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 are 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.)
Beautiful Boy: Michael Sheen and Maria Bello star as a couple whose troubled marriage is upended completely by news that their son (Kyle Gallner) has killed himself after going on a shooting rampage at his college. Shawn Ku directs from a script he wrote with Michael Armbruster.
New Times Summer Guide
The Last Mountain: David battles Goliath as documentarian Bill Haney (The Price of Sugar) tracks an Appalachian community's fight to prevent a coal conglomerate from strip-mining their mountain home.
Love Wedding Marriage: A newly married marriage counselor (Mandy Moore) gets so wrapped up in keeping her parents (James Brolin and Jane Seymour) from divorcing that she begins neglecting her own spouse (Kellan Lutz). Directed by actor Dermot Mulroney.
Submarine: Oliver (Craig Roberts), a 15-year-old British schoolboy, has two goals for his summer vacation: sleeping with his romance-hating gal pal (Yasmin Paige) and saving the marriage of his parents (Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor). Directed by Richard Ayoade.
Troll Hunter: There be trolls in them there hills, and they're not real happy that a group of film students are trying to track them down. This mockumentary horror comedy from writer-director André Øvredal was a big hit in Norway — can Troll Hunter 2 be far behind?
X-Men: First Class: In this prequel, director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) tracks the formative years, circa 1963, of the mutant heroes. James McAvoy portrays the young Charles Xavier, the role previously played by Patrick Stewart. Michael Fassbender, January Jones, and Kevin Bacon co-star.
Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer: Third-grader Judy Moody (Jordana Beatty) and her little brother Stink (Parris Mosteller) are spending the summer with their Aunt Opal (Heather Graham), who thinks Judy's plan for a summer filled with wild dares — ride an elephant, capture Bigfoot — sounds swell. Based on the popular children's book series by Megan McDonald. Directed by John Schultz.
Super 8: Ohio. 1979. Three teens, one of them a budding Spielberg, are out late at night, making a Super 8 movie. Suddenly, a freight train crashes and, lo and behold, a space alien the feds have been hiding at Area 51, escapes. We're thinking he probably won't be as friendly as E.T. was, way back in the day. Co-produced by Spielberg, and written and directed by J.J. Abrams.
The Art of Getting By: George (Freddie Highmore), a disaffected Manhattan teen on the verge of expulsion at a posh private school, finds a kindred spirit, and a possible love interest, when he befriends a beautiful classmate (Emma Roberts). Michael Angarano, Rita Wilson, and an un-credited Alicia Silverstone co-star in this debut feature from writer-director Gavin Wiesen.
Beginners: Drawing on experiences with own father, now deceased, writer-director Mike Mills (Thumbsucker) has cast Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor as a father and son who must recalibrate their relationship after the father, age 75, comes out as gay. Mélanie Laurent co-stars.
Green Lantern: Ryan Reynolds goes sleekly green as the DC Comics superhero who keeps the universe safe from otherworldly villains with dastardly plans but less form-fitting outfits. Directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale).
Mr. Popper's Penguins: Six penguins, to be exact, which unexpectedly enter the lonely life of New York real estate mogul Tom Popper (Jim Carrey), who immediately sends out for extra ice. Angela Lansbury co-stars. Directed by Mark Waters (Mean Girls).
Bad Teacher: Sure, she drinks Jack Daniel's in class, smokes pot on break, and ridicules her students, but junior high teacher Ms. Halsey (Cameron Diaz) sure is pretty, and now that she's trying to snare a hopelessly wholesome substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake), she might stop sleeping in class. Jake Kasdan directs.
Cars 2: 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 Cain and Emily Mortimer voice the spy cars who think Mater's a secret agent. Directed by John Lasseter.
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.
Page One: Inside the New York Times:
Filmed over the course of 14 months, Andrew Rossi's documentary captures the Times and its staff — with a special emphasis on media journalist David Carr — as the Gray Lady is besieged by financial woes, Internet competition, and a bad case of the jitters.
Turtle: The Incredible Journey: Narrated by Miranda Richardson, this documentary by filmmaker Nick Stringer tracks the lifespan of a loggerhead turtle, from its birth on a Florida beach to its long journey across the seas to Africa, and then back again.
Larry Crowne: 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).
A Little Help: A recently widowed, possibly alcoholic woman (Jenna Fischer from The Office) tries to pull herself together for the sake of her young son. Chris O'Donnell, Rob Benedict and Lesley Ann Warren co-star for writer-director Michael J. Weithorn.
Monte Carlo: 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. Directed by Thomas Bezucha (The Family Stone).
Terri: Terri (Jacob Wysocki) is an overweight 15-year-old with no friends and no parents (he lives with his crazy uncle). When he starts wearing pajamas to school, the vice principal (John C. Reilly) decides to begin weekly counseling sessions, sparking a friendship that has unexpected repercussions for both. Directed by Azazel Jacobs.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Shia LeBeouf, 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!
Horrible Bosses: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day as three men who decide to actually do what so many worker bees before them have dreamed of doing: kill their bosses. Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston co-star as the respective targets. Directed by Seth Gordon (The King of Kongs: A Fistful of Quarters).
One Day: They were made for each other, but it takes Emma (Anna Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) half a lifetime to figure that out in this time-jumping romance, based on David Nicholls' bestseller. Directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education).
Project Nim: Filmmaker James Marsh's follow-up to his Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire uses archival and re-enacted footage to tell the weird, sad, crazily true story of Nim, a chimpanzee who, in the 1970s, was taught sign language and raised as if he were a human child.
Zookeeper: 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. Directed by Frank Coraci (The Wedding Singer).
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..." Starring Daniel Radcliffe and Ralph Fiennes. Directed by David Yates.
Lucky: Life is looking up for Ben (Colin Hanks), an office worker who's just won the lottery, which might help him woo his dream girl (Ari Graynor). All good, but should Ben still pursue his goal of becoming a serial killer? Directed by Gill Gates, Jr. Ann-Margaret co-stars.
Salvation Boulevard: Pastor Dan (Pierce Brosnan), TV evangelist, is all set to break ground on a Christian community when he accidentally shoots a visiting atheist (Ed Harris). Greg Kinnear co-stars as the disciple who helps the good pastor cover up the mess. Directed by George Ratliff.
Tabloid: The latest film from documentarian Errol Morris (The Fog of War) is centered on an extended interview with Joyce McKinney, a beauty pageant queen who became a sensation in 1970s England after she was accused of kidnapping a young Mormon man. He claimed that she raped him. Then things got strange.
Winnie the Pooh: There are serious questions to be answered in the Hundred Acre Wood: Can an Eeyore become a Tigger? How big a hero can a Piglet be? And most importantly, does no one have a fresh pot of Honey for a Pooh Bear that missed breakfast? John Cleese narrates. Directed by Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall.
Another Earth: In this sci-fi tinged love story from first-time writer-director Mike Cahill, the discovery of a 10th planet — a duplicate Earth — helps to unite a music professor (William Mapother) and the woman (Brit Marling) who killed his wife and child in a car accident.
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 that 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. Directed by Will Gluck (Easy A).
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 that have just landed in their dusty desert town. 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. Co-directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris).
Good Neighbors: Jay Baruchel, Scott Speedman, and Emily Hampshire co-star in this Canadian thriller about an apartment complex whose residents are on edge over a serial killer on the loose in their neighborhood. Written and directed by Jacob Tierney.
The Guard: Brendan Gleeson is Boyle, an unkempt, vulgar Irish policeman who teams with a straitlaced FBI agent (Don Cheadle) to solve a series of Galway murders. Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh.
The Smurfs: They're back and bluer than ever. Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays star. Directed by Raja Gosnell (Beverly Hills Chihuahua).
The Change-Up: A hunky single guy (Ryan Reynolds) and a bored married guy (Justin Bateman) experience a body switch and discover the pros and cons of living each other's lives. Directed by David Dobkin.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes: After altering the genetics of a chimpanzee, a young scientist (James Franco) is astonished when his test subject escapes and then launches a primate war against humans. Directed by Rupert Wyatt.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark: Once upon a time — 1973, to be exact — a TV movie about a woman being terrorized by whispering, invisible goblins living below her chimney scared the heck out of many a viewer. Katie Holmes stars in this remake, with Guy Pearce as her clueless husband. Co-produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by newcomer Troy Nixey.
The Help: In 1962, a journalist (Emma Stone) returns to her Jackson, Mississippi, hometown and stirs up trouble when she begins interviewing and writing about the black women who work as maids for the town's rich whites. Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Sissy Spacek, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Cicely Tyson co-star. Written and directed by Tate Taylor, adapting Kathryn Stockett's bestseller.
30 Minutes or Less: The only method Dwayne (Danny McBride) can devise to raise the cash he needs to hire a hitman (Michael Peña) to kill his father (Fred Ward) is to strap a bomb onto a pizza delivery guy (Jesse Eisenberg) and order him to go rob a bank. Directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland).
Conan the Barbarian: Jason Momoa stars as the sword-and-sorcery hero who battles gods, monsters, and other big-pec'd men. Rose McGowan co-stars. Directed by Marcus Nispel.
Fright Night: Charley (Anton Yelchin), a suburban teen, isn't 100 percent sure, but he's starting to think that his suave, secretive new neighbor (Colin Farrell) is a vampire. Toni Collette co-stars in director Craig Gillespie's remake of the 1985 hit.
Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World: Only a retired secret agent (Jessica Alba) and her step-kids (Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook) can save the world from the evil Timekeeper (Jeremy Piven). Written and directed by Robert Rodriguez.
A Good Old Fashioned Orgy: The Hamptons home where 30-year-old Eric (Jason Sudeikis) and his friends have partied for years is being sold. What to do? Throw an orgy, of course. Lake Bell, Leslie Bibb, and Will Forte co-star. Written and directed by Pete Huyck and Alex Gregory.
Our Idiot Brother: Paul Rudd stars as the idiot in question, who is broke and homeless and creating havoc in the lives of his three sisters (Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel, and Elizabeth Banks). Directed by Jesse Peretz.
SUMMER MOVIE Guilty Pleasures
National Lampoon's Vacation (1983): Despite the fact that this film is nearly 30 years old, its message is still relevant. Whenever you plan a summer vacation that has kids and family involved, everything that can possibly go wrong will go wrong, and the trip of a lifetime becomes the trip from hell.
Guilty Pleasure Quote: "Yeah, but Daddy says that I'm the best."
Dirty Dancing (1987): Oh, yes. This film had girls beating it to Blockbuster to rent the videocassette. Baby Newhouse is bored out of her mind when her parents drag her to a resort in the Catskills for summer vacation. She rebels by dancing with poor people, who happen to be really good dancers.
Guilty Pleasure Quote: "No one puts Baby in the corner."
Jaws (1975): This is the ultimate summer movie. Who wasn't creeped out by open water after seeing this classic suspense thriller?
Guilty Pleasure Quote: "Fast fish."
Talladega Nights (2006): At his deadpan best, Will Ferrell keeps the laughs coming faster than his race car as NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby, who must battle it out against a gay French "Formula Un" driver.
Guilty Pleasure Quote: "You taste of America."
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Blue Crush (2002): Who doesn't love surfer girls in bikinis training for a competition? Never mind the weak "Does he really love me?" story — the real action is the surfing.
Guilty Pleasure Quote: "Somebody's got to go to college, and it isn't going to be me."
The Hangover (2009): What happens when a group of guys head to Vegas for a bachelor party? Well, they're not really sure, either, as they try to figure it out in this quick-witted comedy packed with twists and turns and a raging hangover.
Guilty Pleasure Quote: "Remember, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, except for herpes; that shit will come back with you." — Michelle Martinez