It’s starting.

I saw a billboard the other day and it had two lines:


May 22

And I have to admit, I got “that summer tickle.”  It’s the feeling I get every year around this time thinking about the dark cool caverns I will sit in with my popcorn, and the dazzling display of something amazing that will take me away from it all. I love the big summer movies, and still think of the time I first saw Star Wars.

And Batman.

And Independence Day.

And the lines around the block for each that is a summer tradition I love.

I have no idea what will happen in the fourth installment of Indiana Jones, but I will line up to see it with everyone else. That, and a lot of other movies this summer. In and among the mix are a bunch of sequels: Mummy, Hellboy, X-Files, Dark Knight, and a few re-do’s (didn’t we already see The Hulk?) And some wingnut comedies like Zohan with Adam Sandler and funny fare from Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell.

What’s missing?

Two things in my opinion:

1. I believe that after the writer’s strike and the actor’s strike (pending) and what with all the low energy of the current economic turndown, Hollywood should launch a campaign to remind everyone what an amazing job it does. Seriously. I know we are entertained to death, and it’s really hard to jar people away from their Playstations and computers, but movies still play a big role in shaping our world. Movies are one of our biggest exports, and most important influences.

We do it better than anyone in the world. So where’s the pride? There needs to be some kind of Hollywood cheerleader/spokesman (James Cameron? Steven Spielberg?) who can rouse the passions of moviemakers, and remind everyone of our accomplishments. I still think the worst thing that ever happened to movies was the weekly listing of the box office winners in the newspaper, when in fact the spirit of the “dream factory” must rise above that. This leads me to…

2. More showmen! Cool corporate has got to give way to wild dreamers…. and more risk! More “I know this may sound crazy but…” is required. The one problem in the line-up of movies this summer, and movies generally is, it’s all a little too safe. And the default mentality of the filmmaking community is generally negative. (I still can’t shake Jon Stewart’s remark at this year’s Oscars about what downers all the nominated films were — he’s right!)  I don’t run into enough people who are willing to try something positively outrageous — and outrageously positive. And that’s too bad. I want to have more people in the industry who are less concerned with the bottom line, and more concerned with “This will knock their socks off!”

That “summer tickle” is a priviledge, not a right. It’s earned… and can go away if we’re not careful. Are movies still our “best entertainment value” — or are we more concerned with other things?

Me? I’m the firehouse dog. The bell rings, I’m on the truck.  I will be lined up to see what happens next in the Indiana Jones saga on May 22. Love Harrison Ford, love Steven Spielberg, love the dream.

What’s got you excited about the movies, especially this summer’s fare? Is there anything on the horizon that’s a “must-see” for you? And what is your remedy for reinvigorating Hollywood? I’d love to know.