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Your Summer Must List: Movies

This summer’s hottest movies are…

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If You See Only One Movie This Summer About a Raunchy Teddy Bear…

Ted July 13

You’ve seen summer buddy comedies. You’ve seen summer buddy comedies starring Mark Wahlberg. But you’ve never seen a summer buddy comedy starring Mark Wahlberg and an ill-behaved, potty-mouthed teddy bear who years ago magically started walking and talking and has stuck around long after the novelty wore off. That’s the clever premise of Family Guy mastermind Seth MacFarlane’s feature-film debut, Ted. ”The children’s story of the stuffed animal coming to life is somewhat ubiquitous,” says MacFarlane. ”But it’s never really explained what happens when you have to deal with this thing for the rest of your life. What happens when it gets frayed and no longer looks so cute?”

MacFarlane didn’t just direct Ted: He also plays the hilariously raunch-obsessed bear, which was created using motion-capture technology. The goal was to make the relationship between Wahlberg’s character and his stuffed pal as believable as possible. ”What Mark brought to the role was to make it seem so completely real and normal that his best friend would be a talking teddy bear,” says MacFarlane. ”You know, they’re just a couple of Boston guys who are pals like anyone else, but one of them happens to be a bear.’ —Rob Brunner

Blockbuster Brothers: Hemsworth Vs. Hemsworth
Snow White and the Huntsman June 1

The Expandables 2 August 17

While it’s not unheard of for siblings to become movie stars, rarely do they go head-to-head the way Chris and Liam Hemsworth have. Liam, 22, kicked off the sibling rivalry in March as District 12 heartthrob Gale in The Hunger Games. Chris, 28, followed up three weeks later with The Cabin in the Woods, and then in early May with The Avengers.

This summer brings another matchup: Chris costars as the ax-swinging hero of Snow White and the Huntsman, while Liam joins forces with Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis in The Expendables 2. Chris says the pair, whose older brother, Luke, is a TV star in their native Australia, are competitive ”in the best of ways.”

Not that the Hemsworth boys always got along perfectly. They were partly raised in an aboriginal community in the outback, which made for some rough play. ”We were just outside all the time, off on little adventures and things,” Chris told EW on the set of The Avengers. ”We were building big swords and bows and arrows out of sticks. We had all sorts of weapons that my parents would confiscate because of fear that we’d kill each other.”

Nowadays the Hemsworths prefer to duke it out at the box office. And since the brothers have nine upcoming projects between them — including Catching Fire for Liam and Thor 2 and the Ron Howard drama Rush for Chris — we can expect many more face-offs for years to come. —Anthony Breznican

Summer’s Most Adorable Couple

Celeste and Jesse Forever August 3

Are Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg a cuter twosome on screen or off? It’s a tough call. They’ve been pals since meeting at a party in 2005. ”I said, ‘Oh my God, you’re the girl from Chappelle’s Show!”’ Samberg recalls. The pair — who played future siblings-in-law in I Love You, Man — go the full-on couple route in Celeste and Jesse Forever, a bittersweet romance (co-written by Jones) about high school sweethearts who decide to divorce, with complicated results. As the title characters, Jones, 36, and Samberg, 33, have undeniable chemistry — and several intimate love scenes. ”It’s definitely weird to make out with your friend,” Jones says. ”Not that it’s not nice, it’s just weird. But then there was a different level of awkward when we were fighting.” The argument scenes were equally hard on Samberg (who also appears as Adam Sandler’s son in That’s My Boy, in theaters June 15). ”When that day came, I remember talking to Rashida, and being like, ‘F—, dude, we’re going to have to, like, really go at it.’ And we did.” With the experience behind them, their friendship has reached new heights. ”I definitely feel tighter as friends, for sure,” Samberg says. ”Anytime I see Rashida, for the rest of my life, I’ll always be like, ‘Dude, we made that.”’ —Dave Karger

A Big Moment for Monster Mash-Ups

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter June 22

Combining familiar elements into a mind-blowing new package, mash-ups have already conquered the pop culture domains of music, viral videos, and books — notably Seth Grahame-Smith’s groundbreaking Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. But the genre hits a new big-screen apex this summer with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which Grahame-Smith co-wrote based on one of his own best-selling spoofs. Mixing American history and supernatural action, the movie follows a young, pre-presidential Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) as he fights an invasion of fanged bloodsuckers. And while historical accuracy takes a backseat to man-versus-vampire combat, Walker says director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) was determined to make sure this Lincoln was as real as possible. ”The second time we met, he brought a top hat and a copy of the Gettysburg Address and we worked on it for eight hours,” says the actor. ”It was a complete jump into the deep end.”—Adam Markovitz

Rachel Weisz Is Bourne Again

The Bourne Legacy August 3

Rachel Weisz would make an excellent spy. Ask her about her role in The Bourne Legacy, a spin-off of the hit Matt Damon franchise, and she gives up practically nothing. ”What am I allowed to say? I think almost nothing at all,” says the actress, 42. Directed by Tony Gilroy (who wrote or co-wrote all three previous Bourne films), the new one stars Jeremy Renner as a covert government-trained assassin who crosses paths with Weisz’s character…how? No dice. ”I’m so paranoid, I’m sorry!” she says. What we do know is that she plays a civilian named Marta who somehow finds herself at the center of the action. For Weisz, that meant doing serious stunt work for the first time — including some harrowing scenes on a motorbike. ”I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve been scared [on set], but these were scary. I was properly frightened,” she says.

No such demands were placed on Weisz for 360, an ensemble drama costarring Anthony Hopkins and Jude Law that hits theaters the very same weekend as Bourne. Weisz plays Rose, a wife in a state of marital crisis who has an affair with a much younger man. ”It’s basically, Someone meets someone who meets someone who sleeps with someone who sleeps with someone else and it goes around 360,” she says. One of the biggest draws was the chance to reunite with her Constant Gardener director, Fernando Meirelles. Says Weisz, ”I’d sweep the floor for him if he asked me to.” Or maybe even ride a motorbike. —Sara Vilkomerson

Batman Takes His Final Flight

The Dark Knight Rises July 20

His first Batman movie relaunched a cultural icon. His second transcended the superhero genre. Now, with his third and final Batflick starring Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader, director Christopher Nolan will answer the question, Just how high can The Dark Knight Rises fly? Expectations for the megabudgeted extravaganza are so elevated, it might be impossible for Nolan’s Batman swan song to soar high enough — especially in a summer movie season that has already seen The Avengers set new precedents for box office success and pop culture buzz. And yet we dare to dream big, because Nolan himself dreams big.

The legacy of his Batman movies will be a provocative ambition that should set the standard for superhero-batty Hollywood. It’s certainly why actors want to take the ride with him. “He does things for the right reasons,” says Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays a Gotham City cop working under Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon in the new movie. “Chris has proven himself. He can do massive-scale productions and do them with the integrity of an artist.” Batman Begins showed us the shadowy face of justice in an age of terror. The Dark Knight showed us the scarred soul. Rises — which pits a wounded, fugitive Batman against a feisty femme fatale (Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman) and a ferocious foe (Tom Hardy’s Bane) — promises to complete Nolan’s statement on contemporary heroism with heady ideas and explosive spectacle. “I call him Hitchcock with an armory,” says Hathaway of the director. May this modern master’s final flight with Batman rise to the occasion. —Jeff Jensen

Your Next Indie Obsession

Your Sister’s Sister June 15

Nestled within a season of nonstop action and bombastic superheroes, the lo-fi, human-scale indie Your Sister’s Sister manages to be every bit as explosive as those blockbusters — without any actual explosions. Jack (Mark Duplass) is lost in his grief over the death of his brother when his best friend, Iris (Emily Blunt), suggests he regroup at her family’s remote cabin off the coast of Seattle. When he arrives, Jack discovers that Iris’ half sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) has also taken refuge there to recover from a breakup. And then things get…complicated. ”I basically beg everybody to please not tell people anything [about the plot],” says director Lynn Shelton (Humpday). Okay, then. Suffice it to say, a web of emotional entanglements grows between sisters and friends.

The cast bunked together during the quick 12-day shoot, cooking, eating their meals, and watching movies as a group, which sped up the bonding process. ”You want to talk about [building] onscreen chemistry? When you have to knock on Emily Blunt’s door to ask if she’s taken her shower yet, you know…” says DeWitt, trailing off into laughter before stressing what a wonderful time it was. ”It could have felt like a hostage situation. But we’ll never be able to repeat what we had.” —Sara Vilkomerson

The Documentary That’s Too Crazy To Miss

The Queen of Versailles July 20

The season’s buzziest documentary is like a particularly bizarre, train-wrecky episode of The Real Housewives (pick your city) — only it has a point. Filmmaker Lauren Greenfield initially wanted to follow Florida billionaire David Siegel and his buxom, bejeweled wife, Jackie, as they built the biggest house in America, modeled partly after the Palace of Versailles. But after the financial crisis of 2008 hit the couple’s time-share empire, Greenfield’s glimpse of the super-rich turned into a deeper portrait of greed and the American Dream. ”I didn’t know if I had a narrative arc when I started filming,” says Greenfield. ”But that’s the beauty of cinema vérité — life unfolding in front of you.” —Stephan Lee

Chris Rock Is Everywhere!
What to Expect When You’re Expecting In Theaters
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted June 8

2 Days in New York August 10

Chris Rock never complains about working. ”There are people lifting s— around you!” he says. ”They are working hard.” But Rock, 47, has been keeping busy. He plays a can-do dad in the comedy What to Expect When You’re Expecting (now playing) and a Brooklynite coping with his French girlfriend’s insane family in the indie 2 Days in New York (Aug. 10). He also lends his voice to Marty the zebra in Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (June 8). Now, if he could just land a superhero movie.

EW With these three films, you’re really showing your range.

Chris Rock I’m trying. Hopefully people will see I have a couple of other moves to the basket: ”Oh, he can do some things other than scream!” I just want the Marvel people to call. Come on, get me in one of these easy rides like The Avengers.

EW You did a whole riff at the Oscars about how easy it is doing a voice in an animated movie like Madagascar 3.

Rock Compared to the guy who drove me today or the woman who cleaned my house, yeah, animation is a gift. But I look at The Avengers, with all those effects — it’s like, you work for two days and then you’re off for a week. You say three lines and then somebody fights for you for the next day or two…. I wanted [Samuel L. Jackson’s] part so bad. I’ll wear an eye patch!

EW Meanwhile, you’re in 2 Days in New York, where you’re actually the straight man much of the time.

Rock This is probably the closest I’ll ever get to being in a Woody Allen movie. Whatever reason [director and costar Julie Delpy] cast me in that part, I’m grateful to her. She didn’t just hire me to do stand-up on screen.

EW Are you surprised the Madagascar franchise is still going strong?

Rock I’m shocked. Whenever I tell a kid I’m Marty and start doing the voice, they just light up. I had to go read to my kid’s class last week and afterward every kid wanted to hear the ”Afro Circus” song. And man, the look on their faces was like, Wow, Santa is for real! —Josh Rottenberg

Tom Cruise Slays as a Metal God
Rock of Ages June 15

Costume designer Rita Ryack explains how her clothes helped trasnform the star into the film’s ”outlaw rocker” Stacee Jaxx.

Coyote fur jacket ”I’m apologizing right now to PETA, but this is a vintage piece that belongs to a friend who wore it on the Sunset Strip in the ’80s,” says Ryack, who got the idea from a photo of Axl Rose in a similar jacket.

Leather pants Ryack made multiple pairs of these lace-up pants, which had to be retailored as Cruise’s body changed during production. ”He worked so hard singing and dancing,” says Ryack. ”He buffed up.”

Beaver felt belt Cruise’s cowboy hat — black beaver felt with a snakeskin band — was custom-made by Gunner Foxx, who has crafted caps for Slash and Johnny Depp. ”We made a matching one for [Jaxx’s baboon sidekick], too, but he wouldn’t wear it.”

Embroidered scarf ”That’s a ladies’ scarf from the 1920s,” says Ryack. ”A lot of [’80s rockers] wore their mothers’ blouses. But that stuff wouldn’t work on Tom because he doesn’t have that androgynous thing going on…. He has a guy body.”

Enamel belt buckle Crafted from antique red tin, Cruise’s buckle was made overnight in a Colorado studio after Ryack sent an urgent plea for ”something fabulous with a skull.” —Adam Markovitz