by HELEN GEIB
June was the worst month of the year last year for Hollywood releases. That’s a low bar and Toy Story 3 by itself should be enough to jump it. A few other films look promising as well. The full releases list after the cut.
Get Him to the Greek– Just when I’d gotten used to the new 1-2 movies a weekend Hollywood release pattern, along comes a week with four new films opening at the multiplex. (Never fear, life goes back to normal next weekend.) The strategy is evidently to appeal to four distinct demographics. Get Him to the Greek targets the raunchy comedy crowd. Written and directed by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), it stars Jonah Hill as a record company flunky who must get a temperamental rock star to the titular Greek theater in LA.
Killers– Killers is the weekend’s movie for couples and teenage girls. Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher play a couple whose seemingly idyllic life is interrupted by her discovery that he’s an assassin and lots of other assassins are out to get him. Actually it looks kind of fun. It may be the first Ashton Kutcher movie I see. Directed by Robert Luketic (The Ugly Truth, 21).
Marmaduke– And we come to the movie for the family audience, i.e., desperate parents who have already taken their kids to see Shrek 4 and Prince of Persia. Sort of inspired by the long-running comic strip about the mischief-causing Great Dane. Owen Wilson heads up the human cast and it was directed by Tom Dey, whose only notable credit is Shanghai Noon.
Splice– What would the weekend of all demographics served be without a horror film? Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley play scientists who create a chimera who is close to human, almost like their own child, and- deadly? I’m guessing yes. Written and directed by Vinzenzo Natali.
The A-Team– The trailer suggests the filmmakers have captured the TV show’s spirit of silly good fun. Best line: “They specialize in the ridiculous.” When I first heard this was in the works I never imagined I’d be looking forward to seeing it! Directed and co-written by Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces, the excellent and neglected Narc) and starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley, and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson as the team. Jessica Biel and Patrick Wilson are in there too.
The Karate Kid– Jackie Chan has the Mr. Miyagi role in this remake, in which the story has been transplanted to China. With luck the rest of the film will live up to the promise of that casting. Jaden Smith plays the karate kid; directed by Harald Zwart (The Pink Panther 2, Agent Cody Banks).
Jonah Hex– Now this is just plain odd: Jonah Hex is the second film directed by Jimmy Hayward. His first film? Horton Hears a Who!. Josh Brolin stars as the title character, a bounty hunter after a villain (John Malkovich) whose goal is to unleash hell on earth (literally, as I understand it). The screenplay is by Neveldine and Taylor, the team behind the Crank films (1 for 2) and last year’s disappointing Gamer, and is based on an obscure comic book series.
Toy Story 3– Toy Story 3 will surely be the big movie of June. It was directed by Lee Unkrich, who co-directed Toy Story 2 (as well as Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo). Screenwriter Michael Arndt on the other hand, is new to Pixar films; this is his second screenplay credit and follows Little Miss Sunshine. The voice cast is back, headed by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. Interestingly, while the filmmakers could have gone the “further adventures of” route, they’ve instead chosen to “age” the characters in real time. The only question is whether the film can live up to the incredibly high expectations created by the first two films and Pixar’s track record.
Grown Ups– Five men who were friends in high school renew their friendship over a Fourth of July holiday weekend. Per the trailer, there will be punishing pratfalls and crude jokes aplenty. In other words, typical “family” fare. Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider are the “grown ups.” The film was directed by Dennis Dugan (You Don’t Mess With the Zohan) and written by Sandler and Fred Wolf.
Knight and Day– This week’s counter-programming is an action comedy with a strong dose of romance. And glamor, as supplied by stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Directed by James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line). This is the film I’d be seeing even if there was real competition for the weekend.