August Film Guide: 18 Movies to Watch Out For

The biggest, smallest and weirdest motion pictures August has to offer, and whether or not you should give a damn.

William Bibbianiby William Bibbiani


The usually sleepy month of August is jam-packed with notable movies this year. We suspect the fact that The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Returns opened in July – leading every other studio to get the hell out of that month's way – led to this remarkable glut of cinematic offerings in August. We've got several potential blockbusters, a handful of Oscar hopefuls, raunchy comedies and supernatural thrillers ahoy, so let's get cracking. Here are the eighteen movies you need to watch out for in August, 2012, and whether or not you should buy your tickets now or avoid them at all costs.


360 (Rated R)

Starring: Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Ben Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins

Director: Fernando Mireilles

Release Date: August 3

City of God director Fernando Mireilles presents an ensemble drama about a series of complex, interlocking relationships.

CraveOnline’s Call: Fernando Mireilles may be the director of City of God, a film that made a lot of “Best Films of the Decade” lists a few years ago, but since then he’s been stuck doing well-acted but unremarkable melodramas with a thriller angle, even if The Constant Gardner did nab Rachel Weisz an Oscar. At first glance, 360 looks like more of the same, except the interlocking narrative and big ensemble cast reminds us more of a dour Woody Allen drama than anything in Mireille’s oeuvre to date. We say wait for the reviews to see if he’s back on his “A” game or just doing more of the same.


The Babymakers (Rated R)

Starring: Paul Schneider, Olivia Munn, Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Hefferman

Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar

Release Date: August 3

When Paul Schneider fails to get his wife (Olivia Munn) pregnant, he resorts to robbing a sperm bank with his buddies to retrieved a previously donated sample.

CraveOnline’s Call: Is it cheating that we’ve seen this one already? The Babymakers is a very funny movie that takes the relationships between the characters seriously but also manage to squeeze in every dirty joke you can imagine. It’s one of the better comedies of the year, so go out and see it.


Celeste and Jesse Forever (Rated PG-13)

Starring: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Elijah Wood

Directed by: Lee Toland Krieger

Release Date: August 3

Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg play Celeste and Jesse, whose decision to remain close friends after their divorce leads to unexpected drama.

CraveOnline’s Call: If you’re looking for lighthearted laughs from the “Parks and Recreation” star, you’ll probably come away disappointed. Celeste and Jesse Forever looks to be a serious-minded relationship drama about the way people manipulate each other. You’ll probably laugh, and you’ll probably have something to think about, but there’s a chance you might come away feeling a little unclean. That sounds good to us, it’s just a call you have to make on your own.


Total Recall (Rated PG-13)

Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel,
Bokeem Woodbine, Bryan Cranston

Directed by: Len Wiseman

Release Date: August 3

CraveOnline’s Call: Paul Verhoeven’s original film is such a classic, and plays so very well to this day, that the remake has many diehard fans bleeding out of their ears. Even if Wiseman manages to make this new Total Recall enjoyable, the odds of it coming even close to the original – especially from the director of less-than-cerebral action fodder like Underworld and Live Free or Die Hard – are minimal. You can skip this one.


The Bourne Legacy (Rated PG-13)

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Ed Norton, Rachel Weisz,
Stacey Keach, Scott Glenn, Joan Allen

Directed by: Tony Gilroy

Release Date: August 10

Jeremy Renner plays a previously unknown subject of the Treadstone military training program who gets called into action following the events of the three Bourne movies.

CraveOnline: Have you seen the tag line for this particular spin-off? “There was never just one” sounds apologetic to us, and that seems to be the tone we’re getting for the film as a whole. There’s a good chance that this film will pale in comparison to the original franchise, but then again, Jeremy Renner is a great action star, the rest of the cast is stellar, and the director is also the writer of the original films. Maybe they’ll get this sucker right after all. We say restrict yourself to a matinee and keep your expectations modest.


The Campaign (Rated R)

Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis,
Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox

Directed by: Jay Roach

Releate Date: August 10

Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis square off in a North Carolina congressional run. Hijinks ensue.

CraveOnline’s Call: We imagine the makers of The Campaign thought that releasing a broad political comedy in the second half of an election year was a pretty good idea, but somehow we suspect that the real-life insanity will drive audiences to ignore the film, despite a funny cast and a fairly talented director. The trailers don’t have us laughing anyway. Watch “The Daily Show” instead.


Red Hook Summer (Rated R)

Starring: Clarke Peters, Jules Brown, Tony Lisaith, Nate Parker,
Heather Simms, Thomas Jefferson Byrd

Directed by: Spike Lee

Release Date: August 10

A secular youth (Jules Brown) endures the summer with his pious grandfather (Clarke Peters) in the Brooklyn that Spike Lee fans have become so familiar with thanks to She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Crooklyn, Clockers and He Got Game.

CraveOnline’s Call: Red Hook Summer has screened at festivals already and one thing is clear… “The Wire’s” Clarke Peters dominates an already strong cast, giving one of the best performances of the year as the sanctimonious community leader. Spike Lee hasn’t run out of things to say, and while the tone of the film sometimes feels more theatrical than we’re used to, Red Hook Summer is a “must see” for fans of his earlier work.


Cosmopolis (Rated R)

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Mathieu Almaric,
Jay Baruchel, Kevin Durand, Sarah Gadon,
Samantha Morton, Paul Giamatti

Directed by: David Cronenberg

Release Date: August 17

Robert Pattinson stars as a 28-year-old billionaire whose trip to the barber is consistently interrupted by a troubling cast of characters.

CraveOnline’s Call: The plot doesn’t sound like a page turner, but one look at the trailer tells us that the balls-out David Cronenberg – the man who brought you Naked Lunch and Crash – has once again emerged, and Cosmopolis is the film he wanted to make. Robert Pattinson has his best chance to break free of the Twilight franchise, at least in the critical community, and Cronenberg has his chance to completely cut loose for the first time in years. You couldn't keep us away at gunpoint.


The Expendables 2 (Rated R)

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li,
Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger,
Chuck Norris, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crewes,
Randy Couture, Scott Adkins

Directed by: Simon West

Release Date: August 17

Bruce Willis sends the all-star cast on a mission against the villainous Jean-Claude Van Damme, but when a teammate falls in the line of duty their thoughts turn only to revenge.

CraveOnline’s Call: It’s gotta be pretty hard to screw up an Expendables movie, and we don’t imagine they’re going to start now. So long as Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger actually get something to do this time out, we’re content to just sit back and let Simon West blow sh*t up for us.


Paranorman (Rated PG)

Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse,
Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, John Goodman

Directed by: Chris Butler and Sam Fell

Release Date: August 17

A young boy named Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) uses his ability to talk to ghosts in order to save his town from a centuries-old curse. Filmed in stop-motion animation.

CraveOnline’s Call: Oh my, yes, we are doing this. Produced by Laika, the makers of Coraline, and sporting a similar suburban gothic motif, Paranorman looks like just the burst of personality we need to get through the late summer doldrums. We’d be up for a whole pair of Normans. (We went there. Deal with it.)


Sparkle (Rated PG-13)

Starring: Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter,
Mike Epps, Derek Luke, Cee-Lo Green

Directed by: Salim Akil

Release Date: August 17

A fictionalized account of the rise of The Supremes, and a remake of the 1976 film of the same name, in which a trio of 1950s Motown singers wrestle with celebrity and the disapproval of their mother, played by Whitney Houston in her final film role.

CraveOnline’s Call: While we seriously doubt most audiences are likely to remember the original Sparkle, we suspect that Bill Condon’s Dreamgirls is still fresh enough in their heads to make yet another fictionalized Supremes movie seem redundant. The trailers, which make the film feel like yet another music-based melodrama along the lines of The Fighting Temptations, doesn’t help distinguish the film beyond the final role of Whitney Houston. If you’re not seeing it on sheer principle, you probably don’t have any need to see it at all.


Premium Rush (PG-13)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Jamie Chung,
Dania Ramirez, Aasif Mandvi

Directed by: David Koepp

Release Date: August 24

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a New York City bike messenger who needs all his extreme sports skillz to evade Michael Shannon, a dirty cop who will stop at nothing to keep Levitt’s package from reaching its destination.

CraveOnline’s Call: You gotta love David Koepp. He writes the biggest blockbusters of all time (Spider-Man and Jurassic Park) among them, but when he gets himself a director’s chair he whips out something like Premium Rush, which looks for all the world like a cross between a Hitchcock movie and District B13. And it looks freakin’ awesome. Silly? Sure, probably, but energetic and well cast and a whole lotta fun. Sold.


The Apparition (Rated PG-13)

Starring: Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton

Directed by: Todd Lincoln

Release Date: August 24

A group of college students test the hypothesis that believing in ghosts makes them real… and they succeed.

CraveOnline’s Call: We like the set-up for this little thriller, which sounds like a modern update of Flatliners, but once the trailer establishes the notion that the hauntings are a virus, all we could think of is Ju-On: The Grudge, and the rest of the imagery on display bears that out. The odds of The Apparition being better than Ju-On: The Grudge – one of the scariest movies ever made – are infinitesimal, so now that the comparison seems unavoidable we have lost all interest. Go about your business.


Hit and Run (Rated R)

Starring: Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper,
Tom Arnold, Kristen Chenoweth

Directed by: Dax Shepard and David Palmer

Release Date: August 24

Dax Shepard plays an ex-getaway who jeopardizes his witness protection to transport his girlfriend to Los Angeles, leading the cops on a merry chase.

CraveOnline’s Call: There were no words to describe how bad Dax Shepard and David Palmer’s first film was, but here’s a few hundred about Brother’s Justice anyway. Still, what we’ve seen from this film implies that it has a better story, a broad but kinda funny sense of humor and well-utilized supporting cast. It’s probably a rental down the road.


Robot & Frank (PG-13)

Starring: Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden,
Liv Tyler, Peter Sarsgaard

Directed by: Jack Schreier

Release Date: August 24

An ex-jewel thief in the near future uses his robot butler to return to a life of crime.

CraveOnline’s Call: It sounds like a cross between Rocky IV and Malcolm, that criminally underseen Australian caper comedy, but setting the film in the near future – when the people reading this now will be viewed as hopelessly crusty and out of date – raises some fine, gentle questions about the way we view the elderly today. Given that, and the amazing cast, our interested is thoroughly piqued.


Lawless (Rated R)

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska,
Jessica Chastain, Gary Oldman

Directed by: John Hillcoat

Release Date: August 29

A real-life family of bootleggers is coerced into violence when Prohibition era lawmen want a cut of their profits.

CraveOnline’s Call: A group of capitalists profit from arbitrary government legislation and rebel against a separate government group who wants to a cut of their profits to promote fair trade amongst other criminals. Oh yes, it sounds like a Libertarian’s wet dream. Whether or not that’s your bag, John Hillcoat’s making himself a director to be reckoned with after The Proposition and The Road, so we’re banking on this being another strong production.


The Possession (PG-13)

Starring: Natasha Calis, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick

Directed by: Ole Bornedal

Release Date: August 31

A little girl buys a dybbuk box at a garage sale, unwittingly releasing a Hebrew demon onto the family.

CraveOnline’s Call: While it’s always interesting to see Jewish folklore used in a motion picture – we haven’t seen a dybbuk since 2009’s A Serious Man – nothing in the trailer for this Exorcist knock-off looks even remotely scary. Pity.


For a Good Time, Call… (Rated R)

Starring: Ari Graynor, Lauren Miller, Justin Long, Mimi Rogers

Directed by: Jamie Travis

Release Date: August 31

Unable to find respectable employment, a stuffed shirt joins her free-spirited roommate in their own start-up company: a phone sex line.

CraveOnline’s Call: It’s a funny idea, we love the actresses involved, and the R-rating is a tacit promise of filthy dirty talk. Just put it on our credit card already.

Disclaimer: Release dates (and our opinions) are subject to change.