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Wednesday, May 20, 2009 11:06 am

Dinosaurs, aliens and magicians

This summer’s movie season is no picnic in the park

Remember the writer’s strike that hobbled Hollywood 18 months ago? While it had an immediate effect on the television industry, it’s only now being felt on the big screen as evidenced by the weakest roster of films to grace a summer season in many a moon. There are only two sure-fire franchise hits on the horizon. As for the rest? There are sure to be plenty of flops but hopefully a couple of surprises as well.


The Hangover
Three groomsmen do their best to track down their errant buddy who seems to have gotten lost on the eve of his wedding. That this all takes place in Las Vegas only adds to the mayhem. As directed by Todd Phillips (Old School), this could wind up being the comedy sleeper of the year.

My Life in Ruins
Nia Vardalos hopes that a Greek connection can provide big box office once again as she stars as a tour guide, escorting a group through Greece, who finds love in the most unexpected of places. Richard Dreyfuss co-stars in a film that’s likely to be overlooked amid the usual big budget Hollywood blockbusters.

Land of the Lost
Will Ferrell Dinosaurs An alternate dimension = Either a comedy masterpiece or a disaster on par with last year’s The Love Guru. Let’s hope all the laughs in the trailer of this humorous redo of the cult children’s series isn’t all the film has to offer.


Imagine That
Eddie Murphy stars as a haggard business executive who finds a solution to all of his problems when he becomes immersed in his daughter’s imaginary, magical world. Sounding a bit too much like Bedtime Stories, this one might seem too familiar to do well at the box office.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
John Travolta is a ruthless hijacker and Denzel Washington is the cop in over his head who tries to get him to release the subway train he’s taken hostage. As directed by Tony Scott (Top Gun), this one has all the signs of being a smart, explosive thriller.


The Proposal
Sandra Bullock stars as a demanding business executive who finds herself about to be deported when her citizenship is questioned. Desperate to keep her job, she demands that her put-upon subordinate (Ryan Reynolds) marry her, pronto. Bullock desperately needs a hit and this looks like its made to order for her.

Year One
Jack Black and Michael Cera star as cavemen ostracized from their tribe who run afoul of other cultures as they wander the prehistoric world. Directed by Harold Ramis of Ghostbusters fame.

Whatever Works
Larry David (HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm) stars as a New York eccentric who falls in love with a woman 40 years younger than him. What makes this project interesting is that Woody Allen is the feature’s writer and director. Can these two comic geniuses produce cinematic gold?


My Sister’s Keeper
Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric star as parents who go to great lengths to sire a child so that she can help their cancer-stricken daughter. Moral complications run rampant in this adaptation of the Jodi Picoult novel.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Those pesky alien robots come back to stomp all over our planet as the Decepticons set out to abduct Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) who has stumbled upon some deadly ancient secrets. Take your earplugs.


Public Enemies
Michael Mann (Heat) directs Johnny Depp as John Dillinger in this Depression-era flick about Public Enemy Number 1 and the lawman, one Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale), who sets out to get him.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
More prehistoric mayhem ensues as everyone’s favorite Wholly Mammoth and his buddies stumble upon an underground world. This 3-D film features the voices of Ray Romano, Denis Leary and Queen Latifah.


Expect lines to be crossed and rules to be shattered as Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat) returns as a flamboyant Austrian fashion reporter. Like his previous feature, this film includes real footage with unsuspecting victims of Cohen’s elaborate tricks.

I Love You, Beth Cooper
A high school nerd declares his love for his school’s head cheerleader at their graduation, which leads to a night of mayhem when her boyfriend takes exception. Chris Columbus (Home Alone) directs.


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The sixth installment in J.K. Rowling’s saga finds Harry gazing back in time to find out more about his nemesis, Lord Voldemort. Big changes are in store for all the major characters and some won’t be around for part seven.


The Disney animated feature stars a group of trained guinea pigs that are dispatched to foil the plans of a billionaire intent on taking over the world. I’m not making this up.

A couple desperate to have a child decide to adopt an angelic-looking 9-year-old who they think will help complete their family. When strange accidents begin to happen, they realize they’ve made a big mistake.

The Ugly Truth
Gerard Butler (300) stars as an arrogant television reporter who gives his producer (Katherine Heigl of 27 Dresses) tips on how to land a man. I wonder if they’ll end up falling for each other instead?


Aliens in the Attic
This adaptation of the award-winning children’s book deals with a group of teens who take on the aliens who’ve moved into the top floor of their humble abode.

Funny People
Writer/director Judd Apatow (Knocked Up) continues to stretch himself with this story of a stand-up comic (Adam Sandler) who mentors an up-and-coming comedian (Seth Rogan) when he finds he is suffering from a terminal illness. Expect plenty of laughs and tears.


G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra
In what is sure to be the first installment of an action franchise, an elite military group sets out to dismantle Cobra, a Scottish terrorist organization. With Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum and Sienna Miller.

Julie & Julia
Meryl Streep stars as Julia Childs in this film that charts her rise to fame while it follows the efforts of a beleaguered secretary (Amy Adams) who tries to make all of the recipes in one of the author’s cookbooks.


Remember Drumline? This is the same movie, only this time out high school rock groups throw down in a battle of the bands. Star Vanessa Hudgens just can’t seem to get past her senior year.

Final Destination: Death Trip 3D
More in-your-lap shenanigans as a group of teens cheat death, only to have the Grim Reaper come calling to balance the books.

A Perfect Getaway
Hawaii turns out not to be the ideal destination for two couples when they arrive to find a serial killer on the loose. With Steve Zahn, Timothy Oliphant and Milo Jovovich.

The Time Traveler’s Wife
A Chicago librarian (Eric Bana) has a condition that causes him to bounce back and forth through time, where he meets and falls in love with a woman (Rachel McAdams) whom he meets at various parts in her life.


Inglorious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino returns at the helm of a World War II adventure about an elite group of soldiers who terrorize the Nazis in occupied France. Expect plenty of gore and tongue-in-cheek humor. With Brad Pitt.

Post Grad
Gilmore Girl Alexis Bledel stars as a new college grad who can’t find a job and winds up moving back in with her folks. Truly a film for our times. With Michael Keaton and Carol Burnett.


Halloween 2
Director Rob Zombie brings Michael Myers back once again to slice and dice more innocent teens. A great way to end the summer. With Malcolm McDowell.
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