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.
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.