Thursday, July 5, 2007

Can theaters deliver for summer?

July - long, steamy nights just crying out for an uber-air conditioned theater and one of those icy Diet Pepsi's the size of a bathtub.

This is the time of year moviegoers wait all year for - the season when the film companies are supposed to deliver their biggest blockbusters. Will this month live up to the hype?

Depends. Entertainment is in the eye of the beholder. Frankly, it looks like a lot of juvenile junk to me, with a few potential treasures. Here's the rundown for July:

* Transformers - Things start out July 3 with the release of "Transformers." This is a much ballyhooed film based on the '80s TV cartoon based on the toys that fold out from little cars into futuristic robots. In the movie, Sam Witwicky gets his first ride, which turns out to be a robot out to defend Earth, but it will take a mighty battle to keep the bad robots from kicking butt. With Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, it's going to be wildly visual - and also just as stupid as it sounds.

* License to Wed - Also July 3 comes the comedy "License to Wed." Sadie and Ben want to get married, but they have to earn the right by passing a two-week pre-nup course by the unconventional Rev. Frank. This one might be worth a look - Robin Williams looks to finally be returning to his free-form, manic style as the good pastor, and Mandy Moore is one of the more appealing young actresses. Much of the rest of the cast is borrowed from TV's "The Office."

* Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - The week of July 11 sees only one major movie coming out - "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" owns the landscape. There's yet another hullabaloo at Hogwart's, but never fear, Harry and his mates are training for wizardly battle with a legendary bad guy. Now, if the formerly cute kid can just cope with post-puberty punkhood. This PG flick may appeal to a slightly older class of kids. If you reside with anyone between 8 and high school, good luck dodging this one.

* Captivity - For Friday the 13th, you just have to have a thriller. What we get is "Captivity," in which Elisha Cuthbert plays a high-rolling fashion model who somehow winds up held captive in a torture chamber with her chauffer. There is death in the air in this rated-R flick, but our captives still manage to fall in love. Spare us.

* Hairspray - July 20, mark it down. "Hairspray" opens, as the most unusual if not original movies of the season. John Travolta, of all people, appears in drag as the mother of a plump teen who gets her break on a Baltimore teen dance show. Based on a cult hit from 1988, which in turn spawned a wildly-popular Broadway show in 2002. It's all kinds of quirky, and I'm looking forward to it.

* I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry - Also July 20, we get "Chuck and Larry." Starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James (Hitch) as two manly firemen who, in order to qualify for their department's pension benefits, must be married. So they pretend to be a gay couple. You don't have to be homophobic to skip this one, just dumbophobic will do. It's a waste of talent, though Jessica Beal does her best as the super-hot chick serving as a foil to Sandler's efforts to appear unstraight.

* No Reservations - On July 27, "No Reservations" gets released, with Catherine Zeta-Jones as the obsessed operator of an upscale restaurant who has no life outside the kitchen - until a tragedy leaves her to care for a cute little niece (Abigail Breslin of Little Miss Sunshine.) Can our heroine learn to raise a child at the same time as a romance heats up with a new chef? This is the sleeper of the month - a heartfelt little flick based on a German movie called Mostly Martha that won all kinds of international awards. You may want to put this one on the front burner.

* The Simpsons Movie - Also July 27, "The Simpsons Movie" appears. The plot is being kept a closely-guarded secret, so all I can tell you is that Homer must save the world - from himself. The trailers actually look pretty funny, compared to the 18-year TV show. If cartoons are your thing, woo-hoo, this is probably for you.

* I Know Who Killed Me - Finally, another entry on July 27 is "I Know Who Killed Me." This is a weird little drama about a young woman who has supposedly slipped out of the clutches of a torturing serial killer, but nobody believes her, and she is not who she appears to be. This is rated R for grisly and sexual scenes that may be too much for some people, but if you like stylish psychological thrillers, or Lindsay Lohan, who interrupted filming for a stint in rehab, this could be a treat.