By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
June 22: The biggest question mark of the summer is whether Evan Almighty’s box office outpaces its $200-plus-mil cost. Well, it is a PG comedy, and heartwarming as well as funny, so even rival studios think that’s a winning combo here and abroad. Strange that Paramount will release A Mighty Heart, the story of journalist Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping and murder, with Angelina Jolie playing his wife and then widow, during this tent pole–packed summer. This important drama should have been held until fall.
June 29: I’m squishy about Disney/Pixar’s Ratatouille. Can normal folk even pronounce that title? Can they relate to a Parisian rat in a gourmet restaurant? I think this toon will develop gout. I already reported that the exclusive-to-Yahoo trailer for Live Free or Die Hard (a.k.a. Die Hard 4) tested higher than the trailers for any action movie in Fox history. This testosterone franchise now has slicker CG-wiz packaging, since it’s directed by Len Wiseman (Underworld I and II). But the humor quotient will ultimately decide its box office. I say a little of Justin Long, Bruce Willis’ baby-faced sidekick and the geek on those annoying PC vs. Apple ads, goes a long way.
July 6: How hard it is for any movie to survive a year’s worth of great buzz. Especially if its director is Michael Bay, one of the most maligned hacks in Hollywood, and deservedly so. But Spielberg has been personally overseeing DreamWorks’ Bay-directed Transformers. Now the talk has turned bad: how there are too many live humans and not enough cool robots in the pic. On the other hand, I’m told the machines are pretty phenomenal, which is why Spielberg is keeping them under wraps. We’ll have to wait for it to open to learn the truth.
July 13: The three principal actors are older and sexed-up, and the plot is darker and creepier. Then again, Harry Potter movies are already a license to print money. Thank God for Order of the Phoenix, or Warner Bros. would be sitting this summer out.
July 20: It says something about a comedy when even the title is funny. So it is with I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, starring reliable Adam Sandler and way funnier Kevin James. Universal has worked with GLAAD to ensure that this movie is gay-friendly in an In and Out kind of way, not a homophobic kind of way. It may not matter, because being bookended by blockbusters is not the place to be this summer. That’s also Hairspray’s problem. New Line should have held it until fall.
July 27: Kudos to Jim Brooks and Fox for keeping much of The Simpsons Movie’s plot a secret, which I predict will help it become the biggest non-sequel movie of the summer. (Test-screening attendees were forced to sign a multipage nondisclosure agreement.) C’mon, who’s not gonna see this pic here and overseas? Natch, this summer blockbuster has a big, sickening summer promotion: 7-Eleven will transform its stores to resemble Kwik-E-Marts and sell some of Homer Simpson’s favorite snacks. That’s enough crass commercialism to gross out even Bart.
August 10: I don’t know why people love New Line’s Rush Hour franchise; its appeal escapes me. But this one cost a bundle because Chris Tucker set a new salary high for Hollywood. So Rush Hour 3 needs to be millions of dollars funnier.
August 17: Savvy box-office gurus are calling the small Superbad, produced by the aforementioned Judd Apatow, the late-summer sleeper; I’m told it lives up to the hype. This is a slam dunk with the 18-to-25 demo: It’s like a raunchier, funnier American Pie. And, after months of bloated blockbusters, it’ll be what people are in the mood for.
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