By Alan Scherstuhl
By Amy Nicholson
By Charles Taylor
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Brian Feinzimer
By CAROLINA DEL BUSTO
By AMY NICHOLSON
By Amy Nicholson
So begins the summer movie season, when we willingly pay to see movies we know will be bad. But between the raunchy comedies (A Good Old Fashioned Orgy) and silly sequels (Spy Kids 4, Final Destination 5), some of which we'll love, are some intriguing flicks well-worth watching—and not just to escape the heat. Below, the good, the bad and the we-will-reserve-judgment-for-now rundown. Happy summer, movie fans. (As always, all dates are subject to change.)
* JUNE 24 *
Radiators Springs' resident race-car champ, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), is off to Europe for the World Grand Prix, along with his best buddy, Mater the tow truck (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy). Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer voice the spy cars who think Mater's a secret agent in John Lasseter's sequel.
Conan O'Brien Can't Stop
Filmmaker Rodman Flender follows Conan O'Brien on the 32-city comedy tour he embarked upon shortly after losing his Tonight Show-hosting gig. Jim Carrey, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert appear in selected concert segments.
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
In this documentary, co-directors Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman tell the complex story of Daniel McGowan, an environmental activist whose crusade against timber companies involved in deforestation eventually led him to be indicted as an "eco-terrorist" by the U.S. government.
* JULY 1 *
Newly unemployed, the perennially optimistic Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) enrolls in junior college and begins to woo a perpetually cranky professor (Julia Roberts). Hanks directs from a script he wrote with Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding).
The dream trip 18-year-old Grace (Selena Gomez) and her two friends (Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy) have taken to Europe is going horribly wrong until the press mistakes Grace for a British heiress. Suddenly, fancy hotel rooms, champagne and hunky men are flowing their way in this sudser from Thomas Bezucha (The Family Stone).
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson, seasoned veterans of the never-ending robot wars, head to Chicago to stop a fresh assault by the evil Decepticons. Michael Bay directs in 3-D!
* JULY 8 *
Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest
For his first film as director, actor Michael Rappaport documents the history of A Tribe Called Quest, the influential hip-hop band from Queens. Film footage includes the band's 2010 reunion show in Japan.
Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day are three men who decide to actually carry out what so many worker bees before them have dreamed of doing: kill their bosses. Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston co-star as their respective targets in this tale directed by Seth Gordon (The King of Kongs: A Fistful of Quarters).
The animals are talking to the zookeeper (Kevin James) and—even better—giving him sage advice on how to improve his love life. Rosario Dawson co-stars in this film directed by Frank Coraci (The Wedding Singer).
* JULY 15 *
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
"Voldemort had raised his wand. His head was still tilted to one side, like a curious child, wondering what would happen if he proceeded. Harry looked back into the red eyes and wanted it to happen now, quickly, while he could still stand, before he lost control, before he betrayed fear." David Yates directs Daniel Radcliffe and Ralph Fiennes.
Pastor Dan (Pierce Brosnan), TV evangelist, is all set to break ground on a pre-fab Christian community when he accidentally shoots a visiting atheist (Ed Harris). In this film from George Ratliff, Greg Kinnear co-stars as the disciple who helps the good pastor cover up the mess.
The Weird World of Blowfly
In case you missed his last album, Blowfly is a 60-something rapper who specializes in songs so profane you have to laugh. In this documentary, director Jonathan Furmanski reveals Blowfly's roots in the Miami soul scene of the 1960s, while also tracking the artist's late-life attempt to find real fame.
* JULY 22 *
Captain America: The First Avenger
Chris Evans stars as Steve Rogers, a runty little guy who volunteers for a World War II Army experiment that turns him into a muscle-ripped superhero ready to take on a Nazi weapons genius named Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). Tommy Lee Jones co-stars for director Joe Johnston (The Wolfman).
Friends With Benefits
"No emotion. Just sex" is the mantra agreed upon by two friends (Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake) who've decided they're both too damaged for love and just need good, regular, no-strings sex. Good luck with that. Woody Harrelson and Patricia Clarkson co-star for director Will Gluck (Easy A).
Winner of the World Cinema Audience Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival, this documentary by Asif Kapadia tells the life story of Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian race-car driver who died in a 1994 Grand Prix crash.
* JULY 29 *
Cowboys & Aliens
In the Wild West of old, Lonergan (Daniel Craig) and Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) are enemy gunslingers, but their shootout will have to wait until they kill off the space aliens who have just landed in their dusty desert town in this flick directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man).
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Night after night, sad-sack Cal (Steve Carell), whose wife (Julianne Moore) has left him, sits in a bar and watches a young guy named Jacob (Ryan Gosling) effortlessly pick up women. Desperate, Cal asks him for a ladykiller make-over. The film was co-directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris).
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