Summer and movies go together in my mind. The combo is probably a result of my distant but vividly remembered childhood when, in an era before the proliferation of air conditioning, matinees ran a close second to the swimming pool as an escape from sultry, Southern days. Summer also meant Friday nights when my parents, whose entertainment budget was infinitesimal, put their three, pajama-clad kids in the backseat of the old Chevy and headed to the local drive-in theater where popcorn, Cokes, and a double feature were all cheap.
Evidently many people share my habit of connecting summer and cinema. Summer 2011 will see 45 new releases between May 5 and Labor Day. I don’t expect to see many of these. Superhero films and raunchy comedies will not persuade me to spend $8 for a ticket.. Most of the summer 2011 movies I will see, I’ll view later on the small screen. I’ve heard good things about Bridesmaids (playing now), and Beginners, a June 3 release starring Ewan McGregor as a man newly in love and Christopher Plummer as his dead father who emerged from the closet at the age of 75, sounds promising. But I will wait for the DVDs.
Looking over the summer schedule, I decided that I’d probably make it to the theater five times this summer, twice for me, twice ostensibly for the grands, and once as a three-generation tradition. Larry Crowne (July 1 release), a dramatic comedy, written and directed by Tom Hanks and starring Hanks and Julia Roberts, sounds like the kind of movie I really like. The recession/reinvention storyline has a strong appeal, and I’m a big Tom Hanks fan. I almost never like movies based on books that I’ve enjoyed, but that history never stops me from seeing the movies and hoping for an exception. I expect to be in a theater on August 12 or soon thereafter to watch The Help, based on Kathryn Stockett’s somewhat controversial 2009 novel by the same title. The novel spent 100 weeks, in three formats, on the New York Times bestseller lists. I wonder of the movie will be that successful.
In late July or early August, I’ll accompany the two youngest grands and maybe the oldest to see The Smurfs. The middle grands (all male) turn up their noses when this movie is mentioned and find belly-laugh funny the fact that their fathers once faithfully watched these blue creatures on TV. But I confess I look forward to hearing Jonathan Winters as Papa Smurf and Katy Perry as Smurfette, and I’m interested in how the live action/animation blend will play. But before we see The Smurfs, the next-to-youngest grand and I will see the new Winnie the Pooh. He loves Pooh and his friends almost as much as I do, and we’re looking forward to sharing the movie.
Still, we won’t see Winnie the Pooh the day it opens. July 15 is reserved for THE summer movie event for this family, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. We’ll buy our tickets for the first day showing as soon as they are available on Fandango, and we will fill a row in a local theater, three generations of HP fanatics. Then we will spend the next week critiquing the movie and, no matter how much we loved the movie, agreeing that the books are better. "Way better," the ten-year-old will say. When the DVD is released, my family will buy at least half a dozen copies, which we will watch again and again. I may even indulge in a marathon viewing of the first seven movies in the series, a feat that will take 17 hours and 28 minutes, or so I’m told. Let’s see, if I start at 10:00 a. m., I should be able to finish by . . .
Do you go to the movies more often in summer? What summer releases are you most looking forward to?