BW's staff took the liberty to screen the big screen for optimal movie-going ease. The following 12 films head the lineup this summer in theaters near you.
The true story of Jim Braddock, a boxer with a family to feed, who is forced into early retirement just as the Great Depression hits. Returning to the ring, Braddock fights his way all the way up, culminating in a bout with heavyweight mauler Max Baer. (Cue swells of romantic strings and slo-mo blood arcing from crushed face.) Ron Howard, Russell Crowe and Renée Zellweger all have respectable track records at the box office. It might have potential-depending on how hammy the treatment. (PG-13) Opens June 3.
Madagascar may have big names, but like so many recent animated films, looks highly questionable. A zebra (Chris Rock), lion (Ben Stiller), hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and giraffe (David Schwimmer) are urbanized denizens of Central Park Zoo. After an escape snafu orchestrated by some screwy penguins, the four buddies are shipped back to Madagascar, where they contend with the whole nature-vs.-nurture question. What is this cartoon supposed to mean? Aren't we over cramming subpar allegory down our children's brains? Maybe it's not as crappy as it looks. (PG) Opens May 27.
Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
An obscure Estonian romantic comedy about two astronomers who are in love with the same woman, a comely milkmaid by the name of Sith. Sure to pass through the art-house theaters without much fanfare. (PG) Opens May 19.
Lords of Dogtown
We're a bit leery of movies based on other movies. Case in point: taking off from 2001's Dogtown and Z-Boys documentary, LOD gives us the dramatized story of the Z-Boys, three California teens (out of the tough neighborhood of Dogtown) who revolutionized and commercialized skateboarding in the '70s, becoming the granddudes of extreme sporting. Looks like cheesy dialogue with cheesier wardrobe. Dude, is this double-featuring at the multiplex with Point Break? (PG-13) Opens June 3.
Mr. And Mrs. Smith
First off: This blockbuster cocktail of National Enquirer smut-appeal and video game violence couldn't be farther from the 1941 Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name. Secondly: If, as the trailers threaten, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are husband and wife assassins trying to kill one another, the collagen spills from her blown-up lips alone would be the worst environmental disaster since Prince William Sound. Dollar theater fodder all the way. (R) Opens June 10.
Industry rumors say that the original title was going to be Batman Begins ... To Stink. Then someone realized that he has actually stunk since Tim Burton traded in his caped crusader fetish for a full-time man-crush on Johnny Depp about 15 years ago. No, seriously: after Willy Wonka, there's yet another Depp/Burton in the works, titled Corpse Bride. Sheesh. (PG-13) Opens June 15.
The Skeleton Key
Cutie patootie Kate Hudson is Caroline, a young hospice caretaker in need of a change. She takes a job in Terrebone Parrish, a Bayou village where magic, witchcraft and faith rules the lives of the inhabitants. Her charge, Ben (John Hurt), is the victim of a stroke and unable warn her of the dangers she faces if she uses the skeleton key she's found. (R) Opens August 12.
"My name is Domino Harvey. I am a bounty hunter." Keira Knightley stars as Domino, a lovely young lass who by the looks of things was destined for another kind of life. Based on a true story, sort of, this flick has something for everyone: guns, sorority girl fights, Mickey Rourke, Jerry Springer and more. With over 45 actors credited in the cast, it will have to be one hell of a box office blockbuster to warrant everyone's appearance (and to make sure they all get paid). (R) Opens August 19.
The Pink Panther
The originals rocked, then Blake Edwards tried to keep the franchise going despite the absence of the legendary Peter Sellers. This one never should have been dug up. Even Kevin Kline and Beyonce won't help this disaster. Giving Steve Martin an opportunity to make his first funny film in 20 years won't succeed this time either. The original Inspector Clouseau is spinning in his grave. Do yourself a favor and wait for it to come out on rental. Even better yet, rent the original. (PG) Opens August 5.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
It really doesn't matter what movie it is, when you get Johnny Depp together with Tim Burton, you know it's gonna be good. Mix in Oompa Loompas, chocolate and a factory, and you've got a potential cult classic. Normally opposed to remakes (see our abhorrence to The Pink Panther) this one might transcend the original classic. It could happen. Opens July 15.
The Dukes of Hazzard
Johnny Knoxville as Luke Duke-yes! Seann William Scott as Bo Duke-no. Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg-maybe. Willie Nelson as Uncle Jesse-boy howdy, you betcha! Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke-needs to be cheekier. But the reason we're all over The Dukes is because Lynda Carter is in it, the source of many a teen fantasy. We haven't seen her since Battle of the Network Stars in that great see-through one-piece swimsuit. Mmmmmm. Wonder Woman. Opens August 5.
Damn, damn, damn. We were really hoping this flick, starring Scottish hottie Ewan McGregor, would add to his list of quality films. Instead, McGregor and Scarlett Johansson realize they're clones to provide "spare parts" for their original human counterparts, and race from the last scrap of non-utopian society (the island) to avoid being harvested. It's mainly the word "harvested" that throws us off, but you never know. Some people liked Gattaca.