Since its original publication in 1984 (it’s now on its fourth edition) What To Expect When You’re Expecting has become the Bible for expectant mothers, selling more than 14 million copies—and now it’s been turned into the most anticipated movie of the summer! Along with offering practical advice for the many stages of pregnancy and early childhood development, the guide has been notorious for stoking the fears of first-time mothers on everything from their dietary habits to the myriad routes to scary complications. And with that, we have our metaphor for the summer movie season, a time when Hollywood entertainment comes tumbling out of the birth canal, all covered in vernix and wailing at the top of its lungs, in Dolby surround sound. When you clean it off, will it lift a car over its head, or will it be one of those terrifying mutants from David Cronenberg’s The Brood? Below, The A.V. Club film staff brings you the ultimate, half-informed self-help guide to what to expect from your summer movie season. Check out part one here.
The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3)
What to expect: Ten years after Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire first brought Marvel Comics’ top superhero to the big screen with style and wit, director Marc Webb reboots the franchise, now with Andrew Garfield as arachnid-powered teen nerd Peter Parker. Emma Stone plays Peter’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy, while Rhys Ifans plays Peter’s scientist mentor Dr. Curt Connors, who is also one of Spider-Man’s nemeses, The Lizard.
Practical advice: Looking for a different spin on a familiar character? Do as Marvel does, and bring in an entirely new creative team to start fresh. In this case, Sony has hired the man who made the quirky romantic comedy (500) Days Of Summer and given him a cast of powerhouse actors. That’s a formula for angst and emotion over action and thrills.
Cause for irrational alarm: Sure, the third Raimi Spider-Man movie was a little goofy, and Maguire’s getting older, but was there anything wrong necessarily with the old approach to Spidey? How much ground are we going to have to retrace in The Amazing Spider-Man before we get to a new story?
Katy Perry: Part Of Me (July 5)
What to expect: Katy Perry: Part Of Me chronicles its star’s evolution from her early days as gospel singer Katy Hudson to her current mega-fame as brazen hussy Katy Perry while also documenting her personal struggles, including her complicated relationship with Christianity and her divorce from actor Russell Brand. Perry has stated that her film was inspired by Madonna’s Truth Or Dare, so we can presumably also expect a cameo from a passive-aggressive Warren Beatty and Perry doing unwholesome things to a water bottle.
Practical advice: Truth Or Dare was fascinating because its subject is such a famously evasive enigma. Don’t expect anything nearly as deep or complex.
Cause for irrational alarm: It’s bad enough that Perry previously corrupted the sacred institution that is Sesame Street with a shameful display of cleavage, but now an entire movie to this shameless harlot? If Perry even gets within spitting distance of a puppet-like creature while revealing more of her breasts, we’re prepared to picket outside theaters. Concerned parents of the world rise up!
Savages (July 6)
What to expect: Director Oliver Stone largely ditches his role as alternate historian/conscience of the world and embraces his trashy pulp side with this adaptation of Don Winslow’s novel about clever young pot-farmers caught between a Mexican cartel and the DEA. Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson play the dealers, while Blake Lively plays the woman who loves them both, and becomes a liability when she’s kidnapped by the villainous Benicio del Toro and Salma Hayek. John Travolta plays a federal agent in cahoots with the heroes.
Practical advice: Thanks to legal medical marijuana, it’s a brave new world for narcotics suppliers, and there haven’t been too many movies yet about how to handle the old criminal problems under the latest set of laws. Take notes!
Cause for irrational alarm: Given Stone’s love of rapid-fire montage—especially when he’s in “commercial” mode—it may be difficult to keep track of Savages’ ultimate message. Pro tip: Ignore all insert shots of circling hawks or the dusty underclass. Those are just filler.
Ice Age 4: Continental Drift (July 13)
What to expect: The motley gang of mammoths, sabertooths, sloths, and scrats returns for an adventure that sees them stuck on an iceberg and fighting against monkey pirates. Yep. Monkey pirates.
Practical advice: Taking your children to an Ice Age movie can prompt an edifying conversation afterward about actual climate change and the lessons of pre-history.
Cause for irrational alarm: Taking your children to an Ice Age movie can also prompt a depressing conversation afterward about why so many kidflicks are about characters dealing with midlife crises and feelings of inadequacy. (Also, you’ll have to break the news that there are no such thing as monkey pirates.)
Ted (July 13)
What to expect: The arrested development comedy gets a bizarre twist in the feature directorial debut of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. Mark Wahlberg stars as a Boston native whose first serious relationship (with Mila Kunis) faces an unusual obstacle in the form of a profane, animated teddy bear (voiced by MacFarlane) that’s been his best friend since childhood.
Practical advice: If you encounter a sentient, walking/talking/bong-smoking teddy bear in the real world, treat it like the overgrown frat guy who keeps crashing on your couch instead of something that has never existed in the whole of time.
Cause for irrational alarm: Though there’s very little precedent for a Teddy Ruxpin come to life, the movies have taught us the following: 1) Water, bright light, or food after midnight could prove catastrophic. 2) Affable as he may seem, Ted may be possessed by the spirit of Charles Lee Ray, “The Lakeshore Strangler,” and may stab you with an adorable little knife. 3) He may also be a hand puppet controlled by Mel Gibson as part of a therapy ploy run amuck.
The Dark Knight Rises (July 20)
What to expect: Christopher Nolan’s first Batman film, Batman Begins, was excellent. His second, The Dark Knight was beyond awesome. By all logic, this movie should leave viewers with their faces melting off their skulls, like that one Nazi at the end of Raiders.
Practical advice: No one who calls himself Bane means you well, as Batman (Christian Bale) almost certainly discovers when he takes on Tom Hardy’s masked strongman. So stay away from masked men named Bane. Or don’t be Batman. That’s easy enough.
Cause for irrational alarm: This movie may have a small problem living up to some pretty impossible expectations. On the other hand, did you see that trailer?
Neighborhood Watch (July 27)
What to expect: A quartet of suburban dads—Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Oscar-nominee Jonah Hill, and Richard Aoyade—escape their dull domestic lives by becoming overzealous citizens on patrol. Their skills are tested when they have to protect the neighborhood from alien invasion.
Practical advice: Don’t walk around their neighborhood at night while being unarmed and black and carrying Skittles and canned iced tea. And watch out for aliens.
Cause for irrational alarm: Perhaps Fox’s decision to go forward with the release of Neighborhood Watch in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting won’t be the only thing anyone will talk about in relation to the movie. Fox underestimates our capacity for irrational alarm.
Step Up Revolution (July 27)
What to expect: A wealthy daughter of privilege (former So You Think You Can Dance contestant Kathryn McCormick) aspires to be a professional dancer until she falls under the sway of a charismatic street dancer (Ryan Guzman) willing to risk it all for a dream. Guzman’s crew, called MOB, wants to win a lucrative sponsorship, but when McCormick’s father threatens to upend MOB’s lives by developing their neighborhood and displacing its residents, Guzman and McCormick decide to fight the power by transforming MOB’s flash mobs into “protest mobs.”
Practical advice: Basing the plot around something as lasting and timeless as flash mobs ensures a film will never age, nor will its embrace of 3-D.
Cause for irrational alarm: If Step Up Revolution is a hit, expect a massive increase in flash mobs. How is society supposed to function with flash mobs exploding all over the place, mucking up traffic, knocking over strollers, and frightening the elderly?
The Bourne Legacy (Aug. 3)
What to expect: If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the Jason Bourne movies, it’s that they star Matt Damon. So obviously… oh wait, this one stars Jeremy Renner and, despite the title, he’s not playing Jason Bourne.
Practical advice: Like Jason Bourne, or whoever Renner’s playing in this one, it’s best to roll with the changes and adjust expectations as the situation shifts. So Damon’s AWOL and Paul Greengrass, who directed the last two Bourne movies isn’t around? Maybe it’s time to embrace Tony Gilroy—a terrific screenwriter and director of the underrated Duplicity—and a cast that includes heavy hitters like Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Scott Glenn, and others.
Cause for irrational alarm: Well, Matt Damon was pretty great in those other movies, and it looks like his absence here isn’t some kind of elaborate practical joke.
Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (Aug. 3)
What to expect: The third adaptation of Jeff Kinney’s popular illustrated children’s novels follows the episodic adventures of Greg (Zachary Gordon) and his nerdy buddies after school gets out for the summer. If it’s anything like the last two—and chances of that are roughly 100 percent—Greg will get bullied by his older brother and embarrass himself in front of the girls he likes.
Practical advice: The Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series is not only a chronicle of various early-adolescent humiliations, but a study in what not to do when you’re a runty, awkward kid. Based on the trailer, these lessons include not jumping off the high dive in poorly seamed swim trunks, not playing tennis with your bitter pigtailed adversary, and not allowing Steve Zahn to be your father.
Cause for irrational alarm: That joke about Greg using his best friend’s toothbrush to wipe dog poop off his shoe may be funny, but coprophagia is no laughing matter, as any viewing of The Human Centipede movies will attest. It can cause many bacterial infections if consumed, and a nasty case of pinkeye at a minimum. It may be safest to avoid this movie altogether.
Total Recall (Aug. 3)
What to expect: A combination of remake-mania and Inception aftermath is likely to blame for this redo of the 1990 Paul Verhoeven/Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi/action classic. This new version stars Colin Farrell as a blue-collar dude who begins to suspect that his memories of a much more adventurous life have been wiped and replaced. Jessica Biel plays a rebel who recruits Farrell into her fight against an oppressive leader played by Bryan Cranston, though the hero’s not entirely sure which side he’s really supposed to be on.
Practical advice: Not sure whether you’re stuck in a dream, a false memory, or your own stupid reality? Just kick back and go with whatever happens. You’ve got a two out of three chance of being okay.
Cause for irrational alarm: Not sure whether to watch a cheesy-looking remake or check out the original? Go with the original. You’ve got a one out of one chance of enjoying yourself.
The Campaign (Aug. 10)
What to expect: From the director of the HBO films Recount and Game Change—and, okay, all the Austin Powers movies, too—comes this political comedy about two politicians, played by Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, battling it out in a North Carolina congressional district. Inspired in part by John Edwards, the film will satirize the vanity and absurdities of election season.
Practical advice: Director Jay Roach was reportedly inspired/revolted by the Republican primary debates and tweaked the film accordingly. This means helpful insights not only on the political process, but also on the creative impossibility of satirizing a landscape where a disgraced former congressman, an incoherent three-term governor, a pizza chain CEO, and a reality-TV show host were all considered serious candidates.
Cause for irrational alarm: When the film comes out, it will spark a daylong fight on Twitter and political blogs about Hollywood bias, how this might affect the presidential election, and whether this is more or less of a “game-changer” than that one time somebody said something mean about Ann Romney.
Hope Springs (Aug. 10)
What to expect: Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones play an unhappy couple who submit to marriage counseling with self-help guru Steve Carell, who advises them to restore intimacy via a series of sexual exercises. Lessons are learned; younger audience members are creeped out.
Practical advice: Middle-aged and older marrieds who’ve seen some of the passion go out of their lives can watch Hope Springs, have a few laughs, maybe shed a happy tear or two, and then have some uncomfortable but rewarding discussions about what they’re really looking for from each other—inside the bedroom and out.
Cause for irrational alarm: See above.
The Expendables 2 (Aug. 17)
What to expect: 2010’s The Expendables was the It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World of proudly retro action movies, bringing together a gaudy aggregation of macho action heroes from the last four decades, including Sylvester Stallone (who also co-wrote and directed), Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crews, Eric Roberts, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Expendables 2 finds a Stallone-led mercenary team squaring off against a Jean-Claude Van Damme-led band of rivals after the opposing team kills one of their one of their own.
Practical advice: The Expendables was a huge international hit, but a consensus quickly formed that the film was insufficiently macho and featured far too few action heroes. In response, The Expendables 2 adds Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games), Van Damme, and Chuck Norris to the cast. But is that enough? How can The Expendables 2 rest on its laurels when the Cynthia Rothrocks and Don “The Dragon” Wilsons of the world are actively seeking work (any work, not just acting)? Perhaps it’s not too late to add eight or nine more action heroes to the film in post-production. We happen to know Jeff Speakman and The Barbarian Brothers have been patiently waiting for the phone to ring with news of work since the mid-’90s.
Cause for irrational alarm: The Expendables 2 is a quintessential boy’s movie filled with nothing more harmless than blood, guts, rampant violence, and non-stop bloodshed. Exposure to such macho heroics are of course an essential part of every boy’s emotional development, but there’s also an off chance that the film might feature a soul-corrupting shot of cleavage or soft-focus love-making, so parents must be extremely vigilant about taking their children to see the film so that their pure, innocent souls are not warped by accidental exposure to the female form.
ParaNorman (Aug. 17)
What to expect: The studio behind Coraline returns with another stop-motion-animated tale about a young boy who can speak to the dead, a skill that comes in handy when his town is overrun by the undead.
Practical Advice: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter illustrates indelibly that ghouls, beasties, and the undead are best fought by depression-prone 19th-century elected officials. Films, animated or otherwise, that stray from that sturdy paradigm do so at their own peril.
Cause for irrational alarm: Do we really want to encourage children to communicate with the dead? From there it’s a slippery slope to embracing witchcraft, sacrificing animals, and worshipping the devil in blood-saturated satanic orgies.
Sparkle (Aug. 17)
What to expect: One of the unlikelier remakes of recent vintage, Sparkle revives the 1976 cult classic musical, tracing the rise of a Supremes-like vocal group. Curtis Mayfield’s original songs have been supplemented by a few R. Kelly numbers, while Jordin Sparks and Derek Luke take on the roles originally played by Irene Cara and Philip Michael Thomas.
Practical advice: The music industry hasn’t changed that much over the last 50 years, so all lessons about unscrupulous managers, jealous colleagues, and dogged commitment to a dream should still apply.
Cause for irrational alarm: Sparkle features the last screen performance of the late Whitney Houston, playing Sparks’ mother, and there’s no way that’s not going to be upsetting.
The Apparition (Aug. 24)
What to expect: First-time feature filmmaker Todd Lincoln brings together Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan for a film about a couple who’ve been plagued by some supernatural spirit ever since they took part in a college experiment. Tom Felton plays the expert they come to for help.
Practical advice: By the time the summer movie season is over, we’ll have all the information we need on the paranormal forces that are forcing their way into our plane of existence and threatening our way of life. That’s why it’s vital that we remain diligent and watch every film that….
Cause for irrational alarm: …Look out! A g-g-g-g…. err, a-a-a-a-a-pparition!
Premium Rush (Aug. 24)
What to expect: The fast-paced, cab-dodging life of Manhattan bicycle messengers get the spotlight in this thriller about an ace cyclist (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who must elude a corrupt cop (Michael Shannon) as he delivers an envelope containing incriminating information.
Practical advice: Wear a helmet. Obey traffic signals. Use bike lanes whenever possible. Never ride on the sidewalk. Avoid Michael Shannon at all costs. He’s unstable.
Cause for irrational alarm: No alarm is too irrational when it comes to Michael Shannon, a man who’s warned of apocalyptic visions, imaginary bug infestations, and the brittle marriage of Eisenhower-era suburbanites.
Lawless (Aug. 31)
What to expect: Nick Cave creates dusty, gothic art about murder, death, decay, and the darkness of the human soul. Shia LaBeouf makes entertainment about giant robots from outer space that make-pretend to be automobiles or boomboxes or something. Lawless brings these two kindred spirits together in the Cave-penned story of three bootlegging brothers in Prohibition-era Virginia. LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, and Jason Clarke star as the moonshine-dispensing siblings in question.
Practical advice: The films LaBeouf made about the giant robots from outer space did quite well at the box office. It would be just plain good business to lend a little Transformers flavor to this gritty adaptation of Matt Bondurant’s The Wettest County In The World. Hopefully, the film includes at least one moderately anachronistic, shape-shifting robot.
Cause for irrational alarm: Acting in quirky, lower-budget fare may be tremendously exciting. Let’s just hope Lawless doesn’t pull LaBeouf too far away from his roots starring in blockbusters about giant shape-shifting robots.