To say that June is often the oddball month of the summer may be an understatement, because it doesn’t have any big holiday weekends like May or July, schools are slowly letting out – often different places in the country earlier than others. While there have been a few huge franchise hits that opened during the month and a couple that started there–The Hangover and The Fast and the Furious are two–having a $60 million opening would be enough to get you into the Top 10 June openers. There have also been an inordinate amount of major bombs, but we’re not here to talk about box office just yet.
Easily one of the most anticipated movies of June has to be Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel (Warner Bros. June 12) which puts little-known British actor Henry Cavill in the cape and tights of Krypton’s displaced son Kal-El aka Superman! To say that there is excitement for this reboot of Superman produced and written by The Dark Knight team of Christopher Nolan and David Goyer would also be an understatement–June’s just that kind of month!–but the ensemble cast that includes Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Michael Shannon as General Zod, Russell Crowe as Superman’s Dad Jor-El and Kevin Costner as his other Dad Jonathan Kent with the way-too-young Diane Lane playing his earth mother. The question will be whether this does similar numbers to Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns or pulls a “Dark Knight” and becomes the third movie of the year to crack the $100 million mark in its opening weekend. Time will tell but this is clearly going to be a very big movie that won’t leave much room for anything opening after it like all the movies below.
Second to that would have to be the long-awaited return of Billy Crystal’s Mike Wazowski and John Goodman’s James “Sully” Sullivan not in a sequel but a prequel to the 2001 DisneyPixar hit Monsters, Inc. with Monsters University (DisneyPixar – June 19), a look back at the fledgling monsters’ college days as they learned how to be Scarers. Steve Buscemi is back voicing Randall Boggs, but there’s also lots of new characters including the Helen Mirren-voiced Dean Hardscrabble and the enigmatic Art voiced by “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star Charlie Day. Those who saw Monsters, Inc. as kids will be old enough to appreciate the college setting as will adults who already went through it and like most DisneyPixar movies, it’s going to appeal to a wide range of audiences and stands a good chance at being one of the biggest movies of the summer.
Roland Emmerich is also back this month with White House Down (Sony – June 28), the second White House invasion movie of the year following the hit Olympus Has Fallen, but he has two not-so-secret weapons in the hugely popular Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx that should allow the German Master of Destruction to have another huge hit just in time for Independence Day. If there is one “guilty pleasure” pick of June, this isn’t one you should feel guilty about.
June has a lot more comedy to offer than May with one big ensemble comedy and two big team-ups, one harking back to one of the biggest R-rated comedies of all time. No, not The Hangover.
Rather, fans of the 2005 hit comedy Wedding Crashers may have wondered when Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson were going to make another movie together and they finally got their answer with The Internship (20th Century Fox – June 7), directed by Shawn Levy, which has them signing up as interns at Google. Who knows how many laughs can be had from such a high concept premise but both guys could use a hit after a few lean years and maybe enough Wedding Crashers fans will give it a look.
The other big June comedy pairing is that of Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy for the police comedy The Heat (20th Century Fox June 28), which was delayed from April, presumably to take advantage of the lack of female-oriented movies in the summer. Directed by Paul Feig, the man behind the enormous summer comedy hit Bridesmaids, which introduced much of the world to McCarthy, the question is whether the millions of female fans of these two very different comic actresses will be interested in a police comedy, which is primarily a guys’ movie genre. If nothing else, it should be really funny and it gives Fox a second chance at a June comedy hit if The Internship tanks.
The comedy underdog of the summer may be Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s This is the End (Sony – June 10), an apocalyptic disaster comedy featuring many of the actors who have appeared in the duo’s previous movies (Superbad, Pineapple Express, The Green Hornet) including Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, James Franco, Craig Robinson and Jonah Hill, plus an enormous list of cameos of others, some expected like Michael Cera, some not so much. It could be one of the summer’s sleeper comedies unless it gets completely overpowered by Man of Steel two days after it opens.
Craig Robinson apparently must like end of the world movies because he also appears in Rapture-Palooza (Lionsgate – June 7) one weekend earlier, this one co-starring Anna Kendrick and John Francis Daley (“Freaks and Geek”) as a Seattle couple caught in the middle of the Apocalyse when Robinson’s The Beast (not to be confused with the X-Men) takes up residence there).
If the world’s ending, you kind of have to let Brad Pitt get into the action and that’s exactly what he does in the very loose adaptation of Max Brooks’ bestselling novel World War Z (Paramount June 21), directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace). The book is a zombie survival guide and the movie looks like a mess, but there’s still a lot of people who would go see the movie just to support Brad Pitt so it might do decently opening weekend and then quickly tail off as other options open unless it ends up being WAY better than it looks.
On the lower key side of June releases is The Purge (Universal Pictures – June 7), a high concept thriller set in a world where for 12 hours every year, all criminal activity is legalized so people can get it out of their system. In the midst of this year’s Purge is Ethan Hawke as a family man in a gated community who finds himself having to protect his family from invaders so it’s kind of like The Strangers on a bigger scale? Sure, that works for me.
There are plenty of limited releases coming out in the coming month and we’ll just go ahead and say that the best movie of June bar none is Morgan Neville’s Twenty Feet From Stardom (RADiUS-TWC – June 14), a documentary about the great underrated back-up singers of yesterday and today and if you’ve been into music anytime in the last five decades then this is a must-see film especially to hear the likes of Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, who have sung on some of the great rock songs of all time (like the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil”) telling stories about those recording sessions.
Joss Whedon takes a break between “Avengers” movies to tackle a bit of Shakespeare, specifically the comedy Much Ado About Nothing (Roadside Attractions – June 7), as he invited many of the actors he’s worked with before–such as Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Fran Kranz, Reed Diamond–brought them to his home and filmed them in black and white staging the Bard’s play. I saw it at Toronto and it’s more for Whedonites than fans of Shakespeare’s work.
I haven’t seen Sofia Coppola’s latest, The Bling Ring (A24 – June 14), but I’m not sure if I need to see a movie about teenagers in Los Angeles, one of my least favorite places on the planet. This is based on a true story about a group of teens who became fixated on celebrities and glamour, stealing 3 million in goods from the likes of Paris Hilton and Orlando Bloom. The big draw is probably “Harry Potter’s” Hermione, Emma Watson, who also appears in This is the End that week, but it also stars Leslie Mann, Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien and Katie Chang.
Filmmaker Pedro Almodovar also makes his return with another movie I haven’t seen, I’m So Excited! (Sony Pictures Classics – June 28), but according to the CS preview page (before I updated it), it’s “an ensemble comedy written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar.” Come on! It’s actually a music-filled comedy that takes place on an airplane flying to Mexico City and their interactions as the plane experiences technical difficulties. Seems more upbeat than some of Almodovar’s other recent movies although the June release is certainly an odd one.
I saw Kieran Darcy-Smith’s Australian thriller wish you were here. (eOne Films) when it opened the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 and was suitably impressed with the performances by Australia’s Joel Edgerton, Teresa Palmer, Felicity Price (who co-wrote it) and Antony Starr playing a group of friends who travel to Thailand where something happens to one of them, leaving the other three to try to pick up the pieces of their lives.
The Danish psychological dramatic thriller A Hijacking (Magnolia – June 21) involves the capture of a cargo ship in the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates, but it’s really more about the negotiations between the company’s CEO back home and the hijackers while trying desperately to keep his men alive.
Toby Jones’ performance in Peter Strickland’s thriller Berberian Sound Studio (IFC Films June 14) is the best thing going for it as he plays a British sound engineer who finds himself providing sound effects for Italian Giallo (horror) movies, an experience that starts affecting his perceptions of reality.
Horror fans have a couple other alternatives in June including Maniac (IFC Midnight – June 21), a remake of the 1980 William Lustig serial killer film influenced by the “Son of Sam” murders, this time with Elijah Wood in the role previously played by Joe Spinell. This one is written by Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes) and directed by Franck Khalfoun, but this one also stars the beautiful French actress Nora Arnezeder (Paris 36) as an artist being stalked by the killer.
The final horror option of the month is Adam Green’s threequel Hatchet 3, which once again stars Danielle Harris as Marybeth who is trying to destroy the sociopathic killer Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) once and for all. It also stars Zach Galligan–an awesome guy who I had drinks with in New Orleans once– and Caroline Williams.
That’s pretty much it for June even though there are plenty of other limited releases that I either haven’t seen or didn’t like and don’t feel like talking about, but they’re likely to be covered in the weekly Weekend Warrior columns.