BY MOLLY LAMBERT
Editor's Note: Welcome to a preview of Grantland.com, the new sports and culture website created by Bill Simmons. Before you read, remember: This will be a free-flowing narrative that occasionally touches on mature subjects.
umer 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.)
"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.
"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 Peņa, Aziz Ansari, and Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg). I'm wired in.
If you see only one: "30 Minutes or Less," because Michael Peņa stole season two of "Eastbound & Down" from Danny McBride, and that is a mean feat of comedic strength.
"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."
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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).
"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).
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."
"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 will be a regular contributor to Grantland.com.