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Summer Guide 2011: Summer movie preview

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The summer movie season unofficially got under way with the April 29 release of Fast Five and officially commenced with the May 6 debut of Thor. Clearly, Hollywood doesn't have the patience to wait until the Memorial Day weekend, which the rest of the country pretty much considers the opening salvo of the hot-weather season. No matter: Whatever the calendar says, folks seeking respite from the rays will have plenty of opportunities to duck indoors, considering the range of mainstream and art-house product heading our way in the months to come.

Below is a list of the 43 films scheduled to open in Charlotte between now and the end of August. In addition to these titles, expect some as-yet-unbooked indie and foreign flicks to pepper the local scene.

MAY 20: Bloodworth stars Kris Kristofferson as the title character, who returns to the resentful family he abandoned 40 years earlier. The cast also includes Val Kilmer, Hilary Duff and Dwight Yoakam ... Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are out as leading players, but Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush are back for a fourth plundering with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, in which Jack Sparrow (Depp) tangles with a sexy swashbuckler (Penelope Cruz), Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and, of course, Captain Barbossa (Rush) while searching for the Fountain of Youth.

MAY 26: The Hangover Part II finds the boys — Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) — inflicting and receiving more physical abuse, this time in Bangkok ... Meanwhile, Kung Fu Panda 2 finds Po (again voiced by Jack Black) and the Furious Five springing into action against a villain who plots to conquer China.

MAY 27: The Beaver stars Mel Gibson as a mentally distraught man who uses a hand puppet in order to communicate with the world around him. Jodie Foster, who also directed, plays Gibson's wife, while recent Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone) turns up in a key supporting role ... Super Size Me filmmaker Morgan Spurlock only used funding from product placements to finance POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a documentary about, you got it, product placement.

JUNE 3: During World War II, a Dutch boy (Martijn Lakemeier) learns that he can't trust any of the adults around him in Winter In Wartime ... Wolverine isn't the only one enjoying an Origins tale: X-Men First Class goes back to the beginning, when Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) was a young mutant with the idea of beginning a school for fellow outcasts. Michael Fassbinder co-stars as his best friend, Erik Lehnsherr — soon to become his worst enemy, Magneto.

JUNE 10: An Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, the Canadian drama Incendies centers on twins (Mélissa Désormeaux Poulin and Maxim Gaudette) who travel to the Middle East to learn about their recently deceased mother's mysterious past ... Based on Megan McDonald's children's books, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer finds Judy (Jordana Beatty), her brother Stink (Parris Mosteller) and their wacky Aunt Opal (Heather Graham) cooking up various activities to pass the warm-weather months ... In 1979, several kids witness a train wreck and later wonder if it's somehow connected to the weird events taking place around town in Super 8, from director J.J. Abrams (Star Trek) and producer Steven Spielberg.

JUNE 17: In the midst of this summer's various Marvel adaptations, DC bravely enters the fray with Green Lantern, in which test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is given a ring that allows him to become part of an intergalactic squad tasked with maintaining peace throughout the galaxy ... New York businessman Thomas Popper (Jim Carrey) finds his life turned upside down after he's forced to share his living quarters with six flightless fowl in the family flick Mr. Popper's Penguins ... The enigmatic Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven) returns with The Tree of Life, in which the writer-director posits questions of life, death, fate and faith via the members of a 1950s Midwestern family. Brad Pitt and Sean Penn star.

JUNE 24: Bad Teacher refers to the character played by Cameron Diaz: She's an irresponsible, foul-mouthed drunkard who ignores the advances of the school's gym teacher (Jason Segel) while pursuing a clueless colleague (Justin Timberlake) ... Cars 2 takes the stateside auto-heroes from the first film and sends them overseas for a major international race. Paul Newman is sadly no longer with us, but the rest of the vocal gang is back (Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, etc.), and there are some big-name newcomers as well (among them the tireless Michael Caine) ... Woody Allen is still cranking out a movie a year; his 2011 offering is Midnight in Paris, a romantic comedy starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen and Marion Cotillard.

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