The New Optimism: What I’m Hopeful For In Summer 2011

Every year the summer season brings brain dead blockbusters and bloated bullshit. This summer we’re treated to yet more PIRATES and TRANSFORMERS and other familiar crap. But what are the hidden gems? Here are the summer movies to be excited about, month by month.


Bridesmaids. I’ve seen this movie, and it’s great. Very funny and very sweet and incredibly raunchy. I liked it enough that I’ll be seeing it a second time this week.

Hesher. I missed it at Sundance two years ago, and I’ve heard mixed things… but the people who love it are people I really trust. I’m going to be seeing this soon, and with a very open mind.

Tree of Life. Do I have to say more? It’s the new Malick. Even if it’s not good, it’ll be worth seeing, considering and digesting - something that’s rare in the summer. But I suspect it’ll be good.


Submarine. Here’s another festival film I just kept missing. Unlike Hesher, though, the love for Submarine is across the board. It’s a British coming of age story directed by The IT Crowd‘s Richard Ayoade, which is sort of surprising. I can’t wait to check this one out.

Super 8. I’m hesitant to put this here. I don’t think the film will deliver on the level of dweeb expectation that has built around it, but I think that it might be a pleasant, sweet movie that could withstand the schmaltziness of it all. If you think I’m being cynical, remember that JJ Abrams wrote this one, and then look at his feature writing history. Regarding Henry is a HIGHLIGHT for him.


Horrible Bosses. Early word from people in the know is that this movie is hilarious and FILTHY. Could be the comedy sleeper of the summer - ie, this year’s The Hangover, which The Hangover Part II will not be.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. The first part really let me down, but so much good stuff happens in Part II, and there’s so much emotion and heartbreak, that I trust completely in it being great.

Captain America: The First Avenger. I think this will be the only superhero/geek movie worth a damn this summer. Everything about it looks right, and just silly enough while being played totally straight faced. This will probably mean many men in their 30s will hate it, but it will be terrific.

Another Earth. Yet another festival film! It’s soft scifi, where the scifi concept - there’s an identical Earth that was hidden behind the sun but is now coming our way - supports the emotion and characters. And it’s starring and written by Britt Marling, whose film Sound Of My Voice blew me away at SXSW (sadly I promised to hold my review until the film gets distro).


Rise of the Planet of the Apes. This is the one I feel least confident about. I like the script, which is mostly straight drama, but it’s a weird movie and one that could be fucked up all too easily at any step along the way. This is the one I hope for, but wouldn’t be surprised to find out it doesn’t work.

30 Minutes or Less. It isn’t director Ruben Fleischer who excites me about this comedic heist movie, it’s the cast. Danny McBride, Michael Pena, Nick Swardson, Fred Ward, Aziz Ansari… and the revitalized post-Social Network Jesse Eisenberg.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. This played at Berlin, and I heard it’s INCREDIBLE. Word has come back that this is ‘best of the year’ material - fun, scary, awesome. I can’t wait to finally see it after hearing so much about it for years.

What do you think are the summer films that have the most chance of being actually GOOD MOVIES?