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Now that we've broken the Memorial Day barrier, its time to charge head-on into summer. That means lot of films for you to sort through and with ticket prices at a record high, you deserve to know straight up what's going into theaters and whether it might be something worthy of your cash. Keep checking in with PAM each month to get the scoop on the June films you're going to be most interested in. There are some you're well aware of (Toy Story 3) but others maybe not so much. So here we go:
-- June 4 --
Get Him to the Greek
Controversial British comedian Russell Brand stars as rock star Aldous Snow, whose careers hits the skids after his single "African Child" is called the "worst thing to happen to Africa since Apartheid." To kick-start his career, an ambitious record intern Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) proposes a comeback gig at the Greek Theatre. But he has to do the difficult task of taking a depressed rock-star fuelled on alcohol and drugs from London to Los Angeles.
Get Him to the Greek is a spin-off of the popular film Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Nicholas Stoller returns to the director’s chair and takes over the writing duties, while Judd Apatow remains as producer. They clearly wanted to give Brand's character a more central role and to make that move easier, have him star alongside Hill, who has been a fixture in Apatow films for years now, namely in Superbad and Funny People. To add gravitas, Australian Rose Byrne (Damages) and Irishman Colm Meaney (Layer Cake) fill out the cast and a music-based film is not complete without a music star, in this case Sean Combs, aka Diddy, P. Diddy Puff Daddy or whatever he's called this current minute.
Apatow’s films have proven to be critically and financially successful as well as a safe bet because of their low budgets. But since the release of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Brand's career has nose-dived; After the Andrew Sachs controversy he burnt his bridges with the BBC and when he hosted the MTV Video Music Awards in 2008 it was met with a lukewarm reception. Even within the UK, people either love him or hate him.
Written and directed by Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Rose Byrne
The first 2010 Sundance film to get a wide release after making waves at the January festival is Splice, a science fiction, action, mystery, horror and ethical drama hybrid not unlike its controversial character, a fusion of animal and human DNA named Dren. Splice is a modern-day Frankenstein of sorts starring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley and written and directed by Vincenzo Natali, who might be getting his pick of films from here on out if his film becomes as much of a financial success as it has been a critical success and festival favorite.
You can read Chris Denmead's review of Splice here
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Written by Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant, Doug Taylor
Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley
-- June 11 --
The Karate Kid
Hollywood has been running out of ideas, and if they've got them, they're worried they'll have no following, which is why remakes are quite frequent nowadays. So common, in fact, that original films are few and far between. With that being said, we have the Jaden Smith-led remake of The Karate Kid. Although this film features a China setting as opposed to an American one, the basic premise is the same as the original film.
The younger Smith showed promise alongside his Academy Award-nominated father Will in 2005’s The Pursuit of Happyness. The father-son dynamic worked in that film because, well, the two are actually father and son. Jaden's last big-screen venture, The Day the Earth Stood Still, didn’t fare as well. “Karate” will show us whether Smith is a one-trick pony or if he might have the star makings of his daddy.
Taraji P. Henson plays Smith’s mother. After earning an Academy Award nomination for playing the adoptive mother in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Henson has shown a great talent for portraying mother figures. Although the role here probably won'[t be as strong, she will probably hit it out of the park. Jackie Chan also looks to give a fine performance, as action (and now family movies apparently) is his forte. The role of Mr. Miyagi scored Pat Morita an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. It is doubtful that Chan will be able to pull the same kind of feat, but hopefully the film can rekindle a little bit of that same spirit when it becomes the first summer 2010 family film with no animation in it.
Directed by Harald Zwart
Written by Christopher Murphey, Robert Mark Kamen
Starring: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson
Action-centric recreations of classic television series seem to do quite well in theaters (even if more financially so than critically) from S.W.A.T to Mission Impossible, Get Smart, Charlie’s Angels, etc, etc. Arguably, The A-Team is one of the most popular television series of all time, if not simply one of the most well-known, and loading the cast with a veteran (Liam Neeson) along with three up-and-comers (Sharlto Copley, Bradley Cooper and Rampage Jackson of the UFC) certainly adds the “it” factor to this blockbuster.
Preposterously action-loaded trailers (and a shirtless Bradley Cooper) have been well received and should appeal to a wide audience, whether that be swooning ladies, explosion-hungry teens or nostalgic adults. The burning question of course is if this adaptation will actually be delightful nonsense or forgettable fluff. I suppose it all depends on what category a movie in which a plummeting tank deploys a parachute and shoots down an airplane falls in your book.
Directed by Joe Carnahan
Written by Joe Carnahan, Brian Bloom Skip Woods (screenplay), Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell (TV series)
Starring: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Sharlto Copley
-- June 18 --
Toy Story 3
At last! The long-tossed around third installment of the film franchise that made Pixar a household name comes out this summer after an 11-year hiatus. It’s a complete reversal in trend for the award-winning studio, who goes from three straight years of groundbreaking original animated features to a “three-quel.” In the new movie, Andy is off to college and the toys end up being donated to a daycare center where they meet countless new toys who are kind of evil and don’t want them to escape.
I’m not sold that this is going to be fantastic, but it is Pixar and I was just eight years old when the original film changed animation forever. The character overdose is a bit concerning, but what held up this film was finding a script that would be worth making a new one. Clearly Pixar felt passionate about Little Miss Sunshine writer Michael Arndt’s script enough to revive this classic franchise. Toy Story 3 is sure to rack in one of 2010’s highest grosses worldwide.
Directed by Lee Unkrich
Written by Michael Arndt
Starring: (voices) Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Michael Keaton, Joan Cusack
A second tier comic book, extensive reshoots and Megan Fox? Must be Jonah Hex, the big question mark this June. Whether this will be more Hellboy or more Ghost Rider remains to be seen but at least the cast inspires confidence. Josh Brolin stars as the titular anti-hero and since his unintentional hiatus after starring in The Goonies back in 1985, he has had a tidy little comeback, scoring significant roles in Grindhouse, No Country for Old Men, American Gangster and W..
Providing a counterbalance to Brolin is the one and only John Malkovich as the villainous (and most certainly overacted) Turnball and if anyone can make dead material watchable in a purely corny way, he’s your man. Old-school gattling guns and supernatural subplots galore emulate Wild Wild West, but the talent in the director’s chair is about as divergent from that style of film as possible.
Jonah Hex is helmed by Jimmy Hayward who has only one other directing credit to his name: Horton Hears a Who! (Yes you read that correctly) He was also a Pixar animator for classics such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo. If this movie could have more of a hodgepodge of genres, cast and crew I certainly couldn’t fathom it.
Directed by Jimmy Hayward
Written by Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor, William Farmer (story and screenplay), John Albano and Tony Dezuniga (comic)
Starring: Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich
We thought we'd throw in one indie film here for good measure because you're very familiar with its cast. Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly, Catherine Keener and Marissa Tomei star in Cyrus, a film about a down-on-his-luck and recently divorced man (Reilly) who falls for a woman (Tomei) who happens to have a very attached grown son (Hill) that's never had a real father figure in his life. The film is directed by the Duplass brothers (Baghead).
The most positive thing about Cyrus is seeing Jonah Hill take his acting style to a character with some psychological issues in addition to a sharp wit. We’ve seen Keener, Reilly and Tomei all in these kinds of roles before, but never Hill. Considering both Hill and Reilly have done the silly comedy thing before, this should be a really easy indie movie for someone who doesn’t usually catch these kinds of films to try on for size
Written and directed by Jay and Mark Duplass
Starring: John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marissa Tomei, Catherine Keener
-- June 25 --
Knight and Day
Knight and Day looks like the standard “random person meets spy and falls in love” film, but what makes this film more distinguishable from that norm are its two leads: Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.
Knight and Day marks the first Cruise and Diaz pairing since Cameron Crowe’s 2001 film Vanilla Sky. Unfortunately, neither of them have had a hit in quite some time. Cruise hasn’t carried a film to over $100 million since the 2006 film Mission Impossible: III and it’s been almost seven years since Diaz led Charlie’s Angel: Full Throttle to over $100 million. However, given the popularity of the recent action comedy Date Night, this film could prove to be a hit, as well as a fun time at the movies.
The film is directed by James Mangold, who helmed the remake of 3:10 to Yuma, a rather underrated flick with some great action. The challenge resides in being the second film of the month trying to exploit the romantic action comedy spy genre, the first being Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl's Killers, which comes out on June 4.
Directed by James Mangold
Written by Patrick O'Neill
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard
Adam Sandler’s yearly summer entry combines him with pals Kevin James, Rob Schneider, David Spade and Chris Rock for a comedy about old school buddies getting together after decades to catch up and meet each other’s families. Of course, each guy brings some kind of bizarre family situation with him. Sandler’s age has him writing a lot more recently about these kinds of subjects, which is very Judd Apatow of him. Sandler regular Dennis Dugan directs.
This film could do really well for Sandler, who has toned down his craziness for a more traditional comedy concept with run-of-the-mill gags. It should appeal much more to the nostalgic generation of 40 to 50-somethings than any of his previous efforts. Personally, the trailer doesn’t have me sold entirely on the actual humor of the entire film, but I like the potential for some heart that its premise clearly allows for. It will, however, have a tough time competing for the date audience with Knight and Day due out that same weekend.
Directed by Dennis Dugan
Written by Adam Sandler, Fred Wolf
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, David Spade
-- June 30 --
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
June closes out with a box office bang with the release of the third Twilight Saga film. In this episode, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is forced between her two suitors, the vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), with the Volturi council applying pressure on her. To complicate matters there are mysterious killings in Seattle, with a new race of vampires being created. Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) seeks revenge for the death of her lover, forcing the Cullen family and the Quileute werewolf tribe join forces to stop this new threat.
Although most of the cast returns to the series, Howard is replacing Rachelle Lefevre as Victoria after Lefevre claimed there was a lack of character development in the film series.
After Catherine Hardwicke and Chris Weitz directed a Twilight film a piece, David Slade is having a go. His previous efforts are the psychological thriller Hard Candy and vampire film 30 Days of Night. He is considered a rising star in the film world and should give Twilight a darker edge. Eclipse is also the first Twilight film to be shown in IMAX cinemas.
Directed by David Slade
Written by Melissa Rosenberg, Stephenie Meyer (novel)
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner