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Summer movie preview

By Staff | May 26, 2009

What’s coming in the next few months? We have a preview. Assisting with the rundown is Curtis McCall, president and CEO of Marquee Cinemas. He’s been to the spring film Vegas tradeshow, Show West, where he saw some of the offerings and the buzz around others.

MAY 29
• DRAG ME TO HELL: Alison (“Beowulf,” “Delirious”) Lohman has a chip on her shoulder — she wants to be the first female loan officer at her bank. After competing with the boys club, she’s also been warned that a woman might not be tough enough for the position. An elderly woman (Loren Raver) gets down on hands and knees begging for an extension on her mortgage. To impress her boss, Lohman says, “No.” As a result, the lady puts a curse on her that transforms her life into hell on earth while she awaits a demon to collect her soul for eternal damnation.

• UP: Pixar and Disney Digital 3D team for what’s already generating five star reviews from critics who have seen advance showings. Here’s the story: A 78-year-old balloon salesman ties thousands of the air-filled objects to his house lifting off to South America. Unfortunately, the homemade aircraft has a stowaway — an eight year old explorer (voice by Christopher Plummer). Pete (“Monsters Inc.”) Docter directs.

• THE HANGOVER: Here comes what many predict as the summer comedy sleeper. Director Todd (“Old School,” “Road Trip”) Phillips watched a steady diet of screwball comedy growing up, like “Stripes” and “Revenge of the Nerds,” but you would recognize him best as an Oscar nominated writer of “Borat.” Now, he’s cast Bradley (“Yes Man,” “The Rocker”) Cooper in a Vegas bachelor party gone bonkers. When the three groomsmen awake, there’s a tiger in the bathroom of their suite and a six-month old baby in the closet. At ShowWest, Curtis McCall caught a clip and told us, it’s a comedy of the Apatow style.  “It could be hilarious. I don’t think people are aware of it right now, I think it will have a lot of bite.”

• LAND OF THE LOST: Don’t write this off as just typical family friendly. Will Ferrell stars in what, based on buzz, will spoof a fabled ‘70s Saturday cartoon show with lots of creatures populating an alternate universe. He’s paired with a redneck survivalist (Danny McBride) and a female research assistant (Anna Friel).

• MY LIFE IN RUINS: Nia (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) Vardalos stars as a travel guide leading a troupe of rag-tag tourists to see the beauty of Greece, while she dreams of finding another more substantial job.

• IMAGINE THAT: Let’s cut to the chase. Eddie Murphy has not had a hit in years, floundering in “Meet Dave,” “Adventures of Pluto Nash,” and “Norbit.” Can Murphy find the zip and zest that propelled him in “Beverly Hills Cop,” or to a certain extinct “Daddy Day Car” and “Nutty Professor?” Ironically, the plot has a link to Eddie’s career. He plays a financial exec whose life has hit the bricks until his daughter invites him to come into her imaginary world. 

• TAKING OF PELHAM 1, 2, 3: A re-make of a 1974 Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw underrated thriller, Denzel Washington takes Matthau’s role as an NYC subway dispatcher whose world of on time routine shatters when four armed terrorists (led by John Travolta) hijack a train and demand a large ransom or they will start putting bullet hole in the passengers trapped in the dark tunnels under Manhattan.

• THE PROPOSAL: If you go to the flicks regularly, you’ve likely seen the preview — a demanding, high powered editor (Sandra Bullock) drives her assistant to insanity (Ryan Reynolds) such that he berates her with every breath. Then, her bosses learn she’s a native Canadian with an expired visa. Bye, bye, big time job. Opps, the assistant walks into the boardroom and she quickly foments a plan — “We’re getting married.” Inside Show West Buzz: McCall saw the full film. “It’s a cute comedy that will play really well in the summer giving couples something to go see. It looks to be positioned right because there’s not a lot of [that genre] before or after,” the theatre owner said.

• YEAR ONE: Here it comes, Harold Ramis and Judd Apatow team with Owen Wilson in a prehistoric reuniting of the most behind the camera comedic talent assembled in years. Ramis directed “Groundhog Day,” “Caddyshack,” and “Analyze That” and penned “Meatballs,””Stripes,” and “Ghostbusters,” so expectations soar as 21st Century edgy, limit pushing guru Apatow (“Knocked Up,” “Pineapple Express,” “Superbad”) send Michael (“Superbad”) Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fogell in “Superbad”) back to the stone age where tribal hunter laziness lands two dudes on a get lost and multiply journey. Jack Black also stars.

• TRANSFORMERS: Revenge of the Fallen: The bots return two years after the original release set new standards for on screen erector set-like heroes wowing the audience with special effects and all barrel explosions in a reportedly $200 million dollar tentpole that could be the summer’s highest grossing entry. Michael (“The Rock,” “Armageddon,”) Bay’s back in the director’s chair where the youthful Sam Witwicky has learned the origins of the Transformers leaving him prey to another Decepticon invasion.

• MY SISTER’S KEEPER: Don’t venture into this Cameron Diaz and Alec Baldwin drama (directed by Nick Cassavetes) if you’re looking for a feel good experience. By age thirteen, Anna (Abigail Breslin) has undergone surgeries, transfusions and other treatments as the genetically closest match to her older sister Kate (Sofia Vassilieva), who has leukemia. Now, entering the torrid teens, Anna has made a decision that will tear the family apart.

• PUBLIC ENEMIES: During the Roaring ‘20s and the Machine Gun ‘30s, gangsters ruled certain cities due to the law that prohibited alcohol sales. Mobsters distributed the booze, and dudes like Elliott Ness and his Untouchables battled them like the FBI battles drug traffickers today. One of the most famous bank robbers of the era, John Dillinger, played here by Johnny Depp, faces a determined agent (Christian Bale) who’s determined to send the hardened criminal to the electric chair. His story has been told before, but following the popularity of the “Soprano’s,” this could be a rat-a-tat-tat thriller.

• ICE AGE: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: Here’s another animated 3D flick with those huge prehistoric monsters to divert them for several hours. Currently, though, the film’s producer has been fussing with theatre owners over who pays for the non-recyclable 3D glasses.

• BRUNO: Sacha Baron Cohen (better known as “Boart”) returns to satirize the fashion industry and all its icons and haute couture. He plays a fashion reporter traveling the globe with the production displaying a good share of cage fights, baggage claim hassles, runway missteps and political rallies.

• I LOVE YOU BETH COOPER: Do you remember the long haired girl in high school whom you were head over heels in puppy love, but she always saw you as an awkward unknown nerd whose smile at her looked more like a nervous salesman? Directed by Chris (“Harry Potter and Sorcer’s Stone,” “Chamber of Secrets,” “Rent,” and “Home Alone”) Columbus, this movie does a homage to John (“Breakfast Club,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Sixteen Candles”) Hughes as a geek declares his love to the hottest cheerleader during his valedictorian speech.

• HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE: How much do you need to know? Isn’t this a given? It’s Radcliffe’s sixth outing as the boy wizard and this is a darker and more hormonal film. Harry knows a final battle fast approaches, so Hogwarts is no longer a safe sanctuary. At the same time, his romance with Ginny grows and so does jealousy .

• G-FORCE: Disney has given us penguins, a Chihuahua, and now guinea pigs. They will be this year’s little heroes attempting to prevent the world from falling into evil hands.

• ORPHAN: As August approaches, so do the influx of horror flicks. Here, a couple adopt after their unborn baby dies. While the nine-year-old orphan they find at a local orphanage, who seemed sweet and angelic, might have a sinister and demon-like agenda. Vera (“The Boy in Striped Pajamas”) Famiga and Peter (“Garden State”) Sarsgaard play the parents while Isabella Fuhrman, who has appeared in TV’s “Ghost Whisperer” and “Justice.”

• UGLY TRUTH: Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler star as a lonely morning show producer and a macho correspondent who bets he can teach her to land and keep a guy. Unfortunately, you can guess what’s going to happen during this process.

• FUNNY PEOPLE: It’s time for Judd Apatow to take the helm of a summer pic, but this one has him a little out of his element. In fact, early buzz has the flick running well over two hours. Adam Sandler starts as a successful comedian who has a terminal health condition. Hope for a “Punch Drunk Love” but could the subject matter be the set up for a misfire from the man responsible for “40 Year Old Virgin,” “Superbad,” and “Knocked Up?” His wife, Leslie (“17 Again,” “Drillbit Taylor”) Mann and Sarah Silverman are the opposite sex lures for this comedy-drama.

• ALIENS IN THE ATTIC: Fess up. Don’t you remember telling mommy you were scared of the dark or that a giant monster was hidden in your closet? Taking a little “E.T.” and “Gremlins” along with the standard what lurks behind the attic door, kids on a summer vacation discover knee high aliens in their attic. How can they get them to beam back before mom and dad tell them they’ve been playing too many video games?  Incidentally, the cast includes two “SNL” dudes and a gal from “HSM.”

 AUG. 7
Known as “grind down” time in the film industry, August generally includes anything deemed not strong enough or good enough or just not fitting into June and July. McCall has seen some clips and believes “GI Joe,” “Julie & Julia” and “Shorts” have good potential.

• GI JOE RISE OF COBRA: Toys have been the basis for some cool movies, so Hasbro’s G.I. Joe comes to life battling the evil arms dealing forces of Cobra. Rachael Nichols who’s featured in “Star Trek” provides a little eye candy for those that need a bit of eye candy.

• JULIE & JULIA: Unknown to one another, a disgruntled secretary (Amy Adams) spices up her boring life by attempting to cook 524 Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep) recipes in a year.

• SHORTS: Living in an every house looks the same suburb, a rainbow colored rocks hits a boy in the head. The rock has special powers — it grants wishes. As the rock is shared, kids conjure miniature spaceships and crocodile armies, then, oh my, an adult gets hit on the head. Directed by Robert (“Spy Kids”) Rodriguez.

AUG. 14
• BANDSLAM: Here’s a good one for the tweens. Disney Channel superstars Vanessa Anne Hudgens (‘High School Musical 1 & 2,’ ‘High School Musical 3’) and Alyson Michalka (‘Phil of the Future,”) are among the stars of a music driven comedy in which a popular gal forms a band with the campus outcast (Gaelan Connell) and enter a competition.

• DISTRICT 9: A low budget aliens versus humans story where the E.T.’s have been peacefully surviving for 30 years in South Africa. With their weapons powerless, humankind succumbs to their fears and place a disinterested security company in charge of the alien’s compound. Then, a virus begins spreading … a virus which alters D.N.A. and can activate all those formerly useless weapons. Peter (“Lord of the Rings”) Jackson has a hand in this one.

• THE GOODS LIVE HARD, SELL HARD: This could turn into an un-funny comedy depending on the disposition of Chrysler and G.M. Whether it will be a parody, dark themed, or just plain relevant will depend on the success or lack thereof of Detroit’s manufacturers. It’s about a struggling car dealership that lands a fast talking, hustler salesman to save it from bankruptcy. Then, the top salesman meets a woman whose not fond of his slick talking personality.

• PERFECT GETAWAY: Here’s one of those horror-slashing films that picks on Hawaii not the Mountain State. Pairs of lovers discover that psychopaths are murdering tourists on the island paradise.

• TAKING WOODSTOCK: Turned into a favorite at the Cannes Festival, it tells of how a young man working on his parent’s farm helps the concert organizers gain a permit for the iconic festival to be.

AUG. 21
• INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS: Quentin Tarantino directs a film starring Brad Pitt about an American led killing squad inside German occupied France during the Second World War. Warning: It’s been sitting on the shelf a long time.

• POST GRAD: Worst case scenario, but all too common in a recession. Gal graduates from prestigious college and she’s ready for a loft apartment, but she misses out on the job for which she prepared.  Former “Gilmore Girl”, Alexis Bledel returns home to her highly eccentric  “You Can’t Take It With You” family including  a stubborn do-it-yourself dad (Michael Keaton), an overly thrifty mom (Jane Lynch), a politically incorrect grandma (Carol Burnett), a very odd little brother (Bobby Coleman). How’s she going to get a career on the road?

AUG. 28
•BOAT THAT ROCKED: It’s the ‘60s and broadcasting off the shore on a floating unlicensed radio station, rogue D.J.’s hook listeners on pop music , love and free will. 

• FINAL DESTINATION: DEATH TRIP: A man’s premonition of a deadly race car crash saves lives, but the Grim Reaper will not be cheated that easily.

• HALLOWEEN II: Rob Zombie directs a re-make of the second “Halloween” saga.

Contact Tony at trutherford@graffitiwv.com