The best is yet to come

Andrew Hampp

Summer movie season heats up with August releases

“You’re laughing at my joke. Does that mean you’ll have sex with me?” Steve Carell is The 40-Year-Old Virgin, co-starring Catherine Keener.

Credit: Beth Rankin

August is going to be even hotter this year.

Traditionally used by studios as a “dump month” for their lame or shelved material, August has raised its profile this year by playing host to what promise to be some of the better films of the summer.

Although there are still a few of the trademark clunkers coming our way in the next few weeks (see Deuce Bigalow, The Cave), August is otherwise refreshingly devoid of some truly lame material this year.

Leading the pack is The 40-Year-Old Virgin, by far Wedding Crashers’ closest competitor for funniest movie of the summer and considered by many to feature Steve Carell’s breakout role. There’s also two high-profile horror films to keep audiences sufficiently scared where earlier fright flicks Dark Water and House of Wax failed to deliver.

So check out what goodies the summer season still has in store for moviegoers and why it’s going to be one awesome August.

Opening Friday

The Dukes of Hazzard

Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar

Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Jessica Simpson, Willie Nelson, Burt Reynolds

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

As if knuckleheaded actors Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott weren’t enough to entice you to join the Dukes on their long-awaited big-screen debut, maybe Jessica Simpson will. Look for Liz Buckley’s online-only review at


Directed by: Chris Terrio

Starring: Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Jesse Bradford, Isabella Rosselini, Glenn Close

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Opening exclusively at Shaker Square Cinemas, Shaker Heights

A heartfelt drama set in New York and played out over the course of 24 hours, Heights is one of the last films to feature the late Ismail Merchant as a producer. The Merchant Ivory- sanctioned indie stars Elizabeth Banks, who is poised to be the breakout star of 2005 with roles in The Baxter and The 40-Year-Old Virgin to boot.

Also opening: Brothers (IFC Films; Cedar Lee), Don’t Move (New Films International; Cedar Lee)

Opening Aug. 12

Skeleton Key

Directed by: Iain Softley

Starring: Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard, Joy Bryant

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

If the ambitious marketing campaign for this voodoo-enhanced horror flick is successful, Skeleton Key is going to be this summer’s Sixth Sense. With a surprisingly credible cast composed of Hudson, Rowlands, Hurt and Garden State’s Sarsgaard, Key promises to be, at the very least, scarily well-acted.

Four Brothers

Directed by: John Singleton

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin, Garrett Hedlund, Terrence Dashon Howard, Josh Charles, Sofia Vergara, Fionnula Flanagan

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Marky Mark, Andre 3000 and Tyrese forgo their hip-hop aliases for this hard-hitting revenge tale about four Detroit brothers seeking to avenge their adoptive mother’s death. Even if this movie sucks, John Singleton has nowhere to go but up after directing 2 Fast 2 Furious.

The Aristocrats

Directed by: Paul Provenza

Starring: Robin Wiliams, Whoopi Goldberg, Jon Stewart, Drew Carey, Gilbert Gottfried, Carrie Fisher, Andy Dick

Distributed by: ThinkFilm Inc.

Opening exclusively at the Cedar Lee, Cleveland

What if someone told the dirtiest joke ever, over and over again? That’s the basic premise behind The Aristocrats, a documentary in which the nation’s top comics try to one-up each other in creating the lewdest, crudest, rudest variation on one seriously filthy joke. It’s so dirty the studio has issued it with no rating to avoid receiving an NC-17 for language.

Broken Flowers

Directed by: Jim Jarmusch

Starring: Bill Murray, Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton, Chloe Sevigny, Julie Delpy, Frances Conroy

Distributed by: Focus Features

Opening exclusively at the Cedar Lee, Cleveland

Bill Murray plays a guy who somehow has lovers in his past played by Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton, Frances Conroy and Julie Delpy. With ladies like these in his Rolodex, who cares that he’s just found out he may or may not have a son who’s looking for him?

Also opening: The Great Raid (Miramax), Last Days (Fine Line; Cedar Lee), Saraband (Sony Pictures Classics; Cedar Lee)

Opening Aug. 19

Red Eye

Directed by: Wes Craven

Starring: Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox

Distributed by: DreamWorks Pictures

Fresh off her triple-punch of Mean Girls, The Notebook and Wedding Crashers, Rachel McAdams continues her hot streak in Red Eye, whose trailer is the most riveting of the year. The film should also be a triumph for director Wes Craven, desperately in need of career redemption after the god-awful Cursed.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Directed by: Judd Apatow

Starring: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Jane Lynch

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Steve Carell + physical comedy + Catherine Keener = best comedy of the summer. ‘Nuff said.

Also opening: Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (Columbia Pictures), Valiant (Walt Disney Pictures), Supercross (20th Century Fox), November (Sony Pictures Classics), Asylum (Paramount Classics)

Opening Aug. 26

Advance Review!

The Brothers Grimm

Directed by: Terry Gilliam

Starring: Matt Damon, Heath Ledger, Monica Bellucci, Peter Stormare, Lena Headey

Distributed by: Dimension Films

Stater Rating (out of four): ★ ★

Beautifully shot but hopelessly unfocused, The Brothers Grimm is a peculiar little end-of-summer movie. The film interweaves the surprisingly disturbing original plotlines of the Grimm brothers’ famous fairy tales into the film’s basic plot of an evil queen (Bellucci) who needs the blood of 12 young girls to remain eternally youthful. Ledger is awkwardly funny as Jacob Grimm, but Damon is all but wasted as Wilhelm. Leave it to perennial scene stealer Peter Stormare (Fargo, Armageddon) to provide Grimm with its funniest and best moments.

Also opening: The Constant Gardener (Focus Features)

Contact Pop Arts editor Andrew Hampp at [email protected].