Bob Mondello's Fall Movie Preview: Thrills, Silence, And Harold And Kumar : Monkey See Bob Mondello's fall movie preview anticipates the quiet of a jazz-age silent movie, the very George-Clooney-ness of a new political thriller, and an unrepentant Neil Patrick Harris in 3D.
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Bob Mondello's Fall Movie Preview: Thrills, Silence, And Harold And Kumar

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Bob Mondello's Fall Movie Preview: Thrills, Silence, And Harold And Kumar

Bob Mondello's Fall Movie Preview: Thrills, Silence, And Harold And Kumar

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel. While summer is still officially with us for another couple of weeks, the summer movie season is definitely winding down. The multiplex brought us a familiar onslaught of sequels, superheroes and retreads - from "Conan" to "Captain America," "Transformers" to teen wizards. Well, it's time to put down those 3-D glasses, take a deep breath and look forward to the fall. From vampires to birdwatchers, our film critic, Bob Mondello, has a preview of what movie studios have in store for audiences as the weather turns cooler.

BOB MONDELLO: Start with the vampires. After four movies of anguished glistening in the latest installment in the "Twilight" series, Edward will finally make an honest woman of Bella.


ROBERT PATTINSON: (as Edward Cullen) No measure of time with you will be long enough, but we'll start with forever.

MONDELLO: Wedding bells are going to chime, and so, no doubt, will multiplex cash registers. Nothing else this fall is going to match "Breaking Dawn - Part 1" at the box office, but there will be a few other reasons to head for the Cineplex, not all of them entirely escapists. For instance, director Steven Soderbergh has a star-studded picture specifically designed for the start of flu season: "Contagion," about a deadly virus outbreak.


KATE WINSLET: (as Dr. Erin Mears) I really need you to get off that bus. It's quite possible you've come in contact with an infectious disease and that you're highly contagious. Do you understand?

DAN AHO: (as Aaron Barnes) I'm getting off.

WINSLET: (as Dr. Erin Mears) And stay away from other people.

AHO: (as Aaron Barnes) Now, what do I do?

WINSLET: (as Dr. Erin Mears) Don't talk to anyone. Don't touch anyone. That's the important thing.


MONDELLO: Ready to scare you to death, Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and, no doubt, some guy sneezing in the row behind you. There's also a high-finance thriller for those who found this summer's Dow Jones roller coaster insufficiently alarming. "Margin Call" shows what happens when a rouge trader puts his brokerage firm in jeopardy.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as Character) Just look at these people, wandering around with absolutely no idea what's about to happen.

MONDELLO: Remember that feeling? So bankruptcies, plagues, vampires, what else could scare us? Well, it's the start of primary season. How about politicians? Ryan Gosling is a trusted staffer in George Clooney's presidential campaign in "The Ides of March."


MAN: (as Character) The next president of the United States of America, Governor Mike Morris.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as Character) Do you really want this story getting out?

GEORGE CLOONEY: (as Governor Mike Morris) Dignity matters. You were off the campaign, but you thought it was important to fix things?

WOMAN: (as Character) Stephen, don't do this.

RYAN GOSLING: (as Stephen Myers) I'll do or say anything if I believe in it, but I have to believe in the cause.

MONDELLO: For what it's worth, Clooney is also in a fall comedy of sorts. "The Descendants" is about a guy trying to hold his family together while his wife is in a coma.


CLOONEY: (as Matt King) We have to go through this thing together, you and Scottie and me.

SHAILENE WOODLEY: (as Alexandra) You really don't have a clue, do you? Mom is cheating on you.

MONDELLO: "The Descendants" is from the writer-director of "Sideways," who knows a little something about turning life's rough patches into dramedy. So do the folks behind "50/50," a surprisingly funny look at two friends, one with cancer, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the other trying to look on the bright side, played by Seth Rogen.


JOSEPH GORDON: (as Adam) You really think there's a girl who's going to go for me just because I have cancer?

SETH ROGEN: (as Kyle) For the millionth time, yes.

GORDON: (as Adam) Great song.

WOMAN: (as Character) Totally.

GORDON: (as Adam) I have cancer.

ROGEN: (as Kyle) I was wrong. I was wrong. It was weird. It's weird like that.

GORDON: (as Adam) Yeah. That's too soon.

ROGEN: (as Kyle) It's not - it doesn't sound cool.

GORDON: (as Adam) No.

MONDELLO: "50/50" is based on the real experiences of Rogen and a friend who was diagnosed with cancer. Less reality-based comedies include "Tower Heist" with Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy.


EDDIE MURPHY: (as Slide) You know, this is a bad idea, right?

BEN STILLER: (as Josh Kovacs) That's it. I don't want you talking to me for the rest of the robbery.

MONDELLO: "Jack and Jill," in which identical twins are played by Adam Sandler and Adam Sandler...



MONDELLO: ...and "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas."


JOHN CHO: (as Harold Lee) (Unintelligible) to trip out a little bit.

KAL PENN: (as Kumar Patel) Those kids put something in here.

CHO: (as Harold Lee) Dude, we're clay-mated.

PENN: (as Kumar Patel) Awesome.

MONDELLO: For the younger set, there will be two youth-oriented pictures about robots, "Real Steel" and Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," as well as a slew of name-brand kid flicks, including the first outing for "The Muppets" in more than a decade, a rerelease of "The Lion King" in 3-D, a "Shrek" spinoff called "Puss in Boots" and penguins running amuck in "Happy Feet Two."


ROBIN WILLIAMS: (as Ramon) Here's what we're going to do. We count to three. Push me on two.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (as Characters) One...

WILLIAMS: (as Ramon) Ah.



WILLIAMS: (as Ramon) Baby penguin, cute but ruthless.

MONDELLO: In addition to all this fantasy, the fall will feature a bunch of real-life stories about the famous and not-so famous. Director Clint Eastwood could have called his latest picture Hoover, but presumably so no one would think it was about a vacuum cleaner, he called it "J. Edgar" instead. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the longtime head of the FBI and promises to rummage through Hoover's, shall we say, closet of secrets. Other biopics include "Machine Gun Preacher," about a born-again former drug dealer who started an orphanage in Sudan...


MAN: (as Character) The entire rebel army has put a bounty on your head.

GERARD BUTLER: (as Sam Childers) I must be doing something right.

MONDELLO: ...also "My Week with Marilyn," in which Michelle Williams impersonates Marilyn Monroe, "Moneyball," in which Brad Pitt plays Oakland A's manager Billy Beane, "Dolphin Tale," in which the dolphin Winter who lost her tail in a crab trap plays herself, and then there's a more speculative look at a real-life figure, the film "Anonymous," which wades into the supposed mystery of who wrote Shakespeare's plays. The movie claims it was the 17th Earl of Oxford...


VANESSA REDGRAVE: (as Queen Elizabeth I) None of your poems or plays will ever carry your name.

MONDELLO: ...who hired the actor William Shakespeare to impersonate a playwright.


MAN: (as Character) Promise me you'll keep our secret safe.

MONDELLO: This bit of revisionist history from Roland Emmerich, the disaster flick dude who brought you "Godzilla" and "Independence Day." Meanwhile, the guy who made "Resident Evil" has another cataclysm up his sleeve.


MATTHEW MACFADYEN: (as Athos) We are surrounded by enemies. War will engulf the entire continent. Only we can prevent the coming apocalypse. D'Artagnan, you want to be a musketeer? This is your chance.

MONDELLO: That's right. "The Three Musketeers" in 3-D for the crowd that thinks the dozens of previous versions were just too flat. But of all the odd pictures this fall - and there will be plenty - from Pedro Almodovar's latest provocation, "The Skin I live In," to the comic bromance "The Big Year" starring Steve Martin and Jack Black as competitive birdwatchers, perhaps the oddest is the surprise from this year's Cannes Film Festival, "The Artist," a jazz-age epic shot unconventionally in black and white, and of all the crazy things to be in an age of digitally perfect sound, a silent movie.


MONDELLO: A silent movie about the end of silent movies back in the 1920s and a leading man on his way out and a dancer on her way up, neither of whom needs words to be expressive. "The Artist" is said to be a likely Oscar contender, and it's opening - just before Thanksgiving - will kick off the rush for end-of-year awards, a whole slew of holiday prestige pictures that we'll save for another day and another preview. I'm Bob Mondello.


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