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Ed's summer movie preview

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Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz star in the rude comedy, 'Bad Teacher.' In theaters on June 24. Submitted photo.
  • Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz star in the rude comedy, 'Bad Teacher.' In theaters on June 24. Submitted photo.

Superheroes, sequels and a few surprises. Here's a look at the summer movie season.

X-Men: First Class
The first two X-Men movies were terrific. Then came the third movie and the Wolverine spin-off. Not terrific. Can X-Men: First Class restore the luster of the franchise? The superhero flick is a prequel, featuring Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbinder) as young men, surrounded by new mutant faces. Kick-Ass filmmaker Matthew Vaughn directs, which is encouraging. He co-wrote the script with three other writers, all with solid genre credits. The cast also includes January Jones, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, and always-creepy Twin Peaks veteran Ray Wise. Cross your fingers. June 3

The Tree of Life
Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven) is an exacting filmmaker. Not much is known about the plot: Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain play a husband and wife in the '50s. The life of their son Jack is reportedly the center of the production. Sean Penn plays Jack as an adult, so presumably we'll get some scenes with Pitt (in old-age makeup) and Penn, which should prove interesting. And since this is a Malick film, we can expect it to be visually sumptuous and leisurely paced. Anticipation is high for this one. June 10

Super 8
Monster in the Midwest! Lost co-creator J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Mission: Impossible III) directs the story of a group of teens in 1979 small town Ohio that have a very close and nasty encounter while making a Super 8 zombie move. The kids are witnesses when a train derails - a train carrying something from Area 51. A coming-of-age movie with a (presumably) alien critter in an extremely bad mood - count me in! An added enticement: The great Kyle Chandler from the TV series FridayNight Lights plays a deputy in the steel town. June 10

Green Lantern
I've always had a fond spot for Green Lantern. He's got a sleek, sexy costume and a cool power ring, plus an official oath ("Through brightest day, through blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight," etc.). Even his civilian identity is impressive - when Hal Jordan isn't saving the world, he's a test pilot. How bad-ass is that? Ryan Reynolds seems the perfect choice for the role, as long as he doesn't act too cocky. Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, GoldenEye) directs, and he promises to mix the spectacular visuals with credible action scenes, just like he did with James Bond. June 17

Bad Teacher
Rude comedy starring Cameron Diaz as Elizabeth Halsey, a horrible teacher. You know how bad the Santa in Bad Santa was? She's that horrible. Halsey sets her sights on a charming substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake), but he's interested in a different teacher, Halsey's colleague and rival Amy (Lucy Punch). Rounding out the cast is Jason Segel, John Michael Higgins, Molly Shannon, Eric Stonestreet from Modern Family and Phyllis Smith from The Office. The R-rated trailer for the movie is funny and the studio is releasing the film during a highly competitive part of the summer, so we may have a winner here. June 24

Cars 2
Pixar doesn't do sequels very often, but studio honcho John Lasseter got some new ideas while traveling around the world promoting the original in 2006. Accordingly, Mater the tow truck (Larry the Cable Guy) will visit Tokyo, London and Italy to support his race-car bud Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) as he competes in the Grand Prix. There's a spy story sub-plot too, with Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer providing voices for the British secret agent cars. The voice cast of the computer-animated feature also includes Joe Mantegna, Jeff Gordon and Pixar regular John Ratzenberger. June 24

Beginners
Writer-director Mike Mills watched his father come out of the closet late in life and crafted this fictional tale focusing on his alter-ego Oliver (Ewan McGregor) and Oliver's father Hal (Christopher Plummer), who comes out at age 75. We follow Hal as he begins a new part of his life and Oliver as he supports his father and later finds himself attracted to a French actress (Melanie Laurent) he met at a party. The comedy/drama was a hit on the film festival circuit earlier this year and could provide a nice change of pace from more traditional summer fare. June 24

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
I thought the second film in the Transformers series was an overdone, overlong, hyperkinetic endurance test. Now that I've got that out of my system, let's talk about the latest one. Shia LaBeouf returns for the third installment of the giant robot action series, with a new girlfriend (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, replacing Megan Fox), who ends up trapped in Chicago, where the evil Decepticons are aiming their assault. Other returnees include Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson and John Turturro. And Shia's robot friends and foes, of course. Expect relentless action, sound and quips. July 1

Larry Crowne
Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts star in comedy/drama directed by Hanks and co-written by Hanks and Nia Vardalos, the My Big Fat Greek Wedding lady. The story follows middle-aged Larry Crowe, who gets laid-off due to his lack of a college degree and decides to go back to school. In junior college, he makes friends with some of his fellow students and builds a relationship with grumpy Professor Mercedes Tainot (Roberts). Other notable names in the cast include Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Cedric the Entertainer, George Takei and Pam Grier. July 1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe told Entertainment Weekly, "The new film is just a relentless action movie. It. Just. Does. Not. Stop." Remember when emphasizing points by using a series of one-word sentences was considered clever? Those. Days. Are. Over. I'm goofing around here because summarizing the plot would be foolish. If you're a Potter devotee, you already know what to expect and are just wondering how close the final Potter movie will stick to the book. If you're not a fan, this won't be the point where you decide to hop in. July 15

Friends with Benefits
Forget that other movie this year about a couple trying to have sex but keep their relationship casual - Friends with Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, is the real deal. The premise may sound tired, but the cast - which includes Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson, Emma Watson, Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones - is impressive. If the trailer is any indication, the relationships between the various characters are relaxed and fun to watch. Regardless of the premise, if the characters work, you've probably got a crowd-pleaser on your hands. Written and directed by Will Gluck (Easy A). July 22

Captain America: The First Avenger
Marvel's superhero Captain America was the subject of two lame TV movies/failed TV series pilots in the '70s starring Reb Brown. The new version stars Chris Evans, the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies, as WWII-era Steve Rogers, a scrawny dude who gets beefed up as the result of super-soldier experiments by the military and becomes a costumed hero, battling the fearsome Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). The big question is if the filmmakers can come up with a costume for the live-action movie that resembles the gaudy comic book outfit without looking ridiculous. July 22

Cowboys and Aliens
Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde star in this adaptation of Scott Mitchell Rosenberg's 2006 graphic novel. Jon Favreau (Iron Man) directs. Excited yet? Reportedly, the screenplay for the sci-fi western doesn't get cute - sounds like a good plan. With a high-concept project like this, the best approach is probably to play it straight. In addition to the star power of Craig and Ford, the cast includes some excellent lesser-known actors (Sam Rockwell, Noah Ringer, Paul Dano, Clancy Brown and The Shield's Walton Goggins) who should fit right in to dusty 1873 Absolution, Arizona. July 29

Crazy, Stupid, Love
Ensemble romantic comedy. Steve Carell plays Cal Weaver, a fortysomething suburban husband who learns that his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) has cheated on him. Lost in the singles world, Cal seeks help from handsome thirtysomething Jacob (Ryan Gosling) in learning how to restart his life. Meanwhile, Jacob has eyes for a law student (Emma Stone) and Cal's 13-year-old son (Jonah Bobo) has the hots for his 17-year-old babysitter (Analeigh Taylor). Wait a minute - what's a 13-year-old doing with a babysitter, let alone one who's only four years older than he is? July 29

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
In the future, apes will rule mankind. This sad, but unavoidable fact was first documented onscreen in the 1968 film, Planet of the Apes, which spawned four sequels, a short-lived TV series and a 2001 Tim Burton remake starring Mark Wahlberg in the role made famous by Charlton Heston. In this prequel, James Franco stars as a scientist whose work in genetic engineering results in super-ape Caesar (Andy Serkis), the chimp that sparks a revolution. To paraphrase TV newsman Kent Brockman, let me say that I, for one, welcome our new ape overlords. August 5

The Change-Up
Body-switch comedy from the director of Wedding Crashers and the writers of The Hangover. Do you have fond memories of Freaky Friday and Vice Versa? Better prepare for something a little more rude, as freewheeling ladies man Ryan Reynolds swaps bodies with Jason Bateman, his more responsible married buddy. The trailer for the movie is juvenile and raunchy ("How long you been shaved down there?" "I get an extra inch and only married guys rock the dick-fros anymore."), but amusing, and Bateman and Reynolds are appealing actors, so this one could be a late-summer winner. August 5

The Help
Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer star in a drama about African-American maids in the '60s and the Caucasian families that employ them, based on Kathryn Stockett's 2009 novel. The movie features fully-developed characters in three intertwining storylines set in Jackson, Mississippi during the early days of the Civil Rights movement. Wait a minute ... civil rights ... drama ... character development ... what's this movie doing in the middle of the summer smorgasbord of superheroes and sequels? It's counter-programming! Somebody figured that by August, we may be a bit tired of explosions and wacky antics. August 12

30 Minutes or Less
What do you do when your dad (Fred Ward) is rapidly spending his newfound lottery winnings? You (you're Danny McBride, by the way) hire a hitman (Michael Pena) to knock him off. Then you and your nitwit buddy (Nick Swardson, Terry from Reno 911) kidnap a pizza-delivery guy (Jesse Eisenberg) and make him rob a bank at bomb-point to raise the hitman's fee. Oh, and the pizza guy's best pal is Chet, played by Aziz Ansari, who is a riot as Tom in Parks and Recreation. Here's the weirdest part - the comedy is loosely based on fact. August 12

Fright Night
Remember the original 1985 Fright Night, where teens enlisted the help of a washed-up horror movie host in fighting off a real-life vampire? It was appealing and funny, but really scary too. Don't know why the film needs to be remade, but let's focus on the positives: Director Craig Gillespie also did Lars and the Real Girl, the script is by Buffy the Vampire Slayer vet Marti Noxon and the film stars Anton Yelchin as the kid, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as his buddy, Toni Collette as his mother, David Tennant as the horror host and Colin Farrell as the vampire. Impressive. August 19

Our Idiot Brother
Relationship comedy. Paul Rudd stars as the brother who screws up his life and lands on the doorstep of his siblings. Odds are that most of you either have cared for a sibling like that or been the sibling yourself. The sisters whose lives get interrupted are played by Elizabeth Banks (a driven journalist), Zooey Deschanel (having relationship problems with girlfriend Rashida Jones) and Emily Mortimer (so focused on being a perfect mother that she doesn't notice her marriage is in trouble). Fun Fact: Rashida Jones is joined in the film by Parks and Recreation cast-mate Adam Scott. August 26

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