vulture's summer movie preview

F, Marry, Kill: The 2012 Summer Movie Edition

Hello and welcome to Vulture’s Summer Movie Preview, where all week we will delve into the season’s upcoming releases, big and small, with interviews, charts, graphs, essays, and many more Internet-appropriate surprises. But why not start with a game to set the stage? If you are somehow not familiar with F, Marry, Kill, then allow us now to briefly explain: A player is presented with three fantasy (celebrity or acquaintance) hookups, and then forced to assign them the titular categories, one each, based on his or her personal preferences. It is not exactly a classy exercise, but as Vulture discovered last year, it becomes far more respectable when applied to movies, rather than human beings. So we did it again! Here now is our Second Annual FMK Summer Movie Game, in which we divided 54 of the season’s most anticipated releases into like categories, three apiece, and then made the tough, crass decisions. Which movies would we marry? (Meaning that we are looking forward to them unashamedly, with high hopes of a long and rewarding cinematic relationship based on mutual trust and solid filmmaking.) Which would we fuck? (As in, which would we spend one night with, seduced by the big-budget effects and snazzy marketing, before sneaking away and denying we ever saw it.) And which would we kill? (We’d rather be alone than watch it.) Click through for our choices, and feel free to weigh in with your own.

Though we love Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, we’re left with no choice but to kill The Amazing Spider-Man in this competitive category: While Spidey’s busy rehashing its origin story, both The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises are taking their respective franchises to the next level. That said, while Avengers seems like a fun time, Dark Knight’s got the substance we need for a lasting commitment.
As far as we’re concerned, we’ve already proposed to Ridley Scott’s gorgeous-looking Alien prequel, Prometheus … we’re just waiting for it to accept. Meanwhile, we’d kill off the superfluous Battleship — we’ve already got a Transformers franchise, thank you — and eff Ben Stiller’s alien-attack comedy Neighborhood Watch, which we’ve got our fingers crossed for.
Though an element of surprise is maybe not the best foundation for a lasting marriage, we are curious enough to see whether Jeremy Renner can carry the Bourne franchise to make a full commitment now. (Anything to make Jeremy less lonely!) As for the eff category, it is Vulture policy never to turn down a night with Channing Tatum, especially when that night also involves the Rock quoting Jay-Z and bungee-cording into fancy parties, and so GI Joe 2: Retaliation gets the score. That leaves Colin Farrell’s Total Recall remake in the dirt pile, though really, it’s nothing personal — that’s just how the Law of Channing works.
The romantic roundelay 360 (from director Fernando Meirelles) got dreadful reviews out of its Toronto fest debut, so we’ll make its execution quick and painless. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris follow-up To Rome With Love feels like marriage material more than the Robert Pattinson–led Bel Ami, which is all about fancy French eff-ing. So we’ll respond in kind!
If the prospect of Will Smith mugging with cartoon aliens does not immediately incline you toward the altar, consider also that your spouse alternatives are Piranha 3DD, in which Ving Rhames must deploy his machine-gun legs to protect the bikinied youth of America from yet more vicious fish, and The Expendables 2, wherein Sly Stallone gathers the elderly action stars of America (and hunky Liam Hemsworth) to protect each other from irrelevance. MIB 3 gets the ring in this matchup, thanks to Josh Brolin, and we agree to one shameful night with Piranha 3DD on the silly merits of the original, plus the fact that no one should have to wake up to Chuck Norris. Sorry, Liam!
Though our hearts still flutter for Joel Kinnaman, post-breakup rom-com Lola Versus feels a bit generic in its premise, especially when pitted against an apocalyptic road trip adventure and a kooky time-travel conspiracy. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is the more intriguing story — asteroids make for the most compelling romantic viewing, if Armageddon is any indication — so that movie gets our eternal love, and Sundance favorite Safety Not Guaranteed, starring Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza, New Girl’s Jake Johnson, and Mark Duplass, gets one hot night at the local cineplex. Don’t worry, Aubrey and Jake, we’ll still call (every week, on television).
Naysayers and longtime Dark Shadows fans aren’t happy with Tim Burton’s comedic spin on the source material, but we think it looks kind of fun. Still, to keep from angering the goths, we’ll keep our one-night stand with Dark Shadows on the down low. Meanwhile, we’re definitely keen to marry the lush-looking adventure Snow White and the Huntsman (with Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, and Chris Hemsworth), which leaves awkward genre hybrid Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter the odd president out.
Though it was ostensibly scripted by Happy Endings creator David Caspe (whom we like!), the Adam Sandler comedy That’s My Boy looks truly dire. Off to the buzzsaw! That leaves Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest funny-accented foreigner comedy, The Dictator, as well as Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis going head-to-head as political rivals in The Campaign. The former is an iffy close cousin to Borat, but we did laugh at that track and field joke in the trailer, so we’ll hope for a single good night with Cohen. When it comes to courtship, though, our vote is cast for the more reliable Campaign.
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, and Rupert Everett in a period sex comedy about the invention of the vibrator? Maybe Hysteria is more suited in subject matter to a one-night stand, but we are devoted to it; we want the whole love affair. Conversely, the movie about married people — What to Expect When You’re Expecting, your latest hokey ensemble comedy based on a self-help book — is actually the no-brainer kill in this category. (Sorry, babies, you’re cute, but we are philosophically opposed to any more Love Actually rip-offs!) Yes, that leaves Kate Hudson’s cancer rom-com A Little Bit of Heaven in the eff category, and yes, we’re a little embarrassed about this decision — but come on, if the great Peter Dinklage can spend a day filming this movie, we can spend a night watching it.
Whitney Houston’s final movie, Sparkle, is the obvious marry, and that pushes Tom Cruise’s shirtless gyrating (and Alec Baldwin’s unfortunate dialogue) in jukebox musical Rock of Ages to the eff spot. This leaves Vulture with the unenviable task of killing Katy Perry’s Part of Me 3D, a movie that we had very much been looking forward to based on our pro-Perry leanings and deep respect for dumb summer pop songs and breast-cannon technology. We’re not proud of ourselves, but this is how the game works.
This is a tough one! Well, at least there’s one guarantee: We’re going to eff Steven Soderbergh’s male stripper epic Magic Mike, because who wouldn’t? After that, though, it comes down to Wes Anderson’s precious-looking Moonrise Kingdom and John Hillcoat’s Shia-and–Tom Hardy drama Lawless. Both enticing, but we’re going to marry Moonrise for now, just because we still have yet to see so much as a trailer for the latter.
Beasts of the Southern Wild was a Sundance superhit and it’s already one of the best films of the year: marriage material, to be sure. Jennifer Garner’s “we grew a dirt baby” drama Timothy Green must be re-buried from whence it came, leaving us to call upon Little Miss Sunshine reunion Ruby Sparks for a good time.
The Jane Fonda–led Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding has got a bad buzz problem, so it’s on the chopping block. We’re hopeful for People Like Us, starring Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, and Michelle Pfeiffer, but even the studio appears wary of committing too much to this understated family drama, so we’ll save our proposals for the delightfully warm Your Sister’s Sister, starring Emily Blunt.
Nicki Minaj has been rapping about her role in Ice Age: Continental Drift since at least February — but it is the promise of Drake voicing a “handsome young wooly mammoth” that has us ready for the “I Do”s. Paranorman, a ghost-loner movie from the makers of Coraline, looks cute in a quirky R.L. Stine way. And thus, the latest Madagascar gets the boot back to the island (of the dead).
Nuptials with Kim Kardashian never end well, so let’s eliminate The Marriage Counselor (in which she co-stars) right off the bat. The two remaining marital-strife movies seem to suggest their own outcomes: Take This Waltz is all about Michelle Williams and her extramarital lust for a hot neighbor, so we’ll eff it, while it seems fair to settle down with Hope Springs, where Steve Carell plays therapist to longtime-marrieds Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones.
The number of respected British actors stuffed into The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton — earns it an instant proposal, if only to avoid a withering, Dowager Countess–style stare of disapproval from Smith. (Propriety first.) Meanwhile, we can’t say no to a night with the cast of Oliver Stone’s Savages (Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, and Tim Riggins Taylor Kitsch), though the weed-dealing, the shoot-outs, and the ménage à trois certainly help with its eff cred. Freida Pinto’s long-delayed Trishna gets the axe by default.
In this battle of the low-budget horror movies, The Possession (about a malevolent antique box) wins simply by having a slightly classier cast toplined by Kyra Sedgwick. Meanwhile, ghosts-on-a-plane vehicle 7500 terrorizes hardbodies like Ryan Kwanten, so it gets the eff, while long-delayed The Apparition (intended to be a breakout vehicle for Twilight supporting player Ashley Greene) is this genre’s unfortunate victim.
Given the major players (Seth MacFarlane) and the basic plot (a real live man who is best friends with a stuffed bear), we were a little skeptical about Ted — until we saw the trailer and watched Mark Wahlberg do a lightning-round of “white trash” female names in his signature Boston accent. There is nothing that Vulture loves more than a Wahlberg-Boston joke, not even the promise of a Step Up installment that involves actual social revolution through dance. Fortunately, Ted seems like the kind of movie that would tolerate — maybe even encourage — a one-night stand with Step Up: Revolution, and so our marrys and effs are in order on that front. Apologies to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose bike messenger movie never had a chance in this category. At least he has Dark Knight.
F, Marry, Kill: The 2012 Summer Movie Edition