Iron Man. Made of Honor. Speed Racer. What Happens In Vegas. Four summer movies down, approximately 50 to go.
The official start of the summer movie season has been holding steady the past few years as the first weekend in May -- even Hollywood suits know that hot-weather blockbusters would look absurd being released in the midst of April showers. But as always, they've been careful to spread out their big-ticket items, generally allowing no more than two heavily hyped flicks per week. Here, then, is how the rest of the season pans out, with my guesses (based on trailers, general buzz and other extremely dubious factors) on what looks good, what looks grasping, and everything else in between.
10 MOST PROMISING
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. After all these many years that we've been laughing at Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford for planning to make another Indiana Jones yarn even though the initial trilogy was successfully wrapped up back in 1989 (would an aged Indy replace his trusty whip with a walker?), it only took one look at the trailer to turn around everyone's expectations. The 65-year-old Ford seems as if he's up to the challenge, Cate Blanchett looks to be absolutely wicked, and it's great to see Indy's best gal pal, Karen Allen, back in the co-pilot's seat. If Spielberg doesn't go overboard with the CGI and instead relies more on old-school charm, this could be the summer's great escape. (May 22)
SEX AND THE CITY. As proven by (among others) My Best Friend's Wedding way back in 1997 and The Devil Wears Prada a couple of years ago, it's a no-brainer to always include one female-centric project on the other otherwise testosterone-driven summer schedule. This year's counter-programming option appears to be this big-screen transfer of the hit series that ran for six seasons (1998-2004) on HBO. The series regulars (Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis) have all returned, and so has the sex: According to the MPAA, this will be rated R for "strong sexual content, graphic nudity, and language." (May 30)
GET SMART. For five seasons (1965-1970), the critically acclaimed comedy series Get Smart, created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, focused on the adventures of bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) and his more accomplished partner, Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon). Adams reprised his role in the 1980 theatrical bomb The Nude Bomb and a short-lived FOX reboot in 1995; now, it's Steve Carell who steps into Maxwell's shoes (and yes, the shoe phone will make an appearance), with Anne Hathaway on board as Agent 99. Carell's channeling of Paul Lynde was the best part of the disastrous film version of Bewitched, so here's betting he can nail another iconic '60s performer. (June 20)
WALL-E. The teaser for WALL-E, about a lonely robot, did nothing for me, but the new, longer trailer holds more promise. At any rate, I'm not about to bet against Pixar, whose formidable run continued with last summer's Oscar-winning Ratatouille and looks to be extended with this guaranteed family favorite. (June 27)
THE DARK KNIGHT. 2005's Batman Begins is merely one of the best superhero movies ever made, so there are high hopes for this equally dark follow-up -- more so since it reunites the original's director, Christopher Nolan, with Bat-star Christian Bale. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman also return, Maggie Gyllenhaal replaces Katie Holmes as the love interest, and Aaron Eckhart turns up as Harvey Dent (later to become the villainous Two-Face, probably in Part 3). The biggest news, of course, is that this will feature the final full performance from the late Heath Ledger, who, if the previews are any indication, looks to be absolutely amazing as The Joker. (July 18)
MAMMA MIA! This appears to be this summer's Hairspray: a smash stage musical that's brought to the big screen dripping with A-list actors. Here, it's Meryl Streep who heads the cast, as a once-promiscuous mother whose daughter (Amanda Seyfried) is trying to figure out before her wedding day which of three guys (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard) is her father. Like the stage version, this will be filled to the rafters with ABBA tunes. (July 18)
SWING VOTE. It's the simple premise that hooks me: The presidential election is at a standstill on Election Day, since both candidates are evenly tied. The White House will be decided by the vote of one man, a deadbeat (Kevin Costner) living in a small Southwestern town. Bill Maher, Arianna Huffington, Willie Nelson and man-whore Larry King are reportedly among those appearing as themselves. (Aug. 1)
AMERICAN TEEN. The jock. The geek. The rebel. The princess. The heartthrob. Sounds like The Breakfast Club, right? But it also describes the documentary American Teen, a Sundance Film Festival hit about high school kids in a small Indiana town. (Aug. 15)