I don’t think anyone will argue with me if I proclaim that the summer movie season of 2010 hasn’t gotten off to a great start:
Iron Man 2 – every single person who’s seen it agrees that it’s not as good as the first one, and really doesn’t have much going on besides being a pleasant way to see CGI. Barely outperforming at the box office relative to the first one at the same point.
Robin Hood – each and every last review says the exact same thing, “too long, too dull, too serious”, and the PR folks found themselves trying to describe $36 million as an acceptable opening weekend for a $200 million film.
Shrek Forever After – everyone agrees that even if it sucks, it’s better than the last one. Underperforming at the box office relative to the last two in the series at the same point.
Sex and the City 2 – receives the most outlandishly angry reviews of the year, has become a national punchline. Underperforming at the box office relative to the first one at the same point.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – apparently, this movie does not actually exist.
So, June can’t help but be an improvement, right? Please, God, right?
Wrong. There is now a feature film based on the comic strip Marmaduke.
Also filling in the corners of what I believe to be the most crowded weekend of the summer, with four new releases, we have Splice, a “tampering in God’s domain” horror film that might actually be decent if it gets played right, and Sarah Polley in the cast is a huge indication that we can be carefully optimistic.
Less likely to induce optimism is Get Him to the Greek, whose title keeps feeling like a really weak play on “Get Me to the Church on Time” from My Fair Lady, but maybe I’m just really over-thinking it. Anyway, it’s a spin-off of Forgetting Sarah Marshall featuring that film’s best element, the obnoxious British rocker played by Russell Brand, which almost sounds appealing, if the trailer weren’t so stunningly terrible. Besides, the sparkle has definitely worn off of the Apatow brand name by now.
And I’m personally feeling least-optimistic (I mean, besides Marmaduke, unless maybe that film is awesomely bad) for Killers, the first of two “romantic comedy + guns” movies this summer. It shall be the worse of the two, for it stars Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl, the former of whom is a shrieking terror of anti-charisma, and the latter of whom is just annoying.
There as many reasons to be angry at the new Karate Kid remake as grains of sand on the beach, but since I don’t have much affection for (or memory of) the original, the ones I’m going with are: Jackie Chan is better than making tepid kids’ movies; “karate” is a Japanese art that is absolutely not the same thing as the Chinese art of “kung fu”; and it’s fucking irritating that Will Smith bought his son a movie to show off his martial arts skills when Jaden Smith is – I’m sorry – deeply uncharming and untalented. If you’re going to remake a nostalgia-laden classic, at least try to make sure you’ve found the best star for the job.
Over here, meanwhile, it’s a feature-length remake of The A-Team, because why the hell not.
Pixar Animation Studios enters the scary and unprepossessing “let’s make lots of sequels” phase of its existence (three of their next four movies – how upsetting is that?) with Toy Story 3, a movie that has me sick with worry and anticipation. I mean first, it’s a new Pixar feature. Plus, it’s a new Toy Story. It’s like finding a basket of unpublished Shakespeare plays.
But then, the doubts come in, and they are hideous: it’s a third movie! third movies always, always suck! Or there’s the concern that John Lasseter isn’t directing, but handing over the reigns to Lee Unkrich, who has never been the primary director on a Pixar film before. And then there are the trailers, which pretty much consistently hit the wrong note with me.
About this last point, I have a rationalisation: perhaps you recall that Pixar’s ad campaigns used to be just atrocious. It was only with The Incredibles that they started to regularly put out trailers that actually made the films involved look appealing in any way. I clearly remember, in fact, that their movie right before The Incredibles had trailers so impossible bad that I was seriously considering not bothering to watch the movie. That movie, of course, was Finding Nemo, and we know that turned out well.
Anyway, leave it at this: I am more excited about Toy Story 3 than anything else in the next six months; I am dreading Toy Story 3 more than anything else in the next six months, as well.
They’re not making us wait very long for the other “romantic comedy + guns” movie, either, for here it is: Knight and Day, with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. James Mangold is directing, which might be a good sign; it’s hard to say.
In a coup for fans of aggressively unfunny comedy, Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Chris Rock – oh, Chris, what the hell happened to you, anyway? – all team up in one place for Grown Ups, and if your juices aren’t flowing yet, just wait till I mention that Dennis “Chuck & Larry” Dugan is directing.