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Wednesday, May 27,2009

Summer projections

by Susan W. Woods

Summer, it’s the time for barbecues, mosquitoes, vacations and studio blockbusters. Ever since the phenomenal success Steven Spielberg found in 1975 with “Jaws,” the movie that made people — me included — scared to go into the water, the studios have depended on the summer blockbuster to draw record crowds and save their bottom line. This summer is no different. Or is it?


Most notable about this summer’s movies is the stellar lineup of directors, which includes Sam Raimi, Ang Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Michael Mann, Judd Apatow, Nora Ephorn, Michael Bay, Larry Charles, Richard Curtis, Robert Rodriguez and Rob Zombie.



Instead of listing the films by the month of their release, they I’m splitting them into three categories: teen fodder, kid-friendly fun and the surprising adult fare.




Teen fodder


Sam Raimi is back. The Michigan native, who found success in his “Evil Dead” Trilogy and moved on to one of the biggest franchises in movie history, the “Spiderman” movies, has gone back to his roots of directing horror films. Premiered at the South by Southwest film festival, “Drag Me to Hell” (May 29) has incredible buzz as being the best horror movie in years.

There are three sequels that will draw in the allimportant 14-to-30 demographics: “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” (June 24), directed by Michael Bay and bringing back the sexy Megan Fox and charming Shia LeBoeuf; “H2” (Aug.28), directed by Rob Zombie and featuring the return of “Halloween” slasher Michael Meyers; and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (July 15), which should prove to be another smash hit based on the J.K. Rowling’s literary phenomenon.

There are two comedies that will appeal to teenagers and young adults (who haven’t grown up): The ancientworld-set “Year One” (June 19), directed by Harold Ramis and starring Jack Black and Michael Cera; and Judd Apatow’s “Funny People” (July 31), starring Adam Sandler and the Apatow stable of Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Leslie Mann (but, amazingly, not Paul Rudd!). What would a summer be these days without an Apatow comedy?




Kid-friendly fun


Three very promising animated features will be on the big screen this summer, including the latest from the incredibly successful Pixar Studios, “Up” (May 29). From the other wonderful animation studio, Blue Sky Studios, comes “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” (July 1), which is the next adventure of Manny the Mammoth (Ray Romano), his girlfriend Ellie (Queen Latifah), Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo) and Diego the Sabre-toothed Cat (Dennis Leary). Another anthropomorphic animated film, “G-Force” (July 24), will feature a specially trained squad of guinea pigs dispatched to stop a diabolical billionaire from taking over the world.




Adult fare


There are a surprising number of releases geared toward the over 30 crowd this summer. From writer/director Nora Ephron, there’s “Julie and Julia” (Aug. 7), starring Meryl Streep as Julia Childs; from director Stephen Frears (“The Queen”), there’s “Cheri,” a British period piece starring Michelle Pfeiffer as the seductress of a younger man; from director Michael Mann, there’s the much-anticipated “Public Enemies” (July 1), starring Johnny Depp as 1930s gangster John Dillinger; and from Quentin Tarantino comes “Inglourious Basterds” (Aug. 21), starring Brad Pitt as the leader of a group of Jewish-American soldiers known as "The Basterds,” who are chosen to spread fear throughout the Third Reich by scalping and brutally killing Nazis. Tarantino has been working on this film for 10 years, and many are curious to see the fruits of his labor.

Don’t worry, adult comedies are in the offering as well. From the irreverent, icon-smashing duo of director Larry Charles and Sacha Baron Cohen comes “Da Ali G Show” spin-off “Brüno” (July 10), about a flamboyant Austrian fashionista who comes to America to shock and outrage. If this is half as funny as Borat, it should be great.

The incredibly talented and diverse Ang Lee brings us “Taking Woodstock” (Aug. 14), a nostalgic comedy about the creation of the rock concert of the century and how it happened. Other comedies to look for include “The Hangover” (June 5), “My Life in Ruins” (June 5) and, from director Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”), “The Boat That Rocked” (Aug. 28), which is about the first pirate radio station to illegally send rock ‘n’ roll music over the airwaves from the North Sea.

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