The end of summer approaches, and the movie titles have begun to run together. Did I just see “The Rise of Captain Transformers and the Ghostly Hallows’’? Or was it “Friends With Bridesmaids Trip Cowboys & Aliens First Class: Part 2’’? The movies may run together, but certain specific things in them don’t. Those things may be a bit of dialogue, an actor’s look, a particular scene, even a choice of costume. They’re as varied as the people who enjoyed them and they’re what we cherish in memory long after the taste of the popcorn has faded and the ticket stub ended up in the trash.
Summertime and the moviegoing may or may not be easy, but movie remembering is - or at least it is with these moments for these writers.
Amid the barrage of nearly nonstop boom-boom-boom that is “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,’’ there occurs a moment of such mind-blowing incongruity that it almost justifies the existence of Michael Bay’s filmography. In 1961, NASA detected something anomalous on the dark side of the moon. It turned out to be a Transformer spacecraft, but to determine this required sending men to the moon. Yes, that’s right: Transformers inspired the Apollo program. Anyway, about half an hour into the movie Buzz Aldrin, playing himself, is introduced to Optimus Prime, playing itself. “It’s an honor to meet you, commander,’’ says one of the two participants in the greatest feat of exploration in human history. “No, the honor is all mine,’’ replies the giant CGI-generated
OK, Ryan Gosling took off his shirt. Justin Timberlake took off his pants. And Chris Evans just took off. But the most impressive summer star event involved the man who showed some restraint. Not only did he keep his pants on, he wore them under chaps. Then allowed himself (demanded?) to be photographed as much from the rear as from the front, while saving the Wild West from Universal’s digital effects department in “Cowboys & Aliens.’’ That man’s name is Daniel Craig, and even though he’s British and not Chris Evans, he’s now Captain America to me. I don’t know what disco saloon he’s going to later, but the first Rusty Nail is on me.
For most of the unexpectedly engrossing “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,’’ action has spoken louder than words. Caesar, the genetically monkeyed-with superchimp, has come of age and emerged as a leader of his fellow simians. They’ve held off the panicked humans at the Golden Gate Bridge and established a temporary stronghold in the redwoods. There, at last, the hero confronts his scientist-creator (James Franco) and with three hair-raising little words - “Caesar is home’’ - changes the stakes forever.
Disney’s latest retelling of “Winnie the Pooh’’ mostly flows like a lazy river of honey, with child-proofed edges that might as well be crib bumpers. Maybe that’s why the first time the animators have letters pop off a storybook page to bonk a character on the head or make like playground structures to be climbed and ridden, you’re simultaneously startled, delighted, and impressed. When’s the last time you saw big words being employed as props and action heroes in a children’s movie? When’s the last time you saw big words being employed in a children’s movie at all? Someone get those letters a SAG card.
I haven’t grown out of poop humor. Thankfully, Kristen Wiig hasn’t either. Her diarrhea scene in this summer’s kick-off comedy, “Bridesmaids,’’ was a hysterical, epic mess of bowel movements in formal wear brilliantly played out by Wiig and her “Saturday Night Live’’ pal Maya Rudolph. There Rudolph stands, in an over-priced designer wedding gown. Suddenly, she takes off into the street looking for a safe place to deal with the aftermath of tainted Brazilian barbecue. But she doesn’t make it far. She squats in the middle of a public road, giving in to the urge, still wearing her perfect dress as a sweating Wiig tries to avoid the same fate. It was my No. 1 movie moment of the summer. Well, actually, let’s call it No. 2.
Superhero movies tweak some details because they just can’t do things that comic books can - like making a guy look soldierly in a Spandex mask sprouting Mercury wings. Then there’s the electric finale of “Captain America,’’ in which (spoiler ahead, newbies) Chris Evans’s World War II icon wakes from suspended animation and agitatedly races out into modern-day Times Square, shot as a disorienting swirl of traffic, neon, and even metaphor-heavy fog. That’s something the comics couldn’t do.
She has played dowagers, schoolteachers, spinsters, secretaries, and at least one eccentric aunt, but a new generation will forever identify Maggie Smith with Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter movies. McGonagall awarded Harry his broomstick in the first film but had less to do as the series progressed. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2’’ gave Smith a deserved curtain call when the upright professor summoned her powers to shield Hogwarts from apocalyptic devastation.
In Mike Mills’s “Beginners,’’ Hal (Christopher Plummer) comes out as gay at 75, following the death of his longtime wife. Late one evening, Hal calls and wakes his son, Oliver (Ewan McGregor), to ask about the wonderful loud music he’s just been dancing to at a club. Dismissively, Oliver tells him it’s probably house music. “House music . . . OK!’’ he repeats enthusiastically, scribbling it down. The moment captures the exuberance and wonder with which Hal has embraced his new life. And it might be the best reception that house music has ever gotten.
“Friends With Benefits’’ is a very odd movie, in that whenever Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis are standing up, the dialogue is forced and banal, and whenever they are horizontal in bed, their talk is screwball salty and delightful. And, speaking of bed, my favorite scene is something I’ve never seen before on screen, though it’s been negotiated since cave men and cave chicks cohabited: How can Justin and Mila wriggle about so that the person on top can become the person on the bottom? It’s Kama Sutra lite! GERALD PEARY
There’s nothing like a good lair. Kevin Bacon’s submarine in “X-Men: First Class’’ is not only complete with the requisite unbelievably advanced evil weaponry, it also has a swinging ’60s entertainment pit. While I enjoyed the pulsating action, I just couldn’t get my mind off of this burning question: Who picked out the snazzy wallpaper in the lounge?
This summer, when depressing talk of debt ceilings and downgrades filled the air, I preferred to take a metaphorical seat in the back of Steve Coogan’s Range Rover. Coogan and fellow comedian Rob Brydon, playing deliriously skewed versions of themselves, were starring in Michael Winterbottom’s “The Trip.’’ Best was when they filled the empty conversational spaces by imagining their own warped “Braveheart’’-style epic to be shot amid their magnificently stark surroundings. “Gentlemen, to bed, for we rise at 9:30. . .ish.’’