Sunblock and Ticket Stubs
A Summer Preview by Dr. Daniel
(May 3, 1999) Listen up, friends and neighbors! Start smellin' the fresh-cut grass and burning weiners! Slap on that cocoa butter and brown yourself like a Jimmy Dean Pure Pork Breakfast Link! It's near 'bout summertime! The Summer of '99! The last summer before the Y2K bug wipes out mankind, and all that's left are cockroaches and Keith Richards! And we've got a hundred and something movies coming out on top of it all! They'll be slamming into theatres this coming weekend, and keep on slamming until September.
And, you're saying to yourself, "Doc! Help us! Don't let us spend our summer wasting our money! Guide us! Help us! Lead us! Show us the path to cinematic treasure and celluloid pleasure!"
You know, I prob'ly need to quit drinking that ginseng cola before sitting down to writing....
Bigger Than A BankboxFirst off -- I'm hearing rumors that there's a new Star Wars movie coming out...? Can't confirm it just yet. I haven't seen or read anything about it.... You'd think that if something that big were on the way, we'd see it on magazine covers or have some pre-release publicity to chew on.
Well, assuming this Star Wars thing actually happens, I'll probably go see that, but if not, I think there's gonna be plenty of other stuff to see this summer. Prime example - this coming Friday, May 7th, Universal is releasing The Mummy starring Brendan Fraser, and, folks, this thing doesn't look to be a slouch by any means. Lots of CGI stuff, lots of talent, and a run with a classic Universal monster! We get an animated Tarzan from Disney that, based on the looks of things, might just be the freshest visual work the studio's done in a while. Austin Powers is bringing his shagadelic mojo back to the bigscreen, baby (with Heather Graham on his arm to boot!) Julia's got two, Tom and Nicole are showing their tutus, and Will Smith and Kevin Kline are making a run for Two of the Year! What more could anyone need? Maybe a to and fro to South Park?
A Side Order of ChillyLook first for The Mummy to be a big thing. Universal is banking on this thing to plug a few big holes that the past year dug for them. I hope it does, because The Mummy has always been a fave of mine, as far as monsters go. Another "horror" of sorts is coming from DreamWorks, in the form of The Haunting, and it's promising to be some forevermore kinda haunted house story. It's based on the Shirley Jackson book The Haunting of Hill House, and, being directed by Jan DeBont (Twister), you know it's gonna go WAY over the top. Liam Neeson (that work-happy Jedi) is in Haunting, as is Catherine Zeta-Jones (the scrumpdillyicious pepperpot from The Mask of Zorro and Entrapment). No other hints here, lest I spill plot, so watch for this one. I do want to throw you a big hint on something you might have to hunt for a bit. Pay close attention in July for a small film called The Blair Witch Project. It was the first film purchased at the Sundance Festival this year, and, according to insider buzz, scared the living bejeezus out of the festival-goers. Who knows how wide a release it will get, though...
Mr. Giggles-WorthFor those of you looking for funny, turn no further than the next few months. After seeing his moderate bigscreen success turn into a home video phenomenon, Mike Myers comes roaring back as Austin Powers and Dr. Evil, traveling back in time to the late '60s in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Look for new characters Felicity Shagwell, Ivana Humpalot and Mini-Me (a midget Dr. Evil clone), as well as Scott, Frau, and a bunch of our favorites from the first one. And in exchange for cutting him out of the first film, Myers and director Jay Roach gave Rob Lowe the part of the young Number Two.
Adam Sandler is wading into the fray as an adoptive father in Big Daddy. And, the one I'm getting geared for is Mystery Men, starring Ben Stiller, Greg Kinnear, and a slew of other stars, all playing superheroes trying to protect their fair city from Dr. Casanova Frankenstein, after he kidnaps the head hero, Captain Amazing. This thing has everyone in it from Geoffrey Rush to William H. Macy to Janeane Garafalo, all sporting very odd superpowers, and promises to be a very funny action movie.
And, let's not forget Will "Fresh King of Summer" Smith, busting in as Agent Jim West in the big-bucks redux of the '60s TV stalwart Wild Wild West. He has Kevin Kline as a running partner, Salma Hayek as a love interest, Kenneth Branaugh as a villainous antagonist, and Barry Sonnenfeld (Men In Black) as a director, PLUS lots of gadgets and gizmos as this "James Bond in Dodge City" adventure takes the screen on the Fourth of July weekend, a slot that Smith has slaughtered all competition in for two years in a row. Wanna bet on three?
Scream scribe Kevin Williamson makes his directorial debut with Killing Mrs. Tingle, starring Katie Holmes, about a high schooler who takes out her frustrations on a really evil teacher. Williamson knows what sells, and you can bank on lots of blood, gore, and laughs. (Contrast that against Williamson's mentor, Wes Craven, whose summer entry is a feel-good drama called 50 Violins.)
Color My WorldWe also get some animated fare, of course, from the most opposite ends of the spectrum as there can be. Disney is offering an animated version of Tarzan, featuring songs by Phil Collins and voice talent from Rosie O'Donnell, Glenn Close, Tony Goldwyn, and Minnie Driver. The studio is also using a new background technique called Deep Canvas, to give an almost three-dimensional look to the whole production, which should be an interesting addition to the process, especially with Fantasia 2000 just around the corner.
The very same weekend, the family-fare animation goes right to Hell as South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut hits screen. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been given the keys to the kingdom, and you can only imagine what results will be. This thing'll be rated "R" (by a hair), as if that's gonna keep anyone away from it, and, in part, deals with the Kids sneaking into an R-rated movie and learning a bunch of new cuss words. Might that be a jab at the MPAA from Matt and Trey? Oh, count on it....
Kiss, KissIf romance is more your style, my future wife, Julia Roberts, has two such movies coming out, one in May, the other in July. May brings us Notting Hill, about a beautiful female movie star falling for a plain ol' nobody kinda guy (Hugh Grant), and what effect her fame has on their trying to have a normal relationship. July, on the other hand, reunites Roberts and Richard Gere, the Pretty Woman team, with their director Garry Marshall, for Runaway Bride. Think It Happened One Night in present day. Somehow, though, I'm thinking that Notting Hill will be better. Richard Gere has gotten a little flaky here lately, so who knows how well the chemistry between him and Miss Julia will be.
On another front, the current fascination with Shakespeare has spawned A Midsummer's Night Dream, a flirty adaptation starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Calista Flockhart, Kevin Kline, and Rupert Everett, to name a few.
And, of course, for romance of a very different sort, let's not forget Stanley Kubrick's swan song opus, Eyes Wide Shut. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman play married therapists who get caught up in sexual obsession and jealousy (nobody knows a whole lot more than that -- Kubrick kept the plot under lock and key, and none of the actors are talking.) Based on the one 90-second teaser we've seen, expect some really kinky stuff hiding behind the secrets. Rumors of rampant nudity, cross-dressing, very hot sex scenes, and more are all the rage, so be warned -- this one could melt your 3-D glasses.
Kate Capshaw leaves the comfort of her filthy-rich Spielberg homelife to act in The Love Letter and Melissa Joan Heart, a.k.a. Sabrina the Teenage Witch, stars in a teen romance entry called Next to You.
Bang, BangDid I forget anything? I hear you, guys. ACTION!!!! Well, it wouldn't be summer if we didn't blow up a few things, shoot some folks, and generally raise a tar-boiling ruckus, right? Travolta's back, with Con Air director Simon West, in The General's Daughter. John's a warrant officer investigating the murder of the title woman, and ends up in a political thriller involving cover-ups and high-level sex videos.
Pierce Brosnan is in the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair, about a millionaire whose hobby is stealing valuable paintings. Renny Harlin is also returning to the Action Zone, this time directing Deep Blue Sea, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Thomas Jane in a story about genetically-engineered sharks that are getting all ticked off at everyone. Forgive Renny for Cutthroat Island, by the way. If you didn't see his last effort, The Long Kiss Goodnight, you missed a kick-butt action movie. He still knows his stuff, people.
Antonio Banderas polishes up yet another sword for The 13th Warrior, based on the Michael Crichton book Eaters of the Dead and helmed by John McTiernan, the director of Diehard. I hope it's a big hit, just so John McTiernan won't be continually labeled as the director of Diehard. I mean, it was a great action flick, but I'm sure he's tired of hearing it as his sole claim to fame.
I recently saw a cool trailer for some sci-fi virtual reality thing starring Vincent D'Onofrio called The 13th Floor, which is supposed to open at the end of this month. The trailer looked great, but I'm having the darndest time finding out anything more about it, so be forewarned that it may lack actual substance.
It may be a little light on action, but Arlington Road, starring Jeff Bridges and Tim Robbins is a frighteningly timely story about a professor who teaches a class on terrorism, and begins to suspect that his neighbor may be a hunted terrorist-bomber (read "Unabomber" here...).
And, in case you were wondering, there is a summer action movie featuring a muscular European with a thick accent kicking hiney at every turn. No, Arnold is indeed missing in action this year. We gotta settle for a Van Damme movie instead. Heaven help us. Here comes Universal Soldier: The Return.
Oh, yeah, and there's that rumor about spaceships and droids and that George Lucas fellas. That guy used to make good action movies. I wonder what ever happened to him....
Perfect GamesSports fans can buy a movie ticket or two this summer, rejoicing in the fact that Kevin Costner is back where he belongs -- in a baseball movie. This one's directed by our pal Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, A Simple Plan) and co-stars Kelly Preston. In it, Costner plays an aging pitcher who's given a chance to redeem his sagging fortunes by throwing a perfect game.
Burt Reynolds and a cast of yeah, I recognize that guy but can't remember his names, lace up skates for Mystery, Alaska about a small-town hockey squad that gets a chance a fame by taking on the NHL's New York Rangers.
Kid and PlayCalm down, Mom and Dad, family fare, such as it is, will also be there in spades. Brian Henson has done Muppets In Space, and, along with Tarzan, Disney offers up a live-action version of the cartoon Inspector Gadget, starring Matthew Broderick and Rupert Everett.
Returning to the Jay Ward zone that served him so well in George of the Jungle, Brendan Fraser steps into the boots of Dudley Do-Right, the Canadian Mountie who's only goal in life is to save Nell Fenwick (Sarah Jessica Parker) from evil Snidely Whiplash (Alfred Molina).
More Than ZeroTired yet? Hope not. There are some less splashy entries that may be worth a look, in case the lines from Planet Lucas are killing you. Bowfinger, a comedy starring Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy, tells the story of a movie producer (Martin) so desperate to have a hot actor (Murphy) in his movie that he stalks him and shoots footage of him to edit into the film he's making.
Summer of Sam, from director Spike Lee, is a '70s period piece about a neighborhood in New York that was being terrorized by serial killer David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam. The cast includes the likes of Mira Sorvino, John Leguizamo, and John Savage.
Make sure to look for Drop Dead Gorgeous, a comedy starring Kirsten Dunst and Denise Richards (yes-please!) as beauty pageant contestants who will do anything to win.
Genius Albert Brooks offers The Muse, starring Sharon Stone as one of the Muses (as in, daughters of Zeus...). She lives in Southern California, and she's doing her inspiration thing with everyone, including directors Martin Scorsese, Rob Reiner, and James Cameron, who all play themselves.
Charlize Theron plays The Astronaut's Wife opposite Johnny Depp in a science-fiction chiller of sorts. Depp is a NASA flyboy who has a close encounter in orbit and returns home with a headfull of suspicious stress. Wife is directed by Rand Ravich (The Maker) and co-stars Joe Morton and Nick Cassavettes.
The maybe-retired Anthony Hopkins plays an anthropologist who lived with gorillas in Africa, and is in jail for murdering two park rangers in Instinct. Cuba Gooding, Jr. is a psychologist who has to figure out what happened to Hopkins to make him so animalistic that he kills with his bare hands and refuses to speak.
Brad Pitt and Edward Norton polish up their knuckles for Fight Club, a drama about bored yuppies who take up bare-knuckles boxing. Se7en director David Fincher reunites with Pitt and installs Meat Loaf and Helena Bonham Carter as co-stars.
And if that wasn't enough, there will be re-releases of some incredible movies like The Third Man, in celebration of it's 50th anniversary, and a tribute to Douglas Sirk that will include Magnificent Obsession, Written on the Wind, and Imitation of Life.
Pant, pant, pant....
Well, that ought to give you more than enough to shoot for this summer, kiddies. Watch your tanning, don't go in the water for a half-hour after eating, and, hey, go see a movie or three, huh?
By the way, let me know if you hear anything about that new Star Wars movie...I swear it's just a rumor.