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Hot Summer Flicks

Posted: June 4, 2009 3:54 p.m.
Updated: June 5, 2009 6:00 a.m.

Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter and Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley in the fantasy adventure "Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince."

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Summer may not arrive technically until June 21, the longest day of the year, but the summer film season is well underway.
Highly anticipated summer films "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," "Star Trek," "Angels and Demons," "Terminator Salvation," "Night at the Museum" and "Up" have already taken the summer box office by storm.

Yet, the summer has only just begun. There are many more hot summer flicks to see in the coming months, including "the big one" the newest "Harry Potter" film.

Action
By David Germain
AP Movie Writer

The director of the final four "Harry Potter" movies, David Yates, is still giving thanks for the young cast he inherited, led by Daniel Radcliffe as boy wizard Harry and Emma Watson and Rupert Grint as his school pals.

"There was something very, very, very clever in their choices. Not a day goes by I'm not grateful for this bunch they put together," Yates said. "It's a remarkable bunch of kids."

In "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," Harry is charged with uncovering a forgotten memory from a new Hogwarts teacher (Jim Broadbent), information the young sorcerer needs for his final showdown against dark wizard Voldemort.

While Yates marvels over how his youthful cast has blossomed, "Transformers" director Michael Bay was thrilled over the improved acting chops of his computer-animated robots for the sequel.

"We were just touching the surface last time in what they're capable of doing," Bay said. "This time, they really emote."

Other action films this summer at the box office include:

* "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" reunites puny but plucky human Shia LaBeouf with his giant, shape-shifting Autobot buddies in a rematch against the evil Decepticon robot clan.

* "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra": The action figures get their own movie as the G.I. Joe guys take on an arms dealer and a militant secret organization.

* "Inglourious Basterds": Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarantino resurrect "Dirty Dozen"-style action as Jewish soldiers dish out chaos among the Nazis.

* "Public Enemies": Johnny Depp is gangster John Dillinger and Christian Bale is G-Man Melvin Purvis in Michael Mann's Depression-era crime saga.

* "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3": The remake casts Denzel Washington as a subway dispatcher and John Travolta as a bad guy ransoming a trainload of passengers.

* "District 9": The "Lord of the Rings" overlord Peter Jackson produces a sci-fi tale about a human who becomes an unlikely ally for aliens held in a South African ghetto.

Family
By Sandy Cohen
AP Entertainment Writer

Robert Rodriguez looked to his life - and his children - for inspiration for his latest family flick, "Shorts." He and his kids came up with the idea of a magic rock that can make any wish come true while they were making "backyard movies," Rodriguez said. Suddenly he knew this would be his next family film.

"I thought, 'This is a good angle for a feature. This should go beyond our little backyard movies to show ourselves,'" he said. "It's just open for a lot of creativity and a lot of ideas and a lot of fun, especially as the rock passes from child to child and family to family and parent to parent...."

Rodriguez, whose credits include the "Spy Kids" films as well as more adult fare such as "Sin City" and "From Dusk Til Dawn," said the film is perfect for all ages because "wish fulfillment is something we don't grow out of."

That's the key to a successful family film, he said: all-ages appeal and a feeling of empowerment for the youngest viewers.
"Kids feel like they can do things in the world, yet they still need their mom to drive them to the mall," he said. "They can't go make moves on their own yet, so if they get to see other kids being empowered, that's a fantasy quality for them, and the wish fulfillment in this movie plays a big part of that."

Levy said a hit family flick mixes excellent casting with humor for everyone.

"It's two levels of tone. It's two levels of humor, which occasionally dovetail," he said. "It's not cast like a family film. It's cast as the highest-end comedy you could assemble."

Other family films beckoning at the box office include:

* "Bandslam": Disney Channel's Vanessa Hudgens and Alyson Michalka bring their musical skills to this high-school comedy about the ultimate glory: Winning the battle of the bands.

* "G-Force": A crew of highly trained guinea pigs are espionage experts who aim to save the world in this 3D romp that stars Bill Nighy, Will Arnett and the voices of Sam Rockwell, Tracy Morgan, Penelope Cruz and Nicolas Cage.

* "Imagine That": Eddie Murphy discovers business secrets in his daughter's imaginary world. Vanessa Williams and Thomas Haden Church also star.

* "Ponyo": Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson and Lily Tomlin are among those who lend their voices to Hayao Miyazaki's animated tale of an eager goldfish who wants to become human.

* "They Came From Upstairs": When pint-sized alien invaders with aspirations to destroy the planet take up residence in a family's vacation home, it's up to the kids to save the day. Kevin Nealon and Ashley Tisdale star.

Comedy
By Jake Coyle
AP Entertainment Writer

As much as tentpole action films dominate the summer, comedies, too, are a staple of the season.

On warm summer nights, waves of cackling have long floated out of multiplexes playing "Caddyshack," ''There's Something About Mary" or "The 40-Year-Old Virgin."

Judd Apatow recalls going with his summer camp to see Bill Murray in "Stripes" as "one of the great moments of my entire life."
"There are a lot of gigantic movies with budgets well over $100 million that come out during the summer," said Apatow. "There's a lot of excitement and spectacle. But I think people also enjoy something less intense and fun and funny."

Apatow has become a summertime regular, having directed "Knocked Up" and produced "Superbad" and "Stepbrothers" - all of which, he notes, benefited from coming out late in the season when people were "a little burnt-out" by the blockbusters.

On July 31, he'll release "Funny People," starring Adam Sandler as a stand-up comedian who finds out he has a terminal disease. Seth Rogen co-stars.

"It's a human comedy," said Apatow. "It's about the normal struggles that people face in their lives. It's funny and relatable."

Apatow also produced "Year One" (June 19), which Harold Ramis ("Groundhog Dog," ''Analyze That") directed. It stars Jack Black and Michael Cera as Roman Empire era wanderers with girl problems.

Then, there's yet another alter ego of Sacha Baron Cohen's.

On July 10, he returns with "Bruno," the lone film this year with an umlaut that American moviegoers are likely to flock to.

"Bruno" is Cohen's follow-up to "Borat," which in 2006 earned more than $128 million at the domestic box office and caused a cultural stir. In "Bruno," Cohen again flings a character from his TV series "Da Ali G Show" into the real world, where director Larry Charles' cameras capture his interactions with seemingly unknowing citizens.

The culture clash of his gay Austrian fashion reporter might be even greater than that of his Kazakh journalist. Just as entertaining will be the sideshow of Cohen's in-character interviews and the possible ensuing lawsuits (which resulted after "Borat").

Other anticipated comedies this summer:

* "Whatever Works," June 19: Woody Allen returned to New York to shoot this film, starring Larry David ("Seinfeld," ''Curb Your Enthusiasm").

* "The Boat That Rocked," Aug. 28: Richard Curtis ("Love Actually") directs this period comedy about a 1960s illegal radio station.

Romance
By Derrik J. Lang
AP Entertainment Writer

During the summer, romantic movies - comedic or otherwise - have usually been just "he said, she said" counterprogramming to all the robots and superheroes blasting the box office. This season, what "he" said is getting more screen time.

Also taking an over-the-top shot at love is Dennis Cooverman (Paul Rust) in "I Love You, Beth Cooper." During his graduation speech, the nerdy valedictorian nervously professes his love for the most popular girl in school, Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere). Much to his surprise, she shows up at his door later than night for a crazy night out on the town.

"The central mystery of this movie is, 'Who is this person, Beth Cooper?'" said Larry Doyle, who wrote the screenplay and 2007 book. "Dennis learns she isn't who he thought she was over the course of the night. I could have presented her as a complete person upfront, but then the book and the movie would've just been about a wild night after graduation."

While the nerd and cheerleader only have one night together, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has "500 Days of Summer." In the offbeat time-bending romantic comedy, Gordon-Levitt plays a lovesick greeting card writer named Tom who has a monumental on-again, off-again relationship with his boss' freethinking assistant Summer (Zooey Deschanel) over a year and a half.

"Most of what Hollywood presents as love is false," said Gordon-Levitt. "It's pandering to an audience. It basically tells the audience what they want to hear instead of telling them the truth. I'm proud of '500 Days of Summer' because I don't think it does that. I think it's an honest look at what it is to be in love and fall out of love."

Other romantic highlights for summer 2009:

* "The Proposal": Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds give new meaning to the term "workplace romance" with Bullock as a rigid Canadian-born boss who plots to marry her American assistant (Reynolds) in order to stay in the United States. 

* "Cheri": Michelle Pfeiffer plays a very different type of Catwoman in director Stephen Frears' saucy 1920s tale about a retired Parisian courtesan who has an affair with her friend's 19-year-old son (Rupert Friend). 

* "I Hate Valentine's Day": Nia Vardalos reunites with her "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" co-star John Corbett as a commitment-phobic, Valentine's Day-hating tapas restaurant owner who is pursued by Corbett's carefree florist.

* "The Ugly Truth": Katherine Heigl plays a romantically challenged morning show producer who reluctantly agrees to follow the love advice of a chauvinistic shock jock (Gerard Butler) who was hired to boost her show's sagging ratings.

* "Adam": Love is complicated in this Sundance discovery written and directed by Max Mayer about a schoolteacher (Rose Byrne from FX's "Damages") who forms an intimate connection with Adam, her autistic neighbor (Hugh Dancy).

 

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