Memorial Day hits us square in the face this weekend, dropping the green flag on a 10-week race to Labor Day. This is the golden time for Hollywood, a three-month summer marathon to see who can win the most money. Imagine, if you will, the cast of the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon “Wacky Races.” Only the 2013 version features monster-fighting giant robots, Vin Diesel in a ’69 Charger Daytona, Will Smith and son, a gang of bank-robbing magicians, Superman, a 100-foot-tall tidal wave of zombies, the Lone Ranger, Helen Mirren with a sniper rifle, some talking airplanes, a bunch of Smurfs, those funny yellow Minions from Despicable Me and the boys from One Direction.
Who will win? That’s up to you, dear ticket buyer. Take a look at all the films opening this summer and place your bets. (Note: All opening dates are subject to change.)
The Hangover Part III
The Wolfpack (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis) is reunited in Las Vegas when an angry gangster (John Goodman) comes looking for crazy miscreant Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong).
In this CGI-animated toon (from the creators of Ice Age and Rio), a teenager finds herself transported to a deep forest where tiny warriors battle evil creatures (on bats). Amanda Seyfried, Beyoncé, Steven Tyler, Pitbull, Colin Farrell and Christoph Waltz supply the voices.
Fast & Furious 6
Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker and a whole bunch of cars: That more or less covers it.
Filmmaker Richard Linklater reunites with actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy for the third film in the Before Sunrise/Before Sunset trilogy. Our two long-in-uniting lovers are now glimpsed in Greece, some two decades after they met by chance on a train bound for Vienna.
M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, The Village, The Happening) directs father-and-son duo Will and Jaden Smith in this sci-fi saga about a crash landing that strands a man and his son on a savage planet called Earth—1,000 years after mankind abandoned the world.
Now You See Me
A gang of magicians conspire to rob a bank using their illusions. Among the cops and robbers are Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson and Michael Caine.
The Kings of Summer
In this small indie, a trio of teenage friends decides to run off to the woods and construct a house in order to live free of parental interference. Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Megan Mullally lead the comedic adult portion of the cast.
Two struggling salesmen (Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson) get jobs as interns at high-tech company Google. Hijinks ensue.
Love Is All You Need
A hairdresser (Danish actress Trine Dyrholm) who has lost her hair to cancer finds out her husband is having an affair, travels to Italy for her daughter's wedding and meets a bitter widower (Pierce Brosnan).
In this horror-thriller, a suburban family (parented by Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey) are trapped in their gated community on the one night of the year when anyone is allowed to commit any crime without fear of facing consequences.
Stories We Tell
Actress/director Sarah Polley (Away From Her, Take This Waltz) directs this tricky documentary that attempts to strip away the layers of myth and memory to find the elusive truth about her own family history.
Judy Blume’s beloved, New Mexico-set, semi-
This is the End
James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Paul Rudd, Michael Cera, Jason Segel, Mindy Kaling and a whole bunch of other funny stars play themselves, trapped at Franco’s house when the apocalypse hits in this high-concept comedy.
Man of Steel (3D)
Warner Bros. reboots Superman for yet another generation (presumably the generation after the one the 2006 reboot was aimed at). Brit Henry Cavill (“The Tudors”) is our Supes. Russell Crowe is Jor-El. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane are Ma and Pa Kent.
The Bling Ring
Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) writes and directs this true-life tale of some mean girls in Hollywood who tracked down celebrities on the internet and robbed their homes. (It turned out okay. One of the girls got her own reality show.)
Monsters University (3D)
Pixar returns with a prequel to the 2001 hit Monsters, Inc. telling how Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) met in college.
Much Ado About Nothing
Joss Whedon (The Avengers) called in some Hollywood friends (Amy Acker, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg) and secretly shot this modern-day Shakespeare adaptation in like a week at his house.
World War Z
Brad Pitt stars in this (very) loose adaptation of Max Brooks’ novel about a worldwide zombie disaster. Hands down the most expensive zombie movie ever made.
Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy star in this gender-switched buddy cop comedy about two women taking down a ruthless drug lord.
White House Down
Channing Tatum is a capitol policeman touring the White House who is called upon to save the president (Jamie Foxx) when the building is overrun with evil terrorists. ... And yes, this is the exact same plot as Olympus Has Fallen from earlier this year.
Despicable Me 2 (3D)
Not-so-evil genius Gru (Steve Carell) and his dopey Minions are recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help defeat a suave baddie (voiced by Benjamin Bratt) in this sequel to the 2010 cartoon hit.
The Lone Ranger
Armie Hammer (from The Social Network) and Johnny Depp star in this Pirates of the Caribbean-esque attempt to revive the classic Western hero for today’s audiences.
Grown Ups 2
For some reason, audiences paid to see Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade act like middle-aged idiots in the meandering 2010 film Grown Ups. So everybody’s doing it again.
Pacific Rim (3D)
Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) directs this humongous action flick about humans fighting off giant alien monsters with building-sized robots. Yup, robots fighting aliens. Doesn’t get any better than that.
The computer-animated cartoons continue with this quaint tale about a garden snail who dreams of winning the Indy 500. Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti and Maya Rudolph offer up voices.
A married pair of paranormal investigators (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga) investigate a haunted house that ... turns out to be haunted. From the director of Insidious.
Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and the rest of the retired black-ops team from action-comedy hit Red reunite to hunt down a stolen nuclear device.
This comic book adaptation finds a recently slain police officer (the ubiquitous Ryan Reynolds) assigned to a secret team of undead police officers investigating supernatural crimes.
Girl Most Likely
Former “Saturday Night Live” gal Kristen Wiig plays a failed New York playwright who awkwardly navigates the transition from “Next Big Thing” to “Last Year’s News”—by faking suicide and ending up living with her estranged mother (Annette Bening).
The Wolverine (3D)
Forget that dopey 2009 Wolverine flick with Ryan Reynolds. In this back-to-basics outing, our favorite mutant is in Japan fighting off evil samurai (and ninjas). Who doesn’t love evil samurai (and ninjas)?
The To-Do List
Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”) stars as an overachieving college student who feels increasing pressure to be more sexually experienced, so she makes a last-minute “to do” list before graduating. A welcome throwback to ’80s-style sex comedies. (It’s set in 1993.)
The Smurfs 2 (3D)
Apparently you asked for it. You also asked for Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties. Are you drunk or something?
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg star in this crime drama about a DEA agent and an undercover Naval intelligence officer who find themselves investigating one another after being set up by the mob.
Sharlto Copley (District 9) stars in this trippy sci-fi mystery about a crew of international astronauts sent on a private mission to Jupiter’s fourth moon.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (3D)
Tween lit fantasy Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief gets a sequel, with our half-god hero embarking on a quest to find the mythical Golden Fleece.
Matt Damon and Jodie Foster star in this sci-fi epic about a future world in which the wealthy live on man-made space stations, while the poor reside on a ruined Earth. Neill Blomkamp (District 9) directs.
In what looks like a dangerously dull idea, Disney borrows the entire plot from Pixar’s Cars and restaffs it with airplanes. Dane Cook voices a cropduster named Dusty who dreams of winning an air race, but is afraid of heights, so he gets advice from a crusty old mentor (voiced by Val Kilmer). To reiterate: Pixar had nothing to do with this.
We’re The Millers
Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston star in this comedy about a veteran pot dealer who builds a fake family in order to smuggle a huge shipment of weed into the U.S. from Mexico.
The crazy violent comic book parody returns for some sequelized action. This time around, Jim Carrey is on villain duty.
An entry-level employee at a powerful corporation is given a big promotion—but only if he spies on his boss’ old mentor. Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman star in this capitalist thriller from the director of Legally Blonde.
Wong Kar Wai (In The Mood For Love, Chungking Express, Ashes of Time) tries his own version of the much-told story of legendary martial arts master Ip Man—the dude who trained Bruce Lee.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Even though Twilight was basically the only successful tween lit fantasy to hit movie screens, Hollywood keeps trying. Here’s an adaptation of the first of Cassandra Clare’s novels. It’s got demons and werewolves and wizards and vampires.
The World’s End
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) reunite for another comedy outing. In this one a group of friends reunited for an epic pub crawl become the last hope for humanity when aliens invade.
A gang of mysterious killers attacks a family during a wedding anniversary party. But one of the guests is harboring a deadly secret and turns the tables on the attackers in this indie horror thriller.
Two lawyers and ex-lovers (Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall) find their lives in danger after they join the defense team for an international terrorist’s trial.
A burned-out race car driver-turned-family man (Ethan Hawke) must get behind the wheel of a car and follow the orders of a mysterious man in order to save his kidnapped wife. His only ally is a cute teenage hacker called “The Kid” (Selina Gomez). So ... realism.
One Direction: This Is Us (3D)
If those dried-up old fossils the Jonas Brothers are too old for you, you’re undoubtedly squealing with delight over this 3D concert film about the Britpop boy band.