Soon the dust will settle from finals, collecting on the floors of school corridors and empty seminar rooms. In other words, summer will be upon us. As my parting gift to you, here is a list of breezy entertainment fit to calm the chaos of the sun until autumn nights return you, once more, to the land of the elms.
Mission Impossible 3 — The summer starts out predictably with this Tom Cruise “I’m still young” action binge. Gone are the Zen stylings of “MI:2” director John Woo — instead, untried “Armageddon” writer and “Felicity” creator J. J. Abrams has seized the helm. Vaguely talented “Felicity” star Keri Russell takes the role of damsel-in-distress, proving, as usual, that it’s all about networking.
Clerks II — Kevin Smith returns to his first hit about unruly convenience store clerks Dante and Randal. In a George Lucas-esque effort toward universal cohesion, Smith’s new plot takes Dante and Randal to work at Mooby’s, a fictitious fast-food empire also found in “Dogma.” They even have a run-in with the fallen angel Bartleby (Ben Affleck), who, as “Dogma” fans may recall, shoots up the Mooby corporate headquarters. And, of course, Jay and Silent Bob return to complete the continuum. Sounds like typical Smithean fun.
Nacho Libre — Written by Mike White, responsible for the intelligent wit behind “School of Rock,” and directed by Jared Hess, responsible for the infamous “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Nacho Libre” seems poised for success. It has all the hallmarks of Hess’ past film: deadpan humor, ambiguous Mexican stereotyping, a nonexistent storyline and kitsch costumes. But this time the lead is a well-known: White brings along Jack Black to play Nacho, a priest who wishes he were a wrestler, or “luchador.” As with “Napoleon,” this one is sure to cause a political controversy while simultaneously introducing all sorts of annoying random phrases into American high school culture.
Cars — Pixar’s newest eye candy comes in the form of a comedy about talking automobiles who “find out the true meaning of friendship.” Hopefully Pixar, the studio that took the superhero movie to a more grown-up level with “The Incredibles,” intends to make this film interesting to an adult audience.
A Prairie Home Companion — Robert Altman returns to his signature style with this character-driven study of Garrison Keillor’s popular radio program. Like “Nashville,” Altman focuses on the quirks and personalities of the show’s fantastic cast. Meryl Streep, Robin Williams, Kevin Kline and Woody Harrelson do their thing while newly serious Lindsay Lohan is purported to give a knock-out performance as a girl who writes suicide poetry.
X-Men 3/Superman Returns — Director Bryan Singer jumps ship, abandoning “X-Men 3” to redeem the Superman franchise. Not much is known about this new film, but the casting looks promising. Kevin Spacey is the business-minded Lex Luther, and Kate Bosworth — who showed off her assets to such fine effect in “Blue Crush” — portrays Lois Lane. Odds are this film will be a success for Singer.
Click — Adam Sandler’s newest comic vehicle deals with a universal remote that works its time-shifting magic on the real world. As far as concept films go, this one doesn’t sound too bad.
A Scanner Darkly — Richard Linklater (“Waking Life”) continues his exploration into cell animation with this adaptation of Phillip K. Dick’s novel about a totalitarian future. Keanu Reeves resurfaces to lend his significant acting skills.
Pirates of the Carribean 2 — Need I say more?
Lady in the Water — Another pretentious horror film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
Monster House — The summer’s second important CGI offering, “Monster House” is produced by Steven Spielberg and written by “Corpse Bride” author Pamela Petter. The story is devilishly simple, chronicling the battle between neighborhood kids and a house that is trying to eat them. “Monster House” might just pose a threat to Pixar’s domination of the medium.
My Super Ex-Girlfriend — From the executive producer of “Eurotrip” comes a comedy about a guy whose vengeful ex-girlfriend also happens to be a superhero. While this one might not seem like a “must-see,” Uma Thurman plays the role of the uber-ex.
Apocalypto — Mel Gibson claims this epic about the last days of the Mayan Indians is not religious in theme. But something tells me that despite the film’s use of native actors and the Mayan language, Gibson intends “Apocalypto” to be about the fiery end of an irreligious people. He has to keep his target fan base happy, after all.
The Science of Sleep — Michel Gondry, “Eternal Sunshine” director, returns to his cardboard and clay roots with this film about a trip through Gael Garcia Bernal’s mind. “Science” should combine the whimsy of his collaborations with writer Charlie Kaufman with the cheap, but brilliant, special effects of his music video years.
World Trade Center — Oliver Stone targets Ground Zero. Watch out.
Snakes on a Plane — Not only does Samuel L. Jackson star in this disaster flick, but there are snakes and it is, in fact, on a plane. As Jackson put it: “That’s the only reason I took the job: I read the title.” Due to obsessive Jackson groupies on the Internet, the film has become something of an underground phenomenon. Fans even contributed a line that New Line added to the screenplay: “I want these motherfucking snakes off the motherfucking plane!” This will be one for the ages.