M: Okay, okay, it’s past the first weekend of June already, and there are movies that have already opened, but once again C and I are going to blame E for not setting this up in advance and making us work on it with her. Of course, she’ll complain that she’s been carrying the entire weight of the site for at least a few months now (which she has), and that she has four kids and a life (the last one’s debatable), but we’ll blame her anyway. That said, June is a month for both blockbusters and counter-programming, so there’s a lot on tap! Let’s move quickly on to the movies….
E: Yes, quickly, before I can catch you and smack you not for blaming me (fair enough) but saying it’s only been a few months that I’ve been carrying your sorry behinds.
Snow White and the Huntsman
M: Between our March preview and Charlize Theron’s appearance on Top Chef, we’ve already talked about this one quite a bit. So if you’ve been following you already know that we think that it looks stunning, with the one complaint that there does not exist a world where Kristen Stewart is “destined” to be more beautiful than Charlize Theron. I heard someone on the radio make a similar comment by simply stating that premise, pausing, laughing, and then saying “No f’ing way.”
C: Ha. Indeed.
M: Now, to be accurate, he referred to Kristen Stewart as “the one from Twilight that looks like the guy from the White Stripes.” I’m not sure which of them that’s more insulting toward, but it certainly lets you know that that part of the premise is going to be tough to swallow.
E: Yes, and so is the idea of Stewart as a warrior; C and I have laughed over the fact that they don’t even let her speak in the trailers. And the reviews have only been middling.
C: Yeah, the consensus seems to be that Theron is good at crazy but the acting (and script, and pacing) are otherwise pretty drippy.
E: BUT. I’m still excited about this gorgeous looking movie. From the fracturing magical soldiers to the bird skulls and beetle wings trimming Theron’s gowns, it looks amazing.
M: And the troll that looks like it’s something out of Pan’s Labyrinth.
C: I have to admit, the visual aspects have me strongly entranced, despite the poor reviews of the story. Although… this is how I ended up seeing Avatar, and the complaints were right on target there.
E: True, but I’m not the only one who enjoyed Avatar anyway. Now, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the director is a former illustrator and that the costume designer (Colleen Atwood) has already won three Oscars. And Theron and huntsman Hemsworth at least seem to live up to the hype.
C: I read that Hemsworth was about as wooden as Stewart, actually and – what I didn’t know from the trailer – he’s one of two dudes in a love triangle competing for Her Blinkiness’s attention. Oy.
M: That seems like a trend. A trend I can’t even begin to understand.
C: I also read the director’s only prior experience was in commercials, so I guess you can’t believe everything.
E: This is his feature debut, yes. I think most directors cut their teeth on commercials these days, though, so I won’t hold that against him.
M: I also wouldn’t say it’s exactly a mark in his favor, either.
C: The illustrator thing is cool, is all I meant.
M: Ahhh, how far former Best Actor Oscar winner Adrien Brody has fallen, now playing a tattooed, corn-rowed drug dealer in a horrendous looking stoner comedy. Okay, after writing that I had to think harder about it, and I’m not sure his career has fallen. I think he had one GIGANTIC blip upward amid a middling-at-best career, and because of that blip we expect better than what he did before it and has done since. Am I wrong?
E: No, it’s fair by this point to say The Pianist (which really is astounding) was an outlier, the exception to his career’s rule.
C: Though I think most of his stuff is mid-range (Wes Anderson’s more forgettable films, for instance) rather than terrible. The lamely-titled High School, about students who try to get their whole school high to mask their own drug use, looks utterly terrible.
M: I have nothing good to say about this, other than that the cast includes David Hasselhoff, and that both Knight Rider and his cameo coaching the German team in Dodgeball were absolutely awesome.
E: I don’t even have that to say.
C: 3DD? Really?
M: You are both missing what’s really important here… a chance to tangent off into talking about Dodgeball! Anyway, let’s just move on.
E: Thank you.
For Greater Glory
C: The kind of movie that’s got a lot of buzz going among grandparents-at-Christian-kids’-birthday-parties circles. Or, you know, just the one I was at yesterday.
M: I had heard good things before that, actually, about this historical drama about a little-known early 20th century war between the Mexican people and their government. It stars Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria, and looks to me like it could be worth a rental some day.
E: You think? The reviews are terrible, and I’m incredibly dubious of Longoria’s dramatic skills.
M: Why ever would you say that about the woman who has never been able to cash in on her Desperate Housewives fame anywhere but in the tabloids? However, the cast also includes Bruce Greenwood, Peter O’Toole and LOST‘s Nestor Carbonell, and while critics are killing it, audiences seem be enjoying it (about 70% on rotten tomatoes, with a average 4.2 out of 5 stars), so I still say it could be a good rental.
C: Fair point. Almost never have I seen such a huge split between the critic and audience ratings over at RT. This may simply be the kind of inspirational movie that critics can’t wait to hate on.
M: Okay, now we’re REALLY talking. This has me, and every other geek sci-fi fan, all abuzz. Ridley Scott, director of both Alien (the first one) and Blade Runner, returning to sci-fi for the first time in 30 years. It has a fantastic cast including Theron, who it looks like will have one HELL of a month, the omnipresent Michael Fassbender, and Guy Pearce, and is set in the “universe” of the Alien movies, but comes before them, and is supposedly not a prequel.
C: What does that even mean? Simply that the events of the plot are unrelated?
E: I think it means Ridley Scott wants to create buzz by being mysterious.
M: Actually, from what I’ve read, the idea started out as more as a prequel, but Scott wanted to have it veer away from all the face-hugger, queen alien stuff and be a stand alone story, but the studio wanted it still set in the same universe to be able to generate buzz and box office cash. I have to say, it seems to have worked for both. The trailers and TV spots have been fantastic, especially the viral video they made with family favorite Guy Pearce, that I don’t think is even an actual scene from the movie, just a promotional piece. As my sisters know, I’m no horror fan, but the first Alien is the kind of suspense-horror that I can like a lot when it’s done well (which Alien was), and Prometheus one looks to be right up that alley.
E: I am downright shaking in my shoes terrified of this movie, despite the fact that Aliens is one of my favorite films. It just looks so incredibly grim! But on the other hand, it looks stunning. The views of that space ship beg to be seen on a big screen. They’re gasp inducing. And the cast! You forgot to mention cross-over Swedish sensation Noomi Rapace and the superbly creepy Idris Elba. Shiver. I just don’t know.
M: I actually had Noomi listed initially, but figured not enough people would know her.
C: Having only seen her forgettable performance in Sherlock Holmes 2, I accept your decision.
M: As for Aliens being one of your favorites, E, the differences between Scott’s original Alien and James Cameron’s sequel are so numerous, right down to the genre (thriller/horror vs. action) that I don’t even consider them in the same thought. To me it’d be like if there was a sequel to Shakespeare in Love that was done as a slapstick comedy. Prometheus clearly hearkens back to Scott’s take on the Alien universe, which is a lot more scary than Cameron’s, so I can see your dread.
E: Apparently you’re not going to believe this, but I’ve been too chicken to even see the first movie. So yeah, you really can imagine how terrified I am of this one.
C: Seconded. I’m sure it’ll be great, but… eek.
M: I can see that, but if nothing else see Alien, it’s really a fantastic film.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
C: As the non-parent in the bunch, I’ll sit this discussion out.
M: Oh, come on! I am a total sucker for the Madagascar movies and the Penguins short films and TV show, and would gladly watch many of them without my kids. I love the humor and am absolutely looking forward to seeing this one, too. Even the “Afro circus” commercial cracks me up.
E: I dunno. I love the penguins, but I find the rest of them really really loud.
M: Well, all I can say to that is…. polka dot polka dot polka dot AFRO!
M: Sparkly vampire Robert Pattinson (who has thankfully denied rumors that he will be playing Finnick Odair in the second and third Hunger Games movies) rises to power in Paris with the help of a far more talented cast of women, including Kristin Scott Thomas, Uma Thurman and Christina Ricci.
E: I know, right? He’s already played Cedric Diggory and Edward Cullen. The man can’t have a lock on all the very handsome men in YA fiction adaptations.
C: Rises to what sort of power? The toothy, bear-exsanguinating kind? Please don’t make me look this one up.
M: The more traditional political and monetary power this time around.
E: The advanced word on this adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s 1885 romp about a bedroom-hopping social climber at least promises pretty costumes free from fangs.
C: Ah. It sounds like a sort of gender-swapped Evita.
E: That. Attempting to be funny. Without the music.
M: Or Madonna.
That’s My Boy
M: Under normal circumstances, I would have listed Rock of Ages before this, as they are opening on the same day and recent history would seem to indicate that one will be bigger. However, Mr E and I got to see a sneak preview of this newest Adam Sandler movie, and despite our incredibly muted expectations (or perhaps because of them) we both found it to be downright hilarious! More to come in an actual review, but just know that this is a raunchy comedy in the Hangover/Wedding Crashers mold, but with a heavy dose of Billy Madison/Happy Gilmore/Wedding Singer-era Sandler comedy mixed in.
E: I know you guys really liked it, so, okay. I’d be happy to see him return to form; I love me some old school Sandler.
Rock of Ages
C: Julianne Hough and Russell Brand find Hollywood romance to the tune of a lot of ’80s hits – sort of like Mamma Mia! or Movin’ Out but less dedicated to a single artist.
M: Ugh, I have such mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, it looks like it could be really fun, it has great music, and Alec Baldwin looks like he could be hilarious in it. On the other, Tom Cruise looks insufferable in it, and it has that feel like it’s either going to be really enjoyable or completely miserable, and nowhere in between.
E: I think it looks like fun. Maybe not rush out to see it in the theater fun, but definitely fun. I think Cruise is meant to be insufferable – that seems really appropriate, somehow.
C: Doesn’t it? But Russell Brand does not inspire confidence.
E: So much so that I haven’t seen him in any of the ads. I really don’t think he’s the romantic lead, C, it’s Diego Boneta. At least according to the imdb, so I think you can breathe easier.
C: I was just going by an online summary, so you’re probably right. I’m glad to hear the movie stars two people I’ve never heard of, instead.
The Woman in the Fifth
M: Oddly, this is another movie set in Paris starring Kristin Scott Thomas.
E: Well, she does live in France, you know.
M: Believe it or not, I did NOT know that. Anyway, this time she’s alongside Ethan Hawke in a thriller that’s generating quiet, but pretty solid buzz.
C: Wait, what was the other?
M: Um, the one with the French title, C?
E: You’re just forgetting because all we talked about was the sparkly vampire.
Your Sister’s Sister
C: This title gives me a headache. Brain… working… too hard…
M: I know nothing about this romantic dramedy, expect that Emily Blunt is in it, and that probably gives it a chance at being decent.
E: Huh. She’s got a lot of movies in the last few months, huh? Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (featuring Kristin Scott Thomas outside of France) , The Five Year Engagement, and now this? This one seems to be about what happens when Blunt’s (male) best friend meets her half sister (the fantastic Rosemary DeWitt). Need I say that hijinks ensue?
C: Clearly these characters didn’t watch enough White Christmas in childhood. “Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister…”
…Not that this looks remotely that lighthearted.
M: Or is it likely to be as good.
E: But what is?
M: Animated summer blockbuster #2 that I am really looking forward to! Because, well, if it’s not Scottish it’s crap.
E: Oh my gosh. I can’t even say how much I’m looking forward to Pixar’s first heroine-helmed adventure. I am a little nervous it might be too frightening for my smallest two munchkins (the bear has my soon-to-be five-year-old skittish) but I’m so there, with the kids or without them. Yet another reason I’m super excited about the movies of June.
C: This does look delightful. I think I know more adults who are really pysched for it than children. Good old Pixar, bringing the quality and the fun together. Again, we hope…
M: And again, this is why there was no need for you to sit out the Madagascar discussion.
C: I’m sorry, but Brave looks way more interesting.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
E: From the popular mash-up novel of the same name.
C: Penned by Seth Grahame-Smith, a truly puzzling frosty-tipped phenomenon. The guy wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which is way funnier in concept than in execution, and suddenly he gets handed script control over both the adaptation of his second mash-up novel (this) and Dark Shadows. (The script of which, by the way, sucked.)
E: I have to say, when M and I saw The Hunger Games with that large group of friends the reaction to this trailer was hilarious. Half of our friends thought it looked amazing, and half couldn’t believe it was for real.
M: It looks like it got a far bigger budget, and a far better treatment, thank I ever expected it to get.
C: Admittedly, it’s a hysterical idea. I don’t blame them for throwing cash at it.
E: I don’t remember recognizing any of the stars in the trailer: Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anthony Mackie, all of whom I would expect to recognize even in period dress. I think it could kind of be the ideal silly summer popcorn movie, if you went into it with the right attitude and if it’s well enough made in the right way.
M: I agree, and heck, even Mrs M seems to like the look of it.
C: Wait for the initial feedback. I’m going to take a stab and say this will disappoint all but those in whom the inner 13-year-old boy is strong.
M: You already know that reviewers are going to eviscerate this one; the box office, word-of-mouth and RT audience score will tell the tale. Of course, that could be the 13-year-old boy in me talking…
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
M: The directorial debut for Lorene Scafaria, writer of the surprise hit Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, this looks like it could be a good bit of quirky fun, starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley.
C: Not as a couple? Oh gods please tell me not as a couple.
E: Interesting. I’m a big fan of Nick & Norah (book and movie) and enjoy Steve Carell and Keira Knightley, but I hadn’t heard of this movie (a comic exploration of reactions to the apocalypse) before. The trailer looks fun. As long as the two stars don’t hook up, I think I might like this a lot.
To Rome With Love
M: In the opposite of a directorial debut, this is the latest Woody Allen movie. While admitting that I haven’t seen Midnight in Paris yet, and that that could change my mind, I am still waiting for the debut Woody-Allen-movie-that-I-actually-like.
E: Well, I have seen a lot of Woody Allen movies, some that I liked a ton and some that I didn’t. While I always have a few reservations, if Woody can do in Rome what he’s just done in the utterly marvelous Midnight in Paris (rather than, say, what he did to that city in Everyone Says I Love You) then I’m in. In fact, it’ll likely be required viewing for my Oscar obsession.
C: I’m going to tone down E’s comment and say that Midnight in Paris was cute. It might be the one you like, M, though you won’t love it. I think Allen just wanted to visit a lot of great locations before he retired. As usual, he’s filled this picture with cutesy young people who’ve had other recent hits: in this case Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg, and Judy Davis. Despite reading up on it, I can’t tell you anything about what this movie’s about, except quirky people being quirky in front of the Colosseum.
E: Sounds like Woody, except I’d say his schtick is more neurotic rich entitled people being neurotic and entitled in front of various fabulous landmarks. Jesse Eisenberg seems like a perfect Woody stand-in, at least.
M: Steven Soderberg and… Channing Tatum? Maybe Tatum is deserving of being in virtually everything coming out this year if Soderberg is using him, but I don’t know.
C: Doubtful. Very.
M: I suppose 21 Jump Street got far better reaction than I was expecting it to, so who knows. Oh, and I also suppose I have to retract my joke from last month about Josh Hutcherson being this year’s Jennifer Lawrence (in the omnipresent aspect, not in quality)…
E: I know this movie’s based on Tatum’s experiences as a male stripper, but I’m still surprised that you’re choosing to focus on him rather than family favorite Matthew Bomer, who along with Joe Manganiello and Alex Pettyfer play the club’s dancers. Matthew McConaughey – and hasn’t he been moving toward this his whole career? – plays the club manager.
M: In my defense, I saw “Channing Tatum” and “male stripper” and checked out at that point, so I didn’t know Bomer was in it.
C: I’m excited Matt Bomer, the amazing Neal Caffrey of White Collar, is going to have a big role in a movie. I’m sad it’s this movie.
M: Exactly. And to pull back to the Adrien Brody discussion, Matthew McConaughey’s career… so sad. He looked like he had so much promise in A Time To Kill and Contact. Then…. splat.
Madea’s Witness Protection
M: We could only be so lucky!
C: Pile. Of. Vomit.
M: Family Guy create Seth MacFarlane directs, and voices the titular character, a teddy bear that comes to life because of a Big-like wish. Mark Wahlberg is the grown up version of the lonely boy that makes the wish; Mila Kunis is the girlfriend waiting for Wahlberg to commit to her and dump the walking, talking stuffed bear version of Peter Griffin. It looks very, very strange, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
E: I thought this idea was clever and promising when they made the talking guy in a dog suit sitcom last year. Total bust. So I could see this going either way.
M: Except with the talking guy in the dog suit, only Frodo could see him as a guy. In this case the bear actually comes to life.
C: Did you guys see the trailer? It’s not even a movie, just an excuse for an animatronic teddy bear to say lewd and profane things. That’s the only joke. That’s the whole thing.
M: Pretty much, but is does have Marky Mark showing people how to do a real Boston accent, so it’s got that going for it.
People Like Us
M: Okay, we’re back to directorial debuts, this time it’s one of the Fringe chief writers, Alex Kurtzman.
C: Oo! I’m listening…
M: He penned this one as well, long with writing partner Robert Orci, who he has worked with on a billion things at this point, from J.J. Abrams hits like Fringe and Alias, to Hawaii Five-O, and to films like Cowboys & Aliens.
C: Okay, still with you!
M: This time they have Chris Pine–
M: –as a man who has to deliver an inheritance from his deceased father to the sister he never knew he had. I saw an ad for it, and it looked good, and also stars Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Jon Favreau and the suddenly back in the spotlight Michelle Pfeiffer.
C: Hm. I find Pine to be fine but undeserving of his spotlight status – actually, that’s how I feel about Banks as well – but I like Wilde and Pfeiffer, and Favreau is usually good at what he does. I’m tentatively interested, but what’s the plot hook? There gotta at least be aliens. Genetic mutations? Walking amphibious pasta?
C: Again: dammit.
M: It’s old Spock, back from the future… wait, sorry, wrong Chris Pine movie. I think this one’s a straight drama, believe it or not. Quick aside, Trek is the only thing I’ve actually seen Pine in, and he was pretty good in it. Yes, the movie with Bane and Elle Woods looked vapid, but that’s not really his fault. Seriously, why the hate?
C: “He’s just okay” is not hate.
M: True, but I think “I’m with you, I’m with you, I’m with you…. Dammit!” qualifies.
C: Bah, I just think he’s a guy who, with more normal eyebrows, would never have been picked out to be a star. He doesn’t have any layers.
M: Ogres have layers.