Opening this Weekend: Meryl Streep Cooks Up Another Great Performance, Steve Zahn Becomes a Leading Man, and G.I. Joe Explodes!

2009 julie and julia 001 Opening this Weekend: Meryl Streep Cooks Up Another Great Performance, Steve Zahn Becomes a Leading Man, and G.I. Joe Explodes!

After a week of slightly disappointing returns at the box office, Hollywood braces for a rebound with two major genre releases: One for the 10-year-old inside all of us and one for all of our mothers. Five movies hit theaters today, as August gets started in earnest. As we do every Friday, here’s a handy guide to the new releases.

Julie & Julia

What’s the story: If you’ve read the New York Times in the last month, chances are you’ve already seen plenty about Nora Ephron’s Julie & Julia. As gossipmonger Nikki Finke has reported, the Paper of Record mentioned Ms. Ephron 15 times over a recent 30-day period. For those of you without subscriptions, though: Julie & Julia chronicles Julie Powell (Amy Adams) and her quest to make every recipe in Julia Child’s seminal book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, over the course of a year, while also charting the rise of Ms. Child (Meryl Streep) in postwar Paris. The buzz on Ms. Streep’s performance is deafening, so don’t be surprised when the Greatest Actress of Our Time™ garners her 16th Oscar nomination come 2010. As for the movie, the reviews have been very good, but almost all of them seem to agree that the parts centering on Ms. Adams’ Julie aren’t nearly as compelling as the Meryl stuff. Bon appétit!

Who should see it: Rachel Ray.

G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra

What’s the story: Everything about G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra is overblown, from the budget (which reportedly reached a hilarious $175 million) to the marketing campaign (which cost an also-hilarious $150 million) to the controversies about how Paramount has handled its release. Now that the film has finally arrived in theaters, here’s what we do know: A cast of also-rans—among them Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans and Dennis Quaid—and, inexplicably, Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in Stephen Sommers’ take on the “real American heroes.” Expect lots of explosions, corniness and a boatload of Razzie nominations.

Who should see it: Film critics.

A Perfect Getaway

What’s the story: From director David Twohy (Pitch Black, the writer of The Fugitive), A Perfect Getaway seems like an ideal late-summer thriller, especially in a summertime that has given us a decided lack of thrills. The Hitchcockian honeymoon-gone-wrong film finds Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich playing a pair of newlyweds who encounter two other couples (Timothy Olyphant and Keile Sanchez & Chris Hemsworth and Marley Shelton) and soon realize that they might be murdering psychopaths. Or are they? Cue ominous music! The reviews for A Perfect Getaway haven’t been great, but our Rex Reed gives us hope, specifically citing the always-interesting Mr. Zahn in a rare leading man role. Who doesn’t love the Zahner?

Who should see it: Your newly betrothed friends.

Paper Heart

What’s the story: Bust out your best hoodie and enjoy Charlyne Yi (Knocked Up) and Michael Cera (everything else) in this mockumentary about the true nature of love. The hook here was that the two stars were reportedly dating in real life, but now that the film is complete, Ms. Yi has been saying that they were never actually a couple. And we thought those crazy kids were going to make it. Too bad.

Who should see it: Maeby Funke.

And! For some indie fun, check out the Charlie Kaufman–like Cold Souls, starring Paul Giamatti.