Summer Movie Smackdown

Your Seasonal Cinema Guide

Devin D. O'Leary
10 min read
Summer Movie Smackdown
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It’s time for a Royal Rumble at the box office. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, movie studios will be sending their best fighters to duke it out at your local theater. Some will emerge triumphant, clutching millions of dollars. Others will limp away, never to be heard from again until their ignominious appearance on Netflix Watch Instantly.

Here then is the epic lineup of movies you’ll be cheering or booing this summer. Keep in mind, all release dates are subject to change.

May 25

Chernobyl Diaries

Purveyor of fine, found-footage horror, Orin Pelli (
Paranormal Activity ) produces this slightly less handheld flick about young tourists who hire an extreme tour guide to check out the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear power plant. They run afoul of murderous mutants.

Men in Black 3 3D

Will Smith must go back in time to locate the younger version of Tommy Lee Jones (played by Josh Brolin) in order to save the Earth from yet another troublesome alien invasion.

Moonrise Kingdom

Filmmaker Wes Anderson (
Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums ) assembles an incredible ensemble (Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Frances McDormand, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban) to hunt for a pair of preteen “lovers” who escape from summer camp and set up their own “kingdom” in the rural New England woods, circa 1960.

June 1

High School

A straight-laced valedictorian impulsively decides to get baked with the local stoner, only to be faced with a surprise drug test at school. Naturally, he comes up with an ambitious plan to get his entire graduating class stoned to throw off the scent.

For Greater Glory

Andy Garcia stars as Enrique Gorostieta Velarde in this historical drama about the Cristero War of 1926, which was touched off by a rebellion against the Mexican government.

Piranha 3DD 3D

Bumped off the schedule several times, this bloody, boob-filled horror sequel finally gushes and jiggles its way into theaters this summer. David Hasselhoff is in it. In 3D.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Kristen Stewart (
Twilight ), Chris Hemsworth ( Thor ) and Charlize Theron ( Monster ) star in this dark reimagining of the classic fairy tale.

Sound of My Voice

This Sundance Film Festival darling has a pair of would-be documentary filmmakers trying to find out the truth about a mysterious cult leader (writer/star Brit Marling from
Another Earth ) who claims to be from the future.

June 6

The Do-Deca-Pentathlon

Mumblecore kings the Duplass brothers (
The Puffy Chair; Cyrus; Jeff, Who Lives at Home ) write and direct this indie comedy about two brothers who compete in their own private, 25-event Olympics.

June 8

Lola Versus

Greta Gerwig (
Greenberg ) stars as a 29-year-old gal who gets dumped at the altar and bounces back by enlisting her friends in a series of bucket list-y adventures.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

The CGI animals voiced by Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer and Chris Rock are still stumbling around the globe, having failed—yet again—to locate their home in New York.


Director Ridley Scott returns to shape this mysterious prequel to the
Alien films, which he helped launch back in 1979. Noomi Rapace ( The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo ), Michael Fassbender ( X-Men: First Class ) and Charlize Theron ( Monster ) are among the crew of space explorers following ancient clues to a dark corner of the universe.

June 15

Rock of Ages

The hit Broadway musical about L.A.’s music scene in 1987 comes to the big screen with Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, Bryan Cranston, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Paul Giamatti in tow. Yes, Tom sings.

That’s My Boy

What’s better than Adam Sandler acting like another jackass man-boy? Andy Samberg tagging along as his straight-faced, long-lost son! So, yeah …
Big Daddy with a slightly older kid.

June 22

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

The title kinda says it all. Seth Grahame-Smith’s hit horror mash-up comes to life courtesy of producer Tim Burton and director Timur Bekmambetov (
Wanted ).


Pixar’s newest toon finds a wee Scottish princess (with a bow) trying to save her kingdom from a beastly curse.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Steve Carell and Keira Knightley star in this romantic comedy about a man who tries to hunt down his high school sweetheart just as a deadly asteroid comes hurtling toward Earth.

To Rome with Love

Woody Allen stars in his first film in six years, an ensemble comedy about tourists and residents in romance-filled Rome. Ellen Page, Alec Baldwin, Greta Gerwig, Jessie Eisenberg, Penélope Cruz, Roberto Benigni and Judy Davis round out the cast.

June 29

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

The live-action
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra gets a pumped-up sequel with the likes of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Bruce Willis battling the villainous hordes of Cobra Command.

Madea’s Witness Protection

The Tyler Perry train just keeps a-rollin’. This time, the impossibly wealthy drag performer / moviemaker adds a few token white people, including Tom Arnold, Denise Richards and Eugene Levy.

Magic Mike

Steven Soderbergh (
Ocean’s Eleven, Traffic, The Girlfriend Experience ) adds another odd film to his eclectic résumé—this comedy about a preternaturally talented male stripper (Channing Tatum).

People Like Us

A man ( Star Trek ’s Chris Pine) is tasked with delivering $150,000 worth of his deceased father’s fortune to the sister he has never met. An oddly restrained first directing choice for blockbuster writer Alex Kurtzman ( Cowboys & Aliens, Star Trek, Transformers, Mission: Impossible III ).

July 3

The Amazing Spider-Man 3D

In this series reboot, we get the story of how Peter Parker became Spider-Man—again—only with Andrew Garfield (
The Social Network ) in the lead role. At least he fights The Lizard instead of Green Goblin.

July 5

Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D

Wanna see Katy Perry’s whipped-cream-squirting boobs in 3D? Here ya go.

July 6


Oliver Stone (
Platoon, Natural Born Killers, W. ) directs this crime drama about a pair of Southern California pot growers (Aaron Johnson from Kick-Ass and Taylor Kitsch from John Carter ) who try to rescue their (shared) girlfriend from a Mexican drug cartel. John Travolta, Benicio Del Toro and Salma Hayek are in the mix as well.

July 13

Ice Age: Continental Drift

The talking prehistoric animals voiced by Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo have survived ice ages, meltdowns and dinosaurs. So a little continental drift seems only natural. If not historically accurate.


Seth MacFarlane (“Family Guy,” “American Dad”) writes and directs this raunchy comedy about an adult (Mark Wahlberg) whose childhood teddy bear comes to life … and sounds a lot like Seth MacFarlane.

July 20

The Dark Knight Rises 3D

Director Christopher Nolan rounds out his epic Batman trilogy by sending the Caped Crusader (Christian Bale) up against his most dangerous foe, the politically minded terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy). Also, Catwoman is in there. She’s played by Anne Hathaway.

July 25

Ruby Sparks

A struggling novelist (Paul Dano from
There Will Be Blood ) conjures up his perfect woman by writing her into existence in this existential, Stranger Than Fiction -esque comedy.

July 27

The Watch

This sci-fi comedy was titled
Neighborhood Watch until neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman went and gave suburban vigilantes a bad name. Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill are still fighting space aliens, though.

Step Up Revolution

If you’re keeping count, this is the fourth in the hip-hop-dance-centric
Step Up film series. The last one was in 3D. This one isn’t.

August 3

The Bourne Legacy

Matt Damon is out. So is Jason Bourne. Jeremy Renner (
The Avengers ) plays CIA agent Aaron Cross, who is called upon to perform Jason Bourne-like spy action.

Celeste and Jesse Forever

A divorced couple (Elijah Wood and Emma Roberts) try to remain friends while dating other people. Co-star Rashida Jones (“Parks and Recreation”) wrote it.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

The popular book series about a kid who is wimpy continues as a popular movie series. This time around, it’s summer. And he’s got a dog.

Total Recall

Colin Farrell takes over for Arnold Schwarzenegger in this reboot of Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi story about mind-wiped spies in futuristic America. The protagonist does not get his ass to Mars this time around, apparently.

August 10

The Campaign

Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis are a couple of rival politicians caught up in a contentious presidential campaign in North Carolina. Director Jay Roach (
Meet The Parents, Austin Powers ) adds to the comedy pedigree. .

Hope Springs

Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones star as a couple who attend an intense, weeklong counseling session after 30 years of marriage. Steve Carell is their psychiatrist, so I sense trouble.

Red Hook Summer

Spike Lee writes and directs this nostalgic story about an Atlanta lad who lands in Brooklyn for a summer with the grandfather he’s never met. Though it shares a lot of settings (and one character) with
Do The Right Thing , Lee says it’s not a sequel.

August 15

The Odd Life of Timothy Green

In this tear-jerking fantasy, Jennifer Garner (“Alias”) and Joel Edgerton (
Warrior ) are a childless couple who bury a “wish box” in their backyard and suddenly find themselves in possession of a son who springs out of the soil like a plant.

August 17

The Expendables 2

Every action star not in a wheelchair (Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris) gets together to blow stuff up real good in this weaponized sequel.


A young boy who can speak to the dead tries to save his small hometown from a plague of zombies and ghosts in this stop-motion toon from the animation company behind
Coraline and Corpse Bride .


Whitney Houston was an executive producer and has a small acting role in this remake of the 1976 girl-group musical of the same name. “American Idol” winner Jordan Sparks belts it out as the titular Sparkle.

August 24

The Apparition

A college-age couple is haunted by a supernatural presence unleashed during a parapsychology experiment. Tom Felton (Malfoy from the Harry Potter films) is the supernatural expert called in to help.

Hit & Run

Dax Shepard (
Employee of the Month ) writes, directs and stars in this action comedy about a former getaway driver who jeopardizes his witness protection program identity by racing his girlfriend to Los Angeles with assorted cops and criminals hot on his tail.

Premium Rush

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (
Inception ) is a bike messenger who gets chased all over town by bad guys who are after a mysterious envelope.

August 31


Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Guy Pearce are members of a bootlegging gang threatened by authorities in Depression-era Virginia. Musician Nick Cave (of “and the Bad Seeds” fame) wrote the screenplay.

The Possession

We can’t get through the summer without at least one cheap, “based on a true story” exorcism flick about a young girl possessed by demons. Here it is.
Summer Movie Smackdown

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