Going to the movies during summer months is about many things, the most important of which is having a good time. Summer, for so many, is a time to escape the mundane details of our day to day and relax, enjoying the great weather and a little extra free time. Such a great theory, at least for those of us who do not live in the real world and have real jobs, right? With that in mind, I got to thinking, “What kind of Summer Movie Preview would this be if I neglected to mention all of the mindless fun that is to be had at the theaters this year?” And the answer is clear; it would be less than acceptable of me to neglect these humorous escapes from your average film. Throwing all rational dramatic elements and any hopes of Oscar’s grace to the curb, these films bring us a different level of entertainment: mindless, carefree fun.
We begin our search for maturity ignorant bliss in June, where we are greeted by two films that are driven by a pair of fan favorite comedic leads. In Nacho Libre, out June 19th, Jack Black teams with Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess to bring the world the story of a mediocre priest who moonlights as a luchador in order to help save the orphanage in which he works. And based on what I have seen from Nacho, there are a few things that you are certain to get: a few great laughs courtesy of Jack Black and a well-to-do comedy script, all the quirkiness that fans have come to love from Jared Hess, and a decent moral undertone (the whole saving the orphanage thing is wholesome, eh?) All things considered, you can’t go wrong in seeing this film. If you liked Napoleon Dynamite, then you will most likely want to give this one a chance. If you didn’t like Napoleon, I’d recommend giving this one a shot anyway.
The second June comedy is delivered by the Big Daddy himself, Adam Sandler. Sandler, who has transformed himself from a man of “dick and fart joke” fame to a leading man in many wholesome, “family friendly flicks,” tests the waters of this summer with Click. Hoping that they have this year’s big splash comedy, Sony Pictures chose to dump plenty of dough into putting a stellar supporting cast around Sandler. He is flanked by the always stunning British version “girl next door” Kate Beckinsale and everyone’s favorite character, Christopher Walken. And I know that the story seems a little cheesy; the whole being able to rewind or fast-forward your life thing reeks of being predictable and overly unrealistic if not handled correctly. But with a cast like this you really can’t go wrong. Click will be a great film to take the kids to go see, and parents may get a laugh or two as well.
Moving on, it is evident that the month of July is there only to prepare us for Will Ferrell in August, but it may hold this year’s big comedy winner in disguise. The week of July 14th brings with it two excellent opportunities for laughs, one from the Wayans brothers and one from a Wilson brother. In Little Man, Shawn Wayons plays a wannabe father who is duped, along with his wife, by a “little person” criminal into thinking that he is a baby who has been left on their doorstep. Who plays the little guy, you ask? Shawn’s brother Marlon Wayans… And that’s about all you need to know about this one. The Wayan’s brothers have always been funny, in spurts. Unfortunately I think their mainstream appeal died somewhere in between dumping the Scary Movie franchise and dressing up like a pair of White Chicks. It is a free world, and you can see whichever films you choose this summer, just don’t expect to see me jumping all over Little Man to occupy my Saturday afternoon.
The other hindrance for Little Man is what I believe to be this year’s most promising comedy, You, Me and Dupree. Matt Dillon struck gold and froze audiences with his performance in Best Picture winner Crash; Owen Wilson lit up the screen with Frat brother Vince Vaughn in Wedding Crashers; and Kate Hudson has been one of my favorite comedic actresses since her role in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Throw these three actors in the mix with Arrested Development Directorial tandem Anthony and Joe Russo, and you have quite a setup on your hands. The trailer reveals an absolutely hilarious plot in which Dupree (Wilson) comes under hard times and is let in by his best friend (Dillon) and his best friend’s brand new wife (Hudson.) The mildly unwelcome house guest, Dupree attempts to give the new couple their space but can’t help but to be himself, causing a little bit of friendly conflict as well as a house fire! Mark my words, if you are to see one comedy this summer it had best be You, Me and Dupree.
With July in the bag, we have reached the comedic homestretch. But don’t fall asleep just yet, because August has plenty of laughs to be had. It all begins with Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. I can’t think of anything more enticing than the comic geniuses of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay reuniting after their superb collaboration with Anchorman to bring us a story of America’s #1 past time: NASCAR! Showing off the lighter side of turning left a lot is only the surface of this instant winner. It is Will Ferrell’s first real, solid comedic lead since Anchorman (Bewitched does not count, due to the fact that it wasn’t really that funny…), and he gets a little bit of help from the likes of John C. Reilly and the always funny Sacha Baron Cohen. The combination of NASCAR and Will Ferrell’s brand of comedy cannot be ignored this summer; Talladega Nights will be funny and will be a hit, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it.
Rounding out the summer are two under the radar comedies that will definitely appeal to the male, age 16 to 25 demographic. In Accepted, Justin Long (yes, the kid from Waiting, and no I am not referring to Van Wilder, that is Ryan Reynolds) plays a high school slacker who didn’t get into college. Instead of chalking it up and getting a real job like the rest of us, he decides to run off and invent his own college. In a rush of half exposed breasts, genital showing games and subtle life lessons, Accepted should deliver some laughs on a delightfully short-lived level (and by “short-lived” I mean less than the running time of the film.) Later in August we are treated to another release from the famed comedy troupe Broken Lizard, the guys who gave us the cult hit Super Troopers and the not so cult hit Club Dread. With Beerfest, the boys are back and traveling to Germany to attend Oktoberfest. Once there they are let in on a secret society that is the equivelent of Fight Club, only with drinking games instead of bare-knuckle boxing. Here is my breakdown: Kevin Heffernan, who played Farva in Super Troopers is in this film. He will be drinking heavily in the film and providing much of the comic relief. That makes this one worth seeing on a stage where it belongs… On DVD.
Though they may go astray, so many comedic actors eventually return to their roots and make great summer comedies after attempting to make more heartwarming and meaningful flicks. Adam Sandler had his fun with Spanglish and Punch Drunk Love, Will Ferrell tried it with Winter Passing. Thankfully they have come back to comedy this year to predictably deliver a lot of laughs. If you love going to the movies and being able to laugh without having to process any thoughts on an intellectual level, then I can easily say that there is much to love about the summer of 2006.
Check out the links below to view the trailers for the films mentioned in this feature:
- Nacho Libre
- Little Man
- You, Me and Dupree
- Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
- Beerfest (not available)
Be sure to also check out the previous three entries in my Seven Days of Summer Movies series:
- Tuesday: Fun for Everyone
- Wednesday: Bring on the Fanboy Extravaganza!
- Thursday: If you can’t fake it, remake it!