8 Summer Blockbusters Guaranteed to Disappoint
We know what you're thinking: "Wait, the summer movie season isn't over yet?"
Nope. In fact, we're barely at the halfway mark. But with the current pump-'em-out weekly blockbuster release pace, and the frenetic advertising carpet-bombing we've endured for each, you'd be forgiven for wishing it was September already.
And hey, why shouldn't it be? Below, we've taken a look at the rest of the summer blockbuster crop, and given some compelling reasons why you should stay indoors until September.
Live Free or Die Hard (June 27)Bruce Willis, Justin Long
The Case For: Maybe we're just burned out on all the pasty twentysomethings named "Tobey" and "Skeet" starring in our action movies for the last decade, all of whom look like Bruce Willis could bench-press them while eating a sandwich, but we'll come right out and say it: We miss invulnerable supercop John McClane. We would like to see this man drive a car into a helicopter.
The Case Against: Twelve years ago, Willis couldn't make Die Hard: With a Vengeance work as a buddy cop flick with a genuine badass like Samuel L. Jackson. It'd be nothing short of a miracle if he manages to pull it off with hipster doofus Justin Long, a sassy kidnapped daughter, and a PG-13 rating here.
Verdict: "Hi! I'm an aging action star with no real grasp on the basis of his fans' love for his own franchise!"
"And I'm a Mac!"
If We'd Made It: We'd have cast Bruce's real-life daughter Rumer Willis as Lucy McClane and his ex-wife's young new husband Ashton Kutcher as her lover. You'd get to spend the whole two hours watching Bruce Willis slowly going legitimately insane, and they probably would have had to finish the movie with body doubles after he finally snapped and beat Kutcher to death in the middle of filming.
License to Wed (July 3)John Krasinski, Mandy Moore, Robin Williams
The Case For: Let's remake Anger Management with Robin Williams in the Jack Nicholson role! They're both winners of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, after all, and Robin Williams is one of the most successful comedic actors on the planet. Plus, the kids seem to like that Krasinski guy from whatever TV show he's in.
The Case Against: We'd always assumed that Robin Williams was one of those comedians whom our parents (who don't watch TV and have only the vaguest understanding of who Jon Stewart or Seth Rogen are) probably find side-splittingly hilarious. We phoned them to confirm this, though, and it turns out they find him grating and upsetting too.
Verdict: Who's the audience for a Robin Williams movie these days? Is there one? Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay? Show of hands: Who even bothered to see Man of the Year, Robin Williams' vanilla attempt last year to impersonate Jon Stewart? Show of hands: Who thinks it might have made more sense to cast Jon Stewart?
If We'd Made It: We'd stop forcing talented up-and-comers to earn their paychecks by propping up Williams' sagging, deflated career. (Not only is The Office's Krasinski in License, but so are three other actors from the show; Arrested Development's G.O.B. and Buster appeared in RV; and Lewis Black still hasn't regained the credibility he lost in Man of the Year.) From now on, genuinely funny comedians star in comedies. Robin Williams gets to cater them.
If he balks at that, Robin Williams gets to stay at home in his pajamas and entertain his family with his gay hairdresser routines.
Transformers (July 3)Optimus Prime, Megatron
The Case For: Like many geeks our age, we fondly, rabidly cherish the old Transformers cartoon and 1986 animated film as a seminal robot drama with fleshed-out characters and thought-provoking plotlines. So it's upsetting to go back and rewatch it, since it's actually a poorly animated exercise in selling toys. Clearly a big-budget, live-action makeover will only serve to reinforce our fond memories while vastly improving the quality of the franchise, right?
The Case Against: As far as we can tell from the trailer, the robots don't actually talk and are only marginally the "stars" here, in much the same way the dinosaurs were the "stars" of Jurassic Park. Instead of giving us Optimus Prime and Megatron kicking the metallic shit out of each other in speaking roles, director Michael Bay thought we'd prefer watching the fat guy from Kangaroo Jack and Aaron from 24 running around in front of the robots saying "Holy shit!" and "Look out, everyone! Robots!" Essentially, you're being invited to watch other people watching the Transformers. Note that this is an effect you can simulate at home by taping yourself watching the cartoon.
Verdict: If you're making a Transformers movie, and you can't even be bothered to make Optimus Prime look like Optimus Prime, you've missed the fucking point.
If We'd Made It: The robots would look like live-action versions of the cartoon. You could argue they might look silly, but if that's the case, here's an idea: Don't make the damn movie. You wouldn't make a live-action version of G.I. Joe and rewrite all the heroes as postal workers, right? Why make a Transformers movie without the Transformers?
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (July 11)Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
The Case For: Believe it or not, they've made five Harry Potter movies so far-odds are good that they must know what they're doing by now. Plus, Emma Watson has flowered into jailbait, if you're looking for a reason to enjoy the film that author J.K. Rowling assuredly didn't intend. Plus, it looks a bit more adult-oriented than previous installments, which bodes well for adult moviegoers.
The Case Against: Phoenix being adult-oriented doesn't bode as well when you consider the film's target market is children, for which a lot of this looks like nightmare fuel. Plus, the more Emma Watson ages, the more she looks disturbingly like Orlando Bloom.
Verdict: We've established that Phoenix isn't exactly for children, so what about adults? Well, the new teacher in this one is named Miss Umbridge, as in "umbrage," which means "offense," "annoyance" or "resentment." J.K. Rowling obviously went to the Dr. Evil school of villain-naming. So, basically, if you're either a child looking to be irreparably psychologically scarred or an adult who needs things painted for you in broad, painfully obvious strokes, this is your movie.
If We'd Made It: We'd have spoken to Daniel Radcliffe in time to stop him from appearing full-frontally buck-assed nude in his stage production of Equus (right). He destroyed our ability to watch him gripping his broomstick in a game of Quidditch without being haunted by the image of Harry Potter's groin-level chamber of secrets.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (July 20)Adam Sandler, Kevin James
The Case For: Popular comedians Adam Sandler and Kevin James star as two lovable meatheads who pretend to be lovers to get health insurance in a story that should resonate with us all. Who among us, after all, hasn't feigned homosexuality to get something? (Health care, a movie role, a free dinner at Sizzler.) Sandler's guest spot filling in for Letterman proves that he can still make us laugh, though, and after years spent phoning it in on dreck like Mr. Deeds, The Longest Yard and Click, this actually counts as his most promising comedic premise in years.
The Case Against: In one of the early scenes shown in the trailer, Chuck and Larry get married by Rob Schneider as a Chinese priest (doing an offensive "ching-chang-chung" routine that'd be an outrage if it weren't Rob Schneider doing it, meaning we're happy he's at least not hurling his own feces for a laugh). When Schneider tells Chuck he can now kiss Larry and seal their marriage, Chuck, ho ho, knees Larry in the balls. That should tell you everything you need to know about this movie: Chuck and Larry is about two guys who have to pretend to act gay, but then apparently don't bother to. The only better premise we can think of would be if Chuck and Larry had to pretend they're Southern for a job promotion, but decide not to and find new jobs in the film's first 10 minutes.
Verdict: How many times does the American public have to see the same shtick where two guys bickering sounds like a lover's spat? Didn't Joey and Chandler already monopolize this routine in every episode of Friends? Chuck and Larry feels like a time capsule comedy from two decades ago, back when Eddie Murphy was doing routines about how he thought he'd get AIDS if a gay man played tennis with him. We're also a little uncertain about the plot contrivances needed to make this lazy premise happen. Sandler and James can't get health insurance as firefighters, but the government will throw money at them if they can prove they're gay firefighters? The American health care system works under the same guidelines Mr. Roper uses to rent apartments?
If We'd Made It: Sandler and James would be an actual gay couple trying to get work as firefighters, which sounds like a much more interesting premise and would involve 100 percent less tired "gay panic" jokes.
The Simpsons Movie (July 27)Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer
The Case For: The writers from the classic years of one of the greatest TV series of all time return to pen our favorite family's first full-length motion picture. It's a once-in-a-generation event.
The Case Against: Is there anything genuinely new that The Simpsons can bring us at this point? Just full-frontal nudity, really. But while the trailer dutifully gives us several tantalizing shots of a buck-naked Bart skateboarding through town, the movie's not likely to deliver on the promise of a nude 10-year-old boy, nor do we want it to. If they want us to fork over 10 bucks, there had better be some raunchy Fritz the Cat-style hardcore adult action. We're talking Homer-on-Marge, Lenny-on-Carl, Patty-on-Selma-whatever. Just go crazy.
Verdict: You could pony up the cash and endure the hooting and hollering of obnoxious theater patrons to watch The Simpsons Movie. Or, you could just stay on your own couch, watch the three or four consecutive reruns of the show airing at any given moment of the day, and have pretty much the same experience.
If We'd Made It: We'd give the audience the shock of their lives by using dark and terrible rituals to raise the late, great Phil Hartman from the grave to voice new lines for Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure. Or, assuming necromancy is out of the question, we'd at least raid the vaults for unused recordings of Hartman and write the movie around them.
The Bourne Ultimatum (August 3)Matt Damon
The Case For: Considering that they starred that punk from Good Will Hunting, the first two Bourne movies were surprisingly kick-ass.
The Case Against: When was the last time there was a movie trilogy without a weak installment? (The Lord of the Rings was filmed all at once, so it's disqualified on a technicality.) You can debate the quality of movies like Return of the Jedi and The Temple of Doom, but the upshot is that it's pretty hard to come up with a film series with an impeccable three-film run. So there's your proof: Statistically speaking, The Bourne Ultimatum will be awful. Math says so.
Verdict: Sorry, Bourne Ultimatum. We know you'll bring your best game, with car chases and groin-punches galore. But if Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Shrek the Third have taught us anything, it's that 2007 is The Year of Terrible Part Threes. But look on the bright side: At least it's bound to be better than the upcoming Resident Evil: Extinction and Under Siege 3.
If We'd Made It: We'd have taken a page from the Alien vs. Predator playbook and filmed Bourne vs. Daredevil. Imagine real-life best friends Ben Affleck and Matt Damon turned bitter enemies, wailing on each other with truncheons and stabbing each other with Bic pens for two hours. You'd have to see that.
Rush Hour 3 (August 10)Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker
The Case For: Liked the first two Rush Hour movies? Sure you did! Well, from the looks of things, Rush Hour 3 is exactly the same, except it's set in Paris this time. Hate the French? Sure you do! So, in theory, letting Chris Tucker crack wise about mimes, baguettes and snooty waiters should make Rush Hour 3 the best one yet.
The Case Against: The death-defying stunts featured in Jackie Chan's earlier movies are a thing of the past, now that old age and nervous insurance companies have teamed up to slow him down. As for Chris Tucker, except the two Rush Hour movies, he's done literally nothing since 1997-that is, except sacking out on his couch with a never-ending supply of Taco Bell, if his startlingly rotund visage in this trailer is any indication. So, if stunts are out, it's up to the comedy to carry the movie, and the warmed-over Abbott and Costello routine in the trailer doesn't inspire much hope.
Verdict: Remember what we said in the Bourne Ultimatum preview about 2007 being The Year of Terrible Part Threes? If the combined efforts of three classic Marvel comics villains, Keith Richards in full pirate regalia and the voice talents of five SNL veterans and two Monty Python troupe members couldn't break that curse, why should two hours of a shrieking Chris Tucker?
If We'd Made It: Instead of France, we'd have moved the setting to the moon. With one-sixth of the Earth's gravity, Jackie Chan would be back to performing effortless acrobatic stunts and Chris Tucker would be back to a svelte 140 pounds. Plus, given the airless atmosphere and the franchise's tendency to revisit gags from the earlier films, Tucker would be ideally set up for the line, "In space, ain't nobody hear the words that are coming out of your mouth!"