Never mind what your calendar says: Iron Man 2 will be released May 7, so as far as Hollywood is concerned, that's when the summer officially begins. Before that, however, we can still expect to see approximately two dozen movies -- heck, maybe even three dozen, if the art-house theaters kick it up a notch -- opening on local screens. For now, here's a look at a baker's dozen, 13 films hoping to find their audiences in the upcoming weeks.
March 19: The comedy The Bounty Hunter casts Gerard Butler in the title role, forced to first chase after his ex-wife (Jennifer Aniston) and then to protect her from mobsters also hot on her trail ... In the futuristic Repo Men, folks who can't make their payments after being provided with expensive, life-saving organs find said organs being ripped out of their bodies by trained repo men (the Republican plan for health care reform?). A repo man (Jude Law) who's the recipient of one of the organs finds himself on the run after falling into debt.
March 26: As the title sez, Hot Tub Time Machine centers around a hot tub that can travel through time, and what happens when four friends use it to journey back to the 1980s. Logically, '80s heartthrob John Cusack heads the cast ... The 3-D animated feature How to Train Your Dragon involves the plight of a young Viking as he's tasked to kill dragons but instead finds himself with one as a pet.
March 31: Another adaptation of a Nicholas Spark novel (with the author himself co-writing the screenplay), The Last Song finds Miley Cyrus playing a restless teenager who spends a summer with her dad (Greg Kinnear) at the beach (filming took place in Savannah and Tybee Island, Ga.).
April 2: Clash of the Titans, a loose remake of the 1981 film, focuses on the efforts of Perseus (Avatar's Sam Worthington), the human son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), to save the world from Hades (Ralph Fiennes) ... A land developer (Brendan Fraser) butts heads with angry animals in the comedy Furry Vengeance, co-starring Brooke Shields and the suddenly all-over-the-place Ken Jeong (five movies in 2009 alone, including Couples Retreat and The Hangover) ... "This time, one of these couples will NOT make it" is the tagline for Why Did I Get Married Too?, which reunites the principal cast from the 2007 original, including Janet Jackson, Michael Jai White and, of course, writer-director-star Tyler Perry.
April 16: Death at a Funeral is a remake of a 2007 British comedy directed by Frank Oz; here, it's Neil LaBute (still trying to live down that laughable Wicker Man remake) helming an all-star cast (fronted by Chris Rock) in this romp about all the things that go wrong as a family patriarch is laid to rest ... A teen misfit (Aaron Johnson) decides to try life as a superhero (albeit one with no superpowers) in the action-comedy Kick-Ass, co-starring Nicolas Cage ... The latest Saturday Night Live skit to reach the big screen, the MacGyver spoof MacGruber finds the government operative (Will Forte) attempting to take down his arch-enemy (Val Kilmer).
April 23: Extraordinary Measures tanked, so the new CBS Films is hoping for better luck with The Back-up Plan, starring Jennifer Lopez as a lonely woman who meets a potential suitor (Alex O'Loughlin) right after her artificial insemination.
April 30: With practically every other horror franchise of the past three decades recently going down the remake road, it was only a matter of time before they got around to A Nightmare on Elm Street. Instead of Robert Englund, we now get Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, Watchmen) as dream weaver (and killer) Freddy Krueger.
MORE FILM EVENTS:
• So controversial that it even shook up the jurors at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, Lars von Trier's Antichrist focuses on a couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) coping with the death of their infant son. (7:30 p.m. March 17-19, Duke Energy Theatre, Spirit Square. $7 general admission.)
• The Cult Movie Monday series continues with a screening of 1975's wild and wooly Death Race 2000, a Roger Corman production starring David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone as rival drivers in a futuristic society in which speed racers try to rack up the highest body count during a cross-country road race. (8 p.m. March 29, Actor's Theatre, 650 E. Stonewall St. Free admission and popcorn; cash bar.)
• Film producer Jonathan Taplin (Mean Streets) and MarketWatch columnist Jon Friedman will present the lecture Celluloid Transformed: the future of the film industry. A dinner, Q&A session and screening of Mean Streets will take place later that evening. (March 31; time, place and cost TBA. Go to www.lightfactory.org for updates.)
• "Late Hitchcock, Fake Hitchcock," the third and last of the Main Library's popular Hitchcock film series, concludes with a screening of Mel Brooks' affectionate (and often hilarious) homage, 1977's High Anxiety. The manic plot includes takeoffs on Psycho, Vertigo and Spellbound, although the high point is the uproarious sequence in which Brooks' character runs afoul of The Birds. (6:45 p.m. April 5, Wachovia Playhouse, ImaginOn, 300 E. 7th St. Free admission.)
• The Charlotte Film Society continues its Saturday Night Cine Club Series with a showing of 2008's Nothing But the Truth, starring Kate Beckinsale, Matt Dillon, Alan Alda and recent Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) in a drama about a reporter (Beckinsale) who opts to go to prison rather than reveal the identity of a source. (7:30 p.m. April 24, Theatre Charlotte, 501 Queens Road. $8 general admission.)
More Spring Guide stuff: