Movies in Theaters on July 1, 2011
It's Fourth of July weekend! Hooray for America and movies! Be sure to go to barbecues and watch fireworks, but don't forget all that your local cinema has to offer as we celebrate our independence. There's more than meets the eye with this holiday weekend's offerings -- it's not all just about the giant robots and the middle-aged star power, you know. Check out the technicolor adventures in store for you as we salute the Red, White and Blue.
KA-BOOM! What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than by witnessing a major American city being completely leveled by alien invaders? It worked back in 1996 with Independence Day (has it really been 15 years since Bill Pullman led us into battle?), and now we'll hope Jeff Goldblum will show up with his magical laptop once again with Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the third chapter in the war between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons. The original Transformers (2007) had a wow-wee element to it (holy shit, it's a live-action Transformers movie!) that helped transcend its not-so-hot script, though the second film, Revenge of the Fallen (2009), was truly wretched, giving us twin robot "brothers" with big lips and blackface ("Oh, we don't read!" admits one of them), a Devastator with wrecking-ball genitals ("I'm under enemy scrotum!" says John Turturro at one point) and a scene that took place in what we think was supposed to be Transformers Heaven. Apparently, Michael Bay, that inimitable maestro of cinematic symphonies of mass destruction, has learned from his mistakes (some of them, anyway) and is giving us a third film that is truly grand, dark, dangerous and grave. Hey, it really couldn't go anywhere but up, though if it goes all the way to the moon remains to be seen.
Early word hath it that director/star Tom Hanks has undermined Larry Crowne's potentially compelling dramatic premise with concentrating instead on easy laughs and silly pratfalls. And you know what? We'll take it. Tom's done more than his share of "compelling dramatic premises" lately -- it's such a rare thing that he even tries to be funny any more that we'll take whatever we can get. When was the last time Hanks did a (non-animated) comedy? The Ladykillers, probably, and that was back in 2004. And before that? You've Got Mail, back in '98. So it's always good to have Funny Tom Hanks make an appearance ('cause, let's face it, Tom Hanks is, indeed, funny), and he looks to be having a blast in what looks like the big-hearted tale of a middle-aged man who heads back to college after losing his job... and ends up being hot for his teacher (Julia Roberts). Watching two A-list movie stars prance about in the kind of sweet romantic comedy that they'd otherwise be way too old for? Yeah, you bet we'll take it.
It's hard to tell exactly what's going on in the frenetic, overplotted trailer for this movie, but it sure does look cute. From what we can gather, three BFFs (Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy) head to Paris for a vacation, where they end up experiencing a decidedly non-romantic side of the City of Love consisting of gross hotel rooms, random weirdos and bad weather. Suddenly, one of them is mistaken for a British heiress and they're whisked away to Monte Carlo, where they stay in a really nice hotel room... and then they all fall in love with different boys, or something, and then Finn from Glee shows up, and then a cute song plays, and the one who's being mistaken for a British heiress has an identity crisis... and there you have it, maybe. No matter what's really going on (and there seems to be a lot), Monte Carlo should be just the ticket for any young 'uns out there who have no desire whatsoever to watch giant robots destroy Chicago, in 3D or 2D or whatever-D.
We have to admit, we were a little mad at John C. Reilly there for a little while. He seemed to have traded his indie cred for going for the easy laugh -- and the easy buck, as he stopped appearing in Paul Thomas Anderson kinda movies and started appearing in Will Ferrell kinda movies. Don't get us wrong, we love Reilly in things like Step Brothers and Talladega Nights, it's just that... well, we love him even more in things like Magnolia and Boogie Nights. However, Reilly seems to have recently found a way to balance his knack for comedy with his love of edgy indie cinema with movies like last summer's Cyrus, which also gave some art-house cred to Jonah Hill -- and in this summer's Terri, in which he plays a vice principal who strikes up a friendship with one of his students, a 15-year-old pajama-wearing outcast named Terri (Jacob Wysocki). Terri was a hit at Sundance earlier this year, and it definitely has "Sundance" written all over it, but in a good way -- we have a feeling we could watch Reilly and Wysocki be droll and "quirky" (again, in a good way) with each other for even longer than the film's 105-minute running time. Bonus: Diane Salinger, who played the melancholy waitress, Simone, in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, is part of the cast.