Summer movies: Comedy, animation firmly in sequel mode - East Valley Tribune: Movies

Summer movies: Comedy, animation firmly in sequel mode

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Posted: Saturday, May 7, 2011 3:15 pm | Updated: 12:35 am, Mon May 30, 2011.

LOS ANGELES — In real life, hangovers make us promise to be good and never do it again, until the next time. In Hollywood, fans have been anxious to do it again ever since they walked out of the surprise comedy blockbuster "The Hangover" two years ago.

As the posters proclaim: the wolf pack is back, with Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis reuniting for another clueless morning after in "The Hangover Part II," which leads a big summer lineup of comedy, romance and family fun.

Two animated tales also are in follow-up mode. Jack Black, Angelina Jolie and Dustin Hoffman again lead the voice cast for the martial-arts comedy "Kung Fu Panda 2," while Michael Caine joins returning voice stars Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy for the racing adventure "Cars 2."

The laugh list features Kevin James' talking-animal romp "Zookeeper"; Jim Carrey's family story "Mr. Popper's Penguins"; the return of beloved animated creatures with "Winnie the Pooh" and "The Smurfs"; Steve Carell's marital-crisis romance "Crazy, Stupid, Love"; and a couple of titles that say it all: Cameron Diaz's "Bad Teacher" and "Horrible Bosses," with Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston.

There's also a rush of wedding and engagement romances: Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin's "Something Borrowed"; Kristen Wiig's "Bridesmaids"; and the ensemble tale "Jumping the Broom," with Angela Bassett, Paula Patton and Mike Epps.

But the nuptial bash of the season is the next chapter of "The Hangover." This time, Stu (Helms) is getting married in Thailand, where he and his buddies (Cooper, Galifianakis and Justin Bartha) aim for a quiet pre-wedding brunch to avoid repeating the mistakes they made in Las Vegas.

Instead, they manage to pack another lost weekend into a single night, one guy awakening with a new hairdo, another with a tattoo, and all of them with hurting heads and mysteries from the night before to solve on the streets of Bangkok.

Why Bangkok this time? Same reason as Vegas the first time.

"Vegas for me is like the fifth character in the first 'Hangover.' It's so important, the location of these movies. When you say Las Vegas, it means something," said Todd Phillips, writer-director of "The Hangover" flicks. "When I say Las Vegas, it means bad decisions. When I say Bangkok, I think of trouble. ... The environment is a huge problem for the guys in this movie. The language and customs."

Dealing with exotic ways also is at the heart of "Cars 2," in which Wilson's Lightning McQueen heads out on an international racing circuit, where rickety tow-truck buddy Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) is mistaken for an undercover agent and pressed into service by a slick British spymaster (Caine).

Having a buck-toothed jalopy as his vehicular alter-ego delights Larry the Cable Guy.

"When I first saw it, my wife said, 'It looks just like you. They couldn't have found a better voice. It's just like you,'" he said. "I can't imagine Mater having another voice. That's exactly what I would look like if I was a truck. I really think it would be. Because at the time, I had really bad teeth, and now I've got new ones."

In "Kung Fu Panda 2," Black's tubby hero Po has settled in as head of a martial-arts team that includes a menagerie of experts voiced by Jolie, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu.

Gary Oldman provides the voice of a villainous peacock aiming to unleash a terrible new weapon in the ancient Chinese realm that Po and his gang are sworn to defend.

There's talk of turning the franchise into a trilogy, Black said.

"I'm on board for that. Sometimes, you click with a cool character that has life beyond just one film," Black said. "It's kind of like doing a TV series. I'd be really bummed if 'Dexter' stopped after their first season. It's like I'm on my second season of 'Kung Fu Panda.' As long as it's kick-ass, why stop?"

While Po was destined to lead, Diaz's character in "Bad Teacher" was never meant for the classroom. She's rude, raunchy and boozy, with a lesson plan mainly aimed at hooking a rich substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake) while fending off advances from a nice-guy gym instructor (Jason Segel).

Diaz gets to cut loose with profanity playing a woman whose life she describes as "one big F-bomb."

"Usually, when you swear on set, they're like, 'Oh, we're not going to be able to use that one,' or 'We only get one of those, so let's pick where it goes,'" Diaz said. "That's not fun, picking where you're going to swear. Who wants to do that? You don't want to use it judiciously. You want it to be liberal, and you want to sort of pile it on. Slather it on."

Bateman and his co-stars are similarly unrestrained in "Horrible Bosses" and a second comedy he has this summer, "The Change-Up," with Ryan Reynolds.

"Horrible Bosses" features Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis as underlings who take bad advice from an ex-con (Jamie Foxx) about how to do away with their awful overseers (Aniston, Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell).

"The Change-Up" stars Reynolds and Bateman as old friends with drastically different lives — one's a stressed out lawyer and family man, the other's a laid-back slacker — who wake up after a drunken night to discover they've switched bodies.

While studios often soften comedies to get a PG-13 rating that allows younger viewers in without an adult, "Horrible Bosses" and "The Change-Up" — as with "Bad Teacher" — take full advantage of the R rating for language and tone, Bateman said.

"I think the whole strategy of trying to edit certain things out of a movie in order to get a PG-13 rating in hopes of getting a wider audience seems like a pretty antiquated strategy considering the amount of money R-rated comedies have made," Bateman said. "What we're trying to do is replicate real life. Real life is pretty R-rated."

Other comedy highlights:

— "Bridesmaids": Even as her own life is falling apart, a maid of honor (Kristen Wiig) aims to lead a pack of bridesmaids on a grand wedding ride for her best friend (Maya Rudolph).

— "Something Borrowed": Romance and friendship collide after a woman (Ginnifer Goodwin) spends the night with the fiance of her best pal (Kate Hudson).

— "Crazy, Stupid, Love": Steve Carell goes awkwardly back on the dating market after his wife (Julianne Moore) gives him the boot, and a smooth operator (Ryan Gosling) takes him on as "wing man."

— "Zookeeper": A lonely animal tender (Kevin James) gets lessons on courting women from his charges — a menagerie of talking critters.

— "Jumping the Broom": Two families from wildly different worlds converge for a wedding weekend on Martha's Vineyard. With Angela Bassett, Paula Patton, Laz Alonso and Mike Epps.

— "Friends With Benefits": Two pals (Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis) complicate their lives when they decide they can have sex together without messing up their friendship.

— "Monte Carlo": Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy are friends who land in a fairy-tale European vacation after one of them is mistaken for an heiress.

— "Mr. Popper's Penguins": A real-estate kingpin (Jim Carrey) is forced to become caretaker for six penguins he inherits.

— "Winnie the Pooh": The honey-loving bear returns with pals Tigger, Piglet, Roo and Eeyore, who gets some help finding a new tail after losing his own.

— "The Smurfs": The little blue guys find themselves exiled to Manhattan's Central Park, scrambling to find their way home after an evil wizard banishes them.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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