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Ah, summertime. For us, that means two things: great cookouts and awesome movies. But since this isn't nexthotdog.com (though we would totally bookmark that site if it existed), we're focusing our energy of all the terrific sequels, blockbusters, superheroes and comedies that are poised to make this one of the best summers in years.
In fact, we're so focused that we've evaluated and ranked every single movie coming out over the next few months so we can better prioritize our moviegoing time. The result? Our list of the 25 Most Anticipated Movies of the Summer. Enjoy -- and pass the relish.
25. 'The Change-Up'
Release Date: Aug. 5
Starring: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde
The Scoop: Hollywood has been making body-switching films for years -- think "Freaky Friday" or "18 Again" or, you know, "Body Switch" -- but never quite like this one. Here's the distinctly adult premise behind "The Change-Up:" A married guy (Jason Bateman) switches bodies with his swinging single buddy (Ryan Reynolds) so he can hopefully have an affair with a clueless co-worker. The potential for both laughs and lawsuits is off the chart, but with a cast that also includes "TRON: Legacy's" Olivia Wilde, we're on board either way. | Watch the trailer.
24. 'Fright Night'
Release Date: Aug. 19
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, David Tennant, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
The Scoop: We're not usually a fan of remakes, especially when the original is already a beloved cult classic like 1984's "Fright Night," but this time we're making an exception thanks to the totally rad cast. Anton Yelchin ("Star Trek") plays a horror buff who, realizing that his neighbor (Colin Farrell!) is a vampire, turns to his friend (Christopher Mintz-Plasse!) and a vampire expert (David Tennant!!!) for help. We're dying for a clever and fun horror film and with a cast like this, it looks like "Fright Night" is a film we can really sink our teeth into.
23. 'Bad Teacher'
Release Date: June 17
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Lucy Punch, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel
The Scoop: How much Justin Timberlake can you handle? Well, if you're like us, the answer is "a whole heck of a lot," which is good considering J.T. has not one but two rom-coms coming out just five days apart this July (see #14 for the other). Even weirder? He's starring opposite his ex-girlfriend, Cameron Diaz, in this one: Diaz and Lucy Punch play two teachers making a romantic play for the same guy -- that's Timberlake -- who also happens to be one of their co-workers. A healthy workplace environment, both on and off screen? No. A healthy comedy environment? Heck yeah. We can't wait to see what Timberlake pulls out of his joke box this time. | Watch the trailer.
22. 'Kung Fu Panda 2'
Release Date: May 26
Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan
The Scoop: Generally speaking, being called a fat panda is usually considered to be an insult, albeit a really weird one. But if you're Jack Black, it's nothing but a compliment considering that the first "Kung-Fu Panda" earned eleventy bajillion dollars worldwide en route to becoming a surprise smash hit. Angelina Jolie and Jackie Chan are also back to lend this madcap martial arts crowdpleaser some major star power. Amidst all the bombast and explosions of the usual summer fare, we're glad that there's at least one film we can enjoy with the whole family. | Watch the trailer.
Release Date: May 13
Starring: Paul Bettany, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q
The Scoop: If you're a hardcore devotee of offbeat Korean sci-fi manga -- and really, who isn't -- then you already know all about the new big-budget comic book adaptation "Priest." For everyone else, here's the dilly: Paul Bettany plays a priest in a post-apocalyptic world where the apocalyptic part was caused by a giant war against vampires. When some of them return, Bettany drops his vow of silence and renews his vow of ass-kicking in a quest to rescue his niece from certain, undead doom. In your face, "Twilight." | Watch the trailer.
20. '30 Minutes or Less'
Release Date: Aug. 12
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson
The Scoop: Here's the set up for the new comedy from the offbeat team of Jesse Eisenberg and Danny McBride: Eisenberg plays a pizza delivery guy who is kidnapped by a creep (McBride) and forced to rob a bank with a bomb strapped to his chest. Not everyone is laughing, of course -- some critics feel it's in somewhat poor taste considering it's based on a true story that left the pizza delivery guy dead after the bomb blew his head off -- but when Hollywood wants to make comedy omelets, eggs must die, you know? We're mainly psyched to see Eisenberg reunited with his "Zombieland" director, Ruben Fleischer; one way or another, it should be memorable. | Watch the trailer.
19. 'Larry Crowne'
Release Date: July 1
Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Bryan Cranston
The Scoop: After 2007's underrated dramedy "Charlie Wilson's War" went into the tank, we despaired at ever getting the chance to see the dream team of Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts together again. Now, though, they're not only together again, but this time around they have what seems to be a more topical and accessible storyline in "Larry Crowne." Hanks play the titular hero, a regular guy who gets laid off due to the tough economy and goes back to school; Roberts is the jaded teacher who gets pulled out of her rut as a result. We're digging it. And hey, you know what they say: second time's the charm. | Watch the trailer.
18. 'Horrible Bosses'
Release Date: July 8
Starring: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis
The Scoop: Quick disclaimer: We usually don't find murder to be funny. It's just gauche, you know? But we're going to make an exception for "Horrible Bosses," which tells the story of three oppressed workers who decide to improve their lot in life by whacking each other's bosses. The clincher? As funny as the employees are (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day), the employers are even more awesome (seriously, Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston?!). Just one word of warning: Do not, under any circumstances, try this at home.
17. 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'
Release Date: Aug. 5
Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto
The Scoop: At this point, it's pretty clear that James Franco can do anything: act, write, paint, host the Oscars (Okay that last one may have been a stretch). Heck, he's probably a really good chef, too. But this summer, Franco is going to add a new position to his resume: monkey wrangler. And what a monkey -- Andy Serkis, who rose to fame playing the CGI construct Gollum in "The Lord of the Ring," co-stars as a primate who gains self-awareness and leads his fellow animals on an anti-humanity revolution. When you think about it, it's almost incredible that the "Planet of the Apes" franchise is still going strong more than 40 years after it began, but with talent like this, who knows. They might still be making these films when the apes really do take over. | Watch the trailer.
16. 'The Smurfs'
Release Date: Aug. 3
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, Katy Perry, Sofia Vergara
The Scoop: Smurfs are the original little blue pill: They can perk up even the most deflated film fan. And now they're coming to life in a blend of live action and animation featuring Neil Patrick Harris as a regular guy whose life gets turned upside down when a passel of Smurfs lands in his lap. Add in the always excellent Hank Azaria as the ultimate embodiment of evil, Sauron Gargamel, and there's just one thing left to say: "The Smurfs" is going to be smurfing smurfy. | Watch the trailer.
15. 'Green Lantern'
Release Date: June 17
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard
The Scoop: DC Comics and Warner Bros. look to copy Marvel's "Iron Man" success by unveiling their own second banana franchise, "Green Lantern." The latest superhero gig for Ryan Reynolds ("Blade: Trinity," "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," etc.) finds his legendary abs decked out in emerald when a dying alien cop appoints him the new sheriff of the solar system. Take that, "Cowboys & Aliens." Of course, Peter Sarsgaard has something to say about it, due to the fact that his brain has mutated to gigantic, evil proportions, but hey -- we're sure it's nothing a green energy construct in the shape of a boxing glove can't solve. | Watch the trailer.
14. 'Friends With Benefits'
Release Date: July 22
Starring: Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake, Patricia Clarkson
The Scoop: "Black Swan's" Mila Kunis stars opposite Justin Timblerlake in a film about two friends who start having casual sex with each other -- and then things stop being quite so casual. If this sounds familiar, it might be because "Black Swan's" Natalie Portman also starred in a movie (opposite Kunis' "That 70's Show" co-star Ashton Kutcher) earlier this year (called "No Strings Attached") with the exact same plot. Despite this eerie coincidence, though, we're really looking forward to seeing the on-screen chemistry between Timberlake and Kunis, who smolder throughout the enticing trailer. Now if only we could get Portman's "Black Swan" dancing double to film her own derivative rom-com alongside Wilmer Valderrama… | Watch the trailer.
13. 'The Help'
Release Date: Aug. 12
Starring: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Cicely Tyson, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sissy Spacek
The Scoop: Great books are frequently turned into movies, but often those films fall far short of expectations. And then there's "The Help," which looks poised to explode that trend completely thanks to a fantastic cast headlined by some of the best actresses in Hollywood, including Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Sissy Spacek and one of the hottest young stars alive, Emma Stone. Coming out in August, "The Help" is the perfect transition between summer and award season. | Watch the trailer.
12. 'Cars 2'
Release Date: June 24
Starring: Owen Wilson, Michael Keaton, Michael Caine, Larry the Cable Guy
The Scoop: You know how hipster pundits like to snark that "Cars" is the worst Pixar movie? Well, that's like saying that "Water Lilies" is the worst Monet painting. And considering Pixar's recent track record of turning out sequels that are as good or arguably even better than the originals (see: "Toy Story 3"), we have high hopes for "Cars 2," which brings back Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy as automotive buddies Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater and adds the legendary Michael Caine as British spy car Finn McMissile. All the fun of "Cars" but with a high speed, action-packed tale of international intrigue? Life in the fast lane just keeps getting better for Pixar fans. | Watch the trailer.
11. 'Crazy, Stupid, Love'
Release Date: July 29
Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone
The Scoop: There are rom-coms and then there are comedies that also have romance in them. "Crazy, Stupid, Love" falls into the latter category, thanks in part to the presence of Steve Carell, who here looks to extend his range beyond mere comedy and into the realm of honest-to-god emotion. And how does he do that? Well, he's a dude whose marriage -- to the always excellent Julianne Moore -- is on the rocks, big time. So he turns to a pal (Ryan Gosling for help getting back in the game, not realizing that said pal is himself on the hooks of a heartbreaker (Emma Stone, you guys!). If there's one thing we know about rom-coms, it's that they live and die on the strength of their casts -- and for "Crazy, Stupid, Love" that means crazy stupid awesome. | Watch the trailer.
10. 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon'
Release Date: July 1
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel
The Scoop: Let's be real for a minute: "Transformers 2" was kind of crap. We're not hating, we're just giving tough love to a franchise that we expected more from. And based on the sweet trailers for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," it looks like those expectations are about to be met, as Michael Bay ups the ante once more, this time dumping Megan Fox in favor of supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and bringing back Shia LaBeouf for his third tussle with the evil Decepticons. We're going to go out on a limb and predict that "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" won't just make you forget "Transformers 2" -- it will end up being the best film in the trilogy. You heard it here first. | Watch the trailer.
Release Date: May 13
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Jon Hamm
The Scoop: Remember "The Hangover?" Well, for the last few months, buzz has been building around the idea that "Bridesmaids" is basically "The Hangover" with ladies. And oh, what a group of ladies, as "Bridesmaids" -- which, as you might expect, is about a gang of gal pals gathering for a wedding -- features "SNL" alums Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph alongside talents like Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy. And, oh yeah, Jon Hamm is in it. We've got a feeling that by the end of the summer, "The Hangover' is going to be known as the male version of "Bridesmaids." | Watch the trailer.
8. 'X-Men: First Class'
Release Date: June 3
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon
The Scoop: From its earliest comic book days, the true heart of the "X-Men" franchise has been the ideological struggle between Professor Charles Xavier and his more militant opposite, Magneto. "X-Men: First Class," which turns back the clock to the days when the two were best buddies, aims to explain how their paths diverged, while also giving Hollywood the chance to reboot the series with fresh-faced new superstars like James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence. Could this be the start of an all-new, all-different trilogy? Our mutant senses are pointing towards yes. | Watch the trailer.
7. 'The Hangover Part II'
Release Date: May 26
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms
The Scoop: One of the best things about the surprise smash hit "Hangover" was just that -- it was a surprise. So will the sequel be as funny now that everyone knows what the schtick is? Well, considering that this time around the action takes place in the wild streets of Bangkok, with a monkey as one of the main characters, we know one thing for sure: The cast and crew of "The Hangover Part II" can't be accused of not trying. And since that cast still includes the one-man Wolf Pack himself, Zach Galifianakis, we're betting that the sequel is going to be even funnier than the original. | Watch the trailer.
Release Date: May 6
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman
The Scoop: We admit it: When we first heard about Marvel's plans to adapt "Thor" for the big screen, we were a bit skeptical. But then we starting seeing the posters, the trailers and the interviews and we became instant converts to the church of Odin. Director Kenneth Branagh, no stranger to epics himself (see: "Henry V," "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets") has put together an all-star supporting cast (Oscars winners Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman, just for starters) and found the perfect leading man -- or is that leading god -- in Chris Hemsworth. So can Marvel recreate the surprise success of "Iron Man?" They say that lightning never strike twice, but when the god of thunder is involved, all bets are off. | Watch the trailer.
5. 'Cowboys & Aliens'
Release Date: July 29
Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde
The Scoop: The premise is so simple and elegant you likely did a massive facepalm as soon as you heard the title: "Cowboys and Aliens." Why the hell hasn't anyone come up with this before? Well, the important thing is that they came up with it now and "Iron Man" director Jon Favreau is on the cusp of becoming the definitive master of the modern popcorn flick. Daniel Craig as an amnesiac cowboy with a mysterious connection to the alien invaders? Harrison Ford -- Han Solo himself -- as a grumpy cowpoke looking for a piece of Craig's hide? Not to mention the fact that the trailer is great and "TRON: Legacy's" Olivia Wilde adds even more heat to an already blazing lineup? Ticket, you have just been sold. | Watch the trailer.
4. Captain America: The First Avenger'
Release Date: July 22
Starring: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Samuel L. Jackson
The Scoop: Before the first footage of "Captain America: The First Avenger" was released, the question on everyone's mind was whether audiences would buy Chris Evans as yet another superhero (following "The Fantastic Four," "The Losers," "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," hell, he was even in "TMNT"), much less the paragon of American ideals that is Captain America. Once the first commercials and trailers came out, though, the question became less about Chris Evans and more about how the heck any of us were going to survive until July 22 without literally exploding from excitement. Add in the fact that the film will likely be the last puzzle piece to set up next year's mega-crossover "The Avengers" and you've got the superhero film event of the year. | Watch the trailer.
3. 'Super 8'
Release Date: June 10
Starring: Elle Fanning, Amanda Michalka, Kyle Chandler
The Scoop: The marketing campaign was impressive: With little more than a few secretive comments, some mysterious footage and a lot of word-of-mouth buzz, "Super 8" became one of the most talked about films of the year. And the pedigree behind "Super 8" is even more impressive: Steven Spielberg produced it and J.J. Abrams both wrote and directed it. But the most impressive thing about "Super 8" and its tale of kids shooting a movie who accidentally film a train wreck (that may or may not involve aliens) is the timeless combination of childhood nostalgia and ass-kicking action. Summer break never looked this cool. | Watch the trailer.
2. 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides'
Release Date: May 20
Starring: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane
The Scoop: Here's the bad news: You're only going to see Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom if they happen to buy tickets at the same theater. But the good news is, that means there's more room for new characters -- such as Penelope Cruz's femme fatale and Ian McShane's nefarious Blackbeard -- and new horizons like London and Florida. And most important of all, Johnny Depp is back as Captain Jack Sparrow, braided back hair and all, as he searches for the Fountain of Youth. He may not find it, but it's clear this franchise is rejuvenated once again. | Watch the trailer.
1. 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2'
Release Date: July 15
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes
The Scoop: A lot has happened in the last 14 years. Wars have been fought. Disasters have come and gone. The world has changed, as has your own life: perhaps you got married or perhaps you moved to a new city or perhaps you were born. And through it all, "Harry Potter" has been there as a source of entertainment and for some, even inspiration. Now, finally, it all comes to a close as we say goodbye to Harry, Ron and Hermione after watching them grow up right alongside us. We never wanted it to end, but if it had to, this is the way it should happen: not with a whimper, but with the biggest bang possible. See you there. | Watch the trailer.