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Summer preview (part II): Comedies, drama
Charlize Theron and Seth MacFarlane in scene from the film “A Million Ways to Die in the West.”

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” swung into theaters last weekend, debuting at No. 1 in box office and officially launching the summer season.

Last week, I previewed the thrills and family films. Here are the comedies and dramas promising to be worth your time, money or attention.


“A Million Ways to Die in the West”

May 30: After Albert backs out of a gunfight, his fickle girlfriend leaves him for another man. When a mysterious and beautiful woman rides into town, she helps him find his courage and they begin to fall in love. But when her husband, a notorious outlaw, arrives seeking revenge, the farmer must put his newfound courage to the test. Seth MacFarlane directs, produces, co-writes and stars in this Western spoof, but you should probably see it anyway. Co-stars are Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman and Neil Patrick Harris.

“22 Jump Street”

June 13: After making their way through high school twice, big changes are in store for officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) when they go deep undercover at a local college. But when Jenko meets a kindred spirit on the football team, and Schmidt infiltrates the bohemian art major scene, they begin to question their partnership. Now they don’t have to just crack the case, they have to figure out if they can have a mature relationship. If these two overgrown adolescents can grow from freshmen into real men, college might be the best thing that ever happens to them. The synopsis makes me wonder if they shouldn’t have quit after “21 Jump Street,” while they were ahead. I hope to be proven wrong.


July 2: After losing her job and learning her husband has been unfaithful, a woman hits the road with her profane, hard-drinking grandmother. Ben Falcone directs his wife, Melissa McCarthy, in a script they co-wrote. If that doesn’t convince you, perhaps the supporting cast will: Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sandra Oh, Gary Cole, Kathy Bates and Mark Duplass.

“Wish I Was Here”

July 18 (limited) and Aug. 1 (wide): Director Zach Braff’s follow-up to his indie breakout hit “Garden State” is a comedy telling the story of a 30-something man who finds himself at major crossroads, which forces him to examine his life, career and family. Braff sparked a lot of anger when he used crowdfunding to launch this production, thus sapping resources and opportunities from aspiring filmmakers. Now we get to see the fruits of his controversial labors.

“What If”

Aug. 1: Medical school dropout Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) has been repeatedly burned by bad relationships. So while everyone around him, including his roommate Allan (Adam Driver), seems to be finding the perfect partner (Mackenzie Davis), Wallace decides to put his love life on hold. He then meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), an animator who lives with her longtime boyfriend Ben (Rafe Spall). Wallace and Chantry form an instant connection, striking up a close friendship. Still, there is no denying the chemistry between them, leading the pair to wonder, what if the love of your life is actually your best friend? Based on T.J. Dawe and Michael Rinaldi’s play “Toothpaste and Cigars,” the cast gives us all the reasons we need to see this one.


“God’s Pocket”

May 9: When Mickey’s crazy stepson Leon is killed in a construction ‘accident’, nobody in the working-class neighborhood of God’s Pocket is sorry he’s gone. Mickey tries to bury the bad news with the body. But when the boy’s mother demands the truth, Mickey finds himself stuck in a life-and-death struggle between a body he can’t bury, a wife he can’t please and a debt he can’t pay. Many reasons to see this. We only have so many more times to see a new Philip Seymour Hoffman role. John Slattery (“Mad Men”) directs his first film. And the cast includes Christina Hendricks, Eddie Marsan and John Turturro. Fans of grown-up movies rejoice!

“The Fault in Our Stars”

June 6: Hazel and Gus are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional and a love that sweeps them on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous given Hazel’s other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they met and fell in love at a cancer support group. This is only a guess, but we might cry at this one. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort might also make us fall in love.

Jeff Marker is head of the Communication, Media & Journalism Department at the University of North Georgia. His reviews appear weekly in Get Out and on


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