We are now only 12 days away from the official start of the summer movie season. It’s a time when hollywood brings out their heaviest hitters and some worthwhile independents get thrown out trying to take advantage of the one time of year where people go to the movies just to go. I’ve been disenchanted with the summer season for a couple years since my taste has gone decidedly more towards unmarketable artsy fartsy fare, but I still appreciate the thrill of being among hundreds when the lights going down on those midnight shows of an anticipated flick. Before we get to what I’m looking forward to this year, let’s take a trip back in our time machine to ten years ago. The summer of 1998. I was 15 going on 16 and finally coming into my own skin in high school. I had my second kiss that summer, first with someone who was interested in me and vice versa. I also got my driver’s license and my first job at Taco Bell. What did I do with my freedom and income? Went to the movies. A lot. I saw the following films in the theater- Deep Impact, Godzilla, A Perfect Murder, The Truman Show, Can’t Hardly Wait, Dirty Work, Mulan, The X-Files, Doctor Dolittle, Armageddon (twice), Lethal Weapon 4, The Mask of Zorro, There’s Something About Mary, Saving Private Ryan, BASEketball, Ever After, Halloween: 20 Years Later, Snake Eyes, The Avengers, Dead Man on Campus and 54. Phew. Good memories with some of those.
Last year at this point I could only come up with a top 7 most anticipated for the summer and I wound up not even seeing two of them. I did see Paris je T’aime, Day Night Day Night, Once, Knocked Up, Ratatouille, Transformers, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2 Days in Paris, Superbad (twice), Hannah Takes the Stairs and Quiet City. That’s actually a lot for me these days and I enjoyed more than half of them. I’m also happy to say that I had no trouble coming up with 10 films I’d like to see over the next four months and even had to make some tough calls on what to leave out. So without further ado, here’s my 10 most anticipated movies of summer 2008.
*Note: Pineapple Express would surely be on this list and most likely numero uno but for the fact that I’ve already seen it. To make room for others, I booted it.
10. Tropic Thunder
Directed by Ben Stiller
Starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr.
I actually don’t think the concept or the trailer for this movie are very funny. Nor am I a huge Ben Stiller fan, EXCEPT when the man gets behind the camera. The Cable Guy and Zoolander are both brilliant and that’s what gets me most pumped up about this. Also the presence of a special guest star cameo has me giggling already but I won’t spoil it in case you haven’t heard. Then there’s Robert Downey Jr. in blackface, which isn’t funny in and of itself but does provide some great opportunities.
9. The Happening
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo
M. Night Shyamalan is a terrible writer. But he’s also a brilliant director and I can’t help get sucked in by his trailers. Who knows what this is about? Who cares? There’s probably a twist and it will probably make the rest of the movie not make sense but by then hopefully I’ll have tuned out the plot and concentrated on the amazing camera direction. I like Wahlberg and Deschanel and I like to be creeped out. I didn’t see Lady in the Water but I can defend The Village a little bit.
8. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, Shia LaBeouf
I am positive this movie is going to be bad. Steven Spielberg just does not have it in him to resist terrible “wink-wink” jokes about how old Indy is and the whole trailer reeks of being too self-aware. That said, nobody does action/adventure like Sir Stevey and no opening night crowd is gonna be as boisterous as this one. I will be there with bells on to soak up that atmosphere and possibly, but not likely, be pleasantly surprised by what hits the screen.
7. Mister Lonely
Directed by Harmony Korine
Starring Diego Luna, Samantha Morton, Denis Lavant, Werner Herzog
First screened at Cannes last year, this is the story of a Michael Jackson impersonator who falls in love with a Marilyn Monroe impersonator at some retreat for celebrity impersonators. I haven’t seen any Harmony Korine films but I’ve heard nothing but great things about this one from friends and the trailers and poster are beautiful. It could be a little gimmicky but from what I’ve heard, it delivers on all levels and could be one of my favorites for the whole year. I like Luna and Morton and one can only hope that Werner Herzog plays his own celebrity impersonator.
6. The X-Files: I Want to Believe
Directed by Chris Carter
Starring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly
Before you get me confused for some fan of this show, I’m not. I don’t know that I’ve ever even seen a whole episode. I did like the first film though and I would also consider myself a fan of the sci-fi/thriller genre, provided its done with some thought. I feel like these guys take this kind of material super seriously and can deliver some real thrills in the product, which would be great. There’s nothing better than sitting in a dark theater and actually feeling spooked out. Two warning signs though: Amanda Peet and the terrible title.
5. The Foot Fist Way
Directed by Jody Hill
Starring Danny McBride, Ben Best, Mary Jane Bostic
I’m a little skeptical about this one but it must be something special since it was based on this movie alone that Danny McBride landed roles in Hot Rod, The Heartbreak Kid, Drillbit Taylor and Tropic Thunder. Will Ferrell sure seems to like it and I’m always willing to support friends of friends. Plus, the tagline is truly amazing. If you can’t see it there it says, “The story of a man who teaches people how to kick other people in the face”. Let’s just hope this isn’t another Napoleon Dynamite.
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Starring Ben Burtt, Sigourney Weaver, John Ratzenberger, Fred Willard
I’ll say it again, with the exception of Cars, Pixar has yet to create a film I wasn’t interested in seeing and then at least mostly enjoyed when I saw it. Loved Finding Nemo, which was the last time Stanton was behind the reins and the idea of a cartoon with no dialogue for most of the screen time is pretty adventurous. Pixar definitely has been falling into their own trap of story structure for each film and this has a chance of breaking out of that. The robot is adorable, the animation looks stellar and it’s nice to see a movie with kids around once in a (long) while.
Directed by Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Starring Steve Zissis, Ross Partridge, Greta Gerwig, Elise Muller
This one was a standout at Sundance this year and many of my friends have already seen and liked it. I’d consider myself a fan of The Puffy Chair, the first film from the Duplass Brothers but I wasn’t head over heels in love with it. I do love what I’ve heard so far about Baghead, which is thankfully not that much since I gather it plays with audience expectations a lot. If you know anything about the mumblecore movement (god help me for writing that), you should check this out and support it.
2. American Teen
Directed by Nanette Burstein
Paramount Vantage is taking a bit of a risk releasing this documentary wide and marketing it like a regular summer teen flick. I hate that poster there but as soon as I saw the trailer for this, I knew I had to see it. I’m obsessed with high school and this kind of documentary plays right into everything I like about it. It’s like a feature length version of MTV’s True Life, only hopefully the filmmaking behind it is a little more thought out. Last year, my number one film to see was Superbad because I said it was a movie I wish I had made. Same goes for this one.
1. The Dark Knight
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine
How great is that poster? And how sad is it gonna be watching Heath Ledger in this movie? Here’s the thing, I hated Batman Begins. If there’s a more prodding, more boring, less interesting superhero movie out there, I don’t know about it. I understand what Nolan was going for but in my book he failed miserably. Thank Christ Liam Neeson and Ken Watanabe will be nowhere near this movie. Instead, with one casting decision Nolan has completely won me over again and I literally can’t wait to see Ledger play the Joker, no matter how bittersweet it will be. This is what summer blockbusters are all about to me.
Ba-boom. Did I miss anything? Fuck Speed Racer, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man and all that bullshit. The films that barely missed this list were The Edge of Heaven, Ballast, The Proposition and Hamlet 2. And don’t forget to go see Pineapple Express, it’s hilarious.