by Inlander Staff

We have a reader -- an online reader whose name we don't know. But this reader flips out every time we do one of our semi-annual seasonal movie previews. The last time we did one (Winter Movie Preview, 2004), our reader lambasted us for several paragraphs on how we'd gone soft and wimpy in putting Polar Express on the cover before signing off, "Real original, guys."

Aw, c'mon, man, give us a break! Movies are fun. They're as escapist and dumb as Val Kilmer with a mane of glistening big hair, and they're as profoundly dazzling as Hayao Miyazaki's newest animated dream. In between are remakes both good and bad (Bewitched and The Dukes of Hazzard, respectively), sequels and prequels (Star Wars III, Batman Begins), documentaries (Grizzly Man) and talky indie delights (Heights, Broken Flowers). So welcome, come on in and experience the Summer Movie Season of 2005. (SB)



Crash -- Who wasn't completely freaked out by 9/11? Crash focuses on a handful of intertwined lives in Los Angeles in the days right after it all happened. An ensemble cast (Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser, Matt Dillon, Don Cheadle, Thandie Newton, Jennifer Esposito, Ludacris) inhabits the frayed nerves and isolation of a group of Los Angelenos as they struggle with both national tragedy and the speed and depersonalization of contemporary life. (SB) Rated R

House of Wax -- Paris Hilton, Elisha Cuthbert and their improbably hot, road-tripping college buddies stumble into a ghost town and its main attraction, the titular house of wax. Hey, don't these sculptures look a little too real? they ask. Enter a murderous psychopath who wants to make candles of the lot of them. Yawn. This was uber-scary when Vincent Price did it in 1953, but now it looks stale and over-flashy. And though Cuthbert's kind of cute as a screaming brunette, Hilton is about as emotionally expressive as she was in her last widely publicized film. Danger and boiling wax? That's hot. (JS) Rated: R

Kingdom of Heaven -- Ever since the whole Muslim vs. Christian thing got hot again, the Crusades have been making a comeback among episodes-from-history-ripe-for-turning-into-a-Hollywood-epic. If anyone can handle the subject, it's director Ridley Scott (Gladiator), but whether Orlando Bloom (Legolas in The Lord of the Rings) can carry an epic like Russell Crowe did remains to be seen. (TM) Rated: R

Mindhunters -- If the plot intricacies of an FBI training program infiltrated by a closet serial killer don't draw you in to Mindhunters, maybe the stars-of-the-'90s cast will. Christian Slater, LL Cool J and Val Kilmer are all a part of the island-trapped finger-pointing rookie team. It's like a big-screen, law enforcement version of Survivor - except these contestants have guns. Still not itching to see it? Get this: Val Kilmer looks like he's been to Vidal Sassoon. And you know you can't resist Val with long, luxurious locks. (LS) Rated: R


Kicking & amp; Screaming -- Well, if you're a Will Ferrell fan, here's the next doozy for ya. He's no Ron Burgundy or Mugatu here; in Kicking & amp; Screaming he's just a normal family guy who will never live up to his pop's competitive nature. When his kid gets traded from his soccer team, Will's fed up. Actually, he's a "tornado of anger." Next thing you know, he's coaching the B team with his usual hilarious delivery and antics. Add Robert Duvall and Mike Ditka to the mix and we're pretty sure we'll be holding our sides, just as Ferrell expects of us. (LS) Not Yet Rated

Monster in Law -- J. Lo finds the perfect man (Michael Vartan), but he comes with a catch - an over-protective queen bitch of a mother (Jane Fonda) who quickly determines to scare Lopez off, using whatever means necessary (digging up dirt on her past, poisoning her with foods she's allergic to, etc.). Is that because Lopez is Puerto Rican? Or because she proved inadequate for Ben Affleck? It's sort of unclear. But I guess it doesn't matter. The movie is really just a showcase for an extended catfight, which might be interesting if Jell-O or oil were involved. (JS) Not Yet Rated

Unleashed -- Irish gang boss Bart (Bob Hoskins) has what no other Mafioso does - in this case a human pit bull. Raised like an animal and trained to kill any enemy of Bart's with his bare hands, Danny (Jet Li) even wears a high-tech dog collar. The collar keeps him from going ape-sh** and killing Bart and all his cronies; it also keeps him from having any hope of a normal life -- until the day he escapes and meets a blind piano tuner (Morgan Freeman) and his saucy stepdaughter. Already released in France as Danny the Dog, the movie's getting big buzz for Li's considerable acting (as well as karate) chops. (SB) Rated R


Star Wars episode III: Revenge of the Sith -- I'm not even sure what a "Sith" is, and that may be part of the reason the last two episodes (the first two, really) in the Star Wars saga have left more people scratching their heads than cheering. Another problem for mastermind George Lucas is that everyone walks into this one knowing how it ends -- with young Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader (and getting a much deeper voice). Still, the promise of a planet full of Wookiees and the answers to some of those enduring Star Wars mysteries may just make this the best of the first three (which are really the last three -- got that?). (TM) Rated: PG-13


Exorcist: The Original Prequel -- If you're thinking, "Didn't we just suffer through an Exorcist prequel last year?" the short answer is: Yes, you did. One story, two movies -- that's the deal here. Paul Schrader shot it originally but was fired from the project (and replaced with Renny Harlin) when his treatment didn't meet studio expectations. Harlin's 2004 refigured prequel (Exorcist: The Beginning) flopped. So now the studio is releasing Schrader's version in the hopes of making a little more bank from the same celluloid. For what it's worth, Schrader's version is likely much less of a predictable horror film than an atmospheric, moody and (hopefully) thoughtful thriller. (MC) Rated: R


Madagascar -- In the ongoing battle between Pixar and Dreamworks to make the most money off cartoons, Dreamworks has the schedule to itself in 2005 -- Pixar doesn't even have a new release until June 2006. Along with remaking old horror movies on the cheap, cartoons are Hollywood's best box office recipe these days, so Madagascar could be the summer's big hit. A bunch of animals at the Central Park Zoo (voiced by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Andy Richter) long for home, so they bust out and make for the African homeland. Zippy one-liners and computer-assisted hijinks are sure to ensue. (TM) Not Yet Rated

The Longest Yard -- Adam Sandler, Burt Reynolds, Chris Rock and Nelly? Sounds as bad as Hollywood Squares, doesn't it? Well, it might not be. Sandler plays an ex-pro football player who is a true washed-up has-been. And if skinny Sandler as a football pro isn't hard enough to believe, then try this: When Sandler gets booked in jail, he's assigned to assemble a team of inmates to play the jail's guards. And just to Sandler-ize the movie, the face-off between the teams becomes an event, complete with popcorn, hot dogs, cheerleaders, grandstands and ESPN2. Looks funny enough on its own, but we're pretty sure that watching Nelly try to act will be hilarious. (LS) Not Yet Rated



Cinderella Man -- I'm waiting for a big-money Hollywood epic about foosball. Or jai alai. Or disc golf. But I guess I'll keep waiting, because here comes another bloated epic about boxing. Another montage-heavy, orchestra-laden, underdog-beats-the-odds, sparring-as-a-symbol-of-humanity boxing movie. Cripes. This time around, it's Russell Crowe as a washed-up champ who gets back in the ring when the Depression puts the pinch on his family. As the film's PR says, Crowe's character (based on real boxer, Jim Braddock) carries "on his shoulders the hopes and dreams of the disenfranchised," like some kind of Tom Joad in shiny trunks. Of course, he's also carrying the weight of Rocky, Raging Bull and Million Dollar Baby. (JS) Rated: PG-13

Lords of Dogtown -- This fictionalized account of the legendary 1970s Zephyr skateboarding team comes in on the heels of the excellent 2001 documentary, Dogtown & amp; Z-Boys. Both tell the same story, that of a group of delinquent but wildly talented young surfers who ushered in the modern age of skateboarding on the mean streets of Dogtown, a.k.a. Venice Beach, California circa 1975. And both were written by Stacey Peralta (one of the original Z-Boys), who has a cameo in Lords as the "Charlie's Angels Director." If nothing else. the exquisite casting of the leads (dead ringers for Alva, Adams, Peralta, et. al.) and the production design (which is eerily precise in nailing the look of '70s So Cal surf culture) lend the film an air of authenticity rarely experienced in fiction. (MC) Rated: PG-13

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants -- Based on the YA novel by Ann Brashares, the Traveling Pants in question are a pair of thrift-store jeans that happen to fit four teenage friends perfectly. Remembering what I do of adolescent growth spurts and impossibly slender friends, I find this to be a bit of movie magic in and of itself. But back to our nomadic pants. The jeans travel from girl to girl and each wears them for a week before sending them on to the next girl. Each week brings new challenges and surprising moments (which is good when you're wearing jeans that haven't seen the inside of a washing machine in three weeks). (SB) Rated PG


The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D -- Don't be deterred by the kiddie-friendly name. In fact, this new flick is directed by Robert Rodriguez, the man with the plan behind Sin City, the El Mariachi trilogy, From Dusk 'til Dawn and one of the Four Rooms vignettes. Granted, he also did Spy Kids, but unlike a screening of The Jetsons Movie or some My Little Pony flick, Rodriguez has probably packed enough action into this kid-centric film to keep you awake. Kid-at-heart David Arquette leads the cast in this story about a boy who is joined by his imaginary superhero buddy for a whole gaggle of adventures. (LS) Not Yet Rated

Heights -- Five characters' lives mingle and interweave over the course of 24 hours in Manhattan. Photographer Isabel (Elizabeth Banks, Seabiscuit) is having second thoughts about her marriage. Her mother, Diana (Glenn Close), a star of stage and screen, has just found out about her husband's lover and is having second thoughts about their free-swinging marriage. Lots of other things happen, you know, inter-mingledly. The kind of movie where nothing really happens, but everything happens. Look for cameos from Isabella Rossellini, Rufus Wainwright and that shorts-wearing cop from Reno 911. (JS) Rated: R

The Honeymooners -- Why? Why? As if it weren't enough to bastardize the cherished TV memories of my youth (The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo) why do they have to go and make them completely unrecognizable? Case in point: this racially reinvented version of The Honeymooners, with Cedric the Entertainer filling Jackie Gleason's bus-driving shoes, Mike Epps as best buddy Ed Norton and Gabrielle Union and Regina Hall as their long-suffering wives. It's not even set in the '50s but in the hip-hop here and now. What's next? Sanford and Son starring Tommy Lee Jones and Ashton Kutcher? I Love Lucy with Queen Latifah and John Leguizamo? Grrrr. (SB) Not Yet Rated

Howl's Moving Castle -- Another animated feast for the eyes from Japanese writer/director Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away). Here, 18-year-old Zofi, cursed by a witch into an old woman's body, sojourns through a fantasy world and meets a magician named Hauru who inhabits the strange Moving Castle. To break the curse, Zofi must make a deal with a demon named Calcifer (voice of Billy Crystal in the English-language version) who is bound to Hauru. Technically dazzling animation with a story that doesn't skimp on real drama, character depth or relevant social commentary. (MC) Rated: PG

Mr. and Mrs. Smith -- Take the cutesy-marriage slash assassin part of True Lies, combine it with a high school freshman-caliber plot and two hot-hot-hot Hollywood stars - and you've got Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Mr. Smith (Brad Pitt) is an assassin, married to Mrs. Smith (Angelina Jolie) - but their identities are so top secret that neither spouse knows that the other is an assassin. And -- can you believe it? -- they're hired to kill each other! Shake your heads this summer at the mediocrity of this cinematic disaster. I can't believe that Brad and Jen broke up over this. (LS) Not Yet Rated


Batman Begins -- Fans of the caped crusader who felt Hollywood ruined their favorite comic book hero may be persuaded to come back for this one. Despite starting out great with Tim Burton's 1989 original, 1997's Batman & amp; Robin took the franchise to the depths of idiocy. To restart the cash machine, they hired Christopher Nolan (writer and director of Memento), who wants to get back to basics. In Batman Begins, the blank spots in the legend get filled in -- specifically, how Bruce Wayne got the know-how to become Batman. So you'll see Christian Bale's spiritual journey, which leads to mystical lessons from Liam Neeson. Don't worry, the Dark Knight returns to Gotham to fight the bad guys. (TM) Rated: PG-13


The Perfect Man -- Dude, this is, like, retribution for all of you mid-30s Heather Locklear haters out there. For once, Locklear plays the desperately single mom of Hilary Duff - and not only is she desperate, but she bakes cakes for a living. (Not sexy.) Duff tries her darnedest to hook her mom up with Chris Noth (Mr. Big of Sex and the City), but learns some real love lessons. We give Duff a decade or so, and she'll be that frumpy, cake-bakin' mom. And Locklear will be, like, ancient. Ha! (LS) Not Yet Rated


Herbie: Fully Loaded -- Dear Hollywood, I have been a faithful movie watcher since I was very little. The images, the sounds, the visions and spectacles that you have created have been the stuff of my sleeping and waking dreams. Your brilliance and creativity have fueled my own imagination for decades. Which, I guess, is why I'm writing. I'm worried about you, Hollywood. I'm worried that you're losing steam, that you've run out of fresh ideas. Case in point: you're remaking every movie or TV series that ever made a dollar, just to make more dollars. A remake of Herbie the Love Bug? Seriously? The original was so nice. Why ruin the original with (admittedly hot) freakin' Lindsay Lohan as a NASCAR wanna-be? Why? I used to worship you, Hollywood. Now you're dead to me. (JS) Rated: G

George A. Romero's Land of the Dead -- "Zombies, man. They creep me out." So utters Dennis Hopper's character in George A. Romero's return to the genre he so masterfully created almost 40 years ago with the original Night of the Living Dead. In Land, the zombies have taken over the world while the last surviving members of the human race have barricaded themselves inside a walled city. But there is trouble brewing within and without as the living dead begin evolving and coordinating their assaults on the city of man to get at the last few pieces on Earth of fresh, yummy brains. Also starring John Leguizamo and Asia Argento, daughter of Italian horror master (and erstwhile Romero collaborator) Dario Argento. (MC) Rated: R

Bewitched -- I've always had a soft spot for the TV series and am happy to see that the remake retains the stylish '60s battle-of-the-sexes fun of the original while positing it all as a contemporary remake inside a remake. Washed-up actor Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell) grabs the role of Darrin Stevens in a new TV update of Bewitched and insists he wants an unknown to play Samantha. Enter Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman) who actually (unbeknownst to Jack) is a witch. Egos flare, broomsticks fly and Wyatt has a breakdown because he might be replaced as Darrin and "no one will notice!" The cast -- which includes Shirley MacLaine (Endora), Amy Sedaris (Gladys Kravitz), Michael Caine (Isabel's dad) and Jason Schwartzmann and Stephen Colbert in supporting roles - is completely inspired. (SB) Not Yet Rated


War of the Worlds -- We doubt the Steven Spielberg version of H.G. Wells' classic will cause the same stir it did in 1938 when Orson Welles read it over the radio -- but we're pretty sure a lot of you will go berserk over it. In this adaptation, Cruise plays a regular Joe, estranged from this family and living a blue-collar New Jersey life. His kids dread to visit him, but little do they know that he's going to save their asses way better than Mom ever could. Aliens attack, and Cruise attempts to save his family from falling freeways, toppling bridges and eepy-creepy aliens. (LS) Not Yet Rated



Rebound -- When a big-time college basketball coach with a bad attitude (Martin Lawrence) gets fired, he starts over with a bunch of scrawny, no-talent junior high kids, who eventually warm his crusty heart and teach him the true meaning of the game. Aww. Though Martin looks to be playing pretty much the same fast-talking, sharp-tongued character he always does (which worked well in attitude-heavy shows like Martin and Bad Boys), there's no way it's going to be enough to transcend the schlock of this storyline. (JS) Rated: PG


Dark Water -- Hideo Nakata (Ringu, The Ring 2) writes, Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) directs and Jennifer Connelly stars in this horror/thriller about a mother and daughter, living in a run-down apartment building trying to heal after a bitter custody dispute. Adding to their angst is the spirit of their apartment's former resident. Bad things happened here, you bet. For Connelly, it represents her first horror role since she played the lead in Dario Argento's stylish 1985 cult classic, Phenomenon. (MC) Rated PG-13

Fantastic Four -- A super strong guy, a stretchy person, an invisible girl and a youngster who can turn into fire -- haven't we seen this movie before? Yep, ever since director Brad Bird unapologetically lifted the cast of the Fantastic Four for his hit The Incredibles, this one has been bound to seem a little tired. Michael Chiklis (The Shield) gets to dress up as the Thing, but you've got to wonder if these former comic book stars are a bit too obscure to get much attention during the busiest part of the summer. (TM) Not Yet Rated


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory -- The hottest rumor around Inlander HQ last summer was that Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory might actually be filmed in Spokane. It wasn't that far a stretch - some sections of our downtown could pass as the grimiest of London neighborhoods and after all, Johnny Depp is practically an old friend of Spokane after spending the Summer of Benny & amp; Joon here. Alas, in spite of rumored visits and numerous talks, it was not to be.

No matter, this version of Roald Dahl's classic novel is dark enough to suit not only its late author (who might be pleased to see his original title restored) but also legions of new fans. Five lucky children win a trip to the Wonka factory and a chance to win the grand prize (in addition to meeting the mysterious Mr. Wonka himself). Greed and all sorts of other human weaknesses ensue. Depp is Oscar-Wilde-dandy as the pallid chocolatier; the set is Tim Burton on Technicolor acid. (SB) Not Yet Rated

Happy Endings -- The plot for this one reads like a soap opera. A masseuse has a kid with her gay stepbrother but gives up the child -- then, when she wants to find the kid years later, she gets blackmailed by a film student claiming to know where the now-grown man lives. Enter a sly vixen, impregnated by the rich father of her gay boyfriend, and a whole lot of other characters that are almost impossible to keep track of. This movie generated a decent buzz at Sundance this year, with the relative star power of its cast (Lisa Kudrow, Tom Arnold, Steve Coogan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ray Liotta, Jesse Bradford) but its art house ethic and the weight of its loopy script just might sink it once it hits commercial theaters. (JS) Rated: R

Hustle & amp; Flow -- What's a pimp to do when he realizes that even though he's livin' large and in charge, his life is on a one-way track to nowhere? Well, go "legit" of course -- and follow your buddy into the lucrative rap music game. What could have been a horrible clich & Egrave;-and-stereotype-ridden failure in fact attracted a lot of attention from film critics at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival for its smarts, humor and inventive camera work (for which cinematographer Amy Vincent won an award). Stars Terrence Dashon Howard as the pimpy protagonist DJay and Ludacris as Skinny Black, da boy from da hood who made good. (MC) Rated: R

The Wedding Crashers -- We want the old Owen back - you know, Dignan, Hansel, Eli Cash. Well, he's still funny, even in his major-release Starsky & amp; Hutch kind of flicks. Just not that indie, dry kind of funny that made us love him. In Wedding Crashers, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are two wild and crazy guys who hit up weddings for free booze, easy action and quick escapes with aliases like Seamus and Chuck. That is until one of them starts to fall for a bridesmaid, and the other is dragged along as the loyal wingman. Wackiness. (LS) Not Yet Rated


Bad News Bears -- I love Billy Bob Thornton in just about everything, but this one has me wondering: Is nothing sacred? Is there no cherished childhood memory Hollywood won't exhume and mutilate? The original Bad News Bears (1976) was one of the first comedies I ever loved, so I can only hope they don't give it the Starksy & amp; Hutch treatment the second time around. Fortunately, they have Richard Linklater (School of Rock) directing, so maybe they won't turn it into an exercise in how many fart jokes and baseball-to-the-crotch shots they can fit into 90 minutes. (TM) Not Yet Rated

The Devil's Rejects -- Baby, Otis, Captain Spaulding and the rest of the greasy, gruesome Firefly family wander through the set of Bonanza, meet up with a team of ruthless bounty hunters and have themselves an awesome gorefest (what one critic called "one of the most depraved and terrifying showdowns in cinematic history"). But then, what else did you expect from director Rob Zombie? (JS) Rated: R

The Island -- Bad things always seem to happen on islands. Certainly in movies set on islands with "island" in the movie title. This sci-fi/ thriller is no exception. Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson star in this one -- which sounds like a cross between Logan's Run and The Matrix -- set in the near future where humans are cloned, kept docile within a quasi-utopian existence, then harvested for parts when their donor counterparts feel the need. As you can imagine, the clones don't think much of this arrangement. (MC) Not Yet Rated


The Brothers Grimm -- This much-delayed Terry Gilliam (Brazil) project is finally getting its day in the sun. Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm (Matt Damon and Heath Ledger) adventure into the forest only to find manifestations of their wild and prolific imaginations. Monica Bellucci plays the kind of evil queen who would make even Snow White's stepmother blanch. (SB) Not Yet Rated

Must Love Dogs -- Former TV writer/producer Gary David Goldberg adapts Claire Cook's novel for the screen and directs two likeable leads -- Diane Lane and John Cusack -- in this romantic comedy about men, women, kids and, yes, dogs. So why does this smell like a suspiciously bulging paper bag placed on your front porch by an anonymous "friend?" Is it the tagline ("The hardest trick is making them stay") or the plot outline (A fortysomething preschool teacher looks to the personals for a change of pace)? Hmmm. I can't decide. (MC) Not Yet Rated

Sky High -- Will Stronghold is a powerless kid with superhero parents (Captain Stronghold and Jetstream), attending a school for kids with extraordinary superpowers. So how's he to manage the embarrassment of being a mere sidekick while negotiating all the problems normal kids go through (girls, parents, peer pressure)? Will he create his own identity? Will he find his superpowers? Does anyone really care? This looks like a lame cross between X-Men, Spy Kids and The Karate Kid (not the original, the sequel). (JS) Not Rated

Stealth -- Jessica Biel is still a looker, but in Stealth she gets serious. Real serious. She's tough, playing a Navy pilot alongside Jamie Foxx and Josh Lucas. They're a team, and when their commander announces the arrival of computer-driven planes, they're all but for it. Let's just say el Chief-o should have listened to the three kids. That little humdinger of a plane up and disobeys orders, and next thing you know there's a national security threat issued. Not good. (LS) Not Yet Rated



The Dukes of Hazzard -- And yet here it is! Co-opting an old television show this time, the creative geniuses at Warner Bros. revisit Hazzard County to see what those good ol' Duke boys are up to. And wouldn't you know it, cousins Bo and Luke -- along with cousin Daisy and Uncle Jesse -- are up to their old tricks again while keeping one step ahead of lawmen Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane. The cast is a walking, talking cornpone freakshow -- including Johnny Knoxville, Jessica Simpson, Burt Reynolds, Willie Nelson, Lynda Carter and Rip Taylor (!) -- that would make for smashing season of the Surreal Life. Hoo-wee! Ain't these here remakes ironic, though? (MC) Not Yet Rated

The Pink Panther -- I won't even ask "why" this was made. The answer to that should be obvious (something to do with easy money at the box office). The real "why" will be posed when moviegoers actually turn out to see this limp remake of (excuse me, "prequel to") the wonderful 1963 original. This one stars an unintentionally clueless Steve Martin wearing an obviously fake mustache doing his lamest imitation of Peter Sellers as bumbling French Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Co-staring Beyonce and the formerly funny Kevin Kline as Chief Inspector Dreyfus. Need more proof than this that the mainstream American film industry is creatively insolvent? I don't think so. (MC) Not Yet Rated

Grizzly Man -- Director Werner Herzog won the Alfred P. Sloan at Sundance this year for this look at self-professed "Grizzly Man" Timothy Treadwell. Treadwell, as you may recall, was mauled to death in October 2003 along with his girlfriend/photographer Amie Hugenard. Treadwell lived among the wild grizzlies of Alaska's Kenai Peninsula for 13 years and published not only a book but made numerous TV appearances telling folks not to be afraid of the 1,000-pound carnivores, boasting that he never carried bear spray in the wild because grizzlies were lulled by his crooning to them. Well, perhaps not. Leonardo DiCaprio, whose own foundation funded several of Treadwell's expeditions, is slated to play the unfortunate man in a major motion picture sometime next year. Herzog's version is comprised of Treadwell's own footage and interviews with friends, family and, um, a medical examiner. Ewww. (SB) Not Yet Rated

Broken Flowers -- Bill Murray plays aging playboy Don Johnston (get it? Don Juan...), who gets dumped by his current squeeze and discovers he has a 20-year-old son he's never met. Question is, who's the mom? It's all so foggy and dude, it was the '80s... Don sets out on a road trip looking up any old flames (Tilda Swinton, Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone) who might fit the bill. Jim Jarmusch directs this ambitious ensemble effort, which he reportedly wrote with Murray in mind. (SB) Not Yet Rated

3001 -- Average guy Joe Bowers (Luke Wilson), an army private, is the guinea pig in a Pentagon experiment to develop a technology for preserving its finest soldiers and military personnel for use in the future. When he wakes from hibernation 1,000 years later, he finds that human civilization has so devolved, has become so dumbed-down, that he is easily the smartest man on the planet. This could be a one-joke movie, a kind of dumb-ass Rip Van Winkle, but with Mike Judge (Office Space, King of the Hill, Beavis and Butthead) in the director's chair, there is at least some hope. Maybe. (JS) Rated: ??


Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo -- Rob Schneider is back in this sequel as the Deuce, your average Everyman who, incredibly, has a way with the ladies. In this installment, Deuce wants to be the best he-ho he can be, so he travels to Europe to perfect his skills. And it's pretty much the same ol' same ol' from there. Here's a taste: penises for noses, tracheotomy jokes, cats being slammed in doors and Schneider in a diaper. (LS) Not Yet Rated

Four Brothers -- John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood) directs this action/drama about four brothers looking to avenge their mother's death. Stars Andre 3000 of Outkast. (MC) Not Yet Rated

The Great Raid -- Benjamin Bratt leads a mostly no-name cast as a World War II lieutenant colonel leading his men behind enemy lines to liberate 500-some fellow American soldiers from the infamous Cabanatuan Japanese POW camp. Does the fact that it's based on a true story make it any better, or any less like that popular Tom Hanks film from a few years ago? Maybe they should call this Saving a Whole Bunch of Private Ryans. With any luck, the FCC will ban this one, too. (JS) Rated: R

The Skeleton Key -- Kate Hudson (mercifully) leaves the romantic comedies behind for a while as she takes up hospice work with an aging couple (John Hurt and Gena Rowlands) inside their creepy bayou mansion. Voodoo, old school scares and Peter Sarsgaard (Shattered Glass) round out this supernatural thriller penned by The Ring's Ehren Kruger. (SB) Rated: PG-13


The 40-Year-Old Virgin -- Comedy starring the usually funny Steve Carell and Catherine Keener about a 40-year-old virgin with a cushy electronics store job and an impressive action figure collection who has just fallen in love with a woman, yet who doesn't want any of that grody sex stuff in the relationship. Co-written by Carell. (MC) Not Yet Rated

Red Eye -- Plane travel is stressful enough without Wes Craven piloting your flight and some hot-but-weird guy named Jackson Rippner (wha?) invading your personal space. Rachel McAdams (The Notebook) plays a young woman who gets kidnapped on her flight and is forced to collaborate with her captor (Cillian Murphy... rowr...) lest her own father's life be put in danger. And here all we were worried about was getting our peanuts and Scotch. (SB) Not Yet Rated


The Cave -- The second-funniest thing about The Cave is that it's rated PG-13 for "Intense Creature Violence." The very funniest thing, however, is the movie's slogan: "Beneath heaven lies hell. Beneath hell lies The Cave." What does that even mean? A group of expert spelunkers spelunk a scosch too far, venturing into the "world's largest cave system" to find lost comrades. Tsk, tsk -- not a good idea, kids. The no-name cast get lost, then come in contact with a lot of really intense creatures. It's like hell, only deeper. (LS) Rated: PG-13

Publication date: 05/05/05

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