The movie studios have come up with a little something for nearly everyone this summer.
By MOIRA MACDONALD
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
Here's a peek at some of the season's upcoming movies of interest. Note that all release dates are tentative and can change as quickly as Johnny Depp can wink ...
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" (June 10). 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" (May 6), 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" (May 27). 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" (May 19) 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" (April 29) continues the XXX crime/action saga, substituting Ice Cube for Vin Diesel.
Christian Bale dons the Batcape for "Batman Begins" (June 17) 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
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" (May 6). 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 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. and 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 kids' soccer ("Kicking & amp; Screaming," May 13), surfing/skateboarding ("Lords of Dogtown," June 3), basketball ("Rebound," July 1), horse racing ("Dreamer," Aug. 5) and deep-sea diving ("The Cave," Aug. 26).
FOR THE KIDS (OF ALL AGES)
"Madagascar" (May 27), 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 17), the latest from Hayao "Spirited Away" Miyazaki. Late summer brings the British animated comedy "Valiant" (Aug. 19), 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" (April 29), released by Disney, is a family-friendly journey through the world of Douglas Adams' book. And the documentary "Mad Hot Ballroom" (June 3) features actual real-life kids, making a dangerous journey into the world of competitive ballroom dancing.
BACK IN THE REAL WORLD
Those who've spent the days since "Sideways" guzzling pinot noir may be intrigued by "Mondovino" (May), Jonathan Nossiter's examination of globalization and the wine industry. Also on the season's documentary slate are films about the Enron scandal ("Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," April 29), the Hindu spiritual festival Kumbh Mela ("Short Cut to Nirvana," Friday in some areas), the emperor penguins of Antarctica ("March of the Penguins," July 1), basketball star Yao Ming ("The Year of the Yao," Friday in some markets), grizzly-bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard ("Grizzly Man," Aug. 19), and street dancing in South Central Los Angeles ("Rize," July 8).
So, what scares you? Murderous FBI profilers ("Mindhunters," May 27)? 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," May 13)? They're all here this summer, and I'm scared already. Aren't you?
IN A CLASS BY THEMSELVES
I'd be remiss if I didn't inform you that important culture critic Jiminy Glick (Martin Short) has his very own movie this summer, "Jiminy Glick in LaLaWood" (May 6), set at the Toronto International Film Festival and sounding pretty damned funny indeed. And, finally, the beautiful six-hour Italian epic "The Best of Youth," a favorite at the Seattle International Film Festival last year, finally makes its way to theaters May 13. (Six hours, you say? Yes, and it goes by faster than many 90-minute "comedies.") Happy viewing!