The Girls' Guide to Summer Movies
You've seen the trailers, you've read the other summer preview articles, but the buzz stops here. Behold, a run-down of films for those of us who cherish summers full of uplifting movies that do not involve guns, explosions, unromanticized drug use, tweens, death or Tony Scott's able direction. Whether you are a female cinephile or just a guy hoping to defile his girlfriend in the back of a cinema, consider this your summer cheat sheet.
1. The Proposal - June 19
Unless you thought Crash was as unintentionally funny as I did, Sandra Bullock has not fronted a decent comedy since 2000's Miss Congeniality. Thankfully, America's Sweetheart has returned to reclaim what is left of her throne by teaming with Ryan Reynolds and Betty White in a film that explores the fantasy of nailing your battle-ax boss when she is faced with imminent deportation. The Proposal could be the best romantic comedy of the summer, but that isn't saying much. Just keep reading.
2. My Sister's Keeper - June 26
Jodi Picoult's novel, on which this film is based, is so heartbreaking with its childhood terminal illnesses, legal emancipation cases and marital distress, that it would translate to an insta- tearjerker even if Rob Schneider had starred as the leukemia-stricken sister. For the three people not seeing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on this June weekend, at least this provides the polar opposite effect.
3. Bruno - July 10
While it's likely that the Eminem lap stunt at the MTV Movie Awards completely curbed your desire to see a movie full of equally staged set-ups and unsuspecting homophobic victims, it's also likely that you won't be able to swing a dead cat this summer without hitting a Bruno quote on a Twitter or Facebook wall. So by seeing it in the theaters, at least you will know what originally humorous moments are being driven into the ground.
4. The Ugly Truth - July 24
Katherine Heigl's third romantic comedy in three years proves that her strained relationship with television writers has not hurt her position in the chick-flick community. This time, instead of bearing Seth Rogen's seed or propping up James Marsden's journalism career, she produces a television program anchored by Gerard Butler, who in turn helps her with her love life. If you are into Scottish guys who sound condescending all the time, look no further.
5. 500 Days of Summer - July 24
Hipsters need date movies too, and relying on the indie cred of Zooey Deschanel (She & Him, Gigantic, Yes Man, um, those cotton commercials) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brick, Mysterious Skin, G.I. Joe, um, 3rd Rock from the Sun) to bring Smiths-loving butts into urban (but not too urban) multiplexes is a safe bet, though anyone expecting this to be a massive hit is living in a magically realistic realm similar to that of this film's lead couple. At minimum, this is an easy way to create a neutral ground first date with that cute bespectacled guy at the laundromat reading The Portable Nietzsche.
6. Julie & Julia - August 7
"This will be the summer where I learn how to cook better!" is something we have all told ourselves at some point. Not because we want to please our roommates, but because the stovetop has to be good for something other than holding unopened mail. Meryl Streep continues to use more than her share of the world's air as kitchen legend Julia Child in Nora Ephron's new film. We will sit breathless and hungry as Child learns to cook in France while a modern-day Julie (Amy Adams) embarks on a career-frustration-driven endeavor to cook every recipe in Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking within a year.
7. Paper Heart - August 7
If Bruno doesn't satisfy your craving for heavily improvised but extensively coordinated comedy, hop in the RV with Charlyne Yi and her camera crew as she searches for the meaning of love in this faux documentary. The film, which won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance, shows her interviewing strangers during her cross-country journey while falling for real-life squeeze, Michael Cera. Yi is optimistic and serious about her quest but if you can't find the meaning of love at a suburban strip mall (Applebee's, Petsmart, Regal Cinemas), then a trip across the U.S. probably isn't going to help.
8. The Boat That Rocked - August 28
While there is no way this film can have as many narrative threads as Richard Curtis's last film, Love Actually, it still plans to overwhelm you with a large English cast and a substantial music-licensing budget. By the end of August, you will know whether you are ready for this feel-good underdog story. If this was a summer of fun weddings, a great vacay at the shore, and a promotion at work, then you'll be ready to smile and sing along. But if you get left at the altar (be it Judeo-Christian or new-school Iowa marriage), waste vacation days moving your mom out of her foreclosed condo (and into your crib) and work stops buying paying for lunch, you might be more in the mood for --
9. Jennifer's Body - September 18
There's no time to get all film school-y about the "male gaze" and how most directors being male results in a filmic apparatus that tends to otherize females and even demean them with all those phallic telephoto lenses (OK, there was a little time), but here is a cure for what males ya. A possessed cheerleader cum man-eater (Megan Fox) terrorizes a town's jocks and musicians while her best friend (Amanda Seyfried) tries to stop her. Karyn Kusama directs this gory tale of female-empowerment that Cody describes as "screwed up in a good way" and "definitely not heartwarming[.]" I can only hope that those descriptors apply to my summer in general.