2009 Summer Movie Preview: June
Away We Go (June 5)
This Focus Features production has been keeping such a low profile that when its trailer debuted online earlier in the spring, a number of film sites hadn't even heard of it. But with Sam Mendes in the director's chair, a script from Dave Eggers and Vendelia Vida, and a hip young cast that includes John Krasinski ("The Office"), Maya Rudolph ("SNL"), and Maggie Gyllenhaal -- not to mention supporting turns from dependable vets like Allison Janney and Jeff Daniels -- "Away We Go" won't be off the radar for long (especially for Mendes fans who came away from last year's "Revolutionary Road" missing the humor that leavened the director's previous suburban expose, 1999's "American Beauty"). And as an added bonus, it's all but guaranteed to be the best-reviewed movie of Krasinski's brief, often painful film career.
The Hangover (June 5)
Todd Phillips' previous foray into the world of men behaving badly, "Old School," was a case study in missed potential, but "The Hangover" -- starring Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Bradley Cooper as three groomsmen who lose their groom during an epic weekend of Vegas debauchery somehow involving a chicken, a tiger, and an abandoned baby -- has been splitting sides since its trailer surfaced several weeks ago. Audiences have clearly responded positively to early screenings, too: Warner Bros. has already contracted Phillips for a sequel.
Land of the Lost (June 5)
You may say you're sick of Will Ferrell's man-child shtick, but admit it: When you saw him attack Matt Lauer in the "Land of the Lost" TV spot, you couldn't help but feel at least a twinge of anticipation for this wildly unnecessary big-budget update on the cult favorite '70s Saturday morning series. "Land of the Lost" arrives at an opportune cultural moment; if it's any good, it should be able to take advantage of a steadily building wave of nostalgia for the cheesy Krofft stable of shows that included "Land" and "H.R. Pufnstuf." Of course, whether it is any good still remains to be seen...but that trailer looks promising, no?
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (June 12)
Sure, there are way too many remakes coming out of Hollywood these days, but putting a fresh spin on the original "Pelham," which starred Walter Matthau as the rumpled transit authority officer taking on a crew of terrorists who hijack a New York City subway train, isn't the worst idea in the world -- especially when the remake in question subs in Denzel Washington for Matthau, stars John Travolta as the leader of the terrorists, and is directed by Tony Scott. The 1974 original was enjoyable, but not so great that it's off limits, and its themes resonate just as strongly in a modern setting. The snorts of derision that greeted the trailer don't bode particularly well, but it's an action movie in June -- it pretty much has to make money, right?
Year One (June 19)
The last movie that tried to use the Old Testament for comedic inspiration was "The Ten," and the fact that you've probably never even heard of it should tell you how well that went. "Year One" stands a better chance of finding an audience, though -- it was co-produced by Judd Apatow and directed and co-written by Harold Ramis, for starters, and the cast is a veritable Who's Who of hot names in comedy, including Jack Black, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, David Cross, Bill Hader, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Ramis and his fellow screenwriters, "Office" vets Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, took their inspiration from "Monty Python's Life of Brian," which means "Year One" can probably expect a fair amount of bad reviews -- and eventual cult classic status.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (June 24)
It was far from a critical darling, but Michael Bay's "Transformers" left an enormous, robot-sized footprint at the box office -- and you can expect identical results from "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," another excuse for Bay to spend millions of dollars in pursuit of the biggest, most explosive couple of hours anyone will spend in a theater this summer. Of course, we mean "biggest" and "explosive" literally, as in giant robots and a lot of loud explosions -- but if you're looking for a shiny, FX-laden excuse to shut off your brain for a couple of hours, no one knows how to deliver like Michael Bay. You want good acting and intelligent dialogue? Stay home and watch "Masterpiece Theater," you wuss.