SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW 2011
paul cooney, john cribbs & eric pfriender
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (Joe Johnston, Paramount)
After being deemed unfit for military service during WWII, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, the Sentinel of Liberty -- a superhero dedicated to defending America's ideals. His first mission: to combat the Nazi propaganda effort headed by Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), also known as the Red Skull.
PAUL: Will Chris Evans reprise his James Van Der Beek parody and cover his delectables with whipped cream in a misguided attempt to stop the Nazis? By god that just might work. Hitler was a vegetarian so the sight of a carrot dangling from Evans scrotum might be enough to distract him until Eric Christian Olson can wrestle that kaiser wannabe to his knees! I'm kinda over superhero movies after a very bad man made me watch Spiderman 3, which was worse than an overpriced bowl of Aids soup. America kind of sucks too, can we agree on that shit? Nascar? Fox News? You gotta be fucking kidding me if you take any pride in this country...wait a second, we do churn out some pretty good pornographic actresses don't we? USA! USA!
ERIC: Hey, look! It's Tony Stark's dad! Glad you had room to include that in the trailer.
Actually, of all the comic book crap coming out this summer, this actually looks like it has the most potential to be enjoyable. The production design looks cool, and I like the idea of a super hero who uses a gun. Also: Nazis... I hate those guys.
JOHN: Anybody who doesn't think this will be any better than the other 47 superhero movies coming out this summer should take this into account: it's directed by Joe Johnston. Many people consider him nothing more than the king of "CG animals chasing people" films, but he's also the director of a WWII-era superhero movie from the early 90's that's fun and exciting and - I watched it on SyFy again recently - still holds up. That movie's called The Rocketeer, and it features everything I hope this movie includes: a charming young hero, a dynamite-looking girl and suave villain at the height of their respective gorgeousness, Terry O'Quinn as Howard Hughes, a funny in-joke about how the Hollywood sign was shortened...well, obviously Captain America can't have everything, but Cap's costume does remind me of Cliff Secord's South Beach leather jacket. Plus Johnston did Rocket Boys, so we know he can bring on the drama/Spielbergian sense of wonder. And Red Skull looks scary!
My main concern about this movie is potential interference by the Marvel brass when it comes to inserting Avengers tie-in minutiae, Tony Stark's dad and what have you. It made sense in the storyline of Thor, but I got the feeling from the Captain America preview that maybe - just maybe - the entire movie takes place in the 40's, leading up to Cap's getting frozen in the ice, thus setting him up to be written by Joss Whedon in Summer 2012. That would be awesome and I really hope it's the case. A superhero movie that's really a war movie! I guess it's also too much to hope that it won't rely too much on CG effects, but then again the stringy version of Chris Evans on the trailer is pretty damn believable. Perhaps if they had thought to introduce a scrawny, frail Ryan Reynolds in the first few scenes of Green Lantern, that movie would have performed better.
Man, I wish they would put out some cool looking art deco posters for this a'la Rocketeer. Those would look awesome, and they had art deco recruitment posters back in the 40's right? Am I getting too excited for a Captain America movie? I'm genuinely curious to find out if it's any good...
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS (Will Gluck, Screen Gems)
While trying to avoid the clichés of Hollywood romantic comedies, Dylan (Justin Timberlake) and Jamie (Mila Kunis) soon discover however that adding the act of sex to their friendship does lead to complications.
PAUL: Terrible casting! So we're supposed to believe a mere mortal like Mila Kunis and her 80 pounds of goodness can meet Timberlake, fuck him, and not fall in love with him? Yeah right, does this movie take place on Planet Bullshit? Cuz that's about the only land where such an impossibility could happen. Timberlake so much as sneezes in your direction and your panties get soaked, you plot the death of your husband, and you dream a thousand dreams of wedded bliss. The man singlehandedly brought sexy back but some MaCaulay Culkin-dating Natalie Portman-wannabe is supposed to be able to resist falling in love with him? Get the fuck outta here!
ERIC: Didn't Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman make this movie last summer? Maybe every year a cast member of That 70's Show will make a movie about fucking your friend without getting emotional. Coming Summer 2012: Topher Grace and Ginnifer Goodwin star in No Need to Sleep Over.
Special aside regarding The Art of Movie Marketing: this is one of those trailers that wants to include a sight gag (JT being airlifted off the Hollywood sign), but in order to do so had to set up how they got there, which ends up taking like 30 seconds. It takes up too much of the trailer, and then it also feels like if they could do the whole thing in 30 seconds (with at least three separate beats for laughs) why is it going to take up like 15 minutes of the movie? Unrelated aside: the trailer has a hilarious Third Eye Blind joke. But it does seem weird that the movie seems to be getting a lot of mileage out of JT’s characters' knowledge of 90’s radio fare, but there are no N'Sync jokes to be found.
JOHN: FWB! Say it with me, kids of America! FWB! Yo, you guys seen FWB yet? You down wit FWB?? I seen it three times and each time I LMAO! It's the hot new sexy youth comedy all us young sexy youths can enjoy.
Sorry, I'm just excited because I correctly predicted that the ads would start shilling this flick in acronymic form. It's just hipper, grampa! I may not have my finger on the pop cultural pulse, but I can foresee what kind of dumb marketing tactics out-of-touch execs think will gain their film instant "cred." FWB is the new MIB, so don't fear us - cheer us. If you ever get near us, don't jeer us, we're fearless. Now bounce with me.
I never watched that 70's show (what was that called anyway?) with Mila Kunis on it; when I caught a snippet of it channel-flipping she always seemed like some screeching harpy who needed a firm kick to the crotch. Then I saw Sarah Marshall and thought 'Hm - this Kunis character is actually kind of appealing and attractive in a bug-eyed, big-liped, bad-acting kind of way.' I was then pro-Kunis. Then along came Black Swan, in which she was fairly intolerable and, most egregious of all, participated in the most disappointingly unsexy lesbian make-out scene in the history of cinema (congratulations, Vanessa Redgrave, you're now at #2.) I don't know if she has plans to "lez out" in FWB, but BTW did you know JT is BSB? WTF???
It's interesting that Patricia Clarkson has become pop culture's official MILF - the SNL sketch, Easy A, now this. I honestly did not see her career going in that direction, but more power to her.
To be fair Pfriender, wouldn't the next title in this succession of movies be Fuck Buddies? Also, who doesn't want to see JT singing Kris Kross? We all know he came to set with the lyrics to "Jump" already memorized.
ANOTHER EARTH (Mike Cahill, Fox Searchlight)
On the night of the discovery of a duplicate planet in the solar system, an ambitious young student and an accomplished composer cross paths in a tragic accident.
PAUL: Huh? Was this movie made with the idea that nobody would ever see it? Is it only going to be released on a planet that hasn't been discovered yet? Cuz only an alien race made up of blind retards could possibly have any interest in the synopsis of this snoozefest.
ERIC: This looks like its going to take what could be an interesting premise and ruin it with a lot of internal drama about regret. If I'm going to see a movie about the discovery of a mirror planet Earth, and then I end up watching a movie about a girl who is emotionally crippled because she killed some people in a car accident but every once in a while she looks up in the sky to remind us that the other Earth is up there, I'm going to be pissed. This film was well-received at the Sundance Film Festival, which is starting to become shorthand for "this film is middlebrow garbage."
JOHN: Ahhhhhhhhhh! It's Ethan from LOST! She shouldn't feel bad that she killed him! She should kill the alternative universe version too! Hey wait - there WAS an alternative universe Ethan on LOST. I guess this actor just likes these roles where he gets to play different versions of himself. DTV Multiplicity 2 starring William Mapother - in the works.
Should we count this as another comic book adaptation, since it's borrowing DC's continuity-fixing/complicating Earth 2 premise? If another Earth did pop up right next to ours, it would probably cause a devastating shift in the planet's gravitational pull. Cities would literally be underwater...but I guess that's ok, since all the people killed in the cataclysm would have doubles on the second Earth who are alive and well. Man, is that the kind of paradox I can expect from this faux-fantasy? Is it going to be as pulse-pounding as 1969's Doppelgänger, which has the same premise without the tragic accident/persisting guilt subplot? Do I have a double on another earth who will see this movie? If so, he can tell me what he thought.
COWBOYS & ALIENS (Jon Favreau, Universal)
In Silver City, Arizona, Apache Indians and Western settlers must lay their differences aside when an alien spaceship crash lands in their city. Starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde.
PAUL: Not since Wild Wild West have I been so looking forward to a cowboy picture. Will Kevin Kline reprise his role as the fey cowboy who dares to step up to Brian Dennehy while Sgt. Murtaugh runs around the old west givin lip? This seems like a very very silly picture and I'm sure all sensible people will regard it with contempt.
ERIC: The teaser trailers reveled a lot less, and it made it much easier to take seriously. Still, I would like to believe that this will be entertaining and not utterly ridiculous. It's got Harrison Ford as a cowboy! And Sam Rockwell! And the great Clancy Brown! I'll give it a shot.
JOHN: It's got old Harrison Ford as a cowboy Eric, and honestly have you ever gone to see a movie specifically because Clancy Brown is in it? Can you even name a movie he's been in since 1997's Starship Troopers without consulting imdb? (and don't cite his appearance on LOST - do you expect me to believe you never heard of this weird "LOST" show, but you were sitting on the couch leafing through the TV Guide only to bolt upright and exclaim aloud "Ooo, Clancy Brown is guest-starring on this obscure show I never heard of?! Well shit, I guess I better catch that episode - for Clancy Brown!") I'm not saying Clancy Brown's not great, and he'll most likely be the highlight of this new movie, but let's not start claiming that Clancy Brown is the selling point of any movie that happens to come along.
When I first heard of Cowboys & Aliens, I thought I might give it a shot since Jon Favreau directed Iron Man. Then I remembered he also directed Iron Man 2. Paul is absolutely correct to make confused Wild Wild West/Silverado references - I was looking for the giant mechanic spider to pop up in the preview. My mom, who texts me like once a year, took the opportunity when the trailer debuted during the Super Bowl to text me "This movie looks like shit." If Pam Cribbs is out, so am I!
CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE. (Glenn Ficarra & John Requa, Warner Brothers)
A married guy (Steve Carell) tries to balance handling a crisis with his wife (Julianne Moore), attending couples therapy, and maintaining his relationship with his kids. Co-starring Ryan Gosling.
PAUL: Wow. Naughty naughty Hollywood! Did you break into my trunk of secrets and read my diary??? How did you know to make exactly the movie I've been dying to see! The always charming Steve Carrell and the translucent and old Julianne Less Please as a bickering couple! Ooo I bet they have some tense arguments about finances and their relationship being stale and what not. Sounds riveting. But Steve goes to therapy! Whoa! I can see them hauling a shitload of laughs out of that comedy mine. Lots of trials and tribulations and ups and downs...oh wait...Ryan Gosling is in it too? Well you are just slathering on my cock now aren't you! Love is crazy...and it's stupid...but golly gee I just can't help but fall in love with the idea of love! And relationships. I mean gee they have their turmoil but gosh darn at the end of the day they are so worth it aren't they? What's that? Divorce rate over 50%? Is that so? Oh shit, Tokyo Drift is on!
ERIC: I really want to be cynical about this, but it actually looks sincere and charming. I will cautiously label this as "this summer’s romantic comedy which I am least cynical about." It's weird that it seems to have two directors who are not brothers.
JOHN: I have yet to see a Steve Carell movie without Paul Rudd in it (that's a lie - Cooney, Funderburg and I saw Get Smart, to my eternal regret. At the time, I was just sticking to my "see every movie with The Rock" policy until it became apparent how truly terrible that idea was.) This one sounds like Hitch with Ryan Gosling in the Will Smith role, shepherding an out-of-touch Carell through the single's scene even though he himself is less than proficient in attaining "true love." I'm actually shocked it's not a James L. Brooks joint, as it seems to have that "ain't life just a kick in the pants?" tone to it, complete with insightful one-liners inserted into the situational comedy.
THE SMURFS (Raja Gosnell, Columbia)
The little blue creatures of Smurf village move to New York City after the evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) chases them out of their mushroom-like homes in the forest. Featuring the voices of Jonathan Winters, Katy Perry, Alan Cumming, George Lopez, Paul Reubens, Kenan Thompson, B.J. Novak, Wolfgang Puck and Jeff Foxworthy. And Neil Patrick Harris is somehow involved.
PAUL: For the love of god, not another fucking cartoon. Holy shit I can't stand it. Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry did it all! But yes, we all want to hear Sofia Vergara's voice. No no, I have no interest in her tits, it's her amazing voice that made her famous. And why the fuck can't Gargamel just stomp the shit out of these stupid little blue fucks? Only one is called Brainy, so I'm guessing the rest are pretty fucking stupid, especially that geriatric degenerate Papa Smurf. But some clothes on, ya perv! And that fucker Jokey sure looks like a terrorist to me. Explosions aren't funny in this century, asshole!
ERIC: Just thinking about trying to make some sarcastic remark about this, and about Hollywood being bereft of ideas, and yada yada yada is making me exhausted and sad. Seriously, if someone I know comes up to me and says anything resembling "Yeah, I know it's going to be stupid, but I really loved the Smurfs when I was a kid..." that person is going to see me do a live recreation of every scene from The Happening. I will just look around, completely emotionless, decide what I have access to that will kill me most efficiently, and just off myself. Don't test me.
JOHN: I'm excited about the release of this movie. The reason? It turns out I am a trend-setter when it comes to names. I don't know how the lovely and hilarious Sofia Vergara learned about my daughter (kid's 18 months old, probably has a Facebook page already for all I know), but apparently she heard her name, "luvvvved eet" and had it stipulated in her contract that she would only lend her "talents" to the goddamn Smurfs movie if her character's name was Odile. (You've been misinformed Paul - she and her tits appear in the movie; she isn't just voicing a Colombian smurf.)
Here's some interesting Smurf history for you: for those who don't know, the Smurfs originated from a Belgian comic strip by this guy Peyo. In the original strips, Brainy Smurf is repeatedly hit on the head with a hammer by the other Smurfs to shut him up. This was deemed too violent and too easy to imitate by American censors, so in the later Hanna-Barbera cartoons Brainy was catapulted out of the village instead. Cuz catapulting your kid brother is a lot harder to do! I always thought that was pretty funny. Also there's a famous Peyo strip called "The Black Smurf" in which a strange insect stings Smurfs and turns them into rabid, raving "black Smurfs" who bite and infect other Smurfs until the entire population is overwhelmed by these mindless, destructive "black Smurfs." Holy bigotry in Belgium, Batman! (This was also changed by the American publishing company who released the graphic novel - they became "purple Smurfs" instead. But I've read the comic and it's still pretty uncomfortable.)
Anyway, I wish they had adapted that story for the film. Or done a full-length version of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's Smurf/Avatar film from South Park. Instead this doesn't look any different from the live action Alvin and the Chipmunks, Inspector Gadget, Garfield, Transformer and Scooby Doo movies, and I'm sure its quality will be consistent. NPH, did Harold and Kumar resurrect your career for THIS?
ATTACK THE BLOCK (Joe Cornish, Screen Gems)
Moses (John Boyega) and the rest of his teen gang look to protect Wyndham Tower - their housing estate - from an alien invasion. A South x Southwest hit rushed to movie theaters.
PAUL: This sounds like it might be better than Beat Street, if that's possible. If there was one thing missing from breakdancing movies, and there probably wasn't, it was the lack of alien invaders. Attack the Block seems to remedy that gaping chasm in our country's cinema history. Just how fucking stupid do aliens have to be to think they could take on the block? Have they not heard of J Lo on Pluto? Can they not see her bottom from space? Amazing, they have the technology to travel through the galaxy, but lack the basic common sense to pick an easy target, like a pansified tennis club or France. Ha ha! Zing! Suck it, France! You'll never live World War II down, will you?
ERIC: From the producers of Shaun of the Dead?! That and Nick Frost provide enough good will to insure that I stream this on Netflix.
JOHN: At first I thought this movie was some kind of horrible racist propaganda; then I realized I was just misreading the title. It actually seems like a possible alternate to Super 8? Instead of nostalgia for putting together little film productions with your friends in some Midwestern town, Attack the Block captures memories of being a block kid who decided to load up on fireworks and battle aliens? I can get behind that, so long as the focus is on action and less on social commentary - god knows we don't need another District 9. One way or another, I'm inclined to champion this Big Talk release over the other "let's all join together to stop these alien invaders" movie opening today. But I'm not going to get my hopes up until 15 to 20 people I really trust tell me it's worth seeing.
THE FUTURE (Miranda July, Roadside Attractions)
When a couple (Miranda July and Hamish Linklater) decides to adopt a stray cat their perspective on life changes radically, literally altering the course of time and space and testing their faith in each other and themselves.
PAUL: I have seen the future, and it features my new alias, Hamish Linklater...hmm on second thought I'm not crazy about that surname...it reeks of mediocrity. Sure I liked Dazed and Confused but the rest of that idiot's oeuvre? No thonx. Hamish is rakish and classy at the same time however. Hamish Longines...no, that doesn't quite sing. Hamish Blackadder. Oh shit! I'm definitely using that to crash high brow shindigs in the very near future. "Good evening dear, I'm Hamish Blackadder, I believe you have a reservation for me. What's that? You're out of that particular brand of caviar I requested? You useless slut!"
That said, what I won't be doing a week or month or year from now is seeing this lame ass movie...unless Timbuk 3 is rocking the shit outta that soundtrack.
ERIC: I still haven't seen Miranda July's earlier film, and I know virtually nothing about her because my initial pre-judgment of her was that she made the kind of hipster, Little-Miss-Sunshiny indie garbage that I hate. But despite this appearing to suffer from exactly the same problems, the trailer made me feel like I ought to see this. Maybe it's just because I may in fact be suffering through the same pre-mid-life crisis as the film's two leads. Here's hoping I don’t get hoodwinked into seeing the next Garden State.
JOHN: I don't actively detest Miranda July. What's the point in wasting energy complaining about the success of a 37-year-old art student who instructs her fans to "make a constellation of someone's freckles?" She's a self-adoring guru for the worst kind of cutsey hipsters...more than anything, I just wish they'd treat her movies like her installations/collages/mash-ups and restrict them to her website. As long as she sticks to one a decade and stays below the radar, I'm not going to go out of my way to complain.
THE DEVIL'S DOUBLE (Lee Tamahori, Herrick Entertainment)
Forced to become the body double of Uday Hussein, Latif Ahmed (Dominic Cooper) bears witness to daily life under Saddam Hussein's reign, from lavish extravagances to sadistic acts of brutality.
PAUL: Is he going to have a cool mustache? Cuz I picture the devil's double having a really suave stache that says "Sure I want to fuck you, but babycakes, you ain't never going to hear from me again and I'm eating everything and leaving the seat up after I pee. Will I ransack your drawers for pills before I go? Absolutely. Shall I steal a pair of your panties and sell them on ebay? Don't mind if I do. What did you expect, I'm the devil's double after all!"
In regards to this flick...I'm not real interested in the Hussein Boys and their misadventures in the mideast, however. Now if you pitted them against the Hardy Boys or maybe Nancy Drew tackles our troubles in the middle east singlehanded...Selena Gomez, is your agent listening??
ERIC: This looks awesome. I very much look forward to vicariously experiencing what it's like to be rich, powerful, and insane through this film.
JOHN: Man, was Sundance worth going to this year? Some of these movies actually look interesting. This seems like it could an amusing "Scorsese lite" tale of the gross highs of power, wealth and hedonism before the terminal crash. Then again, so did Blow...and despite the slickness, the preview has a weird Zucker Brothers-type feel. So maybe I'm wrong, but I'd be willing to give this one a shot. The remixed Depeche Mode is the best use of music on a trailer since "Paper Planes" on Pineapple Express. Just don't make me choose between "common doppelgänger instantly rises to the ranks of royalty" movies being released this July - I'm going to have to go with Monte Carlo.
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