Countdown to Fall: Seven Movies Worth Seeing Before Summer's a Wrap
Now that freshly sharpened pencils and bouquets of notebooks and folders dominate the aisles of your favorite places to shop, those lazy, hazy days of summer are officially numbered. But before you bid adieu to your flip flops, shorts and lemonade by the pool, don’t miss an opportunity to experience one last hurrah with some pretty terrific entertainment options in August. Here’s the skinny on what’s new and the local Cineplex (and on DVD, if staying in is more your thing).
Speaking of staying in, to check out gmc's always uplifting array of movies, click here.
The Contender: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, starring Zachary Gordon, Steve Zahn and Robert Capron
Release Date: August 3
The Premise: Picking right up where The Last Straw left off in the novels, Dog Days details what starts as Greg’s worst summer over, thanks to way too many hours spent at the local country club. But this being a Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, you know things are bound to pick up – and they definitely do!
The One-Two Punch: The popular book series gets another big-screen installment, and this one is easily the funniest yet.
The Verdict: Unlike the first couple of films that were uneven at best, the filmmakers have finally found their funny groove with Dog Days, a reminder that sometimes the difference between a good summer and a bad one is making the most of whatever situation you find yourself in.
The Contender: Blue Like Jazz, starring Marshall Allman, Justin Welborn and Jason Marsden, now on DVD
Release Date: August 7
The Premise: After growing up in church and “doing all the right things,” a 19-year-old named Don examines what true faith really looks like by ditching his plans to attend a Christian college and signing up for an entirely different learning experience at a liberal university on the West Coast.
The One-Two Punch: For anyone who’s felt a bit disillusioned by how Christianity is portrayed in film and in real life, Blue Like Jazz, which is based on Donald Miller’s best-selling book, turns those familiar notions on their head.
The Verdict: For viewers uncomfortable with films that don't provide all the answers, Blue Like Jazz may not sit well. But for anyone willing to embrace the idea that faith is complex, especially in light of how the outside world feels about Christianity, well, it's an intriguing, thought-provoking experience that’ll provide plenty of opportunities for interesting post-movie conversation.
The Contender: The Lorax, starring the voices of Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Zac Efron and Taylor Swift, now on DVD
Release Date: August 7
The Premise: A lovesick 12-year-old searches for that one thing that’ll help him capture the heart of the girl of his dreams. As it turns out, though, he must first discover the story of the Lorax – and like the Grinch, he’s grumpiness personified.
The One-Two Punch: Dr. Seuss’s stories are nothing short of timeless, and the universal themes of The Lorax shine bright here.
The Verdict: With colorful animation, plenty of humor and great turns from a slew of celebrity voices, The Lorax is a winning pick for the whole family.
The Contender: The Bourne Legacy, starring Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton
Release Date: August 10
The Premise: While it’s not being billed as a prequel, The Bourne Legacy does provide insight into what inspired many of the events of the first three “Bourne” films.
The One-Two Punch: Continuing the popular “Bourne” franchise, even without Matt Damon in the lead, longtime fans can’t help but wonder how the movie will fare without little more than a mention of Jason Bourne.
The Verdict: Like its predecessors, the pace is fast and furious and the violence stretches the boundaries of the PG-13 rating. But when filmmakers can deliver something just as compelling without the usual bold-faced name in a leading role, that’s a pretty spectacular feat.
The Contender: The Odd Life of Timothy Green, starring Jennifer Garner, Ron Livingston, Joel Edgerton and C.J. Adams
Release Date: August 15
The Premise: When a happily married couple has trouble starting their own family, they eventually discover how the line between dreams and reality is blurred when they meet one extraordinary boy named Timothy Green.
The One-Two Punch: In true Disney fashion, even oddness ends up being a virtue in the story of a peculiar boy who mysteriously makes his way into the lives of this small-town couple.
The Verdict: Considering the movie’s release date had been pushed back a couple of times, it’s not surprising that most critics (myself included) thought it might be a serious dud. While there are a couple of moments that might send someone’s cynicism into overdrive, The Odd Life is mostly an unabashedly sweet story that celebrates the importance of family and accepting people – eccentricities and all.
The Contender: Sparkle, starring Jordin Sparks, Derek Luke and the late Whitney Houston
Release Date: August 17
The Premise: Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) is a true talent, but her journey to the top is hampered by some serious behind-the-scenes family drama.
The One-Two Punch: As Ray, Walk the Line and Dreamgirls have proven, being a big chart-topping star is not all it’s cracked up to be behind the scenes. And in light of the recent death of one of the story’s leads, that message couldn’t be more relevant.
The Verdict: The music is spectacular and so is the acting in this moving coming-of-age story. While no one will be surprised by the plot, the struggles that come with fame are movingly portrayed.
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About the Writer
After graduating with a B.S. in Journalism from North Central University in 1998, Christa Banister moved from Minneapolis to Nashville, Tenn. and eventually started working at CCM Magazine/Salem Publishing in various editorial capacities as an editor, columnist and website guru for five and a half years. After that, she launched her own Dallas-based freelance writing company and writes for numerous clients including Salem Publishing, Crosswalk.com (she reviews movies for them each week), Christian Single, Christianity Today, Threads Media, Songs4Worship.com, PassAlong.com and also helped kickstart the first Christian music blog for MTV. In addition, she also writes bios for professional recording artists and authors and penned her first two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers for NavPress.
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