When we look back on the movie summer of 2011, what will we remember most?
Will it be the sleaze, the superheroes, or the sequels? Familiar franchises like “Harry Potter” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” were enormous successes. So were several comedies, as Hollywood discovered toilet humor is a nice way to clean up at the box office.
Summer movies usually have a hard time scoring invites to the Oscar, but we have a few awards of our own to hand out. The envelope, please:
Best game-changer: “Bridesmaids” helped kick start the funniest movie summer in years. The ensemble cast of Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, et all, upstaged the boys in “The Hangover Part II” and “Horrible Bosses.” The raunchy movie pulled no punches, and featured what is, hands down, the most outrageous scene in any summer movie. You may not want these girls in your wedding party, but they sure are fun to watch.
Most blatant cash grab: Not even the geniuses at Pixar could salvage the blatant cash grab that was “Cars 2.” At least “The Smurfs,” while a clear attempt at a merchandising windfall, managed to retain some of the charm that made the three-apples-tall characters so popular.
Best superhero reveal: Flop “Green Lantern” LOLd in the face of one of the silliest comic book tropes — the flimsy secret ID. When Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) encounters childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) for the first time as GL, he’s stunned when Carol recognizes him behind his nifty eye mask. Said Carol: “You don't think I would recognize you because I can only see your cheek bones?”
Best bromance: Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling in "Crazy, Stupid Love." Carell's married square gets a new lease on life after Gosling's slick barfly takes him under his wing.
Biggest BOOM: Michael Bay outdid even his own lofty standards of destructo porn with “Transformers: Dark of the Moon." The last 45 minutes is all-out robotic mayhem, with a snake-like Decepticon, a collapsing skyscraper and the city of Chicago in ruins.
Saddest goodbye: The end of "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2" felt like the end page for an entire generation. After the climactic battle with Voldemort, we flash-forward nearly two decades. We find Harry, Ron and Hermione, all grown up. As they send their children off to find their own paths at Hogwarts, their expressions suggest they’re thinking the same thing we are. “Where did all the time go?”