Flash Cuts – July 2011

The meat of the summer season arrives with the final episode of the Harry Potter series, a big budget Western/scifi mashup, Tom Hanks’ second directorial effort, the second Marvel origin movie in two months and a Steve Carell romantic comedy that’s generating lots of buzz.

Larry CrowneLarry Crowne (July 1)  Tom Hanks writes and directs for the first time since That Thing You Do! (1996).  In this light recession comedy, Hanks plays Larry Crowne, 20-year veteran of big box store Unimart, who is so dedicated he’s been employee of the month 22 times.  Until he’s fired in a downsizing because he lacks a college degree.  Middle-aged, jobless, and in danger of losing his house, the enthusiastic-to-the-point of stupidity Larry shakes up his life by buying a motor scooter and enrolling in a community college, in particular a public speaking class taught by outwardly cranky but sweet inside Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts) who eventually takes a shine to her eager pupil.  With a colorful array of supporting characters, this is a lightweight romantic comedy for Hanks and Roberts fans with parts perfectly tailored for their onscreen personalities.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Pt. 2 (July 15)  After ten years, seven films and over $6B in ticket sales, the Harry Potter series comes to an end with the second half of the Deathly Hallows book.  Part 1 was more of a character exploration with Harry,  Ron and Hermione leaving Hogwarts to find the Horcruxes that Lord Valdemort needs to gain ultimate power.  Part 2 begins with three Horcruxes destroyed, leading to an action-packed finale where the three must keep Voldemort from finding the remaining three Horcruxes.  They succeed for two, but Voldemort gains possession of the Elder Wand, leading to a final showdown at Hogwarts.

Captain AmericaCaptain America:  The First Avenger (July 22)  Marvel releases it’s fourth origins story (and second this summer after Thor) in the leadup to next year’s Avengers movie.  Chris Evans stars as Steve Rogers, a scrawny weakling who tries to enlist in the U.S. Army in World War II.  Turned down because of his physique, he enlists in Project Rebirth, a secret program to create super soldiers.  After being injected with a serum, Rogers has the body of an Olympic athlete and he and his sidekick Bucky Barnes take on their Nazi counterpart, Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), who has also taken a super-strength serum and is intent on finding the Tesseract, a magical object said to contain unimaginable power – enough to turn the tide of the war.  Cast include Tommy Lee Jones as the hardbitten Col. Chester Phillips, Stanley Tucci as Dr. Abraham Erskine and Samuel L. Jackson in a cameo scene as Nick Fury (after the final credits).

Cowboys and AliensCowboys and Aliens (July 29)  Ironman helmer Jon Favreau directs Cowboys and Aliens, a movie mashup of the western and scifi movie genres.  Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) awakens in the desert with a mysterious shackle around his wrist and no memory.  He stumbles into the town of Absolution which is ruled with an iron fist by Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) who promptly informs Lonergan that he is a wanted man.  Soon, the town and Lonergan have bigger problems when alien spaceships attack.  Lonergan, Dolarhyde and motley group of outlaws and Apaches must band together to fight the alien invaders.  A legion of screenwriters adapted Scott Rosenberg’s graphic novel, with the tone changing from near Men in Black comedy to the leaner, meaner, more true to the Western version coming to the screen, according to Favreau.  Supporting cast includes Olivia Wilde (House), Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano and Walton Goggins (Justified).

Crazy Stupid LoveCrazy Stupid Love (July 29)  There’s a lot of positive buzz for this Steve Carell comedy.   Carell plays Cal Weaver, a man who has everything.  Perfect marriage to his high school sweetheart Tracy (Julianne Moore), two great kids, everything peachy keen.  But Cal’s world collapses when Tracy informs him that she is having an affair with David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon) and wants a divorce.  Overhearing Cal’s troubles in a bar, good-looking pickup artist Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) takes pity on hopeless nerd Cal and offers to tutor him in picking up women.  After a complete makeover and one vital piece of advice (“Don’t talk. Ever.”), Cal starts attracting women like flies.  Just as Cal is successful dating for the first time in his life,  he realizes how hollow it all is and tries to get Tracy back.  Tracy meanwhile, has broken up with David who is now stalking her.  Complications on all sides ensue as all the characters, even Cal’s kids, have their romantic ambitions go from “crazy” to “stupid.”