BOP 25 of Summer 2011: 25-16

By BOP Staff

May 4, 2011

The Summer of 2011 has arrived and this is a time frame we have been eagerly anticipating ever since Marvel announced their daring plans for an Avengers film. No, that movie is not in the offing, but the projects that lead up to it are. Thor kicks off the festivities this week, then Captain America arrives soon afterward. And if you are a DC instead of a Marvel, there is a Green Lantern movie to entertain you instead. Is BOP saying that the only films worth watching this season are comic book adaptations? Absolutely not. Well, not really. Hmm, maybe.

On paper, this is not the strongest summer line-up of releases, which is unfortunate given the box office funk we have experienced thus far in 2011. What the next four months brings film lovers is a lot of sequels, a few highly anticipated new properties, a Woody Allen film, and a Hobo with a Shotgun. Ergo, there is something for everyone...unless you are some sort of anti-Woody Allen NRA hatin' film snob who hates sequels and comic book movies. If that describes you accurately, at least you still have your Netflix subscription because you will not be attending movie theaters very often.

BOP's staff did manage to find 25 titles that excited us somewhat. Well, 24 that excite us and the Transformers sequel just because we're as gullible as everybody else when it comes to the flawed films of Michael Bay. What is clear is that the summer of 2011 is top heavy in terms of box office expectations but there are a lot of unheralded smaller films we feel are worthy of your consideration as well this season.
I love that a robot has an angry pose. 25) Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Our list begins with a release that could easily prove to be the strongest box office performer of the entire summer. BOP fully expects the public to embrace the sequel to Revenge of the Fallen, a title that earned over $835 million worldwide. Our lack of enthusiasm for a third Transformers outing is that while we like a good action flick as much as the next person, we...saw the last one.

Want a fun movie drinking game? Watch Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and take a drink every time something humps something. No, we aren't talking about how Megan Fox "earned" the lead acting role for the first two films. That apparently involved a car wash and what we're sure are some sex acts that The Pope denounces at every sermon. What we are describing is the way that dogs hump dogs. And dogs hump human legs. And robots hump human legs. Why? Michael Bay must have a fetish. Whatever the reason, the second Transformers movie was a cinematic train wreck of lowest common denominator explosions and pot brownies.

Still, we try to be positive here at BOP. Transformers was a pretty good film. The trailer for Dark of the Moon is also pretty good. Maybe just maybe Megan Fox's icy relationship with Bay combined with Shia LaBeouf's drunken driving created temporary obstacles that are no longer an issue for the franchise. Alternately, Dark of the Moon should provide us with one giant cinematic mockfest if it is every bit as bad as its predecessor. Either way, franchise titles that earn over $800 million worldwide eventually get watched by almost every movie lover so we aren't going to pretend like we aren't going to watch it.
Sure, everyone seems happy now, but 28 days later... 24) The First Grader

Director Justin Chadwick delivered a fascinating piece on the machinations that led to the royal ascension of one woman at the expense of her sister in The Other Boleyn Girl. His follow-up project is a much more uplifting tale about self-improvement. Based on a true story, this National Geographic film examines the life of Maru, a soldier who fought to ensure a better future for the people of Kenya. After his days as a warrior are done, Maru does something unexpected. He requests admission in a local school, seeking to learn to read and write. He believes that having bled for his country, he is owed this opportunity. Given the financial restraints in Kenya, however, many locals are up in arms at the thought of "wasting" an education on someone who will not use it to better their country. The most recent National Geographic release, Restrepo, was one of the most powerful films of 2010. While The First Grader is not a documentary per se, the combination of the storyline, the production company and the lead actress (Naomie Harris = yum) makes this one of the most promising unheralded movies on the entire 2011 schedule.
Robert Langdon's work is never done. 23) Larry Crowne

Perhaps the placement of Larry Crowne just above The First Grader is fitting. These are kindred stories with the primary difference being that one is a National Geographic piece while the other is as Hollywood as a movie can be. Larry Crowne marks the second recent movie from the mega A-List tandem of Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks. Their last movie, Charlie Wilson's War, was an oftentimes grim examination of America's struggles navigating the political maelstrom in the Middle East. Despite its off-putting subject matter, that project still earned roughly $120 million worldwide, meaning that audiences welcomed the idea of Hanks and Roberts together; they simply lamented the choice of projects.

Larry Crowne is much more commercial. The titular character is fired from his long time job, leaving him with no immediate plans. He decides to go back to college (as opposed to say the first grade) wherein he discovers that despite the age difference, he gets along well with the other students. Plus, that uber-hot professor who looks a lot like Julia Roberts is showing a more than scholastic interest in him. The box office problem with Charlie Wilson's War (one of my favorite releases in the 2000s) was that consumers were looking for another You've Got Mail/Sleepless in Seattle. With Larry Crowne, they are getting their wish. Roberts and Hanks had tremendous chemistry together last time out and now they're doing a romance together. Color us optimistic.

I'm telling you, we'll never escape if we keep hug running! 22) Final Destination 5

Okay, feel free to recycle all of your jokes from Final Fantasy XIII. Yes, the title is a total lie. Who cares? People die in Final Destination films and I don't mean the Saw way. I mean that each and every death is a functional Rube Goldberg machine, a game of Mousetrap where everyone loses except the viewer. Is it original? Of course not. It is, however, a grotesque series of violent fatalities, many of which now occur in 3-D. Plus, Tony Todd is back. Every horror film is better with Tony Todd in it. Everyone knows this.
Got any spare change? You should say yes. 21) Hobo With a Shotgun

Remember last year when Machete killed everybody in a 25 mile radius and Lindsay Lohan had a porno threesome with her character's mother? That was an idea formulated as a throwaway gag in Grindhouse. Hobo with a Shotgun is more of the same. No, there probably won't be any more whoring from Lohan (sorry, TMZ) but there will be plenty of opportunities for The Lawnmower Man to demonstrate the validity of the film title. Say what you will about Quentin Tarantino, he has done the world a solid by reintroducing the exploitation film to mainstream audiences. Plus, if you have HDNet, Hobo with a Shotgun will not cost you a dime. In fact, if you are reading this on the day of publication, it's airing tonight. DO NOT MISS IT! How often do you get to see a Hobo with a Shotgun without fearing for your life?
Hey, she's making out with another co-star. What a surprise. 20) Midnight in Paris

Not to be confused with a 1970s film set in Paris that has a buttery sex scene, this is the latest work from Woody Allen. Before you make a snap judgment based on the man's personal life, consider the Clint Eastwood factor. Since the director turned 70 in 2005, he has created the following works: Match Point, Scoop, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Cassandra's Dream, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and Whatever Works. Few moviemakers can claim a body of work this good in their entire careers, much less during a timeframe when the expectation is for them to be largely done professionally.

The best part of Allen's late career resurgence is that he keeps getting the biggest names in the industry for his films. Midnight in Paris is a veritable who's who of famous actors such as Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody, and Kathy Bates. This movie will be a strong contender for Best Cast when everything is said and done. For now, this is on the short list of best pedigreed releases of the summer.
Wait a minute. Are they trying to make reading fun? 19) Winnie the Pooh

He's a chubby little tubby all stuffed with fluffies, a willy-nilly silly old bear. No, the staff of BOP is not five-years-old, but it's clear that a number of us have a very soft place in our hearts for the classic tales of A.A. Milne, which have endured so strongly over the years that the stories continue to be passed down to generation after generation. Over the past decade plus, we've seen such films as The Tigger Movie, Piglet's Big Movie (which is ridiculously sweet, incidentally) and The Heffalump Movie all have varying degrees of success, but rest assured, they made money for Disney. They had every reason to go back to the well with this one and "reboot," so to speak.

The real reason we've voted Winnie the Pooh into our BOP 25 of Summer is that it genuinely looks wonderful. The traditional animation employed is beautiful, the story is gentle and feels very much in line with the tone of the series, and we've got a wonderful new generation of voice actors behind the characters, including Jim Cummings, Tom Kenny (aka SpongeBob), Craig Ferguson and John Cleese. Knowing Winnie the Pooh is still with us makes us all feel young.
Why doesn't this ever happen to Robert Pattinson? 18) Fright Night

Every horror film made in the 1970s and '80s is getting remade. The why of this is a longer conversation. What is important is that whether we want it or not, this movie is happening. Surprisingly, BOP has decided that we want it. Yes, we agree that the original version is a forgettable B-movie that has two lasting impressions on our staff. The first is that Chris Sarandon was a passable villain in something other than The Princess Bride. The other is that Married with Children's Amanda Bearse earned a role as the babe next door in a major motion picture. The only other thing from the movie that made a lasting impression was something about vampires.

Welcome to 2011. Anything with vampires in it becomes a movie. Of course, Fright Night holds a trump card in the form of Colin Farrell. Forget everything you know about the actor with the heavy cockney accent for a moment and simply think about the look he has had in some of his movies. Dude was born to play a vampire and if Chris Sarandon can make for a passable villain with this role, imagine what Bullseye can do. At the very least, he won't sparkle. That feels like a win these days.
You should hit a buffet or something. 17) The Green Lantern

This will probably be the only description of this film that doesn't include the Blackest Night spiel. If you don't know what this means, you are clearly not the target audience for this film. Even so, here is what you need to know. Earth is one of thousands of planets in 3,600 sectors of the universe. Each sector is assigned a couple of intergalactic cops who patrol the area to make sure that nothing yellow gets by. Or something like that. The way that their region is monitored is through the usage of power rings that manipulate the color green into anything the mind can imagine. Or something like that. The point is that Ryan Reynolds plays a fighter pilot who wakes up one day and can suddenly fly and kick ass thanks to the perfect choice of accessories. Is the premise kind of silly? Absolutely. Has Ryan Reynolds earned the benefit of the doubt from us as a potential action star? Hell yes. Plus, if Green Lantern does well, there is every reason to believe that a Deadpool movie is in the offing and THAT is the project we are dying to watch.

PS: Doesn't Sinestro sound like a Decepticon?
Maybe we're being judgmental, but they seem to be up to no good. 16) 30 Minutes Or Less

On August 28, 2003, a man showed up to rob a bank in Erie, Pennsylvania. This is not unusual in and of itself but the particular circumstances of the crime were. The would-be thief had a bomb strapped to his neck. He had been informed that if he did not perpetrate this crime, the device would be detonated. He found himself in this unlikely circumstance because he was the unfortunate victim of happenstance. The victim/robber was a pizza delivery man who had performed his job assignment, delivering two pizzas to a specified address, presumably in 30 Minutes Or Less. When he reached the designated location, assailants strapped the device on him and coerced him into cooperating. At least, that was what he said at the time. In actuality, police later discovered that the pizza delivery man was in on the crime from the beginning but was betrayed in the end by his co-conspirators. Probably. The facts are a bit murky.

What is known for sure is that in January of 2011, Wired Magazine included a feature story about the absurdly complex issues law enforcement officials faced in piecing together the details of the weirdest bank robbery of the 2000s. Seven months later, The Social Network's Jesse Eisenberg, BOP fave Aziz Ansari and Pineapple Express' Danny McBride will star in a movie that may or may not accurately recount the details of the failed heist that led to disaster for a pizza delivery man.

Selections 15-6
Selections 5-1



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