Getting Reel: A Little Beyond the Same Old Thing

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FILM REVIEW ARTWORKBy Larry Ratliff

Even casual TV viewers may be aware of mega-budget potential movie blockbusters set to light up marquees and hog theater screens in May and June. The promotion blitz is already underway.

The latest incarnation of The Amazing Spider-Man will be spinning its web in a sophomore effort beginning May 2, for instance. Yet another redo of Godzilla will take major bites out of New York and San Francisco on May 16 and those shape-shifting X-Men return with Days of Future Past on May 23.

That’s not what this column is about, however.

I’m more interested in first-time movies, even if they’re not original ideas. Spider-Man, Godzilla and X-Men were all fun the first, second and, in some cases, the third time around. But I’m looking for May and June entries that go a little beyond the same old thing. Movies like:

Blended (May 23) – Here’s hoping perennial cutie Drew Barrymore (a mom in real life now) and Adam Sandler, who has been hit and miss lately, can reheat the blazing hot chemistry spark they shared in the goofy-but-charming romantic-comedy The Wedding Singer in 1998.

That special something only half-ignited when the likable duo gave it a second try in 50 First Dates in 2004. There’s an encouraging wild-card element in Blended, which features Barrymore and Sandler as single parents who don’t feel well-matched after a blind date but who get a second chance at romance when they bump into each other at a resort for families. Frank Coraci, who called the shots on The Wedding Singer, returns to the director’s chair for Blended. With a little luck, it’ll be a good mix for all of us.

Jersey Boys (June 20) – I wouldn’t take a bet that Clint Eastwood, who turns 84 on May 31, will ever quit making and/or starring in major motion pictures. Now Eastwood, a seasoned blend of gritty, squinty-eyed dramatic actor, music lover and two-time Oscar-winning director (Million Dollar Baby, Unforgiven), brings his version of The Four Seasons to the screen.

A hit on Broadway since 2005, the movie musical biography chronicles the ups and downs of the popular singing group of the 1960s who took a big hit from The Beatles and the British invasion of rockers but emerged as icons despite the challenges. John Lloyd Young, who originated the role of Frankie Valli on Broadway and won a Best Actor Tony Award in 2006, is back in the lead in the movie version.

A Night in Old Mexico – I’ll take a Robert Duvall performance over a dozen Godzilla remakes any day. Those interested may have to keep an eye out for the opening date of this action-drama starring Duvall as a cranky old Texan who’s off to Mexico on perhaps a final adventure, but it’s likely to be worth the effort.

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