REMAKES AND SEQUELS AND PREQUELS, OH MY!
Those fond of vintage television will find much to enjoy (or cringe at) this summer. Nicole Kidman twitches her nose as Samantha – actually, an actress playing Samantha – in the big-screen version of Bewitched (June 24), with Will Ferrell as nonwitchy husband Darren. Cedric the Entertainer and Mike Epps star as Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton in The Honeymooners (July 15). And in the category of I Don’t Make This Stuff Up, The Dukes of Hazzard comes to multiplexes everywhere Aug. 5 starring Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, Burt Reynolds and TV hausfrau Jessica Simpson.
Also on the remake block are a handful of movies: House of Wax (currently in theaters), the 1953 Vincent Price horror film, enters this century with a cute young cast, featuring Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray and home-video queen Paris Hilton. Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and the busy Burt Reynolds star in Peter Segal’s updating of the 1974 prison-football comedy The Longest Yard (currently in theaters). Steve Martin channels Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther (Aug. 5), inspired by the 1964 Peter Sellers caper and co-starring Kevin Kline, Jean Reno and Beyonce.
Not a remake but a re-imagining, supposedly, is Tim Burton’s take on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (July 15) featuring Johnny Depp as a very shagadelic Willy Wonka. The Bad News Bears (July 22), directed by Richard Linklater, substitutes Billy Bob Thornton for Walter Matthau. And Steven Spielberg takes a shot at H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds (June 29), previously transformed into a legendary Orson Welles radio play and a 1953 feature film. Tom Cruise, who memorably clicked with Spielberg for Minority Report, leads a cast that also includes Dakota Fanning, Miranda Otto and Tim Robbins.
Star Wars, Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (currently in theaters) leads a parade of sequels this season, and if you can keep that Darth Vader theme music out of your head, you’re doing better than me. Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman and the rest of the gang re-converge, for what will presumably be George Lucas’ final installment.
XXX: State of the Union (currently in theaters) continues the XXX crime/action saga, substituting Ice Cube for Vin Diesel.
Christian Bale dons the Batcape for Batman Begins (June 15) the latest installment in the Batman franchise, this time focusing on how mild-mannered Bruce Wayne became Batman. Christopher Nolan, he of the nifty Memento, directs; Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Katie Holmes co-star.
Finally, all of you anxiously awaiting a continuation of the Deuce Bigalow series can rest easy: Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, in which Deuce (Rob Schneider) does God-knows-what in Amsterdam, opens Aug. 12.
BIG NAMES, BIG BUDGETS
Oscar winners Sean Penn and Kidman kicked off the spring-summer movie season with Sydney Pollack’s thriller The Interpreter (currently in theaters), about a United Nations translator who overhears what may be an assassination plan. Not to be outdone, fellow Academy Award honorees Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger headline Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man (June 3), a Depression-era tale of an over-the-hill boxer, and Jamie Foxx, last seen collecting an Oscar for Ray, plays a pilot in a top-secret military program in Stealth (July 29).
Orlando Bloom, having left Middle-earth firmly behind, plays a 12th-century warrior in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (currently in theaters). Big-noise director Michael Bay (Armageddon, Pearl Harbor) returns with The Island (July 22), in which Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson try to escape a futuristic utopia, which seems only sensible.
And comic-book fans have long been awaiting the movie debut of the Fantastic Four (July 8), with Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd), the Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba), the Thing (Michael Chiklis) and the Human Torch (Chris Evans), directed by Tim Story (Barbershop).
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE
Cute couples abound on movie screens this summer, among them Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet (A Lot Like Love, currently in theaters), Diane Lane and John Cusack (Must Love Dogs, July 29), Heather Locklear and Chris Noth (The Perfect Man, June 17), Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams (Wedding Crashers, July 15), and the Mount Everest of cute couple-dom, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, June 10). And a pair of teenage girls in Yorkshire fall in love in Pawel Palikoswki’s My Summer of Love (June 17), a winner of numerous British film awards.
AND OTHER (OUTDOOR) SPORTS
Those of a nonromantic frame of mind can choose from a number of sports-minded movies this season, focusing on such activities as martial arts (Kung Fu Hustle, currently in theaters), kids’ soccer (Kicking & Screaming, currently in theaters), surfing/skateboarding (Lords of Dogtown, June 3), basketball (Rebound, July 1) and deep-sea diving (The Cave, Aug. 26).
FOR THE KIDS (OF ALL AGES)
Madagascar (currently in theaters), an animated comedy featuring the voices of Ben Stiller and Chris Rock, headlines the season’s kid-friendly offerings, but animation fans of all ages might also want to check out Howl’s Moving Castle (June 10), the latest from Hayao Spirited Away Miyazaki. Late summer brings the British animated comedy Valiant (Aug. 18), featuring Ewan McGregor as a very small pigeon, which must have been a refreshing change after all those years of Obi-Wan.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (June 3), based on Ann Brashares’ popular book, features Amber Tamblyn and Alexis Bledel as teenage pals linked by a pair of secondhand jeans. (Well, there are worse things teens could be linked by, I guess.). The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl (June 10) is a 3-D family adventure from Robert Spy Kids Rodriguez. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (currently in theaters), released by Disney, is a family-friendly journey through the world of Douglas Adams’ book. And the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom (currently in theaters) features actual real-life kids, making a dangerous journey into the world of competitive ballroom dancing.
BACK IN THE REAL WORLD
On the season’s documentary slate are films about the Enron scandal (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, currently in theaters), the emperor penguins of Antarctica (March of the Penguins, July 1), grizzly-bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard (Grizzly Man, Aug. 19), and street dancing in South Central Los Angeles (Rize, July 8).
THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR
Watch the art houses this summer for new work from Jim Jarmusch (Broken Flowers, Aug. 5), Hal Hartley (The Girl from Monday, TBA 2005), Terry Gilliam (The Brothers Grimm, July 29) and Don Roos (Happy Endings, July 22).
Alice Wu makes her directorial debut with Saving Face (June 17), a comedy about a Chinese-American lesbian and her traditional mother. Paul Haggis, who wrote the screenplay to the Oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby, wrote and directed Crash (currently in theaters), an examination of racism among a group of Los Angeles residents. Actor Liev Schreiber helms Everything is Illuminated (Aug. 19), based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Korean director Kim Ki-duk, whose Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter ... and Spring was one of last year’s highlights, returns with 3-Iron (currently in theaters), about a young drifter who lives in the homes of vacationing strangers. And Craig Brewer’s pimp tale Hustle & Flow, a big prizewinner at the Sundance Film Festival this year, arrives July 15.
So, what scares you? Murderous FBI profilers (Mindhunters, currently in theaters)? People who are supposed to be dead but aren’t (Undead, July 8)? Kate Hudson as a caregiver intrigued by voodoo (The Skeleton Key, Aug. 12)? Jennifer Connelly as a freaked-out divorced mom living in a haunted apartment (Dark Water, July 8), a movie so scary it features a supporting performance by Shelley Duvall? A murderous family pursued by a vengeful cop, directed by none other than Rob Zombie (The Devil’s Rejects, July 22)? Or Jennifer Lopez as a prospective daughter-in-law, not to mention Jane Fonda as a prospective mother-in-law (Monster-in-Law, currently in theaters)? They’re all here this summer, and I’m scared already. Aren’t you?
© 2005, The Seattle Times. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.