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Mon May 28, 2012
Movies

A Selective Preview Of Summer Movies

Originally published on Mon June 4, 2012 2:01 pm

Forget the calendar. With The Avengers, Battleship, and Men In Black already battling aliens at the multiplex, Hollywood's summer has arguably been under way for weeks.

No doubt, the tent-pole blockbusters — Ridley Scott's Prometheus, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Bourne Legacy, and the rest — will offer plenty of entertainment value, but there are a couple of hardy, resourceful little girls you might want to attend to, too.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (June 27)

One is a precocious seven-year-old with the unlikely name of Hushpuppy (the actress' name is equally unlikely: Ouvenzhane Wallis). Hushpuppy is the diminutive heroine of a magic-realist indie Beasts of the Southern Wild, a hit at Sundance a few months ago, and a breathtaking exercise in smart, low-budget filmmaking.

Filmed with mostly first-time actors and a 16mm camera in post-Katrina Louisiana, the film observes a bayou community known as the Bathtub and how it deals with the aftermath of a monster storm. Hushpuppy lives with — or more accurately, near — her hard-drinking father (Dwight Henry) amongst chickens, waterfowl and prehistoric aurochs (some of which may reside mostly in Hushpuppy's head). The fates aren't kind to the community, but its residents show the sort of rough kindness to each other that melts the heart.

Brave (June 22)

An animated lass will land on far more screens, when Brave, Pixar's first picture centered on a girl, arrives at the multiplex. Kelly Macdonald voices an animated heroine whose interest in frilly dresses and decorous behavior is all but nonexistent. She's wily, independent, courageous, and — shades of Katniss Everdeen — a crack archer.

The Dark Knight Rises (July 20)

While we're talking distaff casting, let's also note the summer's new Catwoman: Anne Hathaway, pouncing lightly in the footsteps of Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, and others as Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy draws to a close. The last Batman flick topped one billion dollars worldwide, a fact that's led observers to note that The Dark Knight Rises is the one movie this summer with a shot at topping The Avengers at the box-office, if that matters.

And of course, there will be treasures hidden amongst the 70-or-so also-rans opening before Labor Day, among them:

June

Snow White and the Huntsman
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
Prometheus
Paul Williams: Still Alive
Safety Not Guaranteed
Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding
Your Sister's Sister
Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Magic Mike
Neil Young Journeys

July

The Amazing Spider-Man
Savages
Queen of Versailles
Ice Age: Continental Drift

August

The Bourne Legacy
Total Recall
Hope Springs
The Campaign
Sparkle
Chicken With Plums
Para-Norman
Premium Rush

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

Finally this hour, it's time for dessert. And our ice cream sundae today is Bob Mondello's annual summer movie preview. This weekend officially kicks off Hollywood's blockbuster season, although "Battleship," "The Avengers" and "Men in Black" are already busy saving the world from aliens. What will Hollywood do next? Bob says more of the same.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: In space, no one can hear you scream encore, which is more or less what science fiction fans have been screaming at Ridley Scott since he made the original "Alien." Other directors did sequels, but now, Scott's made what looks like a prequel - "Prometheus" - in which an interplanetary expedition encounters a life form that's, well, you know how this goes.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "PROMETHEUS")

MICHAEL FASSBENDER: (as David) They're leaving.

NOOMI RAPACE: (as Elizabeth Shaw) To go where?

FASSBENDER: (as David) Earth.

RAPACE: (as Elizabeth Shaw) We were so wrong. Take us home. If we don't stop it, there won't be any home to go back to.

MONDELLO: Happily, once "Prometheus" opens, being afraid of things hurdling towards us from outer space will almost immediately be so last week. Aliens will discover that they tangle with Earth's defenses at their peril in "The Watch," for instance, given our crack teams of neighborhood watch volunteers.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE WATCH")

JONAH HILL: (as Franklin) Look at me.

BEN STILLER: (as Evan) Look at me. Look at him and listen to me.

HILL: (as Franklin) Listen to his words and look at my face, but look at him while he's talking.

STILLER: (as Evan) Look at my face.

HILL: (as Franklin) Don't look at him. Listen to my words and hear his face.

MONDELLO: And then there's an oddly bittersweet take on global annihilation called "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as character) The final mission to save Mankind has failed. The 70-mile wide asteroid known as Matilda is set to collide with Earth in exactly three weeks' time, and we'll be bringing you our countdown to the end of days along with all your classic rock favorites.

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY: (as Penny) So what are you doing with the rest of your life?

STEVE CARELL: (as Dodge) Catching up on some me time, find God, maybe move around some chairs.

MONDELLO: That's Steve Carell, who also has another comedy this summer - "Hope Springs" - in which he plays a couple's counselor for Tommy Lee Jones.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "HOPE SPRINGS")

CARELL: (as Dr. Bernie Feld) I'm so glad you're here.

TOMMY LEE JONES: (as Arnold Soames) Well, that makes one of us.

MONDELLO: And his wife, Meryl Streep.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "HOPE SPRINGS")

CARELL: (as Dr. Bernie Feld) You two have come here to try to restore intimacy to your marriage.

JONES: (as Arnold Soames) This is insane. We're not 22 years old anymore.

CARELL: (as Bernie Feld) I would like to assign you your first exercise. Tonight, I would like you to spend a period of time with your arms around one another.

JONES: (as Arnold Soames) I think we better stop.

MONDELLO: A less star-studded romantic comedy "Your Sister's Sister" involves a guy who goes to a cabin to spend some alone time, finds a friend's sister there, and, well, it gets complicated.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "YOUR SISTER'S SISTER")

EMILY BLUNT: (as Iris) Jack.

MARK DUPLASS: (as Jack) What are you doing here?

BLUNT: (as Iris) (Unintelligible) my sister. I've been wanting you to meet her.

DUPLASS: (as Jack) I did. We met last night. I know - it's - well, how - what - why are you - how did it - what are you doing here? You don't think she'd be upset if you told her we had sex?

ROSEMARIE DEWITT: (as Hannah) Why?

DUPLASS: (as Jack) Because she's your sister.

DEWITT: (as Hannah) Yeah.

DUPLASS: (as Jack) I'm her best friend, and it's weird.

DEWITT: (as Hannah) Do you have a thing for my sister?

DUPLASS: (as Jack) I do not have a thing for your sister.

MONDELLO: Yeah. He kind of does. There are a lot of new faces in franchises you may have thought you knew well - Jeremy Renner, not Matt Damon, for instance, in "Bourne Legacy."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE BOURNE LEGACY")

STACY KEACH: (as Turso) Who the hell is he?

MONDELLO: Andrew Garfield, not Tobey Maguire, in "The Amazing Spider-Man."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN")

DENIS LEARY: (as George Stacy) Tell us a little bit about yourself, Mr. Parker.

ANDREW GARFIELD: (as Peter Parker/Spider-Man) Not much to tell, really.

MONDELLO: Colin Farrell, not Arnold Schwarzenegger, in "Total Recall."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TOTAL RECALL")

COLIN FARRELL: (as Doug Quaid/Hauser) Why are you trying to kill me?

KATE BECKINSALE: (as Lori) Your memory was erased. Your mind was implanted with a life you think you've lived.

MONDELLO: And a whole new Supremes-style girl group in an all-new "Sparkle."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "SPARKLE")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as character) When you see a train that's going to get to where you're trying to go...

(SOUNDBITE OF FIGHT)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as character) ...you got to jump on it.

MONDELLO: Those last two, "Total Recall" and "Sparkle," are out-and-out remakes, a form that is otherwise in short supply this summer, but there's still plenty that's familiar, from the aging mercenaries in "Expendables 2" to the antics of the romantics in "To Rome with Love," a Woody Allen comedy that showcases the master himself.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TO ROME WITH LOVE")

WOODY ALLEN: (as Jerry) They gave us such a great room. You know, you married a very bright guy. I got 150, 160 IQ.

JUDY DAVIS: (as Phyllis) You're figuring it in euros. In dollars, it's much less.

MONDELLO: The picture is huge in Italy, despite complaints about stereotypes.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TO ROME WITH LOVE")

ALLEN: (as Jerry) Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as character) This is my father.

ALLEN: (as Jerry) (Unintelligible).

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as character ) Without the unions, the worker would be ground into dust.

ALLEN: (as Jerry) The kid's a communist. The father's a mortician. The mother run a leper colony?

MONDELLO: Other comedies include "Safety Not Guaranteed," about a guy looking for company when he goes time-traveling; "Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding," in which Jane Fonda plays a free-spirited granny who bakes hash brownies; and "The Campaign," with Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell as dueling political candidates.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE CAMPAIGN")

ZACH GALIFIANAKIS: (as Marty Huggins) Gentlemen, we've got some babies to kiss.

WILL FERRELL: (as Cam Brady) That's my baby to kiss.

MONDELLO: "The Campaign's" timing is certainly right. It opens just before the political conventions.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE CAMPAIGN")

JASON SUDEIKIS: (as Mitch) He just punched a baby.

FERRELL: (as Cam Brady) Is anyone asking how my hand feels after punching that iron-like jaw of that baby?

MONDELLO: Speaking of kids...

(SOUNDBITE OF SCREAMING)

MONDELLO: There's a raft of animation for the little ones, including "Ice Age: Continental Drift."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT")

JOHN LEGUIZAMO: (as voice of Sid) Hey, this cruise has entertainment.

RAY ROMANO: (as voice of Manny) Seriously? Sid, you're out of your mind.

MONDELLO: The director of "Coraline's" latest supernatural weirdness "ParaNorman."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "PARANORMAN")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as voice of character) Norman, wait up.

KODI SMIT-MCPHEE: (as voice of Norman) I like to be alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as voice of character ) So do I. Let's do it together.

MONDELLO: The first Pixar picture centered on a girl: "Brave."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "BRAVE")

EMMA THOMPSON: (as voice of Queen Elinor) Merida, stop. A lady enjoys elegant pursuits.

MONDELLO: Yeah, not so much. And "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," in which everybody's favorite zoo animals discover a way to travel incognito.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED")

CHRIS ROCK: (as Marty) (Singing) Da, da, da, da, da, da, circus, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, afro, circus, afro, circus, afro, polka-dot, polka-dot, polka-dot, afro.

STILLER: (as Alex) Really?

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) Move it.

MONDELLO: If all this sounds like a bit much, there are a few quieter pictures. I mean, it's summer, so not too quiet. But there's a French live-action sort of "Amelie-like" romance called "Chicken with Plums" from the director of "Persopolis;" a beautifully acted post-Hurricane Katrina slice of life called "Beasts of the Southern Wild;" as well as a pair of musician documentaries - "Neil Young Journeys" and "Paul Williams Still Alive."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as character) When you have a song with a girl's name, do you ever tell a girl, say, I was thinking of you when I wrote this? A lot of Holiday Inns have heard those lines.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MONDELLO: There's another documentary that sounds like fiction but isn't - "Queen of Versailles" - about a billionaire couple who built themselves a mansion with 90,000 square feet of space and 10 kitchens. But most summer movies offer more active fantasies - "Snow White and the Huntsman," say, or "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" or a film version of Broadway's power rock, big hair musical "Rock of Ages."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ROCK OF AGES")

RUSSELL BRAND: (as Lonnie) Ladies and gentlemen, the icon of rock, Stacee Jaxx.

TOM CRUISE: (as Stacee Jaxx) I am going to light this place on fire.

(as Stacee Jaxx) (Singing) I'm wanted...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) Wanted.

CRUISE: (as Stacee Jaxx) (Singing) ...dead or alive.

MONDELLO: Also taking the stage, though a much smaller one, is Channing Tatum in "Magic Mike," which is based loosely on a job he had before he took up acting - as a stripper.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MAGIC MIKE")

CODY HORN: (as Paige) I'm just trying to figure out why stripping.

CHANNING TATUM: (as Mike Martingano) Women, money and a good time.

HORN: (as Paige) Just trying to forget about the people who exist in the daylight - the non-vampire.

TATUM: (as Mike Martingano) Right. Are we fighting?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

TATUM: (as Mike Martingano) Is this our first fight?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MONDELLO: There's also "Premium Rush," a snappy looking thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a bike messenger in trouble; "Savages," Oliver Stone's look at some mild-mannered drug dealers in trouble; and Christopher Nolan's final epic about a caped crusader in trouble.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE DARK KNIGHT RISES")

ANNE HATHAWAY: (as Selina Kyle/Catwoman) You don't owe these people anymore.

MONDELLO: The conclusion of his "Dark Knight" trilogy.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE DARK KNIGHT RISES")

HATHAWAY: (as Selina Kyle/Catwoman) You've given them everything.

CHRISTIAN BALE: (as Bruce Wayne/Batman) Not everything, not yet.

MONDELLO: "The Dark Knight Rises" is the one movie with a shot at topping "The Avengers" at the box office, if that matters. It will be big and so likely will be summer 2012. I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE DARK KNIGHT RISES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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