Summer Movie Preview: Romance

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson Feb. 15

Summer lovin’ happens so fast. Romance is hardly the flagship genre of the summer months, but it deserves some love regardless, especially in 2010. With teenage girls being a demographic that studios are dying to get their hands on (pardon that awkward image) thanks to the number one film on this list as depicted above, we have a few more this summer than usual.

A few romance movies I’ve included in the comedy genre of my summer previews, so fear not if you don’t see some of the “action rom coms” on this list that are being piled on this summer.

Also needless to say, I did not rank these movies in order of my personal interest in them, but rather by their popularity and potential.

9. Going the Distance (Aug. 27)

The Word: Real-life couple Drew Barrymore and Justin Long star in a romantic comedy about long-distance relationships from a rookie screenwriter and director Nanette Burstein, creator of the briefly lived TV documentary series “American Teen.” It’s not clear whether this focuses on just one relationship or multiple a la “Valentine’s Day.”

My Thoughts: Long and Barrymore have always impressed me with the ability to remain themselves while playing a wide range of roles (more so Long than Barrymore, but even the latter has flexed some impressive dramatic muscles lately). That said, I know absolutely nothing about this film. It might not even come out this summer — who knows.

just_wright8. Just Wright (May 14)

The Word: Queen Latifah and Common hook up in this romantic comedy about a star basketball player who blows out his knee and the physical therapist that helps him return to the game (and gets repaid in the form of some sugar). Problem is, “Precious based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” beauty Paula Patton is dating this basketball player and she happens to be best friends with the Queen.

My Thoughts: “Just Wright” looks like a unique romantic comedy concept. That said, Fox Searchlight clearly wants to hook the male audience with basketball and cameos from guys like star Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard. The story appears a bit soap opera-ish, but I’ve sat through romantic comedy trailers five times more painful than this one. It’s released the same day, however, as the No. 4 film on this list, so it’s going to have a tough go of it. (View Trailer)

switch7. The Switch (Aug. 20)

The Word: Jason Bateman is just about everywhere these days. His main destination this summer, however, is in this romantic comedy opposite Jennifer Aniston, who adds another actor to her ever-growing list of collaborations in rom coms. “The Swtich” is another pregnancy/paternity comedy, although the set-up is much stronger than in films such as April’s “The Back-up Plan.” This time, Bateman (the friend) “hijacks” his longtime crush’s planned pregnancy by drunkenly replacing her donor’s sperm with his own. Seven years later, she’s back in his life and there’s no avoiding the truth when he meets the hypochondriac child, Sebastian.

My Thoughts: Maybe the best part of this film is Jeff Goldblum playing the part of the best friend. It’s such an odd yet inspired choice and he plays it dryly to the point where you have to laugh because both you and him and are in on this joke. The film could be better than usual, but another pregnancy-based formula romantic comedy is beyond tedium at this point. (View Trailer)

step_up_3d6. Step Up 3-D (Aug. 6)

The Word: You’ve already stepped up and then followed that up by stepping up 2 the streets. But are you prepared to step up in three dimensions? The hit dance flick returns again this summer, this time with even more people that you don’t recognize. Sequel director Jon Chu returns for this film, only two years later to give the world its first and quite possibly only dance movie in 3-D.

My Thoughts: What exactly is it that sounds appealing about a dance movie in 3-D? I always thought this franchise just existed so that amateur choreographers could learn some new moves while enjoying a new dance music soundtrack. I didn’t realize the visual element mattered that much. Maybe it doesn’t. At least they appear concerned about capturing what makes dance so meaningful to people. Unfortunately, the trailer gives away some of the terribly gimmicky ways in which 3-D will be used. (View Trailer).

beastly15. Beastly (July 30)

The Word: CBS Films hopes it found itself the next Twilight franchise in this modern teen supernatural romance retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale. Alex Pettyfer stars as the vain high school jock who is cursed by a goth chick (Mary Kate Olsen) to have scars and disfigurements. He of course won’t be able to get rid of the curse unless he can get a girl to love him for who he is. That would be High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens. Based on the Alex Flinn novel.

My Thoughts: I commend the casting of Pettyfer and Hudgens, but I can’t commend the idea of wanting to steal some of Twilight’s thunder by picking a story that will try and bank on the same exact things that made Twilight a hit: teens and forbidden romance with a supernatural element. I’m also completely unimpressed with the uninspired makeup job for “the beast” that looks like a combination of scars and badly drawn henna tattoos. (View Trailer)

letters_to_juliet4. Letters to Juliet (May 14)

The Word: No young star is “in” quite like Amanda Seyfried. With a little help from Vanessa Redgrave, she’s the biggest draw in Summit Entertainment’s only non-Twilight entry of the summer, “Letters to Juliet” about a young American in Verona, Italy (the backdrop for Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”) who responds to letters left in a wall asking Juliet for love advice. When she reads a letter left in 1957, she responds, inspiring a now older woman (Redgrave) to travel to Italy with her son to find, Lorenzo, a man she had a fling with 50 years ago.

My Thoughts: Interesting concept. Amidst all the Nicholas Spark novel adaptations, it’s nice to not see his name attached to a multi-generational romance (such as “The Notebook”). The script comes from Jose Rivera (“The Motorcycle Diaries”) and Tim Sullivan (“Flushed Away”) with “13 Going on 30’s” Gary Winick directing, so it’s a nice balance of romance-credible talent and fresh ideas. As far as genuine romance goes, there may be nothing better than “Letters to Juliet” for your tastes this summer. (View Trailer)

sex_and_the_city_2_poster3. Sex and the City 2

The Word: You asked for it, you got it. After the 2008 reunion of HBO’s fabulous four raked in more than $400 million worldwide, a sequel to the $60 million movie was easy for New Line to greenlight. This time, Samantha gets the girls an all-expenses paid trip to Abu Dhabi so that they can see the world, because as Carrie says in the trailer in her voice over “just when you think you’ve seen it all, it hits you: you haven’t seen anything yet.” Then, amid all the fun they’re having, of course Carrie has to run into another old flame.

My Thoughts: When most everyone I know saw the 2008 movie, they came out saying it wasn’t great, but that it felt like a reunion with old friends. Now that the reunion’s been had, the million-dollar question is whether you care enough for a second reunion in Abu Dhabi despite how obvious it is that the writers needed to transplant the entire story (how can it still be “Sex in the City,” shouldn’t it be “Sex in the Desert?”) in order to come up with original ideas. (View Trailer)

eat_pray_love2. Eat, Pray, Love (Aug. 13)

The Word: The popular Elizabeth Gilbert memoir comes to the big screen with a heck of a draw: Julia Roberts as the star. Roberts hasn’t piloted anything solo in a long time, but “Eat, Pray, Love” seems perfect. The story follows Elizabeth, a woman who’s been in relationships her whole life and they’ve all ended poorly, who goes on a  journey to Italy and India to rediscover herself. Supporting her are James Franco, Billy Crudup, Javier Bardem, Richard Jenkins and Viola Davis. “Nip/Tuck” and “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy returns to the big screen as both writer and director.

My Thoughts: I’ve pegged this August release as this year’s “Julie & Julia,” also a Sony/Columbia movie, so clearly they’re hoping to find similar success, this time riding on Roberts as opposed to Streep. Not a bad trade-off. If the story can inspire millions of readers, it should do well on the big screen, especially with someone as self-assured as Roberts in the starring role. (View Trailer)

twilight_saga_eclipse-21. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

The Word: In the hands of its third director, vampire flick “40 Days of Night’s” David Slade, the Twilight saga continues this summer instead of the fall, so that Summit Entertainment employees don’t all have to wait for their Christmas bonuses to make any money this year. “Eclipse” appears to be the most suspenseful and action-packed of the series thus far, but Slade has a lot of odds to defy if he wants to make “Eclipse” a critical success alongside the millions upon millions of dollars the film will make. This chapter is about a vampire army that comes for Edward and Bella and to stop it, the werewolves and vampires much work together, which makes things tough for Kristen Stewart, because both Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner still want her bad.

My Thoughts: The latest “Eclipse” trailer actually makes this film look entertaining. Slade appears to have the most action experience of the previous directors, so on that end, the film should be a lot better. Fact is, Melissa Rosenberg still wrote the script, so it’s hard to imagine it’s really going to be that much better. Hardly matters, however, because this franchise is a rock-solid exception to everything in the movie industry. (View Trailer)


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