Like so much Christmas crap in the drugstore on the day after Halloween, the summer movie season comes on way too early and too strong. The Avengers hit theaters a week ago, about two months before summer actually arrives. Hell, even in Colorado Springs, where summer vacation begins early, you know someone who's still in school.
With that in mind, this summer movie preview takes the form of a pop quiz. Consider it a tiredly familiar yet strangely self-congratulating format, à la your typical blockbuster, and a mercifully gentle segue into sustained respite from actual mental labor.
Just try your best, and we'll see you next year!
1. Using the Franchise Repopulation Profitability Theorem, calculate the percentage change of projected box-office revenue for each casting decision below.
A) Colin Farrell in a role once played by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Total Recall, Aug. 3)
B) Andrew Garfield in a role thrice played by Tobey Maguire (The Amazing Spider-Man, July 3)
C) Jeremy Renner in a role similar to one thrice played by Matt Damon (The Bourne Legacy, Aug. 3)
D) Josh Brolin in a role twice played, and now played again, in the same movie, by Tommy Lee Jones (Men in Black III, May 25)
E) Jesse Eisenberg in every role played by Woody Allen (To Rome With Love, June 22)
F) Mark Ruffalo in a role once played by Edward Norton and once played by Eric Bana (The Avengers, now in theaters)
ANSWERS: Whatever. It's summer, almost. Let's leave the math to the studio bean counters. Also, there is no such theorem.
2. Which of these movies does not involve invasive extraterrestrials but probably would be better if it did?
A) Battleship (May 18), in which the battle for Earth begins at sea
B) What to Expect When You're Expecting (May 18), in which five interconnected couples come to understand the universal truth that no matter what you plan for, life doesn't always deliver what's expected
C) Men in Black III, in which Will Smith goes back to the past ... to save the future
D) The Watch (formerly Neighborhood Watch, July 27), in which Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn patrol the suburbs
3. Just what is Ridley Scott's Prometheus (June 8), anyway?
A) A science-fiction film starring Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron, which has something to do with Scott's other film, Alien, but is not officially a prequel thereto
B) A fictional movie adaptation of America's No. 1 bestselling pregnancy guide
C) The demigod who gave us fire, for which he was punished by having his liver eaten by an eagle and then becoming the property of 20th Century Fox
D) Actually just another really elaborate commercial for some new Apple product
4. According to a sobering new historical epic that opens June 22 and stars Benjamin Walker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Anthony Mackie, President Abraham Lincoln did what?
A) Believed in America
B) Freed slaves
C) Killed vampires
D) All of the above
5. Which of these at least has the virtue of not even trying to seem hip?
A) Oliver Stone's Savages (July 6), in which two marijuana growers (Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch) fight — with each other and with a Mexican cartel — over the same woman (Blake Lively)
B) Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom (May 16, limited), in which young lovers run away together from a 1960s New England island town
C) Premium Rush (Aug. 24), in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a bike messenger on a life-or-death chase through the streets of Manhattan
D) Hope Springs (Aug. 10), in which Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones get therapy from couples counselor Steve Carell.
6. Honestly, which of these titles would you most rather see applied to porn?
A) The Dictator (May 16)
B) Piranha 3D (June 1)
C) Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1)
D) Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D (July 5)
E) The Dark Knight Rises (July 20)
ANSWER: Seriously, just curious. No right answer. No judgments.
7. Which of the following scenarios describes the plot of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane's feature directorial debut, Ted (July 13)?
A) A popular annual conference devoted to "ideas worth spreading" is seized by double entendres, each revealed through a dynamic cutaway
B) A biopic about the late senator Edward Kennedy that's also a drinking game, whose dialogue prompts include, most frequently, the word "Chappaquiddick"
C) Mark Wahlberg plays a man whose relationship with his girlfriend, played by Mila Kunis, is jeopardized by his relationship with a talking teddy bear, voiced by MacFarlane
D) Two old pals — played by Ted Danson and Ted Nugent, both in blackface — go on a cross-country road trip to reconnect with each other and themselves
8. Brave refers to what?
A) Sylvester Stallone and his mothballed action-hero pals going through with a sequel to The Expendables (The Expendables 2, Aug. 17).
B) Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd in a comedy about politics (The Campaign, Aug. 10)
C) Anyone anywhere who consumes hot dogs purchased from movie theater concession stands
D) The new animated movie from Pixar (June 22), in which a Scottish archer princess (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) defies her traditionalist parents (Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson), no doubt in visually spectacular fashion
ANSWER: D (All others are merely "brave.")
9. What do Chernobyl Diaries (May 25), a thriller in which comely young tourists find trouble at the former site of a nuclear disaster, and Rock of Ages (June 15), a jukebox musical set in the heyday of glam metal and starring Tom Cruise, have in common?
A) Both somehow required three screenwriters
B) Both are needless and likely tasteless reminders of the horrors of the 1980s
C) Both celebrate the power of the human spirit
D) A and B
10. Which of the following Tyler Perry comedies opens on June 29?
A) Tyler Perry's Battleship
B) Tyler Perry's Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D (no relation)
C) Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection
D) Tyler Perry's Chernobyl Diaries