Have Popcorn, Will Preview
The tried and the true have long been a part of the studio formula for box-office success, and this year's spring movie line-up is banking heavily on audiences' love of sequels. But every now and then an original story makes its way to the big screen, and every now and then a sequel ends up being more than just the sum of its previous parts.
Here are some questions to ponder during this year's spring thaw:
- Will it still be "Cowabunga!" for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans after such a long layoff?
- Will former gangsta rapper Ice Cube continue his comedic success playing the family man?
- And will the month of May's back-to-back-to-back blockbuster threequels smash box-office records, or will the third time around for Jack Sparrow, Peter Parker, and Shrek prove to be too much of a good thing?
Here's a line-up of select family films debuting before this Memorial Day:
Duuuude ... The mean, green, pizza-loving foursome of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael return for another big-screen adventure but this time they'll be fighting evil and tossing around juvenile humor as CGI animated characters, rather than actors in the clunky costumes of yore.
'The Last Mimzy' (Friday, March 23)
Mimzy is the name of a beat-up stuffed rabbit found in a box of toys from the future by two children who develop amazing superpowers, which they use to terrorize their parents and teachers as well as to do good deeds. But mostly to terrorize.
Rated PG for some thematic elements, mild peril, and language.
'Meet the Robinsons' (Friday, March 30)
Lewis is a talented young inventor who dreams of having the family he's never had. His latest project is his most ambitious the Memory Scanner, a machine that he hopes will help him find his mother. The invention is stolen by Bowler Hat Guy and Lewis' journey takes an unexpected turn when a mysterious stranger named Wilbur Robinson whisks him away to a world where anything is possible.
'Firehouse Dog' (Wednesday, April 4)
Hollywood's hottest canine is a pampered pooch who does his own stunts, but while making his latest action film he ends up in a role he didn't count on -- stray dog. Befriending a lonely kid (Josh Hutcherson) whose struggling, single dad is the local fire chief, Rexxx eventually turns their fortunes around, becoming the beloved mascot of the fire station.
Rated PG for sequences of action peril, some mild crude humor, and language.
'Are We Done Yet?' (Friday, April 6)
In this sequel to "Are We There Yet?" (2005), Ice Cube returns as the pater familias of his now growing household as he and his new wife (Nia Long) decide to move the family out of the city to find a better life and more living space. Their fixer-upper home in the country quickly becomes a money pit and an unscrupulous contractor (John C. McGinley) only adds to their troubles.
Rated PG for some innuendos and brief language.
'Spider-Man 3' (Friday, May 4)
Having settled into a groove with girlfriend M.J. (Kirsten Dunst), Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is finally starting to come to terms with his reluctant superhero status before a mysterious darkness begins to take hold, turning the web slinger's suit to black and giving him enhanced powers. He finds himself alienated from the people he cares about most, even as he faces two new bad guys, Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and Venom (Topher Grace).
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence.
'Shrek the Third' (Friday, May 18)
Shrek (Mike Myers) is enjoying his own happily-ever-after in the swamp until his father-in-law, King Harold (John Cleese), becomes ill. Next in line for the throne, Shrek enlists the help of Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) to find a suitable replacement heir before Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) can object.
Rated PG for some crude humor, suggestive content and swashbuckling action.
'Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End' (Friday, May 25)
Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) boldly goes where no pirate has gone before. Along with Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), the unconventional seafarer sails into uncharted waters and meets a new rival, Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), on the high seas.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action/adventure violence and some frightening images.