[Editor’s Note: This is an ongoing series being presented in conjunction with The Modern Guy. Click Here for more info.]
When you think of summer, what do you think of?
Some think of the beach, the sun, and taking trips to the far reaches of the world, otherwise known as Mexico. Their only concerns are how much sunblock to put on and when not to drink the water. But then again, others think of something completely different. They remember that their small, smelly, misbehaving, rasputin children are out of school. And at least in most of the nation, these kids are released from their educational prisons and allowed to cause mayhem and destruction on otherwise peaceful afternoon streets. Thus, Hollywood was brought in as a consultant of peace and they developed their strategy, along with the parents of America, to give these little rascals something to do while their parents battle the demons of the corporate world. And this year falls right into line with years past, providing plenty of family fun and dozens of films that one could easily drop their child off at and leave them for a few hours. Sound fun? Alright, let’s get down to it…
We begin in this month, with a blockbuster that should race into our hearts and a familiar feline whose debut was a little less than purrr-fect. From the same guy who wrote and directed Toy Story 2 comes Cars, the story of an animated stock car named Lightning McQueen, who is voiced by one of the comedic champions of last year, Wedding Crasher Owen Wilson. The superstar of stock car racing, McQueen gets stranded on his way to the big race in a small dessert town called Radiator Springs. There he meets a cast of characters who teach him a little bit about respect and living life to the fullest before he is able to get back to his superstar existence. Wilson is flanked by the likes of Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, and Larry the Cable Guy in a film that looks to be one of this year’s first toss ups. There is something about talking NASCARs that will capture about 80% of the nation’s hearts right away, but the question will become whether America’s most popular sport will be able to transfer enough momentum over to this film before it is forced to ride off into the sunset in rare fashion: as Pixar’s first underperformer. Thankfully for Cars, it has little competition on opening weekend and has the support of a painfully over-the-top marketing campaign. It should do well, and it looks like fun. I would recommend seeing it, but in order to avoid the throngs of little kids and teenage Owen Wilson crooners, I would recommend waiting until after opening weekend.
Moving on to the end of June, we go from a big time Pixar flick to a film that has been made on questionable pretenses. Usually before making a sequel, the first film has to be very successful. Unfortunately it appears that the makers of Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties never saw the first film. Bill Murray signed back on as the voice of our favorite ole’ fat cat, and Jennifer Love Hewitt has reprised her role as… well… something for the “older” kids. In A Tail of Two Kitties, Garfield travels over to the U.K. and meets his long lost twin. And while this one looks like it may deliver a few laughs, even twice the Garfield doesn’t look like it can keep this one from having to find its audience on DVD.
Moving on to the sunny and extremely hot month of July, we get two under the radar kids’ flicks that are sure to entertain. Using the same motion capture technology that brought us the wonder of The Polar Express, seasoned vet Producer/Director Robert Zemeckis gives young UCLA grad Gil Kenan a chance to show off his talent with Monster House. Three young kids discover a house that not only looks scary, but is really a living, breathing, scary monster. And therein lies the premise of this year’s most promising animated flick, by far. I am normally not a fan of scary flicks, but I am willing to tough it out in order to see a movie that is this cool. Great CGI, an alluring story, and a great cast of characters (voiced by the likes of Steve Buscemi, Nick Cannon, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jon Heder, Kevin James, and Jason Lee) make Monster House my easy pick for the most anticipated animated piece of cinema this year.
We continue with the month of July by looking at another star-studded cast masked by amazing animation. In The Ant Bully, a cast led by Julia Roberts, Paul Giamatti and Nicholas Cage, tells the tale of a little brat who is punished for terrorizing insects by being shrunk down and forced to become a diligent little worker ant. While the trailer doesn’t give away much of the story, it does show off some pretty awesome animation. If you like computer generated adventures, which I do, this one looks to be well worth a trip up the ant hill to your local cineplex.
And finally, in the month of August we are treated to two films that bring us a little too close to animated wildlife than most of us would really care to be. In Barnyard, the co-writer of Jimmy Neutron gives us the story of what farm animals due when the farmer is not watching: they sing, they dance, and they party ’til the sun comes up. Even with some sub-fantastic looking animation Barnyard looks entertaining enough, especially for the little kids. Can you say this year’s Doogal, with a little more success at the box office? I can.
Rounding out our summer of animated bliss is a live action kid’s flick about – you guessed it – eating slithery creepy crawly things. From the famous novel by Thomas Rockwell and the guy who co-wrote Willow with George Lucas comes How to Eat Fried Worms. Starting fifth grade in a new school is never easy, but for one particular young boy, it quickly becomes more difficult as he gets into a little scuffle with the school bully. The result is a dare to see who can eat more worms and ultimately become the coolest kid in school. Not only do I smell worms burning but I also smell a life lesson at the end of this one. It looks cute enough, but being released so late in the summer may not help this one. Look for it to fall to the wayside as it is buried by trips to Target for school supplies, band practice, and middle school orientations. Oooh, fun!
In summation, it looks like another solid summer for the family at the movies. Whether your taste is for Cars that talk, Cows that dance, or Houses that eat people this summer has something great for you… and your little ones too.
Just Click the Links below to check out the trailers for the movies previewed in this section:
And make sure to stay tuned tomorrow, as I run down all of this year’s fanboy favorites…