2011 Winter Movie Preview: April
Hop (April 1)
Like Will Ferrell, Russell Brand keeps defying the odds by finding new ways to use his impossibly limited comedic shtick -- and he’s done it again with “Hop,” which finds him voicing the Easter Bunny, rudely injured by an unemployed doofus (James Marsden) who has to take him in and nurse him back to health. Director Tim Hill was previously responsible for the unforgivable “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and “Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties,” but in Brand and Marsden, he’s got himself a likable pair of leads -- and with a supporting cast that includes Elizabeth Perkins, Hugh Laurie, and Kaley Cuoco, we’re willing to give “Hop” the benefit of the doubt.
Mother's Day (April 1)
Director Darren Lynn Bousman (“Saw II,” “Saw III,” “Saw IV”) turns his bloodthirsty lens on the Troma film vaults and comes up with a remake of the studio’s gleefully grody 1980 cult classic, about a trio of ex-con brothers who return home from prison, only to discover that their house has a new family living in it. Was anyone asking for a “Mother’s Day” remake? Not really, but Bousman’s version has Rebecca De Mornay starring as the brothers’ deranged mom, and it’s been far too long since we’ve seen her go nuts on the big screen.
Source Code (April 1)
If you’re any kind of sci-fi fan, you’re already familiar with the work of director Duncan Jones, whose low-buget tour de force “Moon” was one of the best-reviewed films of 2009, as well as a one-man acting showcase for Sam Rockwell. With “Source Code,” Jones returns to trippy science fiction territory to tell the story of a soldier (Jake Gyllenhaal) who must solve a bombing using an experimental procedure that allows him to experience the last eight minutes of a person’s life. Ever wanted to see “Groundhog Day” crossed with “Timecop”? Here’s your chance.
Super (April 1)
If your wife left you, how would you cope? Probably not as satisfyingly as Frank (Rainn Wilson), who makes himself a costume, grabs a wrench, and starts kicking ass as the self-styled superhero known as the Crimson Bolt. Superhero satire doesn’t always play well on the big screen, but director James Gunn demonstrated his ability to tinker with established genre conventions with “Slither,” and besides -- it’s Dwight Schrute from “The Office” beating people up with a wrench.
Hanna (April 8)
This winter, ‘tis apparently the season for young girls to kick some ass. First Zack Snyder’s “Sucker Punch,” and now “Hanna,” a tense thriller from director Joe Wright (“Atonement”) about a CIA agent (Eric Bana) who trains his daughter (Saoirse Ronan) to be a deadly assassin -- which comes in handy when she has to go tearing across Europe to escape the clutches of agents led by a mysterious woman (Cate Blanchett). Secrets will be revealed, blood will be shed, and we’ll be in the audience.
Your Highness (April 8)
Director David Gordon Green reunites with two of his “Pineapple Express” stars, James Franco and Danny McBride, in this raunchy medieval comedy about a pair of princes who embark on a perilous journey to save a kidnapped princess (Zooey Deschanel) from a profane evil wizard (Justin Theroux) -- and meet up along the way with a warrior who looks great in a thong (Natalie Portman). Okay, so it probably won’t replace “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” on the list of knights ‘n’ squires comedy classics, but we’re betting it comes close enough to justify the price of a ticket and some popcorn.
Scream 4 (April 15)
Years after we thought this franchise was, um, dead and buried, director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson round up the surviving original cast (including Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette), add a few fresh victims (Hayden Panettiere, Alison Brie, Emma Roberts), and serve up yet another round of satirically bloody satire. Few franchises really need a fourth installment, and “Scream” probably isn’t an exception, but admit it -- you kind of miss the ‘90s, don’t you?
Water for Elephants (April 15)
The bestselling novel comes tastefully to the big screen in this adaptation from director Francis Lawrence (“I Am Legend”), who cast Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon as a veterinary student and the circus performer he falls for. If it sounds like the kind of beautifully lit period romance that usually arrives in theaters in the fall, well, it is -- but look at this way: here’s one less tearjerker that your wife or girlfriend will try and drag you to during football season.
Crazy Stupid Love (April 22)
Steve Carell approaches the beginning of his post-“Office” career with “Crazy Stupid Love,” a bittersweet comedy about a guy whose wife (Julianne Moore) cheats on him, setting in motion a midlife re-entry into the dating pool. Things have changed since he was single, but he’s assisted by a younger friend (Ryan Gosling) even as he finds himself the unwitting object of his babysitter’s (Analeigh Tipton) affections. Other slice-of-life comedies from Carell have fizzled (“Dan in Real Life,” anyone? No?), but this one might be “Crazy Stupid” enough to work.
Fast Five (April 29)
Like the “Final Destination” movies, the “Fast & Furious” franchise exists independent of plot or common sense; no one cares about how each sequel relates to the one that came before it, they just show up to watch stuff happen (and explode all over the place). Which is to say that “Fast Five” is a continuation of “Fast & Furious,” and that it reunites Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster, Ludacris, and Tyrese Gibson while adding Dwayne Johnson to the mix -- but the real stars are the cars, the cars that go zoom. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the “Furious” flicks make money -- and “Fast Five” marks the spot where summer blockbuster season screeches away from the starting line.