Zach Galifianakis warned Brian Williams that viewers would turn off a long interview piece with the actor if it aired on "Rock Center." But after watching several candid minutes with the comedian and "Hangover" star on Friday night, it was hard not to be left wanting more.
Galifianakis, the bearded comic turned reluctant big-time star, opened up to Williams about more than just the buddy-movie trilogy that has made his extended Greek moniker a household name.
They talked about life on the North Carolina farm where Galifianakis, 43, and his wife Quinn Lundberg spend part of each year. "I have donkeys. I have blueberries," Galifianakis said. "But enough about your Brooklyn apartment," Williams countered. "I asked about North Carolina."
Cue the whistling: Galifianakis says a 6th grade visit from the man behind the iconic theme song of "The Andy Griffith Show" convinced him he should go into show business. "I remember being affected by that whistler, thinking I could maybe try to do something like that with my life. Not whistling ... but telling diarrhea jokes."
But it's no joke that life at home on the farm has framed Galifianakis' view of Hollywood and all that comes with being a celebrity. "It's not for me. I'm not into that scene," he said. "It's so stupid. It's all so dumb. It's so weird to me."
And for a man with the last name Galifianakis, there's a punchline waiting in the wings. "If I've always wanted to have my name up in lights I would have changed it to Don't Walk." Nod. Wink. Cheers.
Starring roles on television aside, it's the "Hangover" movies which did put Galifianakis' name in lights. Alan -- the portly, man-purse carrying sidekick to Bradley Cooper's Phil and Ed Helms' Stu -- is back in theaters May 23 in the third and final movie.
And any interview with Galifianakis wouldn't be complete without actually being interviewed with ferns for a backdrop, something he's turned into comedic art with his fake Internet talk show "Between Two Ferns." Williams brought the two ferns to the interview and Galifianakis was game for a lengthy chat among the plants.
"This is the longest conversation I've had with anyone in, like, seven years," Galifianakis said, contradicting his earlier directive to Williams to "do a couple of jokes and then get out."
Casting any movie is tough, but try casting a "Star Trek" movie, knowing that the original television characters are already dearly beloved by millions of devoted fans. Few actors are as associated with their roles as William Shatner as Captain Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as Spock. Yet when Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto took over those roles in the 2009 film "Star Trek," reviews were mostly quite positive. As Pine, Quinto and co-stars prepare to beam down to theaters once again in "Star Trek Into Darkness," let's take a look at how the new actors fill out their Starfleet uniforms.
James T. Kirk Classic: William Shatner New: Chris Pine
Paramount via Getty / Warner Bros
Chris Pine plays Capt. Kirk in the new "Star Trek" movies, but he can't beat the classic William Shatner.
The Shat has built a fine post-“Trek” career -- once he accepted with good humor that he would never, ever be forgotten as Kirk. But that aside, Classic Kirk has to rule over New Kirk. Classic Kirk had a twinkle in his eye, was never afraid to bare a chest, and had a way with a universe’s worth of ladies. We haven’t seen that yet in New Kirk, who’s more of a tomcat than a ladies’ man and far from an unquestioned leader. Plus, only Classic Kirk has proven he can create a bazooka out of a log, dirt and gemstones.
Leonard 'Bones' McCoy Classic: DeForest Kelley New: Karl Urban
Paramount via Getty / Warner Bros
Karl Urban and DeForest Kelley both have their good points as Bones, but the new guy, Urban, is a handsome bad boy.
Okay, so Classic Bones wasn’t afraid to smack a hoity-toity pregnant lady if he needed to do an examination. But something about his eternal grumpiness and pointed Spock-like eyebrows made Kelley's version of the doctor a little hard to like. New Bones is good looking enough to give Kirk a run for his money (if you like ‘em dark and mercurial), he rocks a beard and swigs from a flask when necessary. New Bones is a bad boy as well as a doc, and that is the wave of the future.
Advantage: New McCoy
Spock Classic: Leonard Nimoy New: Zachary Quinto
Paramount via Getty / Warner Bro
Bravo, Zachary Quinto! The actor has taken on Leonard Nimoy's famed Spock and given him a modern update.
The old neck-pincher is one of the toughest decisions to make, particularly since Classic Spock (or rather, Spock Prime) makes an appearance in the rebooted series. The casting of Quinto as a youthful Nimoy is spot-on, unlike many of the other cast choices – and the 2009 film even showed a pre-adolescent Spock on top of everything else. In a way, this is the best blended character with some of the series’ most memorable personality quirks and special powers. How can we choose just one?
Advantage: Both Spocks
Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott Classic: James Doohan New: Simon Pegg
Paramount via Getty / Warner Bros
Simon Pegg isn't quite as devoted to the Enterprise as the original Scotty, James Doohan -- and that's a good thing.
You know, Classic Scotty really, really loved the Enterprise. Possibly a bit too much. Sure, he was the engineer and knew all of the inner workings of the ship, but sometimes you had to wonder if it made him a little touched in the head, being stuck down in the boiler room all the time. (No wonder he could outdrink an alien.) No such issue with New Scotty, who is still getting to know the big old girl and may take a long time to find his love connection. And that’s good for tension and comedy.
Advantage: New Scotty
Hikaru Sulu Classic: George Takei New: John Cho
Paramount via Getty / Warner Bros
Which Sulu rules, John Cho or George Takei? It's a tie!
In the 2009 film, Sulu got a few big moments –- such as when he had to skydive from space and parachute onto a drilling platform, then fight off some Romulans. But the sword battle part of that scene was really an homage to one of Classic Sulu’s greatest scenes: When his inner swashbuckler comes to light and he runs around waving an epee. At the moment, there’s just not enough information on New Sulu to warrant leaving Classic Sulu behind, so we’d tend to lean toward Classic Sulu (oh, myyyy!) – but let’s consider this the wild card in the bunch.
Pavel Chekov Classic: Walter Koenig New: Anton Yelchin
Paramount via Getty / Warner Bros
New Chekov Anton Yelchin is a real Russian, unlike Walter Koenig from the classic series.
First off, if you’re gonna have a Russian on the Enterprise, hire a dang Russian. All due respect to Classic Chekov, but a Monkee look-alike from Chicago doesn’t hold much of a candle to New Chekov, whose portrayer hails from Leningrad and plays him as more delightfully impulsive than the originator. Plus, he was able to save Spock’s father thanks to some fantastical manipulation of the transporter. And he’s a navigator!
Zoe Saldana's Uhura serves mostly as eye candy, whereas Nichelle Nichols juggled many roles.
Here’s a surprise: A show that began in the 1960s is better at handling its one regular female crew member than one in the new millennium. New Uhura served largely as eye candy and as a sex object for New Kirk, even if she could kick more butt and talk dirty. Classic Uhura managed to juggle all of her subspace frequencies far better -- and of course was the shared co-conspirator in one of TV’s first interracial kisses, when she and Classic Kirk locked lips.
Final tallies: Four classics and five from the new bunch (though Spock and Sulu bridge both categories). Surprise! It turns out that the new franchise has managed to improve on the old -- though we sense there will be some disagreement on this issue. Tell us who your favorite newcomer is in our poll.
Helen Hunt stars as Mary-Clare King, a geneticist who spent years researching the breast-cancer gene, in the film "Decoding Annie Parker."
By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, NBC News
Angelina Jolie's revelation in Tuesday's New York Times that she had a preventive double mastectomy stirred many to think about something they may be mostly unfamiliar with: The existence of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that reveal an increased risk of breast cancer.
But a group of actors and filmmakers were already immersed in that realm. Oscar-winning actress Helen Hunt stars in "Decoding Annie Parker," an upcoming film about the discovery of BRCA1.
Hunt plays geneticist Mary-Claire King, who spent years researching families with histories of cancer and identified BRCA1 in 1990.
The film's trailer shows that it wasn't an easy road for King. In its opening scene, King is asked, "You believe there may be a genetic link to some breast cancers?"
"I do," she says.
"Even though virtually no one else believes this to be true?"
"That's correct," King responds.
The film tells not only King's story, but that of Annie Parker (played by Samantha Morton) who lost her mother and sister to cancer before being diagnosed herself at age 29.
"Your family did have a bit of bad luck, but there are many complex factors--" a doctor in the film tells Parker.
"It's not bad luck," she responds from her hospital bed.
The film's topic may make it a hard sell for some when other screens are showing light entertainment such as "Iron Man 3" and "Fast and Furious 6," but the filmmakers knew that going in.
"We knew there were going to be serious obstacles to getting people to watch (the film)," director Steven Bernstein said at the Dallas International Film Festival. "People's first reaction would be 'Oh, it's a film about cancer, I don't want to see it.' So we had to get the word out the film was about something bigger than that -- although cancer's a very, very big thing indeed -- but it's something about the human condition that we were trying to express. Something that people could actually come and see and feel uplifted by rather than depressed by."
"Decoding Annie Parker" has been playing at film festivals around the nation and will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in France this month, with a general release expected in the fall. Aaron Paul, Rashida Jones, Bradley Whitford and Maggie Grace also star in the movie.
The new Baz Luhrmann-directed film adaptation of "The Great Gatsby"made a big bang over the weekend at the box office with a $50 million take domestically, but it wasn't the first time the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic had been made for the big screen, Back in 1974, the book was adapted with stars Robert Redford (as Gatsby), Mia Farrow (as Daisy) and Sam Waterston (as Nick Carraway).
While critics have had mixed opinions about the current musically-modernized version, they were far less kind to 1974's take (written by Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Jack Clayton) -- the late critic Roger Ebert called it a "superficially beautiful hunk of a movie with nothing much in common with the spirit" of the novel.
But what if Clayton's adaptation had been Luhrmannized? What if you could take jazzed-up modern tunes and a score by Jay-Z and slap them on a hyper-cut trailer of the old film -- would the movie have seemed more exciting?
Film fan Richard Sandling (aka "That Awesome Movie Guy") wanted to find out, and cut a trailer from the 1974 film in the style of today's movie (see below).
Whatever you think of the new "old" film's trailer, the box office battle is still being waged: "Gatsby's" 1974 earnings of $26.5 million would be $121.7 million adjusted for inflation today.
Most adults have probably read F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," whether for pleasure or for sophomore English class. It's just a slim novella, but it's been adapted into movies, referenced on television shows, turned into an opera, inspired songs, been re-imagined by other authors, and even become an opera and two computer games.
Jay Gatsby drives a 1929 Dusenberg in the movie, which is set in 1922. Some fans of the book argue that he should only be in a Rolls-Royce.
But the new movie version, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby and Carey Mulligan as his longtime love Daisy, is perhaps the most expensive and ambitious iteration yet. It cost $127 million to make, is nearly two and a half hours long, and for some reason, is offered in 3-D.
If you're seeing the movie and are wondering how it compares it to the book, here's a cheat sheet.
You'll recognize some quotes, not others The exact words Fitzgerald wrote are vitally important to many fans. Microsoft founder Bill Gates reportedly has one of its famed last lines -- "He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it" -- painted on the library ceiling in his gigantic Seattle-area home. Such folks will be happy to know that in several critical places, including the all-important ending, the script sticks exactly to Fitzgerald's words. Daisy's poignant outburst about how the best thing in the world a girl can be is "a beautiful little fool" made the cut. Nick's speech about being one of the few who was actually invited to Gatsby's parties is pretty close. And the book's very first sentence, where Nick muses on advice his father gave him, is uttered word-for-word -- but then the script veers off and does its own thing.
Fitzgerald's plot gets a weird framing device Messing with Fitzgerald's plot would have been a literary scandal, so the main Gatsby-Daisy-Tom triangle, the extravagant parties, the car accident and more all remain. But purists will cringe at the movie's framing device, where narrator Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) tells the story of Gatsby from a sanitarium where he's being treated for alcoholism and anxiety. At the film's end, he's seen finishing typing up the story with "GATSBY" as its title, then slashing the words "THE GREAT" over it in pen. Fitzgerald himself was reportedly ambivalent about the title, and tried out many versions, from "Trimalchio in West Egg" to "The High-Bouncing Lover."
The "Great Gatsby" movie invents scenes where Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) is writing the story while in a sanitarium.
Did the 1920s have hip-hop and inflatable zebras? "Gatsby" is set in 1922, amidst the roar of jazz and flapper culture. If you're interested in history, you can have fun picking out the objects that simply shouldn't exist in that era.
In the book, an air mattress is famously present in a key scene, although Fitzgerald called it a "pneumatic mattress." Weirdly, the mattress is absent from that vital scene entirely. But it does appear in an earlier pool scene, along with ... inflatable zebras? Director Baz Luhrmann defended the stripey critters to the New York Times, saying period photographs show them. Perhaps, but Fitzgerald's book does not.
Gatsby's parties were legendary in the novel, but they did not include inflatable zebras.
Luhrmann also defended "Gatsby's" Jay-Z led soundtrack, saying that what jazz was to Fitzgerald's era, hip-hop is to modern times. "Why would Fitzgerald put such ephemeral stuff, actual song lyrics, in his book?" Luhrmann asked the paper. "Because it made it immediate and visceral and exciting for the reader. And when you think of an African-American street music today that is visceral and exciting and is making a big impression on popular culture, that’s hip-hop." Jay-Z's lyrics do reference the time period in some parts -- "no Prohibition for my coalition" runs one line.
Don't get your historian friends or car junkies started on the "Gatsby" cars. The movie shows DiCaprio's Gatsby driving a 1929 Dusenberg (a replica, made in the 1980s). The book clearly states Gatsby has a Rolls-Royce -- true, but it's also mentioned that he has more than one car -- so he could have owned a Dusenberg as well. But with the movie set in 1922, it wouldn't have been a 1929 model. Blogger Jerry Garrett, though, makes a convincing argument that a Dusenberg would not have impressed Daisy in the way a Rolls would have, and that impressing Daisy was what Gatsby lived for, so a Dusenberg is unlikely. (And the car chase it gets into -- with a 1930 Buick -- needless to say that wasn't in the book either.)
Why the 3-D? "The Great Gatsby" seems like the most unlikely movie ever to get the 3-D treatment. This is not a superhero film, where Captain America's shield flies out at the audience, or a kids' movie, where viewers are easily enchanted by floating bubbles. Luhrmann told the Times that he felt the medium made the film more exciting and that he felt Fitzgerald would have approved. That led to the following hilarious tweet from former "Mystery Science Theater 3000" star Frank Coniff: "Baz Luhrmann says Fitzgerald would have wanted a 3-D Gatsby with rap music. Agreed -- he was an alcoholic with poor judgement."
Well then, old sport If you need an engaging exercise while watching the new film, old sport, count how many times Gatsby says "old sport" to someone. We lost track around 20, old sport, but maybe you can keep up. But go back to the book, old sport -- Fitzgerald's Gatsby does use that nickname frequently, old sport, perhaps the affectation of a North Dakota boy who briefly spent time at Oxford and thinks it the height of sophistication. So on this point, old sport, we're giving the film a pass.
Jodi Arias, left, pictured during her trial at Maricopa County Superior Court. Tania Raymonde, right, will play Arias in the upcoming Lifetime movie about her trial.
By Maria Elena Fernandez, NBC News
As convicted murderer Jodi Arias sits in an Arizona jail’s psychiatric ward on suicide watch, actress Tania Raymonde is 400 miles away portraying Arias for an upcoming Lifetime movie.
Best known for her work on “Lost,” Raymonde has dyed her hair blonde for the movie tentatively titled “The Jodi Arias Story,” which is being filmed in the Los Angeles area. Arias was found guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday in the death of her ex boyfriend, Travis Alexander, who she stabbed 29 times, including slashing his throat, and shot once in the head on June 4, 2008, according to trial testimony.
When "The Jodi Arias Story" airs this June, the people who were glued to the four-month long proceedings can expect the same fascinating courtroom drama in the movie version of Arias' trial.
“Tania has somehow tapped into the sweet and likable things that drew Travis to Jodi, into Jodi’s weird eccentricities that are hard to explain, and into the demons that drove this young woman to do such a terrible, extreme thing,” said Arturo Interian, vice president of original movies for Lifetime Networks and A&E networks. “Tania has immersed herself in this role and I’ve seen her go from sexy to downright scary in the same scene.”
Lifetime began developing the film in March of 2012. An early draft of the script obtained by NBCNews.com indicates that the movie will prominently feature Arias’ and Alexander’s tumultuous on-and-off romance—along with their now infamous sex life—and the events that led to his brutal death. In fact, it opens with the pig-tailed Arias nude on a bed posing for photographs—an iconic image to the trial’s followers.
But now that Arias has been convicted, Interian said the script is being re-written to include key trial moments, particularly some of the heated exchanges between prosecutor Juan Martinez and Arias during cross-examination. Actor Tony Plana has been cast to play Martinez, who has become a local star and YouTube sensation as the result of his vigorous cross-examination techniques. Raymonde will go back to being a brunette for those scenes.
The script portrays Arias as a self-help-yearning, budding photographer who becomes obsessed with Alexander as soon as she meets him. She sneaks into his house through the doggie door, sends threatening emails to other women, and stalks him. Alexander is depicted as a flirtatious and popular goofball who becomes sexually addicted to Arias but does try to get rid of her.
During the televised trial, Arias testified for 18 days and provided outrageous and explicit details of her rocky relationship with Alexander, including a phone sex tape she recorded, photographs they took of each other having sex, and tales of Tootsie Pops and Pop Rocks escapades.
“We approached this story creatively from the point of view that Travis was the victim, and were trying to wrap our arms around why Jodi did what she did,” Interian said. “I think the verdict certainly validated our approach…I think people are fascinated with Jodi and I think this film is a serious attempt to look at what makes her tick. At the same time, I think what’s been lost in this story is the victim in this case.”
Jesse Lee Soffer of “The Mob Doctor” is playing Alexander and “will bring home the fact that a young man died needlessly here,” Interian said. The network hopes to bring to life Arias’ and Alexander’s relationship “in a way that only movies can.”
“Jesse’s a handsome fellow and he brings such a humanity to Travis,” Interian said. “You really understand this was a charismatic young man, a successful motivational speaker, and you really see why Jodi fell so hard for him. And I think Travis had a bit of naiveté as to what Jodi was capable of, and I think that Jesse captures that so well. Travis wanted to believe the best about Jodi and it cost him.”
And, of course, there will be sex. Although some of Alexander’s friends believed him to be a virgin, Arias provided plenty of evidence to the contrary during the trial. But can a basic cable network handle their X-rated trysts?
“There was certainly more to the Jodi-Travis relationship than just sex but given the dirty phone calls, the naked pictures, the sexts between them, certainly the media has focused in on their sex lives,” Interian said. “They were a young couple and they had kinky sex. I think our director, Jace Alexander, is up to the challenge. It’s basic cable so we don’t have to be quite so chaste as folks think. So, yes, there will be sex.”
Four major superheroes have new movies this year. Superman gets a reboot in June's "Man of Steel," the deadly claws of "The Wolverine" spring back out in July, and Thor will swing his hammer in November's "Thor: The Dark World." But the liveliest of the current superhero franchises arrives Friday, as "Iron Man 3" hits theaters.
Paramount Pictures file
Iron Man feels like a more human, relatable superhero than most of his type.
Thanks in no small part to its star, the can't-take-your-eyes-off-him Robert Downey Jr., the "Iron Man" movie series has soared. With Downey in the suit and smart writing and directing behind the scripts, Iron Man/Tony Stark has transformed from his comic-book portrayal as Captain America's billionaire buddy to the most super of superheroes. Here's why.
He's got problems Superman and Captain America are so goody-two-shoes you could bring them home to mother, even if she's Mother Teresa. Iron Man, like Downey himself, has a bad-boy rep. In his real identity as Tony Stark, he drank too much, he spent too much, he slept with too many women. He's a little more on the straight-and-narrow now, but he still has crippling anxiety attacks that leave him hyperventilating by the side of the road in a most un-heroic fashion. And he's not above dancing like a dork in his super-secret lab.
Don Cheadle, aka War Machine/Iron Patriot, is Tony Stark's pal. Unlike Robin, he's no fawning sidekick.
He's got the coolest friends Col. James Rhodes, aka War Machine (Don Cheadle), is a much more entertaining sidekick than Batman's Robin. In his real life, he's a full-on military man, and in his suit, he's just about as tough as Iron Man. But he and Tony have the greatest just-bros relationship outside of Joey and Chandler. ("It's not the '80s, nobody says 'hacks' anymore," Tony chides him in the new film.) And we also love Tony's pal Happy (Jon Favreau), who's head of security for a global corporation but still has no idea how to work an iPad.
He's not ashamed of his suit Captain America has his super-soldier serum, the Incredible Hulk his dose of gamma radiation. Iron Man is a smart and buff billionaire, but he wouldn't be a superhero without the powerful suit he himself invented. And who cares? Batman's just a regular billionaire too, with a really cool arsenal of Bat-gadgets. Tony's never hidden the fact that he needs his suit -- in fact, he almost revels in it, displaying his different outfits in his mansion and even giving them names.
Sometimes his stuff fails Does it ever. Like a smartphone, sometimes Iron Man's suit is crying out for a charge at the most inconvenient moments. Other times, Tony tries to call the pieces of the suit to him, and gets smacked in the face for his troubles. In the third film, it even zips to his aid while he's sleeping, which really freaks out Pepper.
Gwyneth Paltrow is neither a babe nor a wimp as Pepper Potts.
His girlfriend is neither a wimp nor a babe Whatever you think of World's Most Beautiful Woman Gwyneth Paltrow, she does a decent job as Tony's girlfriend, the goofily named Pepper Potts. She doesn't slink around in gowns cut down to there like a Bond girl, and she doesn't cower in the background and wait to get kidnapped either (although it has happened). She and Tony have an easy rapport and you do believe they care about each other. Tony's lost a lot of things through his own stupid fault, and it's clear he doesn't want Pepper to be one of them.
He's up on pop culture Tony, and his entire film series, doesn't live in the 1940s, like Captain America, or in some grim and somber Gotham, like Batman. He's a part of our world, with all its bad TV and fast food and cheesy products. He wears a Black Sabbath shirt (in sly tribute to their "Iron Man" song). He references Barrel of Monkeys during a mid-air rescue. In "Iron Man 3," he finds himself donning a Dora the Explorer watch, and learning that his pal Happy is addicted to "Downton Abbey." Tony lives in Malibu, not Made Up Ville.
He knows how to be rich Tony Stark is a billionaire, and he knows how to be one. He bought himself a space-age stunner of a mansion on the cliffs of Malibu, and he drives fancy speedsters like the all-electric concept car, the Audi R8. He sweeps in to fancy dinners and balls in a tux and occasionally breaks a paparazzi's camera -- just as we like to think we would do if our bank account were a whole lot fatter.
Robert Downey Jr. (in Iron Man suit) with Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts in "Iron Man 3."
By Rebecca Ford, The Hollywood Reporter
For the past several months, trailers for this summer's most anticipated films have been hitting the web on a nearly daily basis. But the trailers aimed at getting moviegoers excited for these big-budget releases may be showing off a bit too much.
According to a new study, half (49 percent) of Americans feel that movie trailers these days give away too many of a movie’s best scenes, with a full 16 percent agreeing strongly.
So should the scenes from "Iron Man 3" of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) saving a group of people falling from an airplane or flying through the air with an army of other Iron Mans be saved for when audiences actually hit the theater?
The findings from the YouGov Omnibus survey taken April 26 to 28 found that the reveal of plot in a trailer deterred only about 19 percent of respondents from wanting to see the movie. In contrast, 24 percent said that it made them want to see the film more.
Movie studios have tried a variety of techniques over the past few years when it comes to trailers. Some, such as recent release Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise, have gone out of their way to avoid showing major surprises in the plot. And Lionsgate's "Hunger Games" trailers didn't show any of the footage from the actual arena where the fighting took place.
What remains important to moviegoers when they actually sit down in the theater is that there's a good plot or storyline to the film (77 percent), followed by the cast (45 percent), the genre (22 percent), the director (20 percent) and the book or play it’s based on (15 percent).
Once you're an adult, summer doesn't quite mean what it used to. Most of us don't get June, July and August off any more, and end up whiling away the majority of the season staring wistfully out the office window at that so-fleeting sunshine.
"Man of Steel," "The Great Gatsby," "World War Z" and "Monsters University" are among our picks for summer must-see movies.
But one of the perks of summer that Americans of all ages and job descriptions get is the summer movie season. Don't expect to see gritty, intense Oscar contenders on these long, hot days -- this is the time for pure popcorn, light and fluffy films with explosions and animation, superheroes and zombies.
More than 60 movies will open over the course of the summer. Here are 11 you'll want to consider putting on your must-see list.
If you can only see ONE summer blockbuster, see 'Iron Man 3' It's tough to imagine the "Iron Man" series without cocky, wisecracking Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role. Who else could make Tony Stark/Iron Man the most fascinating superhero onscreen? Stark is super, sure, but he also has battled alcoholism and anxiety attacks, and his super-flubs are as intriguing as his big battles. Downey makes you buy into it for two-plus hours in "Iron Man 3," backed by a superb supporting cast, including Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau, Guy Pearce and Gwyneth Paltrow. Other films have their fans (we hear you, Trekkies!), but "Iron Man 3" might be the biggest summer blockbuster in a summer filled with them. (Opens May 3.)
If you're an English major, see 'The Great Gatsby' If we made a list of the movies least likely to benefit from 3-D, "The Great Gatsby" would top that list. Hey! Guess what? Hollywood put it in 3-D anyway! It's supposed to give a more immersive experience, but really, can't F. Scott Fitzgerald's legendary characters and story do that on their own? But this latest rendition of "Gatsby" is going all out, with Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as Nick and Carey Mulligan as Daisy. Aussie director Baz Luhrmann made "Moulin Rouge!" and "Romeo + Juliet," and both those films made waves for their style and panache. Traditionalists who want to see a straightforward march straight to the green light at the end of Daisy's dock may be clutching their knotted pearls when they see this one. (Opens May 10.)
If you're missing your friends from Starfleet Academy, see 'Star Trek Into Darkness' Give the folks behind "Star Trek: Into Darkness" (and its 2009 predecessor, "Star Trek") huge props. Rebooting a series that was so beloved for so long without alienating devoted fans has to rank right up there with solving the Kobayashi Maru training exercise. And like a young James T. Kirk back in his school days, they somehow pulled it off. The rebooted movie series is a solid new take on Kirk, Spock, Bones and the rest -- we especially love Simon "Shaun of the Dead" Pegg as Scotty. And as much as Trekkies love to dig for info, this film has managed to maintain a certain secrecy about the villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch and named John Harrison. Is Harrison a version of the legendary baddie Khan? Or Gary Mitchell from the original series? Does it matter? We'll be there faster than a red-shirted ensign can say, "Look out, Capt--" (Opens May 17.)
If you like quirky growing-up tales, see 'The Kings of Summer' It looks a little like "Stand By Me" with a more modern, sarcastic sensibility. "The Kings of Summer" was a Sundance hit. Three boys whose parents are driving them crazy build a house in the woods -- and a pretty decent one, too -- and leave civilzation behind. Or kind of. They may make occasional forays to a nearby Boston Market. In previews, the boys are charming and likable, and the parents include the fabulous Nick Offerman who reportedly all but steals the movie. We're guessing this will become a cult fave a la "Donnie Darko." (Opens May 31.)
If you want to see Hollywood stars die horribly yet humorously, see 'This Is the End' It's maybe the weirdest concept film of the summer. Hollywood stars play themselves having a big party at James Franco's house jut as the apocalypse -- complete with hellfire, crumbling earth, monsters and Rapture-style abductions -- comes to Los Angeles. Stars like Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and Craig Robinson react pretty much as any character they've ever played would react -- by running around like loons, fighting over the lone remaining Milky Way candy bar and getting robbed by Emma Watson. "Hermione stole all our (expletive)," announces Danny McBride. It could be awful, but based on the rapport of the leads, we're declaring it so silly it's might just be great. (Opens June 12.)
If you like your superheroes polite and clean-cut, see 'Man of Steel' Iron Man's charming, but his personal problems could fill a therapist's file cabinet. Not so Superman. Sure, he and Lois Lane have issues, but Clark Kent/Superman is still the superhero you could safely bring home to Mom. That can mean he's ... kinda boring, and the trailers don't do much to dispel that, showing a young Clark saving a busload of schoolkids and angstily fretting about his place in the world. One early review of the new "Man of Steel," however, claims that the trailer misrepresents things and Supes really kicks some butt in the movie. Some fans will always mourn Christopher Reeve, but new star Henry Cavil sure has the look down. We'll soon see if he can leap tall buildings in a single bound. (Opens June 14)
If you can't get enough zombies, see 'World War Z' "The Walking Dead" is on break, but zombies will be chewing brains all over the big screen in "World War Z." Here's our concern: The film's based on Max Brooks' excellent book, which is told by a UN employee who traveled the world interviewing people of all nationalities about how the zombie uprising affected them. (If you know Studs Terkel's "The Good War," it's that but with the undead.) But the movie's trailer takes Brooks' title and turns it into a we've-seen-this-before action flick as Brad Pitt works to save his children and wife from the zombies. Yes, you can't judge a film by a 2-minute preview, but between the excellence we've become accustomed to on "Walking Dead" and Brooks' fine book, we have high expectations. Someone on this set better have kept their braaaaaaaaaains. (Opens June 21)
If you have a kid, or are a kid at heart, see 'Monsters University' Not every sequel works, but "Monsters University," Pixar's prequel to its 2001 delight "Monsters Inc.," is positively inspired. Monsters Mike (voice of Billy Crystal) and Sulley (voice of John Goodman) were pals as co-workers in the original film, but when they met back in monster college, that wasn't the case. Bad for them, good for us, as we watch the dormmates fight it out (turns out Sulley sheds in his sleep) amid all the craziness of majoring in scaring. If this one doesn't entertain you, reassess your entertainment genes. (Opens June 21)
If you loved 'Bridesmaids,' see 'The Heat' "The Heat" is a buddy-cop comedy with a twist -- the cops are women. And not just any women, but Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. Director Paul Feig not only directed "Bridesmaids," he created the legendary "Freaks and Geeks," which always makes our list of "shows that should never have been canceled." Bullock's best when she's funny (sorry, "Blind Side" fans) and McCarthy is on a roll, so this should be fun. (June 28)
If you loved the Minions, see 'Despicable Me 2" It's a great summer for kid movies. In 2010's "Despicable Me," Steve Carell introduced us to Gru, a supervillain with a passel of little yellow pill-shaped Minions who gabble to each other in gibberish and engage in Three Stooges-style slapstick that's somehow cuter than normal coming from them. Gru seemed tough at first, but his heart quickly melted when he took in three orphan girls. He's back in the sequel, and the Anti-Villain League (with an agent voiced by Kristen Wiig) needs his help to take down another baddie. Thankfully, the Minions and the girls are along for the ride. If you can't get enough of the little yellow guys, another spinoff film, "Minions," is coming in 2014. (Opens July 3.)
If you loved 'Cars,' see 'Planes' Get ready for "Planes" bedsheets, stuffed toys, video games, phone apps and lunchboxes, because if you thought "Cars" saturated the world of kids, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Disney's "Planes" takes the action to the air with comic Dane Cook voicing Dusty Crophopper, the little cropduster with big dreams. He's no Lightning McQueen, but with a little help from his friends -- and a few zillion kid viewers -- he might just soar high. (Opens Aug. 9.)
"Pain & Gain," a dark action comedy starring Mark Wahlberg, muscled to the top of weekend box office charts with an estimated $20 million in U.S. and Canadian tickets sales.
Mark Fellman / Paramount via AP
Dwayne Johnson as Paul Doyle, left, Mark Wahlberg as Daniel Lugo, center, and Anthony Mackie as Adrian Doorbal in the film, "Pain and Gain."
The movie about bodybuilders on a crime spree knocked Tom Cruise's sci-fi thriller "Oblivion" into second place. The post-apocalyptic drama pulled in $17.4 million, according to studio estimates released on Sunday.
Baseball drama "42" took the No. 3 slot with sales of $10.7 million from Friday through Sunday. The movie tells the story of Jackie Robinson, Major League Baseball's first black player.
Paramount, a unit of Viacom Inc, released "Pain & Gain." Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp distributed "Oblivion" and Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros released "42."
The stars of classic teen angst tale "The Breakfast Club," from left, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez and Molly Ringwald.
By Kurt Schlosser, TODAY
If the newly dedicated George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum isn't on your list of must-see sites this summer, let us offer another way to spend some time in a library. Go watch "The Breakfast Club" again.
Instead of Dallas, you'll be in Shermer, Ill., for the 1985 film about five high school troublemakers spending a Saturday in detention. And while ex-President Bush was certainly known for any number of one-liners over the course of his eight years in office, we're more suited to looking back on our favorites from the brain, the beauty, the jock, the rebel, and the recluse.
Here's three (clean ones) from each of the five stars:
Brian Johnson/the brain (Anthony Michael Hall)
"She lives in Canada. I met her at Niagara Falls. You wouldn't know her." -- to Bender, on his sexual conquest
"When you pull the trunk, the light was supposed to come on and mine ... well ... didn't turn on." -- on his failed lamp project
"Chicks cannot hold their smoke. That's what it is." -- to Bender, while smoking pot
Claire Standish/the beauty (Molly Ringwald)
"Do you know how popular I am? I am so popular. Everybody loves me so much at this school." -- to the group
"I have a really low tolerance for dehydration." -- to Mr. Vernon
"You know, you look a lot better without all that black s--- under your eyes." -- to Allison, while doing her makeup
Andrew Clark/the jock (Emilio Estevez)
"Just you and me. Two hits. Me hitting you. You hitting the floor. Anytime you're ready, pal." -- to Bender
"I can, uh, tape all your buns together." -- to the group, on his talent
"We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all." -- to the group
Universal Music and acclaimed documentary filmmaker Asif Kapadia are teaming to bring the story of Amy Winehouse's life and career to the big screen.
Focus Features International, a division within the Universal empire, will shop the high-profile project to foreign buyers at next month's Cannes Film Market.
“This is an incredibly modern, emotional and relevant film that has the power to capture the zeitgeist and shine a light on the world we live in in a way that very few films can,” said Kapadia and producer James Gay-Rees.
“Amy was a once-in-a-generation talent who captured everyone's attention; she wrote and sung from the heart, and everyone fell under her spell. But tragically, Amy seemed to fall apart under the relentless media attention, her troubled relationships, her global success and precarious lifestyle. As a society we celebrated her huge success, but then we were quick to judge her failings when it suited us," they added.
Winehouse rose to international fame with her second album, "Back to Black," which has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide since its release in 2006. The English artist died in 2011 of alcohol poisoning.
“Asif and James have the remarkable ability to bring a moving and thought-provoking story to life, as evidenced by Senna. We look forward to seeing their vision of Amy Winehouse," Focus International co-president Alison Thompson said.
The untitled Winehouse doc reunites Kapadia with producer Gay-Rees; they worked together on the 2010 award-winning doc "Senna," which recounts the life and death of Brazilian car-racing champion Ayrton Senna.