Summer movies are almost by definition, silly. Perhaps it’s a reaction to the change of seasons, but it’s more likely an insight into the heads of the movie studios, who are quite aware that kids are out of school and parents are out of their minds, desperately seeking a place to send their offspring and gain a few moments of precious peace.
Enter Jack Black on June 6. Well, the voice of Jack Black, anyway, as he is the titular star of Kung Fu Panda, a Dreamworks offering that combines action film and animation in the tale of Po, a giant panda and apprentice noodle maker who is crazy about kung fu. A twist of fate demands that he fulfill an ancient prophecy and battle an evil warrior named Tai Lung (Ian McShane). The next thing the big lug knows, he’s studying with master Shifu, voiced with glee by Dustin Hoffman. Best of all, his classmates are his idols, the Furious Five (one of them played by Jackie Chan). Interestingly, the Five are named for the animal stances common to the art of kung fu, which adds a certain air of legitimacy for fans of martial arts. Oh, and Angelina Jolie makes a pretty hot Master Tigress.
Not silly enough? Try Get Smart, which bumbles its way to the silver screen on June 20. It’s business as usual for Maxwell Smart as he attempts to save the world from the evil crime syndicate KAOS. Steve Carell brings his own special ineptness to the role as he is led about by the efficient but deadly Agent 99. Terence Stamp as Siegfried has clearly found a late life niche as a comedic villain. And would you believe that Maxwell Smart still uses a shoe phone? Creators Mel Brooks and Buck Henry must be proud.
The silly season wouldn’t be complete without a Mike Myers movie and on June 20, Love Guru finds him playing Pitka, an American who, as a baby, was left at the gate of an ashram in India and raised by gurus. Pitka returns to the U.S. as a self-help superstar and, as they say, hilarity ensues. As we’ve come to expect, Myers plays multiple roles. What we didn’t expect was an appearance by Ben Kingsley or an endorsement of the film by Deepak Chopra.
It’s a beautiful summer’s day, so I must find a dark movie theater in which to spend it.