Summer 2006: Silliness, Superheroes and More
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
For the movie business, this coming weekend marks the beginning of the summer season. Three previous weeks of impossible missions, capsizing cruise ships and convoluted code breaking gave it a running start and now come nearly a hundred would be blockbusters before Labor Day.
Bob Mondello has a selective preview.
BOB MONDELLO reporting:
If you're into laughs, adventure and folks in spandex you have lots of opinions during hot weather. Lets start with the superheroes, since mutant X-Men are already on screens everywhere, soon to be joined by a new man of steel. Brandon Routh, who will be opposed by Kevin Spacey as Lex Luther.
(Soundbite of Superman Returns)
Mr. KEVIN SPACEY (as Lex Luther): Come on let me here you say it just once.
Unidentified Woman: You're insane.
Mr. SPACEY: No!
Mr. MONDELLO: Before Superman Returns however, Jack Black will be wearing spandex along with a bizarre Mexican accent as a priest who is determined to crash the costumed world of Mexican wrestling in the comedy Nacho Libre.
(Soundbite of Nacho Libre)
Mr. JACK BLACK (as Nacho): Do you remember when everyone was shouting my name and I used my strength to rip my blouse.
Mr. MONDELLO: There is also a super spoof called Zoom, which mocks everything from X-Men to The Incredibles, and My Super Ex-Girlfriend, in which a guy dumps a frump only to discover her wall flower act was her alter ego. She's actually a super heroine and now thinks he's the bad guy. And superpowers aren't the only obstacle to romance this summer, as Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughan discover in The Break-Up.
(Soundbite of The Break-Up)
Mr. VINCE VAUGHN (as Gary): Fine, I'll do the dishes.
Ms. JENNIFER ANISTON (as Brooke): Now that's not what I want.
Mr. VAUGHN: You just said that you want me to help you to do the dishes.
Ms. ANISTON: I want you to want to do the dishes.
Mr. VAUGHN: Why would I want to do dishes?
Mr. MONDELLO: Other summer comedies include Clerks 2, a follow up to Kevin Smith's 1994 hit, Only Human, a Spanish language farce about a Jewish woman who introduces her family to her Palestinian finance, and The Devil Wears Prada, a satirical look at a high fashion magazine where the editor has most people but not quite everyone terrified.
(Soundbite of The Devil Wears Prada)
Ms. MERYL STREEP (as Miranda): Who are you?
Ms. ANNE HATHAWAY (as Andrea): My name is Annie Saks.
Ms. STREEP: And what are you doing here?
Ms. HATHAWAY: I came to New York to be a journalist and it's basically this or Auto Universe.
Ms. STREEP: So you don't read Runway?
Ms. HATHAWAY: No.
Ms. STREEP: And before today you had never heard of me?
Ms. HATHAWAY: No.
Ms. STREEP: And you have no style or sense of fashion.
Mr. MONDELLO: Meryl Streep rules her roost with ridicule in The Devil Wears Prada, while Adam Sandler rules his roost in the comedy Click with a universal remote. It controls not his media devices, but the world. He can mute his dog when it barks, pause a softball in mid air and fast forward right through anything he'd rather not deal with.
(Soundbite of Click)
Ms. KATE BECKINSALE (as Donna): I'm so tired of having this argument. I just don't think it's a lot to ask. I've got ghost stories, charades, dishes.
(Soundbite of fast-forwarding)
Mr. ADAM SANDLER (as Michael): I skipped the whole fight.
Mr. MONDELLO: That remote might come in handy for critics this summer. Happily there are gentler comedies mixed in, too, including one about the supposed demise of a radio show that will have special resonance for public radio listeners.
(Soundbite of Prairie Home Companion)
Mr. GARRISON KEILOR (as Himself): Hello everybody on a Saturday night and welcome to a live broadcast of A Prairie Home Champion.
Unidentified Man: Big corporation down in Texas has bought up the radio station.
Unidentified Woman: This is really going to be the last show of it.
Unidentified Man: Every show is your last show. That's my philosophy.
Unidentified Woman #2: Thank you Plato.
Unidentified Woman #3: You're going to say something about it. How about just a moment of silence.
Unidentified Man #2: Silence on the radio, I wonder how that works.
Mr. MONDELLO: Prairie Home Companion isn't the only movie about show biz this summer. There is also Little Miss Sunshine about child beauty pageants and Idlewild, which blends Harlem Renaissance costumes from the 1920's with music by its very contemporary stars, the hip-hop duo Oukast.
(Soundbite of Idlewild)
Unidentified Woman: There's a whole movement going on in Harlem and you're down here watching the seasons pass by.
Unidentified Man: I have to take care of my father.
Unidentified Man #2: She's trash. She's going to leave you.
Unidentified Man: You don't know her.
Mr. MONDELLO: Idlewild was shot two years ago, but had to wait until Outkast's album was ready to join it in the market place. Speaking of the market place there are always a few pictures that fall outside the action, adventure and comedy genres in hot weather. Hollywood operates on the assumption that audiences want escapism, but they also make films that deal with real world issues in serious ways.
None is more serious this summer than Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, which tells the true story of the New York Port Authority officers who found themselves dealing with unimaginable tragedy.
(Soundbite of World Trade Center)
Mr. NICHOLAS CAGE (as John): We're prepared for everything but not this. Not for something this size. There is no plan.
Mr. MONDELLO: While World Trade Center will likely prove the most harrowing of the summer's dramas, other true life stories will join it in providing a little ballast for summer fluff. There's Road to Guantanamo, about British Muslims imprisoned in Cuba, and the documentaries Who Killed the Electric Car and The Heart of the Game, which follows a girls high school basketball team through challenges on the court, off the court and even in the courts. And lighter challenges get documented, too. Like the ones in Word Play which features The Puzzle Guy from NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, Will Short.
(Soundbite of Word Play)
Mr. WILL SHORT: Well, welcome to the 28th American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. I've been in the finals for like the last four years but I've always come in third place, so it's kind of embarrassing. This is a puzzle that's going to rip your heart out.
Mr. MONDELLO: If documentaries aren't your thing, there's plenty of straight forward summer action at the multiplex. Testerone laced crime dramas for instance from the point of view of the cops in Miami Vice.
(Soundbite of movie Miami Vice)
Unidentified Man: Things get emotional, moves get messy. Moves get messy and the wrong people die.
Mr. MONDELLO: And from the point of view of the criminal in Waist Deep.
(Soundbite of movie Waist Deep)
Unidentified Man: It's all or nothing. I'm all in. You're the girl for the TV. Man you guys are like the modern day Bonnie and Clyde. Can I get your autograph?
Mr. MONDELLO: There will be fantasy that's set in a world you've seen before in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
(Soundbite of Dead Man's Chest)
Mr. JOHNNY DEPP (as Captain Jack Sparrow): I love those moments. I like to wave at them as they pass by.
Mr. MONDELLO: Also fantasy in a world you've not seen before in the science fiction story A Scanner Darkly starring Keanu Reeves.
(Soundbite of movie A Scanner Darkly)
Unidentified Man: Damage has taken place to the normally dominant left hemisphere and the right hemisphere is attempting to compensate.
Mr. KEANU REEVES (as Fred/Bob): Two hemispheres in my brain are competing?
Mr. MONDELLO: Keanu Reeves's brain has two hemispheres? Who knew? This low budget thriller has a high profile cast but everyone looks a little odd because director Richard Linklater takes the scanner part of his title A Scanner Darkly seriously. He shot the picture as live action then had computer animators paint every frame so that the images seem to have been scanned colorfully.
A more conventional sort of computer animation is featured in four, count them four, summer kid flicks. Cars, Monster House, The Barnyard and Ant Bully, and critters of an altogether more threatening sort will be menacing the horror crowd in what has become the summer's most eagerly awaited title, Snakes On A Plane.
(Soundbite of Snakes On A Plane)
Mr. MONDELLO: Snakes On A Plane, the subject of internet chatter for months now, has just unveiled its first trailer in theaters to wild cheers from its young male target audience and mystified looks from folks who may just wish they could use Adam Sandler's clicker to fast forward to the fall.
I'm Bob Mondello.