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Sequels? So what? Summer movies are awesome

April 16th, 2008

My summer officially starts Friday.

I’m not headed to the beach or anything, but I’m seriously considering skipping out on Passover to catch “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” the latest offering from the Judd Apatow factory.

I don’t see too many movies in the theater every year. As ticket (and gas) prices increase, I’ve become more and more conservative about what I see. Not counting a matinee of “Juno” I caught while on vacation in Austin, Texas, I’ve seen one movie in the theater this year, “Be Kind Rewind.” But, summer seems to be the time of year when my friends and I agree on what movies to see. Call me dumb, I don’t care, but I like comic book movies and their sequels. I like lowbrow, R rated comedies. I pass on anything I’m not interested in (last year that was “Transformers” and “Die Hard,” to name a couple), show up early for anything I’m looking forward to. “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” is the first of a few.

Here’s a small sampling of flicks I’m looking forward to. Obviously, I haven’t seen any of them, but I know enough about them—their director, the writer, the source material — to suspect I’ll enjoy them.

My friends call “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” “The Josh Movie” because its events — a guy who has to deal with the effects of a bad breakup in Hawaii — mirrors my own life. Since it’s the latest from Apatow and Co. (“Superbad,” “Knocked Up”) I’m sure there will be a lot of uncomfortable and hilarious gags. (April 18).

The title alone sells me on “Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay.” After the dreadfully unfunny “Half Baked” I tended to stay away from stoner comedies — but “Harold and Kumar go to White Castle” was a lot more than that. It was smart, fast and very, very funny. Everything I’m seeing about the sequel tells me it’s more of the same, which in this case is a very good thing. (April 25)

“Iron Man” might not be “Spider-Man” in the sense of a cultural phenomenon, but as the latest Marvel hero to make the jump to the big screen, Robert Downey Jr. is perfect to play the boozing, womanizing industrialist hero. (May 3)

I’m avoiding anything out there regarding “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” I haven’t seen the trailer; I haven’t read any articles that drop hints about the plot. It could be another “Phantom Menace” disappoint-ment, but with Spielberg at the helm, I’m much more confident. (May 22)

I refuse to watch “Brokeback Mountain” or anything else from director Ang Lee because of what he did to “Hulk.” Marvel Studios is putting out the latest “The Incredible Hulk,” which means more editorial control over the story—which will hopefully translate into something much more exciting and true to the character. Plus, with Ed Norton as the lead, it’s got to be better. Right? (June 13)

Pixar hasn’t made a bad movie yet, and I don’t think “Wall-E” will break that trend. Early word is this digitally animated movie about a clean-up robot that develops a personality is something special, akin to “E.T.” (June 27)

“The Dark Knight” presumably picks up where “Batman Begins” kicks off. I didn’t love “Batman Begins” as much as a lot of people, I wish it had been truer to its comic book roots (“Batman: Year One”) and didn’t shoehorn villains into the script just to sell toys. Still, it was the best Batman yet. “The Dark Knight” looks to borrow from “The Long Halloween,” my favorite Batman comic, so I’ll either be really frustrated, or won’t care, as buzz is really strong sur-rounding Heath Ledger’s Joker. (July 18)

“Pineapple Express” is another Apatow Co. flick, this one featuring Seth Rogen and James Franco as stoners on the run from the law. Rogen, Apatow and Franco are all I need to know. This will be funny. (Aug. 8)

I’m hoping “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” sets off a trend of non-Lucas Star Wars material. I know a lot of the younger directors would love to get their hands on the Star Wars universe. For now, we’ll have to settle with this digitally animated lead-in to a new cartoon series. Even if the script is terrible it looks really cool. (Aug. 15)

What else? There are a few I might rent. I’m mildly curious about Adam Sandler as a Mossad agent-turned hair-dresser in “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” (June 6). “Hellboy 2,” (July 11) maybe, if I’m bored (I liked the original, didn’t love it). “Wanted” (June 27) could be okay, but changing the super villain protagonist into an assassin hero might be too much deviation from the (excellent) comic for my taste.

Hopefully there’ll be some surprises along the way, but I’ll pass on “Speed Racer” (May 9), “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” (May 16), “Get Smart” (June 20), “X-Files 2” (July 25) and “Mummy 3” (Aug. 1).

I will also stay the hell away from  “Sex and the City: The Movie” (May 30).

Staff writer Josh Eiserike can be reached at 703-878-8072

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