A Curmudgeonly Guide to Summer Movies 2010

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Happy Madison Productions


This will go down as the Year Generation X took over Hollywood. Finally. As critic A.O. Scott noted, the first wave of Generation X-ers are hitting their late 40's, aging on camera while moving into positions of power off it. The result is a kind of collective, cinematic midlife crisis. John Cusack, whose Lloyd Dobler and Layne Meyer personified Reagan-era suburban angst, has stooped to self-parody in Hot Tub Time Machine. Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy, arguably the best comic minds of their generation, have settled into the same kind of dull middle-age as the Shrek characters they keep milking Forever After. Once delightfully puerile, Adam Sandler keeps making movies about mortality, with last year's Funny People, and this summer's Grown Ups (see below) promising more of the same.

There is an upside to all this Gen-X navel-gazing. Namely, it means the Baby Boomers are finally losing their 40-year grip on Hollywood. Mercifully, the Summer of 2010 features precisely zero films about Vietnam, Woodstock, Nixon, JFK, Motown, or the Apollo space program. But while infinitely less self-congratulatory than their Boomer predecessors, Hollywood X'ers are seem just as fond of nostalgia and no more prone to original thought. The only difference is which decade is mined for material. Instead of remaking 60's and 70's favorites like The Beverly Hillbillies and Dragnet, studios now rehash '80s favorites. The The Karate Kid, for instance, which opened well this weekend, and The A-Team, which did not—probably because Bradley Cooper is about as macho as RuPaul and far less charming. Here's what you have to look forward to for the rest of the summer:

Next weekend, starting June 18, expect big box office and bad reviews when Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and a computerized cast of dozens return for Toy Story 3. In Cyrus a semi-dark comedy with an indie feel, John C. Reilly courts Marisa Tomei, but their love is thwarted by Jonah Hill, playing her creepy son. Despite the black humor and Sundance-y dialogue, Cyrus should do very well at the box office, mostly from the millions of pre-teen girls who will mistakenly buy tickets thinking that Miley Cyrus is somehow involved.

One of the few movies of 2010 that doesn't star Jonah Hill has "Jonah" in the title. Josh Brolin plays the eponymous antihero, Jonah Hex. The disfigured, supernatural bounty hunter chases villainous Quentin Turnbull, played by the always-good-as-evil John Malkovich. Megan Fox co-stars, showing tremendous dramatic range as a brilliant scientist haunted by the moral implications of a super-weapon she made for the army. Just kidding. She plays a hooker.

Doesn't it feel like America is ready to like Tom Cruise again? Especially when he isn't dressed as a Nazi. The premiere of Knight and Day with Cruise and Cameron Diaz was pushed up to Wednesday, June 23, opening earlier to avoid a head-to head battle with Adam Sandler's much-anticipated Grown Ups, which opens June 25. Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, and David Spade play friends from junior high school honoring the passing of their old basketball coach by spending the weekend at the lake-house where they celebrated a championship. Co-starring are Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, and Maya Rudolph as "SNL alum who gets a role because Adam says so." Pray the film isn't as sappy as the trailer makes it look—and try not to wonder how any basketball team with the Spade and Schneider could have won a title.

June 30, another sequel—this time it's some movie about teenage vampires. If you need to know more, ask any 12-year-old girl.

July 2, America begins a weekend of celebrating itself. We also get to see if M. Night Shamalayn made his first watchable movie since Signs. As with the Nickelodeon series it's based on, The Last Airbender is inspired by East Asian design, mythology, folk lore, and martial arts. Yet, somehow, the filmmakers managed to avoid casting a single East Asian actor in a major role. That's Hollywood for you—the same folks who gave us Sam Worthington as Greek hero and Jake Gyllenhaal playing a Persian.

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Hampton Stevens is a writer based in Kansas City, Missouri. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, ESPN the Magazine, Playboy, Gawker, Maxim, and many more publications.

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