Movie Article

Summer Movie Preview

EW’s 2008 Summer Movie Preview -- Your guide to May film releases, including ''Sex and the City,'' ''Speed Racer,'' and more

Made of Honor
May 2

Starring
Patrick Dempsey
Michelle Monaghan
Directed by
Paul Weiland

Let's see: A guy-girl pair of best friends? And one of them is planning to sabotage the other's wedding? Sounds a little...familiar. ''Our whole thing with Made of Honor was that we couldn't do My Best Friend's Wedding again,'' says producer Neal Moritz. ''But we could do the reverse of it.'' And that meant swapping the genders of the lead roles: Made's wedding crasher is a man-about-town (Dempsey) who agrees to be the man of honor for his newly engaged friend (Monaghan) in a last-ditch effort to win her heart. But Dempsey insists that his movie is more than just a retread. ''We knew we were going to get that comparison [to My Best Friend's Wedding],'' he says, ''And we tried to work against that, in a sense. You didn't want to hit the same beats.''

To that end, Dempsey and director Weiland decided to add comic touches to the movie on the fly. ''We were constantly working on the script and changing things around and improving,'' says Dempsey, whose spur-of-the-moment inspiration sometimes caught his costar Monaghan off guard. ''We were shooting a scene where he's helping me pick out my china,'' she recalls, ''and he just picks up all these plates in the middle of the scene and starts juggling them. I was like, 'What are you doing? Those aren't props! We have to pay for those!'''

The actress was equally amused by the throngs of Grey's Anatomy fans who mobbed Dempsey during the movie's location shoots in New York City. ''It's really funny to see women get giggly over him,'' Monaghan says. ''I suppose I did at some stage too, though.'' For his part, Dempsey knows that it's those fans who have made him a star. So while many TV actors decide to play against type in their film work, he decided to play to his base instead. ''It was sort of what people would expect,'' he says. ''We're not reinventing the wheel here. But hopefully we're entertaining people.''

Son of Rambow
May 2

Starring
Bill Milner
Will Poulter
Directed by
Garth Jennings

As a boy, Jennings (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) had a life-changing encounter with Sylvester Stallone's First Blood. ''We watched it, my friend and I, and it blew our minds,'' he recalls. ''I ended up making little video versions of Rambo with my friends.'' Decades later, Jennings stumbled across his childhood films — and the idea for Son of Rambow was born. The indie film follows two British boys (first-timers Milner and Poulter) who team up to shoot an ode to their favorite action hero. The sweetest part? Jennings heard from his: ''I got Sly's blessing!'' he gushes. ''It's rather fantastic.''

What Happens in Vegas
May 9

Starring
Cameron Diaz
Ashton Kutcher
Queen Latifah
Directed by
Tom Vaughan

While the title might imply a Nevada-set romantic comedy, What Happens in Vegas doesn't actually stay in Vegas. After a debaucherous night in Sin City, two New Yorkers who've just met — rigid, recently dumped Joy (Diaz) and relaxed, recently fired Jack (Kutcher) — wake up not only hungover but also married. They're eager to get away from each other, but then Jack uses Joy's quarter on a slot machine and wins $3 million. They both want the money. And a divorce. ''We come back to New York, and the judge decides not to give us the annulment,'' Diaz says. ''He freezes the money, and we have to prove to him that we've tried to work on our marriage for six months.'' This includes living together (cue the toilet-seat jokes) and regular marriage counseling from — wait for it — Queen Latifah. And it leads to a battle royal, as each spouse tries to get the other to drop out of the marriage. ''It's very physical,'' Diaz says. ''We beat the s--- out of each other, but it's so much fun.''

Less fun was filming on location. ''In New York, the paparazzi were all over us the minute we put Ashton and Cameron on a sidewalk,'' says director Vaughan (Starter for 10). ''In Vegas, you finish shooting and the last thing people feel like doing is going straight to bed. People would go out and then really pay for it: You've got to get up again and go to work.'' Through it all, Diaz and Kutcher managed to make the chemistry work. ''They both had that competitive edge, like sports people being put together,'' Vaughan says. ''They play off each other really well.'' That sounds like a formula for happiness — and a hit.

Speed Racer
May 9

Starring
Emile Hirsch
Christina Ricci
Matthew Fox
Susan Sarandon
John Goodman
Directed by
Andy and Larry Wachowski

Christina Ricci hadn't seen an episode of the Speed Racer anime TV series when she signed up to play Trixie, Speed's girlfriend/sidekick in this film version from the Wachowski brothers, creators of the Matrix trilogy. ''I was really only familiar with it because of the hipster chic of it all,'' she says. ''And the Geico commercial, embarrassingly enough. But for years people have been saying [to me], 'Ooh, you look like anime.'''

Getting the rest of the movie to look like live-action anime wasn't quite as easy. The Wachowskis sent photo crews across Europe and North Africa to shoot as many exotic locations as possible. Then they cherry-picked the best trees, mountains, lakes, and buildings and tossed them together in a digital blender to make a perfect location. ''They hyped up all the colors,'' says Hirsch, who plays the titular racing hero. ''It makes the movie pop like a comic.'' Effects supervisor Kim Libreri calls the look ''two-and-a-half-dimensional'' film. ''Do you remember the 1980s videogame OutRun, with the palm trees flying past?'' Libreri asks. ''A lot of the movie looks like that. The photographic elements are flying past the road.''

Of course, all that computerized trickery meant toiling inside a cocoon of neon greenscreen soundstages most of the time. ''The brothers were just like, 'Okay! Yes. You can't see it, but, um, you'll be in the snow,''' Ricci recalls. Not that she's complaining, mind you. ''The greatest moment, pretty much of my career, was when one of the stunt coordinators — who did all of Keanu's stuff on The Matrix — taught me how to pick up a gun mid-cartwheel,'' she says. ''I got it on the second try.''

Although the Wachowskis wrote and produced V for Vendetta, this is their first post-Matrix directing work. And reinventing the family film may be even harder than that gun-cartwheel trick. But certainly no one can doubt their singular vision. ''I don't think I ever saw them disagree,'' Ricci says. ''They direct simultaneously, without seeming to confer. It's pretty amazing.''

The Foot Fist Way
May 30

Starring
Danny McBride
Ben Best
Jody Hill
Directed by
Jody Hill

Among this summer's comedies, none has a more improbable, zero-to-hero backstory than The Foot Fist Way. Shot three years ago on a shoestring, put-it-all-on-credit-cards budget with no-name actors, this rough-around-the-edges comedy about a hapless strip-mall tae kwon do instructor (Danny McBride) started out as almost a lark for fellow film school grads McBride, Ben Best, and Jody Hill. All three wrote the film, and all three star in it. Hill directed it. ''We shot it in 17 days, and no one was paid,'' says McBride. ''At night, when we'd come home from shooting, we'd get drunk and break boards and cinder blocks in the parking lot and go back to work the next morning.'' But after the film debuted at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, copies began circulating in Hollywood, picking up high-powered fans like Judd Apatow, Ben Stiller, Seth Rogen, Patton Oswalt, Michael Cera, and Jonah Hill — like the old Breck commercial goes, they told two friends and so on and so on. ''We kept running into random people who'd seen it,'' McBride says. ''It was nuts.'' Still, Foot Fist Way could easily have remained a comedy-insider's inside joke if it hadn't landed in the hands of Will Ferrell and Anchorman director Adam McKay, who used their clout to get the film a theatrical release. ''It's definitely weird,'' says McBride, who has already parlayed Foot Fist Way into breakout roles in Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express. ''It's like we have a cult hit that no one has even seen.'' Not for long, sensei.

Savage Grace
May 30

Starring
Julianne Moore
Eddie Redmayne
Stephen Dillane
Directed by
Tom Kalin

Oedipus gets a jet-set makeover in this adaptation of the acclaimed nonfiction shocker about the lethal love triangle between high society harpy Barbara Baekeland (Moore), her philandering husband (Dillane), and their disturbed son (Redmayne). Moore, a mother of two, has explored maternal bonds before on film. Did she feel connected to her character in Savage? ''Oh, Christ, no!'' she laughs. Still, the actress couldn't resist the script's perverse charm. ''Here was a story that you just couldn't make up,'' she says. ''I was fascinated.''

Sex and the City
May 30

Starring
Sarah Jessica Parker
Kim Cattrall
Cynthia Nixon
Kristin Davis
Chris Noth
Directed by
Michael Patrick King

The Sex and the City movie was supposed to come out ages ago. Remember? It should have started shooting shortly after the HBO series ended in 2004. But before fans could start planning their cosmo parties, the project went kaput when Cattrall and HBO couldn't come to terms. So the cast and crew moved on. ''Once I let it go, I never thought about it,'' says King, who exec-produced the series. The same went for Parker...until spring 2006, when she decided it was time to try again. First she called her agent. Then King. Finally, after months of negotiations with the cast, in September 2007, Carrie Bradshaw and her trio of gal pals were back to teetering around New York City in fabulously vertiginous designer shoes. ''To be able to come back to this is thrilling, I gotta say,'' gushes Parker, who's also a producer. ''I can't believe we're here.''

Picking up four years after the series finale, the film finds the girls ''settled,'' as Parker puts it. ''They're in their early 40s and are feeling like, 'Yeah, this is pretty much where I had hoped [to be].''' No thanks to all those paparazzi photos and videos that flooded the Internet last fall, Parker and Co. have kept plot details on double-secret lockdown. But here's what we do know: Miranda (Nixon) is dealing with a less-than-perfect married life in Brooklyn; Samantha (Cattrall) has moved to L.A.; Charlotte (Davis) gets pregnant; and Carrie is engaged to Mr. Big (Noth). And aside from cryptically revealing that ''something really awful happens'' in the first act, that's all Parker's willing to spill. ''I would like there to be some surprise,'' she says. Besides, she adds with a straight face, ''I really can't tell you. I agreed to take a tablet that wipes out your short-term memory.''

Also Playing
A man who fled the Nazis as a boy struggles with his past in Fugitive Pieces (May 2).... XXY: the first coming-of-age-tale of summer (May 2).... David Mamet's Redbelt delves into the world of mixed martial arts. FYI, Mamet can kick your ass (May 2).... Harmony Korine tackles celeb impersonators with Mister Lonely (May 2).... English spice trader moves to India, gets busted for sleeping around in Before the Rains (May 9).... James Bond + Austin Powers = OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (May 9).... A Previous Engagement: Hey honey! Let's go on vacay so I can hook up with my old boyfriend! (May 9).... Chick turns her kid-watching biz into a call girl service in The Babysitters (May 9).... The Fall puts director Tarsem's epic visual style on display (May 9).... It's Tim Robbins vs. car alarms in Noise (May 9).... Surfwise documents the peripatetic Paskowitz clan (May 9).... Ellen Page rides a city bus in The Tracey Fragments (May 9).... Immigraton drama Sangre De Mi Sangre won top honors at Sundance '07 (May 16).... Three generations of Mexican-American women join forces in How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer (May 16).... A Turkish widower and a prostitute bond in The Edge of Heaven (May 21).... Jonathan Rhys Meyers rescues orphans in The Children of Huang Shi (May 23).... Sundance doc Bigger, Stronger, Faster* will change what you think about steroids (May 30).... Mena Suvari crashes her car into Stephen Rea in Stuck (May 30).... The Unknown Woman is a housekeeper, and she's stalking your family (May 30).... And if you liked Funny Games, you'll love The Strangers (May 30).

Steve Daly, Jeff Jensen, Chris Nashawaty, Missy Schwartz, Jessica Shaw, Benjamin Svetkey, Adam B. Vary, Josh Wolk

Originally posted Apr 18, 2008 Published in issue #988-989 Apr 25, 2008 Order article reprints
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