Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: June 24
Ingredients: Sweet robot cars, a militaristic agenda, Megan Fox’s boobs
Recipe: With such a painful screenplay to accompany unbelievable special effects, the “Transformers” sequel will surely continue to do the cinematic equivalent of serving Grey Goose vodka in Moe’s Free Cups. The whole cast and crew returns (thank God) as the Decepticons fly/propel/Segway to Earth to imprison Shia LaBeouf after he learns a dangerous secret. The secret apparently does not relate to avoiding drunken, hand-breaking car crashes. (Shia’s injury is written into the script.)
Bruno: July 10
Ingredients: Annoying catchphrases, gay people, biting social commentary, man-thongs
Recipe: Sacha Baron Cohen follows “Borat” with another faux-documentary turn as Bruno, a flamboyant Austrian fashion reporter. Cohen aims to explore homophobia post-Proposition 8, much like he explored Middle Eastern racism post-9/11. It certainly will be the movie everyone will be talking about this summer or whatever. The trailer and leaked footage from Web site SXSW assure that the film will be a huge hit or a massive miss. At least he’s not playing it safe.
When in Rome: August 7
Ingredients: “Enchanted,” B-list male comedians, “Veronica Mars”
Recipe: Disney looks to repeat the success of last summer’s smash “Enchanted.” The film hopefully will offer a breakout role for the supremely talented Kristen Bell. Bell plays Beth Harper, a sweet girl with bad luck in love. A wish in a magical Roman fountain will change that. Will Arnett, Josh Duhamel, Danny DeVito, Dax Shephard and Jon Heder come a-calling. With their powers combined, they’re almost one actually funny actor.
Funny People: July 31
Ingredients: Apatow, bromance, a clever marketing campaign
Recipe: Apatow himself is finally back in action with some old standbys (Seth Rogen, wife Leslie Mann) and some newbies (Adam Sandler). The film will be an interesting test for the director—with so many filmmakers and screenwriters building upon his genre (Motolla, Hamburg, Ferrell), can he offer something original?
Star Trek: May 8
Ingredients: “Lost,” geeks in costumes
Recipe: Paramount found the right man to reboot the “Star Trek” franchise and kick off the summer. J.J. Abrams (“Lost,” “Alias,” “Cloverfield”) brings the USS Enterprise back to cultural relevance with a largely unknown cast and his team of brilliant screenwriters. The story takes us back to the beginning as Captain Kirk first comes aboard the spaceship. With breathtaking trailers and impressive reviews from early screeners, “Star Trek” is a safe bet for a post-finals celebration.
Up: May 29
Ingredients: A heart-warming script, Pixar animation, John Gaddis
Recipe: Pixar out-weirds itself by delivering an even stranger concept for its summer movie than that of “Wall-E.” A 78-year-old ties thousands of balloons to his house in order to fly to South America, but an 8-year-old stranger inadvertently comes along for the ride. We’ll tag along, too.
Public Enemies: July 3
Ingredients: Gang violence, gritty camera work, thumping music
Recipe: Universal offers an odd film on Independence Day weekend — Johnny Depp and Christian Bale star in an R-rated mafia flick full of plot twists and high-concept philosophy. The film seems to have an identity crisis — with its cast and director (Michael Mann), it wouldn’t be surprising to see it in December. So what’s it doing in a weekend usually reserved for trashy Will Smith films? Additional intrigue — the film features Marion Cotillard in her first post-Oscar role.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: July 17
Ingredients: Flashbacks, tragic death, Daniel Radcliffe actually clothed
Recipe: With Emma Watson rumors, on-campus performances of “Equus” and a Rowling-inspired college seminar this semester, Yalies should be quite ready for the long-awaited next installment of the “Harry Potter” franchise. Despite adapting Rowling’s finest source material, the film has lost some of its oomph after postponed release dates and the announcement that “Deathly Hallows” will be split into two films.
(500) Days of Summer: July 17
Ingredients: Indie street cred, “Juno,” witty dialogue, killer soundtrack
Recipe: The darling of Sundance opens in limited release this summer, but it’s poised to be a break-out blockbuster. Zooey Deschanel (Summer) plays a girl who doesn’t believe in love. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the boy who falls in love with her. Quirky! The film chronicles 500 days of their relationship. Inventive fantasy sequences, a stunning script and hot chemistry led to raves from Sundance. Should provide a nice reprieve from the over-the-top blockbuster adrenaline rush.
Julie & Julia: August 7
Ingredients: Garlic, arugula, feta cheese, paprika
Recipe: After the critical acclaim of “Doubt,” Amy Adams and Meryl Streep reunite, as a frustrated secretary (Adams) attempts to cook all 524 recipes in a book by Julia Child (Streep). The August release date is foreboding, but with Adams, Streep and good-looking food, you can’t really go wrong.
Inglourious Basterds: August 21
Ingredients: Scalped Nazis, ugly Brad Pitt, lots of swearing, lots of violence
Recipe: In perhaps the most anticipated movie of the summer, Quentin Tarantino finally returns with an unusual take on World War II. A mustached Brad Pitt leads an American killing squad (“The Basterds”) in an effort to kill as many Nazis as possible. The director has a perfect record of producing cult classics—the class of 2013 may very well be hanging “Basterds” posters next to ones for “Pulp Fiction” and “Kill Bill.” At the very least, you know that the film studies snob who lives down the hall will eat it up.
Two of the best parts of summer are the food and the movies. And just as you know you’ll get hot dogs, hamburgers, beer and light conversation at a barbecue, you also know what to expect when you head to the Cineplex. Summer blockbusters are much the same — big-budget action scenes, attractive stars and a bombastic screenplay. But I sure can’t get enough of them.
Year One: June 19
Ingredients: Michael Cera’s bumbling monologues, fur clothing, misogyny
Recipe: Jack Black and Michael Cera star in an Apatow-ian take on the Ache. They play “lazy hunter-gatherers” (what a clever concept!) who are banished from their village and forced to take a journey through the ancient world. The trailer features riffs on stoning, beheading and prostitution. The bright side? The female lead is fiery Andover alumna Olivia Wilde (“House”).
The Proposal: June 19
Ingredients: Quirky premise, sexual tension, hookup, breakup, reconciliation
Recipe: “The Proposal” has one of the best trailers in recent romantic comedy history. Sandra Bullock, opposite Ryan Reynolds, hopes to finally bounce back from a string of bombs, and she’ll likely do it. She stars as a menacing executive who forces her assistant to marry her to avoid deportation to Canada. The film could be a surprise smash.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: August 7
Ingredients: Bad acting, childhood nostalgia, leather outfits
Recipe: The film is miscast through and through (Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Sienna Miller), the buzz is bad, and the promotions have been horrible. Hasbro and Paramount team up again to match the success of the “Transformers” franchise, but look for “G.I. Joe” to be the summer’s biggest loser.