Once More, With Feeling

Summer movies are all about escapism. But this year at least a dozen of the biggest retell stories we already love. Why do we adore repeats?

It's shorthand journalism to define each decade by a catchphrase--the Roaring Twenties, the swingin' '60s, the Me decade '70s. Five years into the 21st century, we're in trouble. The current decade doesn't even have a nickname (the zeros? the aughts? the uh-ohs?), let alone a cultural personality. And Hollywood isn't helping. The film industry, especially in the four-month peak-viewing period called summer, rarely tries squarely addressing Zeitgeist anxieties. Instead it ransacks its attic for sequels, spin-offs and, this year, remakes. You don't look forward to many of the new season's blockbuster hopefuls. You look backward.

For studios, of course, it's about...

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