The Movie Watcher’s Guide to August 2009

By  · Published on August 7th, 2009

The summer’s almost over, and so far it’s been an incredibly mixed bag movie-wise. Star Trek, The Hangover, and Harry Potter are some of the few deserving wins on the box-office side while most of the supposed summer blockbusters including X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Terminator: Salvation, Bruno, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen all failed to make a financial mark (yeah, that last one was just wishful thinking because the movie sucked so much ass). Quality-wise, many of the summer’s best films have actually been of the decidedly smaller variety including 500 Days of Summer, The Hurt Locker, Moon, and Away We Go.

Which brings us to the final month of summer 2009…

August 7th

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra

What is it? Hasbro’s most popular toy line for boys comes to life with an advance military team of real American heroes fighting against an evil organization with cool gadgets, deadly weapons, and kung-fu grips.

What about it? Has there ever been a film that received more negative pre-release buzz than GI Joe? The past few months have seen random bits of criticism about the movie get amplified across the web by just about every movie site (including this one). The reports were based on anonymous sources, advance screening reviews, and pure speculation, and were legitimate news items for the most part… but if a select group of web journalists are to be believed all that negativity was pure bullshit. Director Stephen Sommers has never made a great movie, but the new advance buzz says that may be about to change. At least for ten year old boys.

Read Neil Miller’s early review of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra here

Watch the trailer:

Julie & Julia

What is it? Writer/director Nora Ephron turns two books into a single movie. One is an autobiography from Julia Child and the other is by a blogger who cooked her way through Child’s most popular French cookbook over the course of a year.

What about it? Ephron’s name on the director chair doesn’t exactly instill confidence. Her last worthwhile movie was 1993’s Sleepless In Seattle (shut it haters, it was a good movie), and having seen Julie & Julia I can say that while it’s her best work since 1993 it’s still a pretty average film. Amy Adams is at her most delightful though and Meryl Streep has an absolute blast mimicking Child’s vocal stylings.

Read my review of Julie & Julia here.

Watch the Trailer:

A Perfect Getaway

What is it? Newlyweds honeymooning in Hawaii cross paths with two other couples… and at least one of them is a killer. Although I’m betting that by film’s end they’ll all turn out to be killers.

What about it? Writer/director David Twohy is fairly reliable in his genre work… he’s written and/or directed Pitch Black, Below, The Fugitive, Waterworld, and more. The trailer looks cool (even if it does appear to give away a bit too much), and the cast including Timothy Olyphant, Steve Zahn, Chris Hemsworth, and Milla Jovovich is pretty solid.

Read my review of A Perfect Getaway here.

Watch the Trailer:

In Limited Release:

August 14th


What is it? A group of teen outcasts with music in their hearts and crotches form a band. The scrappy group enters the biggest music competition in town… can they pull it together enough to pull it off and win?

What about it? Didn’t star Vanessa Hudgens already cover this ground in High School Musical?

Watch the Trailer:

District 9

What is it? Alien ships appear above South Africa and the visitors are forced to live in refugee-like slums behind fences and armed guards. They just want to go home but the humans won’t let them leave… a decision they’ll regret when a federal agent is accidentally exposed to an alien gas and all hell breaks loose.

What about it? Regardless of Neil’s claim that Iron Man 2 was the big winner out of Comic Con this year, District 9 is the one that wowed me the most. (And no, I wasn’t there.) The movie’s first half reportedly lays down a not-so-subtle message about racism and apartheid before kicking things into high gear with giant robots, fierce action sequences, and gobs of blood. This may just be the sci-fi blockbuster that puts all the others to shame this year.

Watch the Trailer:

The Goods: Live Hard Sell Hard

What is it? A remake of Used Cars apparently… Jeremy Piven and a bunch of other funny guys race to sell out a used car lot in a short amount of time.

What about it? The Goods is from the writers behind Balls Out and I’m hoping they’ve stepped up their comedic skills since then (so I don’t get another passive aggressive email from one half of the writing team). The trailer looks kind of flat, but I find it hard to believe having a cast this talented hasn’t resulted in a funny movie.

Watch the Trailer:

The Time Traveler’s Wife

What is it? A woman falls in love with a man who travels uncontrollably through time. He appears to her in her childhood (but after he’s already met and loved her adult self in the future) and plants the seed reserves a space for his future love in her heart. Sounds more perverted and unethical than romantic doesn’t it?

What about it? Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams star as the couple and both of them are solid actors, but the love story at play here has a huge hurdle to overcome with the whole time travel without purpose shtick.

Watch the Trailer:

In Limited Release

August 21st

Inglourious Basterds

What is it? Quentin Tarantino’s World War II opus about a squad of soldiers romping around Europe scalping Nazis. The question is would they still do it if Ticketmaster didn’t charge those damn extra fees?

What about it? Advance word is exactly what we should expect from Tarantino… lots of talking, very little action.Is that a bad thing? Probably not since Tarantino’s strength is definitely with dialogue. And Brad Pitt’s accent aside, early footage has looked fairly promising as well.

Watch the Trailer:

Post Grad

What is it? No idea.

What about it? It’s release is three weeks away, but the movie has had little to no advance publicity. So according to IMDB, Alexis Bledel stars as a young woman trying to get her life together. Sounds pretty generic but the supporting cast looks interesting… Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch, Carol Burnett, Craig Robinson, Fred Armisen…

Watch the Trailer:


What is it? A little nerd finds a stone that makes technicolor wishes come true. Sadly, all of his wishes involve CGI (and none of them involve hot, naked women).

What about it? This looks like a slight step up from Robert Rodriguez’ previous movies for rugrats with ADD, but that’s not saying much. The premise and the constant projectile CGI should keep the target audience happy.

Watch the Trailer:

In Limited Release

August 28th

The Final Destination 3D

What is it? Death comes calling for a fourth time as the franchise embraces the third dimension with gusto.

What about it? The Final Destination series has followed the law of diminishing returns, but the intricate deaths have continued to entertain. The gory and precise set-pieces are extremely well-suited to 3-D and almost guarantee the movie will be a blast to watch in theaters.

Watch the Trailer:

Halloween 2

What is it? The sequel to Halloween, obviously.

What about it? I’m no fan of Of Rob Zombie’s films, but the Halloween remake is the best of his three. And that’s even with that annoying as hell little girl playing a young Michael Myers. The sequel apparently still includes some flashbacks to the pre-teen serial killer, but most of the film should focus on the towering adult cutting a swathe through town.

Watch the Trailer:

Taking Woodstock

What is it? Ang Lee takes a comedic look at the true story behind the original Woodstock music festival.

What about it? Demitri Martin takes the lead role and is joined by a muddy Emile Hirsch and a dress-wearing Liev Schreiber. Lee makes consistently good and occasionally great movies, and he knows no bounds when it comes to genres. This is his first comedy since Eat Drink Man Woman so there’s that.

Watch the Trailer:

In Limited Release

Which movies are you excited about in August? Which ones will you avoid?

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.