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Summer Movie Preview

Marmaduke, livin' large in California.
Joe Lederer

First off, forgive us for not having the budget to upgrade this summer movie preview to 3-D. Rest assured, there are plenty of eye-popping (brain-numbing?) epics in the preview list that follows, but to our pleasure and surprise, there is a surplus of attention-worthy 2-D flicks too. Happy summer, movie fans. And this time we mean it. (As always, all dates are subject to change.)


May 27

Sex and the City 2

Manhattan columnist and shoe maven Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and friends (Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon) vacation in Abu Dhabi, land of cranky camels and hunky sheiks. Written and directed by Michael Patrick King.


May 28

Agora

In this new film from gifted Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar (The Others, The Sea Inside), Rachel Weisz portrays Hypatia, the fourth-century Greek philosopher/astronomer whose death at the hands of a Christian mob was not pretty. Max Minghella is the slave who loves her.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

A long-haired, muscled-up Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a Persian prince trying to find a magical dagger in this action megapic from director Mike Newell and Pirates of the Caribbean producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who never makes a movie he can't sequelize.

George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead

In his sixth film about flesh-eaters, horrormeister George Romero (Night of the Living Dead) sends his disgruntled band o' zombies to an island off Delaware, where they shuffle into the gun sights of two feuding Irish families.


June 4

Get Him to the Greek

Jonah Hill plays a record-company intern whose career-making assignment could be considered a music-business rite of passage: Escorting a drug-addled rock star (British comic Russell Brand) to a big gig. From the director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Nicholas Stoller.

Killers

Jen (Katherine Heigl) and Spencer (Ashton Kutcher) are blissful newlyweds until the day Jen discovers that her dream man was once a government assassin. The news does not thrill her. Catherine O'Hara costars in this action-comedy from Legally Blond director Robert Luketic.

Marmaduke

The lovable Great Dane that's been a fixture of the comics page since 1954 finally makes it to the big screen. Owen Wilson provides Marmaduke's voice in this live-action family film.

Ondine

Maybe she's a mermaid, maybe she's not, but either way, the mysterious beauty Ondine (Alicja Bachleda) is quickly stealing the heart of the Irish fisherman (Colin Farrell) who pulled her from the sea. Stephen Rea costars in the new drama from writer/director Neal Jordan (The Crying Game).

Splice

Adrian Brody and Sarah Polly are geneticists whose experiment in human cloning goes creepily awry in this thriller from director Vincenzo Natali and executive producer Guillermo del Toro.


June 11

The A-Team

Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley, and UFC champ Quinton "Rampage" Jackson are a disgraced special-ops team out to clear their names in director Joe Carnahan's adaptation of the 1980s TV show [insert Mr. T joke here].

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

Codirectors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg track the indefatigable comic over the course of a recent year in a documentary that festival audiences expected to disdain and ending up loving. At age 76, Joan has buzz.

The Karate Kid

This remake of the 1984 Ralph Macchio/Pat Morita flick about a teenaged boy who gains personal wisdom as well as mad skills from a kung-fu master stars Jaden Smith (son of Will) as the pupil and Jackie Chan as his teacher.


June 18

Cyrus

Marisa Tomei and John C. Reilly are newly, blissfully in love in this drama from the brotherly filmmaking duo of Jay and Mark Duplass (The Puffy Chair). Jonah Hill costars as Tomei's clinging, interfering son.

Jonah Hex

Based on a long-running DC Comics character, this supernaturally tinged comedy-Western features Josh Brolin as a badly scarred post-Civil War bounty hunter in search of a mad-dog killer, played, of course, by John Malkovich.

The Killer Inside Me

Casey Affleck is Lou Ford, a 1950s-era West Texas deputy sheriff who also happens to be a psychopathic killer. Directed by Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart) and based on Jim Thompson's brilliant and brutal 1952 novel. Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba costar.

Toy Story 3

Where do toys go when their kid grows up and moves away? After they survive one of their patented Pixar adventures, be prepared to well up as Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the toys of Andy's room see their favorite human off to college. Written by Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine) and directed by Lee Unkrich. (We hear Mr. Potatohead steals the movie.)


June 25

Grown Ups

Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider star as childhood buddies reuniting for the first time in 30 years. We're thinking it's a comedy. Directed by Dennis Dugan (I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry).

 

Knight and Day

Tom Cruise is a renegade secret agent and Cameron Diaz his unwitting blind date and, all too suddenly, his reluctant sidekick in a mission to save a brilliant scientist (Paul Dano). Directed by James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma).

Restrepo

Journalist Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm) and photographer Tim Hetherington take along a movie camera to shadow the 173rd Airborne Brigade as it battles the Taliban amid the unforgiving terrain of the Korengal Valley. Winner of this year's Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.


June 30

Love Ranch

Taylor Hackford (Ray) directs his wife, Helen Mirren, along with Joe Pesci, in the so-crazy-it-has-to-be true story of Sally and Joe Conforte, whose 1970s Reno brothel, known as "Mustang Ranch," led the way to legalized prostitution in Nevada.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

A dreamboat vampire, a hunky werewolf, a confused teenaged girl — stop us if you've heard of this one. Directed by David Slade (30 Days of Night).


July 2

The Girl Who Played With Fire

For the second film in the Stieg Larsson "Millennium Trilogy" (the first was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace return as a financial journalist and tattooed hacker, respectively, who are once again up to their necks in murder and intrigue.

The Last Airbender

Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) adapts Nickelodeon's animated fantasy series about a 12-year-old (Noah Ringer) with the ability to control all four elements — water, earth, air, and fire. No pressure there.

Twelve

Gossip Girl heartthrob Chace Crawford is the best-looking drug dealer on Manhattan's Upper East Side and Emma Roberts his clueless girlfriend in this adaptation of Nick McDonell's bestseller, published, famously, when the author was only 17. Directed by Joel Schumacher (St. Elmo's Fire) and featuring Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson as Crawford's rival.


July 7

The Kids Are All Right

Julianne Moore and Annette Bening play a Southern California lesbian couple with two teenagers they had with the sperm of an anonymous donor. When the kids track down their biological father (Mark Ruffalo), the mothers are more than a little freaked. Written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko (Laurel Canyon).


July 9

Despicable Me

There are villains aplenty in this 3-D animated comedy, chief among them the cranky, unfulfilled Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) whose plan to steal the moon is hitting a few snags.

Predators

The alien creature that stalked Arnold Schwarzenegger back in 1987 and then spawned a host of bad sequels is back, thanks to executive producer Robert Rodriguez. Adrian Brody, Lawrence Fishburne, and Topher Grace are the unlucky mercenaries about to become alien bait.


July 16

Inception

Arguably the most anticipated movie of the summer, if not the year, this thriller from writer/director Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) is shrouded in secrecy. We do know that Leonardo DiCaprio heads a team of "dream thieves" that includes Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ken Watanabe (though maybe he's the bad guy).

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Nicholas Cage, teaming up again with National Treasure director Jon Turteltaub, plays a modern-day conjurer who enlists an NYU student (Jay Baruchel) to help him save the world from an evil wizard (Alfred Molina). The adventure film is reportedly inspired by the Mickey Mouse sorcerer sequence in Fantasia (that scares us just a little bit).


July 23

Dinner for Schmucks

The schmuck is Barry (Steve Carell), a nerd deluxe who's thrilled to be invited by his boss (Paul Rudd) to a dinner for big shots. What Barry doesn't know is that he's being set up for big-time ridicule in this comedy from director Jay Roach (Meet the Fockers).

Ramona and Beezus

In the film version of young adult novelist Beverly Cleary's iconic "Ramona" character, created in the 1950s, 11-year-old Joey King plays the spunky third-grader with Disney Channel star Selena Gomez as her older sister Beatrice, AKA "Beezus."

Salt

Angelina Jolie channels her inner Jason Bourne — she leaps, she kicks, she kills — in director Phillip Noyce's action thriller about a CIA operative who's accused of being a Russian spy. Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor costar.


July 30

Beastly

Seventeen-year-old Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) thinks he's hot stuff until the night he disses a goth girl named Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen) who's actually a witch. Kendra's revenge sends Kyle on a search for love in writer/director Daniel Barnz's adaptation of Alex Finn's popular teen novel.

Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore

Putting their ongoing war — chronicled in the 2004 hit Cats and Dogs — on hold, canines and felines team up to stop a creepily hairless kitty with dreams of world domination. Bette Midler is the voice of the evil Kitty Galore in this live-action family film.

 

The Extra Man

It's a collision of eccentrics when a lonely, cross-dressing teacher (Paul Dano) becomes the roommate of an "escort" (Kevin Kline) for wealthy widows. Based on a novel by Jonathan Ames, this new film from codirectors Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman (American Splendor) features Katie Holmes, John C. Reilly, and the rarely seen but always welcome Patti D'Arbanville.

Get Low

Legend has it that there once was a secretly wealthy Tennessee hermit who decided to throw his own funeral so he could hear the stories people had to tell about him. In this beautifully acted 1930s period piece from director Aaron Schneider, Robert Duvall is the hermit, Sissy Spacek his old flame, and Bill Murray the town's newly energized funeral director.


August 6

Chain Letter

Hey, man, don't delete that chain letter that just landed in your inbox. If you do, the sender is going to snatch you up, wrap you in chains (get it?), and torture you. To death!

Middle Man

In this fact-based drama, set in the late 1990s, Luke Wilson stars as a fixer of troubled businesses who meets two guys (Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht) who've figured out a way to transmit pornography over the internet. Wilson helps them get organized and superrich, and then the real trouble begins. Costarring James Caan, and directed by George Gallo.

The Other Guys

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg channel their inner Serpico in this comedy about two mediocre New York detectives who get a shot at the case of a lifetime. Costarring Eva Mendes and Samuel L. Jackson, and directed by Adam McKay (Anchorman).

Step Up 3D

Filmmaker Jon M. Chu, who received some surprisingly good reviews for his work on Step Up 2, returns to direct the third installment in a popular series about the underground dance scene in New York. This edition has been filmed in 3-D, so expect to be kicked in the face by a hot dancer.


August 13

Eat Pray Love

Writer/director Ryan Murphy took time away from his hit TV show, Glee, to direct Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem in the film version of Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling memoir about her worldwide search for enlightenment after a rough divorce. James Franco, Billy Crudup, and Richard Jenkins costar.

The Expendables

Action gods Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, and Dolph Lundgren join forces to kick ass and blow things up in a film cowritten and directed by Sly himself.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

The road to everlasting love isn't going to be easy for musician Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), who must vanquish his new girlfriend's seven exes, all of whom happen to have superpowers. Directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead).


August 20

The Lottery Ticket

It takes luck to win a megamillions lottery ticket, but it may take a miracle for Kevin (Bow Wow), a young Atlanta man, to keep his family, friends, and neighbors from getting their mitts on the ticket over a long Fourth of July weekend. Ice Cube and Loretta Devine costar in director Erik White's debut comedy.

Nanny McPhee Returns

When two spoiled city kids visit their country cousins on an English farm, it's a culture clash that only the ugly yet magical Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) can resolve. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Maggie Smith costar for director Susanna White in the second film of a projected trilogy.

The Switch

Drunk and jealous that his best friend, Kassie (Jennifer Aniston), didn't choose him to be her sperm donor, Wally (Jason Bateman) replaces the donor's swimmers with his own. Kassie moves away, but seven years later she's back, and wow, that kid sure looks like Wally, doesn't he? Josh Gordon and Will Speck (Blades of Glory) codirect.

Takers

For the snazzily dressed, superefficient L.A. bank-robbing gang led by Idris Elba (Obsessed), there's one last big heist to pull off. (Isn't there always?) Their plan is brilliant, but the L.A. detectives played by Matt Dillon and Jay Hernandez have one of their own. Paul Walker, Zoë Saldana, and Hayden Christensen costar.


August 27

Going the Distance

Drew Barrymore and Justin Long play it for laughs in this comedy about the perils of sustaining a long-distance love. Christina Applegate and Ron Livingston costar. Nanette Burstein (American Teen) directs.

The Last Exorcism

An evangelical priest (Patrick Fabian) who's spent his life performing fake exorcisms on deluded people may have finally stumbled upon the real deal. Daniel Stamm directs a horror movie produced by actor/director Eli Roth (Hostel).

Piranha 3D

Spring break. College kids. Zillions of flesh-eating piranha fish. Got it? Elizabeth Shue and Jerry O'Connell try to save the day (but not their careers). Directed by Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes).

Centurion

After a fierce battle with local tribesmen in Northern Britain, circa 117 A.D., a beleaguered band of Roman soldiers is trying to get home in this action drama from talented writer/director Neil Marshall (The Descent). Michael Fassbender and Dominic West star.


September 1

 

The American

"I am death's booking-clerk, death's bellhop." So states the narrator of Martin Booth's 2004 novel, A Very Private Gentleman. In this film version, directed by Anton Corbijn (Control), George Clooney is that "bellhop," who may or may not be an assassin but, either way, might soon be hunted like one.


September 3

Born to Be a Star

When a Midwest nerd (Nick Swardson) finds out that his parents were once porn stars, he hits the road to Hollywood to see if he too has the goods. Tom Brady directs this comedy, cowritten by Adam Sandler.

Machete

Director Robert Rodriguez, with the help of codirector Ethan Maniquis, has gone and made a real movie out of the fake trailer he created for the 2007 anthology flick Grindhouse. In his first starring role, the great Danny Trejo plays an ex-Mexican federale who's been (as the faker trailer puts it) "set up, double-crossed, and left for dead."


September 17

The Adjustment Bureau

It's love at first sight for Congressman David Norris (Matt Damon) and ballerina Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), but is it fate or sinister earthly forces conspiring to keep them apart? Screenwriter George Nolfi (The Bourne Ultimatum) makes his directorial debut with this adaptation of a 1954 story by Phillip K. Dick.


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