What Movie Should I Watch This Weekend?

Movies in Theaters on May 27, 2011

How is it Memorial Day Weekend already? Once considered the true beginning of the summer movie season, May’s last hurrah is still considered one of the prime spots for studio tentpole releases, though this year’s offerings seem rather, well, non-Memorial Day-ish (that’s an official industry term, by the way) — two sequels to movies that probably didn’t need sequels and a new dreamscape from Terrence Malick.

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The word on Terrence Malick‘s latest tone poem is that it’s a maddening masterpiece that will have you thinking on’t for days; audiences were radically divided at Cannes earlier this month (some standing o’s, some boo’s n’ hisses) with this examination of an American family in the 1950s, focusing on the eldest son who’s torn between his stern father (Brad Pitt) and compassionate mother (Jessica Chastain). Filled with Malick’s trademark gorgeous imagery (babbling brooks, sweeping landscapes and, apparently, dinosaurs this time around), this existential meditation will both seduce and enrage, mesmerize and challenge… and there will be no other film quite like it until Malick does another. Speaking of Cannes, this won the Palme d’Or… sheesh, remember when Brad Pitt used to star in crap like Cool World?

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Kung Fu Panda was no classic — and, if you think about it, it really only had one joke under its black belt (fat bear knows martial arts!) — but it had heart and guts, not to mention one of the best voice casts ever assembled (including Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Dustin Hoffman and Jackie Chan), led by Jack Black as the roly-poly panda who ends up getting mad fighting skills. Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dennis Haysbert, Michelle Yeoh and Gary Oldman lend their voices to the animal mayhem for this sequel, which looks to be bigger and… well, just a lot of more — we’ll see if Po and the Furious Five still maintain the underdog charm of the original amidst all the extra noise and chaos as they take on a villain who plans to use a secret unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. Ska-2oosh!

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How do you explain the same group of jackasses getting wasted at a bachelor party to the point of convenient/contrived amnesia again? Make the entire situation a conspiracy (or something), peppered with self-conscious “I can’t believe this is happening again!” asides (hey, it worked for Die Hard 2, right? Right?). The Hangover was pretty good, but probably not needs-a-sequel good; luckily, these jackasses (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis) happen to be rather likable jackasses, so yeah, we’ll follow them around Thailand (and wherever else) as they try to figure out what the hell went down this time (and why). The wacky little monkey is something of a red flag, though; adding a cute monkey usually means your script is in trouble to the point where animal antics might be the only way out (especially animal antics involving smoking). The bottom line? It won’t be without laughs, but the girls of Bridesmaids will win the summer.

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