In a movie season worshipped for its CGI-boosted, spiritually bankrupt juvenilia, it's heartening to know that filmmakers still create summer entertainment for grownups. Not that those buckets of popcorn are going to empty themselves, but who needs to be reminded of yet another comic-book reboot (The Amazing Spider-Man), unasked-for remake (Total Recall), or Adam Sandler comedy (That's My Boy)? Here are 12 to watch for in the sweltering months ahead. All opening dates are subject to change, and it's anybody's guess when some of these gems will find their way to South Florida.
Moonrise Kingdom, May 25
Vintage record players! Letter writing! Slow-motion sequences and Euro-pop! Director Wes Anderson's vibrantly meticulous, nostalgia-inducing aesthetic finally gets the '60s period piece it deserves in this small-town dramedy adventure. Two 12-year-olds, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, fall in love and run off into the New England wilderness, much to the chagrin of his scout troop leader (Edward Norton), her folks (Frances McDormand and Bill Murray), and local sheriff Bruce Willis.
summer movie preview 2012
Prometheus, June 8
This mega-expensive, futuristic IMAX thriller from director Ridley Scott forges an epic new mythos about our intergalactic origins. Following an ancient star map, a quite face-huggable space crew (including captain Idris Elba, archaeologist Noomi Rapace, android Michael Fassbender, and corporate thug Charlize Theron) investigates an extraterrestrial civilization on a distant, terrifying planet.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, June 22
Here's an unlikely alternative for those who take the Mayans' predictions seriously: a rom-com! While humanity awaits doomsday by way of an inbound asteroid, a freshly dumped Steve Carell makes an unlikely connection with his neighbor Keira Knightley. Go for it, girl — it's not like you have to worry about commitment issues.
To Rome With Love, June 22
Woody Allen's followup to Midnight in Paris — easily his best and biggest hit in more than a decade — continues his recent trend of filming in travelogue-friendly European locales (see also: Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona). Along with the 76-year-old Allen, this year's Windsor-font-emblazoned ensemble includes Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, and indie darling Greta Gerwig.
Magic Mike, June 29
Based in part on Channing Tatum's experience as a 19-year-old dancer, the film stars the barrel-chested G.I. Joe as the eponymous leading man, with Alex Pettyfer as his protégé and Matthew McConaughey as a skeezy club owner.
Take This Waltz, June 29
Happily married to a cookbook-writing goofball (Seth Rogen, never better), Michelle Williams is unprepared for the heat she feels around rickshaw-driving neighbor Luke Kirby. Their unrequited eroticism sizzles like the Toronto summer, but this affectionate drama isn't so much about infidelity as it is about life's thorny impossibilities.
Savages, July 6
There's no historical profiling or arch sociopolitical conscience in the latest from Oliver Stone. Based on Don Winslow's best seller, Savages stars Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson as Laguna Beach pot dealers forced to square off against a corrupt DEA agent (John Travolta), a cartel leader (Salma Hayek!), and her enforcer (Benicio Del Toro).
Ted, July 13
Boston slacker Mark Wahlberg might be able to salvage his relationship with long-suffering girlfriend Mila Kunis if he can get his best friend since childhood to move out. Oh, and his friend happens to be a computer-animated, foulmouthed, bong-smoking, sexually harassing teddy bear (voiced by first-time director Seth McFarlane himself). Patrick Warburton, Giovanni Ribisi, and Joel McHale costar in this high-concept comedy.
The Dark Knight Rises, July 20
Really, who won't be watching the final act of director Christopher Nolan's caped-crusader trilogy, arguably the high-water mark of superhero cinema? Gravelly-voiced Christian Bale returns as haunted billionaire Bruce Wayne and his winged alter ego, now facing two foes of fanboy legend: Anne Hathaway's slinky Catwoman and Tom Hardy's gas-masked juggernaut Bane, who infamously broke Batman's back in the comics. Get off the Internet to avoid further spoilers.
Killer Joe, July 27
In debt to a drug kingpin, Emile Hirsch hires a sociopathic Dallas cop (Matthew McConaughey, already earning career-high praise) to whack his mother for the life insurance money. The film has already been labeled both a sleazy noir-thriller and an eccentric, pitch-black comedy. Either way, you know by its NC-17 rating that this bloody hicksploitation freakout ain't gonna take it easy on its players.
The Watch, July 27
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This profane comedy concerns a quartet of Costco employees and drinking buddies (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade) who form a crime watch to escape their humdrum suburban existence. Oh yeah, and then they accidentally uncover an alien-invasion plot that only they can thwart to save all of humanity.
The Campaign, August 10
The mud-slinging political comedy we deserve in this circus of an election year, this broad farce stars Will Ferrell as a long-sitting congressman from North Carolina whose CEO rivals dig up their own, untrained Manchurian candidate (a mustachioed Zach Galifianakis) from the local tourism center.