20 Movies You Can’t Miss This Summer

Wondering what you’re gonna wanna see this summer? I’ve got some recommendations. Twenty of them, to be precise. I’ve ranked them, included links to trailers, and provided the dates for you to mark on your film calendars. Despite what other critics may think, a good summer blockbuster can be even more satisfying than your typical winter Oscar bait. Action flicks? Got ’em. Comedies? Got ’em. Cute CGI animals? …they may have only made the Honorable Mentions list, but yeah, I have those too. Here are my twenty picks to keep you smiling this summer, ranked one to twenty.

1. Star Trek (May 8)

I can’t underline enough how huge this film is going to be. From the conceptualization to the ad campaign, it’s brilliant. The hardcore Trek fan base is excited because of the talent involved, the respect to the original series, and the awesome-looking trailer. The people who think Trek is nerdy ALSO want to see it, because of the new blood, the interesting angle on the old material, and the awesome-looking trailer. The advance reviews have been outstanding. I wouldn’t be surprised if this became the biggest hit of the summer.

2. Terminator: Salvation (May 21)

All credit due to director McG, who was roundly mocked when he was chosen to helm the sequel no one wanted to see, Terminator 4. He put together a terrific cast and has put together a trailer that has everyone excited. Christian Bale, who caught some flak for his profanity-laced outburst earlier, is still a legitimate hybrid of respected actor and action star with enormous drawing power.

3. Up (May 29)

It’s Pixar. Their last two films have been two of their best. They seem mostly unconcerned with making commercial films. This is one about an old man who makes his house fly away with balloons. The 3D in the trailer looked terrific too—if there’s ONE group of people I trust with 3D technology, it’s Pixar.

4. Bruno (July 10)

No one satirizes America’s ignorance more scathingly than Sacha Baron Cohen. The red-band trailer for this one, filmed in the same faux-documentary style as the hilarious Borat, seems tailor-made to fan flames. Even if the film doesn’t work as well as Borat did, I would still place money that no film will provide more laughs per minute than Bruno.

5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 15)

J.K. Rowling’s fifth and sixth books were lesser entries in the Harry Potter oeuvre. David Yates did such a fantastic job directing the film adaptation of the fifth book (the most successful of the Harry Potter films), he has been handed the reins for the duration of the series. This means that every new Harry Potter flick is a must-see. This is one of the very few series of films that get increasingly more interesting with each new entry.

6. Moon (June 12)

This is probably rated too high on this list, and there are many more mainstream films to follow. However, the trailer is far too intriguing, the buzz far too loud, and the concept far too fascinating. The potential for this film to be better than merely a good summer flick is too great to risk underrating it on this list. I urge anyone not familiar with this trailer to check it out.

7. Public Enemies (July 1)

Michael Mann. A John Dillinger biopic. Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. What more do you need to know? (The trailer is great too.)

8. Funny People (July 31)

Apatow is two-for-two in delivering heartfelt, raunchy films. Adam Sandler CAN act (see: Punch Drunk Love), and Seth Rogen is coming off of his best acting to date. Another great cast, another balance of drama and R-rated comedy… this could make three-for-three. With the ambitious, potential tear-jerking concept he’s tackling, Apatow’s new one could either be his Terms of Endearment… or it could be his most boring to date.

9. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (June 24)

Okay, so the script for the first one wasn’t so super. However, no one makes stuff blow up better than Michael Bay. Watching the trailer for this film in an IMAX theater is like traveling to action geek paradise. No matter what the reviews say, no matter how much corny dialogue is spouted, I can guarantee the special effects will have you holding your head in awe.

10. The Hangover (June 5)

Todd Phillips has been responsible for two big summer hits before (Road Trip, Old School). Here, he has taken three outstanding supporting comedian types and created what looks to be a typical slice of Phillipsian irreverence. Bradley Cooper you know as the villain in Wedding Crashers. Ed Helms you know as Andy Bernard from The Office. Zach Galifianakis you may not know yet, but if the advance buzz on this flick is right, you’ll know him by summer’s end—he apparently steals the show.

11. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (May 1)

This would have been higher, but the lukewarm response to the unfortunately leaked workprint has knocked it down a few notches. Still, most of the responses from those who have seen an official screening of the finished film have been positive. I still love the cast, and while comic nerds (such as myself) may complain about changed details from their favorite characters’ stories, I will forgive it as long as the story, thrills, and special effects work.

12. (500) Days of Summer (July 17)

Rarely do I get excited about romantic comedies that come out during the summer. This one seems more like an indie flick than your usual tripe. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel are charming actors with tons of indie cred, and the trailer suggests a strong unconventional script, making this a romcom that even (gasp!) hard-hearted movie critics could get pumped for.

13. Land of the Lost (June 5)

It’s hard to make a film adaptation of a silly old TV show—Will Ferrell knows that firsthand after the awful Bewitched film. However, Brad Silberling has shown he can balance top-notch special effects with absurd comedy with the Lemony Snicket film, and the comedic talents of Ferrell, Danny McBride, and Jorma Taccone seem like just the type of people who could face sci-fi peril and make us laugh at the same time.

14. Year One (June 19)

I’ve been told by a few people this looks like an SNL sketch put on film. I told them I didn’t care. The trailer makes me laugh out loud the whole time—a rare feat. Jack Black and Michael Cera seem like such an odd couple that it could work perfectly. Packed with cameos, and directed by the great Harold Ramis, this should be the perfect brainless comedy for a hot summer day.

15. Whatever Works (June 19)

I know nothing about the plot to this film. I don’t really intend to read too many reviews of it (though the few notices I’ve glanced over have been positive). All I know is one of the great comedic minds of all time, Woody Allen, has written and directed a film starring one of the greatest TV comedy minds of all time, Larry David. I’m one of the few people who still gets jazzed for every new Allen film, and this one is no exception.

16. GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra (August 7)

The Mummy, starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, struck the perfect blend of madcap action and tongue-in-cheek one-liners. Stephen Sommers, the man responsible for The Mummy, is now the captain of the ship for GI Joe. He’s assembled a terrific bunch of actors, and the Super Bowl TV commercial for it showed a certain amount of silly action to have me crossing my fingers that Sommers has delivered another guilty pleasure action flick.

17. Julie & Julia (August 7)

Meryl Streep and Amy Adams are two actresses that at this point in their career can do no wrong. In fact, their mere presence in this film means it will almost certainly be talked about come awards season. Both are gifted comediennes, and this should be a quality outing.

18. Taking Woodstock (August 14)

An Ang Lee biopic starring Comedy Central’s Demetri Martin? I certainly had my doubts, but the trailer looks great, and Martin has that fresh-faced innocence that should fit this film perfectly.

19. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (July 1)

So I shouldn’t be excited about this after the second, but the trailers for these films get me every time. Don’t worry about the timeline (all these mammals before dinosaurs exist?), and go have a good time watching that lovable Sprat in his never-ending quest to capture that damned acorn.

20. Drag Me To Hell (May 29)

I don’t go to many horror movies in theaters—they’re too loud, and they frequently don’t create actual scares, they merely startle you with the loudest noise possible. However, Sam Raimi is responsible for some of the funniest, goriest, and most imaginative horror films in recent years with the Evil Dead trilogy. The trailer looks pretty twisted. This may be worth a peek.


Angels and Demons (May 15)

The DaVinci Code was a horrible film, suspenseless and drab. They’re back again, this time with a more action-oriented plot and a better haircut for Tom Hanks. Could this be, at bare minimum, an improvement?

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (May 22)

The first one is harmless fun. This one looks like similar plotless broad comedy. It will almost certainly be a huge hit.

The Taking of Pelham 123 (June 12)

I’ve never been a big fan of these Tony Scott films, with his shaky washed-out visual style and his frenetic ultra-serious tone. Still, you can never ignore Denzel, and Travolta does have fun playing psycho killers.

G-Force (July 24)

I included this for my girlfriend, who has a soft spot for cute animals in films. This film will make anyone who enjoys cute animals OD on cuteness.

The Goods: The Don Ready Story (August 14)

Directed by the co-creator of Chappelle’s Show, and starring the always-funny Jeremy Piven, this film has a good premise and great potential to be a sleeper comedy hit.

Inglourious Basterds (August 21)

I have friends who will KILL me for not putting this on my list. Four years ago, I would have. Regardless, Tarantino’s last film was so aggressively awful (Death Proof… ugh), and the trailer looks so campy, I have trouble raising my expectations at all. Brad Pitt is delivering those lines as if he should be doing air quotation marks.

World’s Greatest Dad (August 21)

I haven’t enjoyed a Robin Williams comedy in a while. A long while. However, there’s a lot of positive buzz about this pitch-black comedy directed by Bobcat Goldthwait (!!!), and the premise—when his son commits suicide, Williams writes a fake suicide note which becomes a national sensation—seems promising.

~ by russellhainline on April 28, 2009.

2 Responses to “20 Movies You Can’t Miss This Summer”

  1. This is the first summer in a long time that I’ve been excited about numerous movies…and now having read this list, I’ve added a few more that I had not heard of.

    Some brief thoughts, since I have been prodded via status updates:

    Star Trek: I was a complete Treky kid growing up…I’ll be there for the midnight showing.

    Terminator: I am also in love with this series and was one of 6 people in the world who actually thought Terminator 3 was great. Adding in the inevitable “old John Connor” element will only serve to cement this as one of the greatest and most complete movie franchises.

    Bruno: I am looking forward to it, but I am worried that the Borat shtick might wear thin. I have hopes, though.

    Public Enemies: Gangster flick + Depp + Bale. I’ve got wood, just saying.

    Year One: I think this will be fantastic even though I know it will get destroyed by critics. Ramis’s humor is just not appreciated any more, sadly.

    Angels and Demons: You’re right, it can’t be much worse than Da Vinci Code…but at the same time, Code’s biggest problem was that it flew through so much material without elaboration that you just lost everything. Angels and Demons is doubly intricate, so I don’t know if it’s going to improve.

    Bobcat Goldthwait is still alive?


  2. Super-Duper internet site! I am loving it!! Will come back again once more – taking you feeds also, Thanks.

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