E: Eeeeee! I am so excited!
C: It’s May. Time for the buds to appear, for the birds to build nests, and for Tokyo to be flattened to a pulp.
M: Or here in Massachusetts, for it to maybe, hopefully, stop snowing!
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
E: I know we all trashed The Amazing Spider-Man before it came out as a lame attempt on Sony’s part to hold on to one of Marvel Comics’ key properties, an artistically unnecessary reboot. The thing is, though, I really fell in love with Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker, and even more than that, with his relationship with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy. I just want to squash them up together, they’re so cute and sparky.
M: Seriously? I felt like I’d seen almost all of it when I saw the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man, and the parts that I hadn’t seen seemed lesser in comparison. I didn’t find Garfield to be particularly bad, but I also didn’t find him to be great. He was better in The Social Network.
E: While I loved the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man, I thought Garfield was overrated in TSN; it was this movie that sold me on him.
M: I guess it’s not that surprising that you and I have very different opinions. I will agree, though, that Stone was good, and I appreciated that they didn’t try to do the Mary Jane Watson story line, too.
E: Yes, it’s nice that they’ve gone a different route.
C: I still haven’t seen the first, actually. I think this sequel looks very by-the-book, including two classic villain types (the former friend and the obsessed fan), a lot of action, and daddy issues galore.
M: Agreed, it looks SOOOO by the book, and falls immediately into the “it’s a sequel, so we have to have multiple villains” trap. For the love of God, super hero movies, develop one good bad guy and flesh that character out. We don’t need multiple, especially when it only allows you to make them thin, weak caricatures, or to not develop a good enough story.
E: I’ll definitely agree with you there. Quality of villains, please, not quantity.
C: Also, why are you both glad it’s Gwen Stacy? Don’t you guys know what happens to Gwen Stacy?
E: Yes, thank you, I do know, and I’m not saying I’m thrilled about that. It’s just — you’d know if you’d seen it. They’re utterly charming and adorable together. Which is quite possibly why they’re still together in real life.
M: I don’t know what happens to her, believe it or not. I assume it’s bad, though.
C: Considered to have touched off a “darker age” in the history of comics, in fact.
E: And she’s wearing the same outfit she wore in that storied comic, even.
M: Yikes. Well, I was only glad because it wasn’t MJ. Now, remind me, E, was there any pay off to the whole “Spider-Man’s big secret” mumbo jumbo? I know they tried to create some back story with his parents, but it was so not memorable. Or are they promising to pay that off in this new film?
E: I believe there’s going to be a lot more about that in this film, yes. For now it’s still a mystery, which I though was a cool way to expend Spidey’s well-known backstory.
C: If you’re at all interested in history, period films, or race issues, I’d suggest checking the trailer for this one out. It looks excellent. Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw (who some might remember from the short-lived spy couple series Undercovers and the Quibbling Sibs know as Martha Jones’s sister on Doctor Who), this is based on the 18th century true story of a half-African young woman raised by her white father’s wealthy aunt and uncle (Emily Watson and Tom Wilkinson) as an equal, at a time when that just didn’t happen. The plot is about how her life and that of the cousin she was raised with diverge when both reach adulthood. Also: Draco Malfoy is somehow involved.
E: I laugh a little when I see Gugu reported as an unknown; I know Undercovers flopped, but it was still a J.J. Abrams show on a major network that lasted half a season.
C: It seems she was a main character on the Keifer Sutherland show Touch as well, so it’s quite insane to treat this as debut role.
E: Yeah, it had me wondering if there was another Gugu Mbatha-Raw I didn’t know about.
M: She was good on Touch, and seriously, who forgets a name like Gugu?
Walk of Shame
E: After spending the night with a stranger (James Marsden), reporter Elizabeth Banks gets stranded in downtown L.A. If only there were some invention that let you talk to the people you know if you get stranded, to tell them to come get you! Or, I don’t know, some sort of public transport or vehicle for hire? I can see why she’d be so lost, plunked down in the middle of a strange city where she doesn’t know anyone and doesn’t know the language. Oh, wait.
C: And if something happened to your handy invention, isn’t there always the backup plan of talking to people verbally, in person? (Which was invented quite a while ago…)
M: Is this a mockumentary? Or a segment on Jimmy Kimmel? Because it doesn’t sound like the premise of a feature film.
Decoding Annie Parker
E: If you’re looking for slightly more elevated fare, check out the story of the discovery of the breast cancer gene, starring Helen Hunt, Samantha Morton and Aaron Paul.
M: Isn’t Aaron Paul only allowed to play criminals?
C: Perhaps he wants to steal the breast cancer gene and use it for evil. I mean… for more evil. Like, threaten children, democracy, and puppies with it?
E: Right. Maybe he’s an evil scientist, looking to weaponize the gene?
C: In all seriousness though, this sounds interesting. Not sure it’s as “elevated” as you’d think, though, given the film’s IMDb tagline: “Love, science, sex, infidelity, disease and comedy, the wild, mostly true story of the irrepressible Annie Parker and the almost discovery of a cure for cancer.”
M: And, that’s not what I was expecting at all.
C: Wacky cancer research hijinks! Science hasn’t been this much fun since Monkey Business! (Possibly. It’s yet to be reviewed.)
C: This is a comedy about people who weren’t very good at doing research while house-buying. A couple with a baby — played by Rose Byrne, Seth Rogen, and some baby — lose their peace and quiet when a frat led by Zac Efron moves in next door. Rather than pursuing legal protection, they enter a vendetta with the frat. Clearly this will end well.
M: If the frat moves in after them, how does that reflect badly on their house-buying research? Not sure you can research future neighbors very well.
C: Most often frats are grouped together, though, in certain areas just outside a university campus. I feel like you could see this coming.
M: I’m going to guess that’s not the case here, but you could be right. Also critiquing your first comment, from the idiotic commercials for this idiotic film, they do go to the police first, who basically do what no police would ever do, and side with the ordinance-breaking neighbors and throw the law-abiding neighbors under the bus.
E: Defeated again in the search for a grounded frat comedy, damn it!
C: I know comedy doesn’t put much stock in realism, but geez, try a little. And in that vein, the insane degree of technical expertise, spying, and breaking-and-entering involved in the air bag prank shown in the trailers alone would make it more probable if Byrne and Rogen were going head-to-head with pranksters from the CIA.
M: Nah, the CIA would have at least used better special effects to make that scene look remotely realistic. Or at least decent film editing.
E: Multi-hyphenate Jon Favreau returns to his comic roots as the titular chef, who quits working in a trendy L.A. restaurant for tyrant Dustin Hoffman, and lets the wackiness ensue. Also starring Sophia Vergara, Bobby Cannavale, and John Leguizamo.
M: I was with you until you got to the supporting cast.
C: Would it help to add that Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. are also in this? Remarkably enough, it seems that directing the Iron Man movies gets you some perks.
M: Only if it removed Sophia Vergara and especially John Leguizamo.
C: I’ve enjoyed both in the past. I don’t know why you’re going negative on them.
E: Yes, because Bobby Cannavale is clearly the weakest link in that cast.
M: No, because I’ve enjoyed neither in the past, and have been really, REALLY annoyed by Leguizamo specifically. Blech.
E: Well, I’m still curious to hear the reviews. This month is mostly going to be about must-see-on-the-big-screen blockbusters for me, but Favreau’s funny and different and I’m willing to give whatever he does a look.
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return
C: Did you know that L. Frank Baum, author of the original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, wrote 14 books in the Oz series all together? It makes one wonder why this uninspired-looking sequel couldn’t have been based on one of them.
E: Yes. Yes I did. But I guess we know that because I spent years working in a children’s library and you’re a lit grad student?
C: It just seems like that’s a lot of potential source material to blatantly ignore. I do at least like, though, that they’ve disregarded the “it was all just a dream” premise of the 1939 film, which always annoyed me. Oz is a very real (albeit magical) place in the book series.
E: Let me say I’m just as turned off by the poor looking animation; it’s so very 1990s Don Bluth.
C: Hey now! No slams against the man behind my childhood favs The Land Before Time, An American Tail, and the legitimately fantastic Anastasia. This movie’s animation looks more like a Saturday morning cartoon. Oh and guess what? It’s a musical, with songs by — Bryan Adams!
E: Say what? I mean, the man can write a mean song, but I can’t imagine an entire musical full of 80’s and 90’s style power ballads.
M: I got my first real Tin Man (oooohhhh), bought him at the Five and Dime…
C: Oiled him ’til his joints could move,
it was the summer of 1899!
Me and some weirdos from Oz,
hit the road and we walked real far…
M: Jimmy quit, Joey got carried off by a flying monkey…
E: Yes. That is exactly what I’m afraid of.
Mom’s Night Out
C: Clearly trying to be the next Bridesmaids, but I can’t help thinking it looks a lot more like Adventures in Babysitting.
E: See, now that actually interests me, because I love Adventures in Babysitting.
M: So say we all.
C: Well, except that it functions on the premise that fathers can’t cope with taking care of their children alone (and by implication, have apparently never done so?). I find that downright impossible to believe of Sean Astin. (Warning: don’t click link unless prepared for adorableness.)
M: Agreed. I mean, he carried Frodo and the ring up the side of Mount Doom; the guy can do anything!
The Devil’s Knot
E: Somebody managed to snag Oscar winners Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon and put them in an absolutely crap-looking flick about dead children possibly murdered by Satan-worshiping teenagers.
M: What a wonderful premise!
C: How does that even happen? Surely such movies can’t pay well enough to explain this. I mean, it’s been a while since Witherspoon did anything memorable so maybe she’s hurting for good projects, but come on, Firth. Look at your choices, man.
E: It beggars belief for sure.
E: Documentary about diets and the food industry produced by Katie Couric. Guess what? It’s not flattering to the food industry. I know you’re shocked.
M: Documentaries are never flattering to any industry. The basic concept of most of them is that some documentary maker say “I hate this industry, let’s see what I can find bad about it,” finds things bad about it, and then puts out a movie. Doesn’t make the bad things not true, but still…
C: That’s a pretty unfair characterization of documentaries. There are fun documentaries, and educational documentaries that don’t take a side in anything.
M: None that ever make these previews. Those are only ever the attack-umentaries.
C: It’s true that when a documentary is made about an industry, it’s usually made because there’s an important issue relating to that industry that corporate interests wouldn’t publicize. Things that exist for profit do a good job of telling you themselves when they’re being cool and helpful to the world!
E: I will say it’s true that documentaries are more likely to highlight inspirational individuals than inspirational industries. And I think we all know that there’s pretty bad stuff that get put in our food, right? I think the bigger question is who’s going to want to watch this. Do we really want to know what the food industry’s done to our food? And what could we do about it (other than be miserable or pay more than we can afford for presumably organic stuff) if we did?
C: Hm. We don’t need to get into the debate here about whether it’s worth cutting back on other things in order to be able to afford healthier food. The truth is, we know American food is a nightmare but most of us are deliberately hiding from the details. This film will likely preach to the converted.
M: Is it bad that I want this to be decent? I’m not overly optimistic that it will be, but there’s such a nostalgia to Godzilla that I hope someone, some day, does a good remake. Maybe it will be this time?
E: Of course it’s not bad. First off, you and I were Creature Double Feature fans as kids; Godzilla is cool, and someone ought to be able to make a cool version of that story. Plus, I don’t know. I’d always rather movies be good than bad. I’d always rather everything be good than bad.
M: Too true!
C: There’s the very real possibility that I will see this movie, something I doubt I’d have said a year ago. But now that I’m dating a Godzilla enthusiast, I join you in hoping this will be decent. I’m made optimistic by this recent headline from London’s The Daily Mail: “Godzilla branded ‘pudgy and cute’ by audiences.” Bring on the adorable, plump destruction!
E: Oh, yes, that’s sold it. I’m sure that’s what the producers were going for.
Million Dollar Arm
E: Speaking of nostalgia, the trailer for this sports flick plays a like an updated Disney Sunday movie: baseball scout looking for the next great player decides to check out amateur cricket players in India. There’s the guy (the dapper John Hamm) looking to re-invent himself, scrappy youth from the wrong part of town/side of the world…
M: Exactly. Throw in a safe little romance for him, culture shock for the young guys, and their inevitable success, and this will be a feel-good movie. Not sure it will be any good, but I know I’d rather see it than The Devil’s Knot!
C: I doubt this will manage to rival the excitement of the 2-hour on-screen cricket match in the classic Bollywood musical Lagaan, but I like the possible throwback to the great inspirational sports movies of the ’80s and ’90s. Also, Aasif Mandvi of The Daily Show is in it!
E: Less obvious May release starring Oscar winner Marion Cotillard as a European detained for illness at Ellis Island, leaving her sister alone and unprotected on the mean streets of 19th-century Manhattan. Now that is a situation where one can be excused for being totally lost in a city.
M: What, she doesn’t have an iPhone 1800?
C: How embarrassing for her.
E: Costarring Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner as a pimp and a magician.
M: Not words you read often.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
M: FINALLY! Something I actually want to see! Sooooooooooo excited for this one.
C: There’s no question this is my #1 pick for May, and maybe for the whole summer, in terms of excitement level. I loved X-Men: First Class, and all the buzz on this time-travel plot (Wolverine is sent into the past to prevent a catastrophe, neatly allowing them to mix the stellar cast of First Class in with those of all the other movies) is wildly promising.
M: The “Days of Future Past” storyline was one of my favorites going back to the old X-Men cartoon. I love the blended casts. I love that Bryan Singer is back. I love that he took shots at Brett Ratner when he came back. GAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! So excited!
E: I can’t believe we’re three weekends into May and this is the first thing you want to see!
M: Yeah, that’s not a very good statement for this year’s slate of May movies, is it?
C: I want to see Belle, but might wait for DVD.
E: Okay, you two are crazy, but this is certainly also my most highly anticipated film of the month, if not the entire summer season, as well. Add in Peter Dinklage and giant killer robots, and I’m more than sold.
M: To quote a former sports talk radio host…. you’re making my point.
E: Is anyone really going to see this Adam Sandler comedy? People who hate comic book movies, I guess? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I loved The Wedding Singer and Happy Gilmore, and I still love Drew Barrymore, but it’s been kind of a while since Sandler made a movie I wanted to see.
C: I think it’s interesting that extremely similar movies are being made now as were made fifteen years ago, with the very same actors, the only difference being the insertion of kids. This seems a larger trend to me. But that doesn’t mean a Drew Barrymore/Adam Sandler movie couldn’t still interest me.
M: At some point in the last two years I was picking up my oldest daughter at a friend’s house, and they were watching Jack and Jill. I want, DESPERATELY, to unsee the few minutes of it I saw out of the corner of my eye while she was getting ready to leave. That, and the flurry of other lousy movies, has almost completely erased the good will Sandler built up with his early films that I loved.
E: I agree – his recent movies don’t just look bad, but aggressively awful.
C: This movie, we should probably get around to saying, is about two single parents who take their respective children on the same safari (or something like that) and end up falling for each other, presumably forming a “blended family” by the end. Director Frank Coraci has never made a good movie since The Wedding Singer, so is presumably hoping to recapture that magic.
M: Well, The Wedding Singer was very good. 50 First Dates was enjoyable, too, so there is potential.
E: The director of The Painted Veil and the producers of The King’s Speech bring us the true story of a young woman who decides to find herself by wandering around 2,000 miles of Australian desert.
C: What, did this one get lost on her way home from a hookup and forget her cell phone, too? Geez!
E: She seems to be alone on purpose, actually, with a dog and four camels for company — at least until she bumps into a National Geographic photographer (as one does) who decides to follow her around and document her journey. Which seems both too convenient and counterproductive to her quest (nothing says self-enlightenment like a 2,000 mile photoshoot) but there’s could be something compelling in it anyway.
M: I might be interested in this… if you replaced the woman with Terry O’Quinn, put him in a wheelchair and had him scream “DON’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DO!”
E: Ha ha, bro. Can we talk about Adam Driver for a minute? I would love it if someone could explain to me why he’s having such a moment.
C: Is he? …Who is he?
M: I haven’t seen anything he’s in, and likely won’t until Star Wars 7, but yeah. WTF?
E: He’s the sleazebag boyfriend from Girls, of which I have seen maybe two episodes; I just don’t get how someone looks at that and says, this man should lead the Jedi for this millennium!
C: Why the surprise? That “someone” thought the same of Hayden Christensen.
M: Since you brought it up, E, I’ll take this perfect excuse to talk about the announcement of the SW7 casting. John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, the aforementioned Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis (Smeagol, yay!), Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley, yay!), Max von Sydow (yay yay yay! love the Alsatian gentleman!) will join original stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker.
E: Talk about blended casts! Even with the addition of the dubious Adam Driver, I’m excited and hopeful. Seeing Lawrence Kasdan writing with J.J. Abrams? That could be a big step back in the right direction.
The Love Punch
E: Stars Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson as a married couple who’ve lost both their spark and their life savings.
M: Such an inviting premise.
C: Wait! Despite the title being confusingly similar to Punch Drunk Love (speaking of Sandler), this isn’t a drama. E, you’ve totally mischaracterized this movie! Let me revise: Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson star as a divorced couple who don’t like each other but, when their mutual savings are swindled, decide to steal the thief’s massive diamond in retribution. What could make this better? Oh yeah, they team up with their friends Celia Imrie and Timothy Spall. Well-mannered middle-aged British comedy heist film, guys!
M: Okay, that *IS* an inviting premise!
C: “Inviting” doesn’t even cover how fun this looks. I am 100% serious.
E: I stand corrected; the trailer makes me laugh. You know I want anything starring Emma Thompson to be good and do well, especially after she was robbed of an Oscar nomination for the absolutely transcendent (and criminally underrated) Saving Mr. Banks. Like I said before — I’d rather everything be good than bad.
Words and Pictures
E: Clive Owen as a high school English teacher? Yes please! (But don’t stand too close to him, students! I know it’s difficult.)
C: Oh now, that’s asking too much.
E: I like Juliette Binoche, too, who costars as an bitter art teacher; she and Owen launch a competition between their classes to decide which has more impact, visual art or verbal. And, of course, fall in love along the way. Predictable, but self-consciously arty enough to interest me.
C: This is a “got my attention; wait for the reviews” for me, then.
M: M is not amused.
E: Oh, lighten up.
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
E: Well-reviewed indie about a 13-year-old boy with Asberger’s who is — you guessed it — lost in New York City. I’m willing to give him a break on this. Elizabeth Banks, not so much.
M: Maybe he just got lost between the moon and New York City. Sorry, best that I could do.
The Angriest Man in Brooklyn
M: I’m assuming this is a documentary about Jason Kidd and his deplorable treatment of women.
E: Ah, no.
M: Awfully misleading title, then. They should put a disclaimer on it.
E: Har har. Robin Williams is the titular angry man; Mila Kunis is his therapist (okay). His world is further peopled by Melissa Leo and Peter Dinklage. It doesn’t scream “see me in the theater” but that’s a pretty intriguing cast.
M: Interesting in a “I never thought anyone could find a way to put those four people in the same project” kind of a way, perhaps.
C: Yeah, seriously. Dinklage is pretty great, and Williams used to be, but I feel like there was already a movie about anger management. What was that called…?
M: Angelina Jolie in Sleeping Beauty… from a different point of view. Lots of hype, big blockbuster potential.
C: I know people who are very excited about this movie and I must admit that, much like the similar Snow White and the Huntsman, it LOOKS very cool. But the Disney-villain-as-hero thing feels like a one-trick pony to me and I’ve already seen the trick. Will we find out that Maleficent was misunderstood? Will it turn out that she wants to
save the animals save the forest or something admirable, and that some other character is actually the real 100% evil bad guy? We’ll have to wait and see!
E: I’m super curious about this, anyway. And I love the evil make-over they gave Angelina Jolie! Much better than her evil make-over in Alexander The Great. Or Beowulf.
C: She does look totally fierce with wings.
A Million Ways to Die in the West
C: Seth MacFarlane may have gotten a lot of hate as an Oscar host, but it looks like he also got something else: a taste for the spotlight. Stepping into the starring role in live-action human form for the first time, MacFarlane plays a cowboy in a ridiculous meta-version of a comedy Western.
M: Hmmmm, that *could* be fun.
E: Meh. I guess.
C: The guest star roster? Neil Patrick Harris, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Christopher Lloyd.
M: Even more potential.
C: Unfortunately, those guest stars are really the only thing that looks good to me about this movie. I bet it’ll provide a good time to many, but I don’t think any of the Quibbling Sibs were born with this sense of humor.
M: Depends on which version of MacFarlane it is. I love *some* of Family Guy…
E: Okay, so it’s an unusual title for a film starring British cuties James MacAvoy and Jim Broadbent.
C: …the word “cuties” being used in two radically different ways, there.
M: Neither of which, to me, feels appropriate. Or at least accurate.
E: Um, it is entirely accurate to call James MacAvoy cute in the conventional sense of the word.
C: But there’s nothing cute about this film, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh; MacAvoy plays a sordid, vicious police detective who’s losing his grip and Broadbent his therapist. What’s real and what’s not? A sort of British Shutter Island, maybe.
E: So, perfect for a Saturday matinee with the kids, then? Nailed it!
E: Jesse Eisenberg and a group of environmental radicals plot to blow up a dam.
C: Which might actually qualify as a turn toward the ethical, in terms of Eisenberg’s oeuvre.
M: Who would have guessed, after The Social Network, that the star with the bigger movie opening this month would be Garfield?
M: Okay, so I have no idea what this is, and have no time to look it up (sorry!), but I will say that the title reminds me of one of my all time favorite radio commercials. It was for business internet services (maybe Comcast, I don’t recall), and was set in an office whose service was so slow that instead of emailing each other, they just shouted what they would have emailed to each other. It ended with a guy yelling “SEMI-COLON, RIGHT PARENTHESIS. WINKEY EMOTICON!!!” It was fantastic.
E: That sounds fantastic, but it is actually not the subject of this film.
M: That’s too bad, I’d watch that.
C: It’s apparently the story of an anthropology grad student studying modern forms of communication, who learns lessons about life and love, shockingly enough. What I’m confused about is that IMDb lists this movie as from 2012.
E: Long delayed release, then? It happens.
M: Especially when the subject of the movie is “an anthropology grad student studying modern forms of communication.”
C: I certainly can’t think of a time when delayed release wasn’t a bad omen…
M: Yawn. Why are there so few interesting movies this month? I thought it was the start of the summer season.
E: Dude. Because you are weird and crazy and wrong.
C: Spider-Man, A Million Dollar Arm, Godzilla and X-Men are summery.
E: And that is the end of this summary.