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Film: Summer Movie Preview



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HAMLET 2. This has all the makings of an indie smash, as a high school drama teacher (Steve Coogan) decides to stage his own wayward sequel to Shakespeare's Hamlet; among the added ingredients not found in the Bard's original are lightsabers, a smooch between Satan and the U.S. President, and a song called "Rock Me, Sexy Jesus." (Aug. 22)

TOWELHEAD. Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball wrote and directed this adaptation of Alicia Erian's novel about a 13-year-old Arabian-American girl (Summer Bishil) who must contend with her strict Lebanese father (Peter Macdissi), her black boyfriend (Eugene Jones III) and her lecherous neighbor (Aaron Eckhart). This reportedly disturbing picture inspired an outraged commentary from FOX's film critic when it screened at the Toronto Film Festival ("the worst and most offensive movie I've seen in a while"), which automatically makes it at least worth checking out. (No Charlotte date set)


THE STRANGERS. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman are terrorized by creepy people in their own home. Didn't this just come out under the title Funny Games? At any rate, I wrote about this for last summer's preview guide, so it's been sitting on the shelf for a while. (May 30)

KUNG FU PANDA. Jack Black (as the title bear), Jackie Chan and Dustin Hoffman lend their vocals to this animated martial arts comedy. If you thought the Pokemon-inspired sequence was the highlight of Horton Hears a Who!, then you should love this one (if the trailer is any indication); if, like me, you were pained by that segment, proceed with caution. (June 6)

THE LOVE GURU. Mike Myers plays a goofy guru with a penchant for ringing gongs with his penis and manhandling a dwarf (Verne Troyer, the Mini-Me to Myers' Austin Powers). No wonder Hindu groups have already been protesting this film's very existence ... (June 20)

MEET DAVE. Eddie Murphy plays a tiny alien captain whose spaceship has taken on the form of a normal-sized Eddie Murphy. Come back, Norbit; all is forgiven! (July 11)

SPACE CHIMPS. An animated tale about monkeys in space, presented in the ADD Shrek style. Any movie that includes the long-overexposed line "That's gotta hurt" (as shown in the trailer) automatically deserves inclusion here. (July 18)

STEP BROTHERS. Will Ferrell (again) and John C. Reilly (again) team up (again) to play dim-witted stepbrothers who hate each other. Enough already. (July 25)

THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR. Brendan Fraser is back as Rick O'Connell, again finding ancient evil buried under all that sand, but former co-star Rachel Weisz, Oscar grasped firmly in hand, smartly decided to bail. She's replaced by the talented Maria Bello, probably using this fat paycheck to help her forget that the Academy cheated her out of nominations for The Cooler and A History of Violence. (Aug. 1)

PINEAPPLE EXPRESS. Yet another comedy sanctioned by Judd Apatow (serving as producer and co-writer), this one's about a process server (Seth Rogen) and a pothead (James Franco) who witness a murder. Quality-wise, the trailer makes it look more like Drillbit Taylor than Forgetting Sarah Marshall. (Aug. 8)

WILD CHILD. A Malibu brat learns about responsibility after she's sent to a strict boarding school in England. Sounds inoffensive enough until you realize the star is Emma Roberts, who helped turn Nancy Drew into one of last summer's most insufferable flicks. (Aug. 22)

COLLEGE. Three high school nerds visit a college campus hoping to get laid. Movies like this are a dime-a-dozen, but in the wake of Superbad's success, look for them to become a dime-a-hundred. (Aug. 29)


THE HAPPENING. It's the end of the world as we know it, and Mark Wahlberg doesn't feel fine -- at least that's the suggestion put forth in the trailer for the latest yarn from writer-director M. Night Shyamalan. Starting with his breakthrough smash The Sixth Sense, each of Shyamalan's films has been progressively worse than the one preceding it. Yet given the train wreck that was Lady in the Water, we have to assume that the roller coaster again begins its ascension with this picture. (June 13)

THE INCREDIBLE HULK. 2003's Hulk was a burp in the otherwise stellar career of director Ang Lee, a lumbering bore that provided none of the thrills or resonance of the Spider-Man and X-Men franchises. So for this sequel, Lee's been booted for Louis Leterrier (The Transporter and its follow-up), guaranteeing more action this time around. But if we're still stuck with the dreadful CGI effects that crippled the first film, it's all to no avail. On the acting side, Edward Norton replaces Eric Bana, while Tim Roth plays the baddie (who also gets turned into a CGI brute). Also look for a cameo from Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark (without his Iron Man getup, I would assume). (June 13)

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