Ticket||Ice Cube discovers that neighbor Bow Wow is a winner||August 20|
|Mesrine||French drama based on infamous 1970s gangster||August 20|
|Soul Kitchen||Comedy about a Greek restaurateur in Germany||August 20|
What do you think?
What summer movies are you most looking forward to this year? Let us know in the comments section below, and be sure to predict the Metascores for the biggest summer films.