Film

Spring Arts 2011

Release dates subject to change on the whim (or firing) of a studio executive. Or if Charlie Sheen decides to get involved.

March

The Lincoln Lawyer — A lawyer who’s the good guy? This we have to see. Criminal defense attorney Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) usually works out of his car, but hits the big time when he lands a case defending a well-known womanizer (Ryan Phillippe) accused of attempted murder. You’d think it was based on a John Grisham novel, but it’s actually Michael Connelly. (3/18)

Limitless — What if one pill made all your problems go away? No, we’re not talking about Viagra. Bradley Cooper plays a down-and-out writer who starts popping pills that make him super smart — and the target of killers. Sounds like the Hollywood version of Flowers for Algernon. (3/18)

Paul — Funny Brits Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) are adding an unearthly third to their dynamic duo. Voiced by Seth Rogen, Paul is an alien that joins the geeks on a road trip. Superbad director Greg Mottola flies this UFO. Watch for Jane Lynch as a diner waitress with big hair. (3/18)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules — Capitalizing on the success of the first Wimpy Kid, and the immensely popular books, this family-friendly sequel continues Greg’s story. (3/25)

Sucker Punch — Girl power is the key to this dark thriller from director Zack Snyder, who returns to his 300 and Watchmen style after that insipid owl movie. Trapped in an asylum, a group of girls create an alternative universe as a means to escape. Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, and Emily Browning star as the kick-ass teens. (3/25)

April

Hop — Alvin and the Chipmunks director Tim Hill uses the same blend of animation and live action for this Easter Bunny tale. James Marsden gets to act opposite the furry creature voiced by Russell Brand. A cameo by David Hasselhoff as himself should speak volumes. (4/1)

Insidious — Leigh Whannell and James Wan, the writer and director behind Saw (who stopped being involved in that franchise after number three), move on from terrorizing adults to terrorizing adults through children. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne parent a possessed child in a smash-up of The Amityville Horror and The Exorcist. (4/1)

Source CodeMoon director Duncan Jones helms this science fiction thriller in which Jake Gyllenhaal gets to live the last eight minutes of a dead man’s life over and over again in an attempt to thwart a terrorist attack. It’s 24 meets Groundhog Day! (4/1)

Super — Rainn Wilson (The Office‘s Dwight) is as unlikely a superhero as you’ll ever find, and that’s the point. Despondent over the loss of his wife (Liv Tyler) to another man (Kevin Bacon), Wilson’s Frank creates a superhero with no powers. Super seems to be a more sardonic version of Kick-Ass, which is good since few do wry humor better than Ellen Paige, who plays the plucky sidekick. (4/1)

Arthur — Playing a rich, spoiled brat doesn’t seem to be much of a stretch for Russell Brand, but who cares? We know he can be funny doing it. In this remake of the 1981 original starring Dudley Moore, Brand is joined by Helen Mirren as his nanny and Jennifer Garner as the woman he must marry to avoid losing his inheritance. (4/8)

HannaAtonement director Joe Wright and star Saoirse Ronan team up again for a very different project. Raised as an assassin by her father (Eric Bana), the young Hanna is sent to kill his nemesis (Cate Blanchett). (4/8)

Meek’s Cutoff — A group of travelers in 1845 hit rough times while Michelle Williams dresses like she’s on Little House on the Prairie. Director Kelly Reichardt and Williams also teamed up for 2008’s Wendy & Lucy. If Meek’s Cutoff is similarly depressing, hide all sharp objects upon returning home. (4/8)

Soul Surfer – Another true story about losing an arm, but this one seems to be more heavy-handed than 127 Hours. Competitive teen surfer Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb) loses her arm in a shark attack, but doesn’t let that stop her from riding the waves again. Carrie Underwood makes her film debut. (4/8)

Your Highness — From the director of Pineapple Express comes another stoner comedy, but this one is set in a world of castles and magic (sounds more like mushrooms than pot). Maybe James Franco’s zoned-out Oscar hosting was one long advertisement for this film, in which he co-stars with Natalie Portman and Danny McBride. (4/8)

Rio — The creators of Ice Age head to the warmer climes of Rio for this animated tale about a parrot. We hope it’s not macaw-ful. (4/15)

Rubber — Director Quentin Dupieux brings a tire to life and uses it to blow up things. Seriously. Could be campy-awesome or just flat. (4/15)

Scream 4 — Wes Craven’s self-awareness and ability to mock the slasher genre helped make (most of) the Scream trilogy scary and fun. So, in case a mysterious caller asks, the answer is yes, we like scary movies. And we hope the reunion of Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette (filmed before they split) results in a double-digit body count. (4/15)

Winter in Wartime — Set during World War II, a young man protects a British soldier who crashes in his occupied town and learns the harsh realities of war. (4/15)

Apollo 18 — While most Apollo movies have Tom Hanks attached to them, he’s nowhere near this “found footage” thriller. Astronauts discover they’re not alone on the moon in an extraterrestrial cross between Cloverfield and Blair Witch. (4/22)

Born to Be a Star — When the family business is starring in porn, well, sometimes you want to follow in your father’s footsteps. Adam Sandler co-wrote this ”porn industry comedy,” which stars Christina Ricci, Stephen Dorff, and Nick Swardson. (4/22)

Madea’s Big Happy Family — Like clockwork, Tyler Perry dons a dress and produces another Madea movie. (4/22)

Water for Elephants — Robert Pattinson trades in vampires for the circus in this adaptation of Sara Gruen’s novel. Joined by Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz, the film is a flashback of a love story that ends with a tragedy. Feels like Titanic set under the Big Top to us. (4/22)

13 Assassins — A group of assassins try to take out a warlord during Japan’s feudal era. Subtitled. (4/29)

Fast Five — Yet another installment in The Fast and the Furious franchise. (4/29)

Prom — This Disney film looks 2 cute 2 B missed. Much more High School Musical than American Pie, the cutesy story is sure to resonate with kids who can’t drive yet and think that prom is going to be the coolest night ever. (4/29)

May

Thor — Thor is the god of thunder and wields a mighty hammer, but when Natalie Portman plays the love interest you can bet he has a soft side as well. Chris Helmsworth plays the bad-boy god living on Earth in this Marvel comic-adapted film directed by Kenneth Branagh (an, um, interesting choice). It’s one more chapter leading up to next year’s The Avengers, which will unite Thor, Iron Man, and the upcoming Captain America. (5/6)

Jumping the Broom — In 2008, a film was released about a group of African American friends who go to Martha’s Vineyard for a wedding and the trials and tribulations of getting to the altar. It was the gay film, Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom. This Jumping the Broom is about two African American families who go to Martha’s Vineyard for a wedding and the trials and tribulations of getting to the altar. (5/6)

Something Borrowed — Here’s a romantic comedy to kick-off the summer. Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Colin Egglesfield are caught in a love triangle sure to get straightened out by the end. John Krasinski plays the best friend who gives good relationship advice. (How much you want to bet the character is gay?) (5/6)

Priest — Based on a graphic novel, these priests are vampire hunting holy men. When one (Paul Bettany) goes rogue, he has to avoid good and evil. In 3D! (5/13)

Bridesmaids — This is the female version of The Hangover, in case you need a fix before The Hangover: Part II wanders into theaters a week later. The hilarious Kristen Wiig stars as a member of a wacky bridal party, but the number of fart jokes in the trailer alone doesn’t bode well. (5/13)

The Beaver – Jodie Foster’s Beaver is certainly going to generate a lot of buzz, and not just because of immature jokes. Mel Gibson stars as a man who tries to regain control of his life by speaking through a hand-puppet beaver. (Maybe Gibson should try the same.) Foster directs and costars. (5/20)

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides — Given that the last installment in the Pirates franchise was a shipwreck, maybe a little time and distance allowed the creative team to regroup. Penelope Cruz jumps on board with Johnny Depp while director Rob Marshall (Chicago) takes the helm. (5/20)

The Hangover: Part II – Stock up on Advil, The Hangover is about to start again when the boys head to Singapore. The stars of the original were hysterical, but Sex and the City 2 lost even its most ardent fans when it headed overseas. Can Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, and Ed Helms keep it up after all this drinking or will the sequel lose its stamina? (5/26)

Kung Fu Panda 2 — Something for the kids to see while everyone else is at The Hangover: Part II. (5/26)

June

Ryan Reynolds in 'Green Lantern'
Ryan Reynolds in ‘Green Lantern’

Beginners – When a son (Ewan McGregor) finds out that his father is A) dying of cancer and B) gay, he re-evaluates his own relationships. Christopher Plummer plays the terminally ill, but exuberantly gay, father. (6/3)

X-Men: First Class — The X-Men franchise keeps going further and further back in time to create new films. X-Men Origins: Wolverine was horrible (sorry, Hugh), but we’re still excited for First Class, which returns to the time when Professor X and Magneto were friends. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender play the younger versions of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. (6/3)

Super 8 — There’s something big and destructive in Super 8, but director J.J. Abrams is coy about what it is. This thriller looks to be one part The Goonies and one part E.T. (you know, if E.T. killed everyone). (6/10)

Green Lantern — We love Ryan Reynolds as much as anyone (more, perhaps), but serious doubts remain about his ability to pull off green tights. He’ll probably do the slacker human role of Hal Jordan with little difficulty, though. Director Martin Campbell has had some hits (Casino Royale) and misses (The Legend of Zorro) so we give this a 50/50 chance to shine. (6/17)

Mr. Popper’s Penguins — A businessman inherits a waddle of penguins and transforms his apartment into a proper home for them. Jim Carrey stars, who else? (6/17)

Bad Teacher — Bad Teacher scares us. First, for the students who go to this school. Second, that we might die laughing. Cameron Diaz stars as a teacher with one goal in mind, enriching her bank account. She sets her sights on a wealthy colleague played by real life ex- Justin Timberlake. Foul language seems to be the primary source of humor, but that could still earn the film an A. (6/24)

Cars 2 — We love Pixar and certainly don’t want to say anything negative about them, but Cars wasn’t at the top of our list of films ready for a sequel. Even so, it’s Pixar — anything they make is worth seeing. (6/24)

July

Monte Carlo – Originally designed to be a vehicle for Nicole Kidman, producers decided to go a younger route and cast Disney teen star Selena Gomez as a girl mistaken for an heiress who gets to experience decadence in Monte Carlo. Glee‘s Cory Monteith and Gossip Girl‘s Leighton Meester co-star. (7/1)

Transformers: Dark of the Moon — More Michael Bay-sized explosions are promised in this third installment of the Transformers franchise. After shooting her mouth off to the press, Megan Fox was replaced by Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Shia LaBeouf’s love interest. Parts were filmed in D.C., so it’ll be fun to see what they demolish. (We’re hoping for Boehner’s office.) (7/1)

Larry Crowne — An aimless man goes back to college and gains more than just book smarts. Since it stars Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks, expect lots of buzz in the soccer mom circles. Directed by Hanks. (7/1)

Horrible Bosses — While technically a comedy, a film about a group of men who conspire to kill their bosses might be a fantasy to some. The varied cast includes Jason Bateman, Colin Farrell, Modern Family‘s Julie Bowen, and the Old Spice Guy, Isaiah Mustafa. (7/8)

One Day — David Nicholls adapts his book about a college hook-up that sparks a twenty-year friendship for the screen. The concept of seeing the couple, played by Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, on only one day for twenty years dragged in the book, so director Lone Scherfig needs to avoid this pitfall. (7/8)

The Zookeeper — Sadly The Zookeeper is not the screen adaptation of D.C. author Alex MacLennan’s book of the same name. Instead it’s about talking animals and their zookeeper, played by Kevin James. (7/8)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – We’re quivering with excitement and also dreading the moment the Harry Potter series leaves the screen for the final time. If the second part of Deathly Hallows is as good as the first, it’s going to be a fitting farewell to our good friend Harry. (7/15)

Winnie the Pooh — If you feel the need to bring a kid with you to justify taking this walk down memory lane, you won’t be judged. (7/15)

The First Avenger: Captain America — Chris Evans packed on the muscle to play Captain America, but will he be strong enough to shoulder the burden of being a comic book hero? Yet another set-up to The Avengers film coming out in 2012. (7/22)

Friends with Benefits – If you missed No Strings Attached starring Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman, just wait for this version starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake. (Hmmm, did Natalie and Mila make a pack during Black Swan to both make films about random sex? Or maybe they have the same one-track-minded agent.) (7/22)

Cowboys & Aliens – At first glance, this mash-up of a western with aliens sounds silly, but it stars Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, and Harrison Ford, who are guided by Iron Man director Jon Favreau. The pedigree is right, so there might be something to it. (7/29)

August

The Smurfs – Neil Patrick Harris and Glee‘s Jayma Mays star opposite our blue, three apple tall friends who take over New York City in this live auction meets animation film. Hank Azaria plays Gargamel. Please don’t smurf it up. (8/3)

The Change-Up – In this male version of Freaky Friday, Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds switch bodies and find out that they like their original lives better. We’re already preparing jokes about what we’d do if we inhabited Ryan Reynolds’ body. (8/5)

The Sitter — Jonah Hill plays a college kid roped into babysitting who ends up running around the city at night with his charges. (8/5)

30 Minutes or Less — Can a pizza man rob a bank as quickly as he can deliver a pizza? Stars Jesse Eisenberg and Danny McBride. (8/12)

The Help – Based on Kathryn Stockett’s popular novel, Emma Stone plays a young Southern woman in the 1960s who starts to break down racial barriers in her town. (8/12)

Conan the Barbarian – Jason Momoa trades in the whistle from his Baywatch days for a sword to play Conan the Barbarian. Maybe one day he’ll be the Governor of California, too! (8/19)

Final Destination 5 -- Enough already. It’s time to put the final in the Final Destination franchise. (8/26)


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