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The 2005 eFilmCritic Summer Movie Madness Tournament

Can Anyone Knock Off The #1 Seed?
by Erik Childress

March Madness is winding down, but the eFilmCritic Summer Movie Tournament is BACK by popular demand! 64 of the hottest titles premiering from April to August will fight it out to be champs at the box office. There are surprises as always and major disappointments. How many #10 seeds will knock off the #7’s? Can anything beat Episode III? Well, we’re mixing it up a bit this year. True success, after all, is not always in the opening weekend. It’s in the word-of-mouth. Read on about all the major flicks this summer, how to enter and how the winners shall be crowned this year.

ENTER The 2005 eFilmCritic Summer Movie Box Office Tournament
(Click the Predict It! link above the bracket, sign-up and predict away!)

Working just like March Madness, each film in the round-robin bracket has been given a seed determined by their box office potential. Each film’s final total, however, will be based on NOT their opening weekend, but the total of their second-and-third week tallies. That’s right. First week means SQUAT! Any high-profile flick can muster up $30-$40 million in three days. But who is coming back? We want to celebrate quality and the legs that word-of-mouth brings with it.

Your goal is to evaluate each matchup and determine how far each film will go in the tournament based on their 14-day gross of Weeks 2 & 3. Each correct guess in the first round will yield you one point. Second round gets 2. Third round gets 4. And so on. Ties will be broken based on which contestant entered their picks first.

The nature of the competition forces it to run until the beginning of September, so the gleeful anticipation of each opening weekend will lead to weeks and weeks of suspense. Some first round match-ups may not be decided for months only to lead to a windfall of bracket restitution all at once. Be aware that nervous studio executives may pull films from the schedule on a dime, therefore leaving you with a hole in your roster. Luck swings both ways so think carefully when plotting your match-ups. Feel free to read-up on all the films in the tournament below and check out a few of the trailers as well.

ENTER The 2005 eFilmCritic Summer Movie Box Office Tournament
(Click the Predict It! Link above the bracket, sign-up and predict away!)

The prize bag will increase depending on the amount of entries we receive. And we shall add prizes throughout the contest. What is the fun of establishing a prize now when we could have something WAY cooler at the end of this four-month contest. Currently – the player with the highest score will win a solid prize. (Think a few DVDs.) The more entries, the bigger the prize and possibly a bit more wealth sharing. Only one entry per household though.



Batman Begins
Release Date: June 17
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Ken Watanabe, Katie Holmes, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer
Director: Christopher Nolan
Premise: Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" explores the origins of the Batman legend and the Dark Knight's emergence as a force for good in Gotham. In the wake of his parents' murder, disillusioned industrial heir Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) travels the world seeking the means to fight injustice and turn fear against those who prey on the fearful. He returns to Gotham and unveils his alter-ego: Batman, a masked crusader who uses his strength, intellect and an array of high tech deceptions to fight the sinister forces that threaten the city.
Trailer Notes: 1992 was the last time anyone was actively excited about a Batman film. Until now. Christopher Nolan is going to bang this out of the park like he was on steroids. Or like Barry Bonds. This is the kind of trailer we love; an extended teaser that doesn’t reveal too much, but hints at true greatness. Bring it home, Chris!

Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
Release Date: August 12
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Rob Schneider, Eddie Griffin, Jeroen Krabbé, Arija Bareikis, Oded Fehr, Til Schweiger
Director: Mike Bigelow
Premise: In "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo," Rob Schneider is seduced back to his unlikely pleasure-for-pay profession, when his former pimp T.J. Hicks (Griffin) is implicated in the murders of Europe's Greatest Gigolos. Deuce must go back to work in order to clear his good friend's name. Along the way, Deuce must compete against the powerful European Union of Prosti-dudes and court another bevy of abnormal female clients including the beautiful Eva, who suffers from acute obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Trailer Notes: Did you ever thought you’d hear the words “Deuce Bigalow…IS BACK!” Animal and midget jokes. Great. The trailer sums it up pretty well “Same Ho…New Lo.”

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Release Date: May 19
MPAA Rating: possibly PG-13
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Frank Oz, Ian McDiarmid, Jimmy Smits, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
Director: George Lucas
Premise: After three long years of relentless fighting, the Clone Wars are nearly at an end. The Jedi Council dispatches Obi-Wan Kenobi to bring General Grievous, the deadly leader of the Separatist droid army, to justice. Meanwhile, back on Coruscant, Chancellor Palpatine has grown in power. His sweeping political changes transform the war-weary Republic into the mighty Galactic Empire. To his closest ally, Anakin Skywalker, he reveals the true nature of power and the promised secrets of the Force in an attempt to lure him to the dark side.
Trailer Notes: What needs to be said? It’s dark and exciting and amazing. Invent your own adjectives here. Please Lucas. Please make everyone believe again.

XXX: State of the Union
Release Date: April 29
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Cast: Ice Cube, Samuel L. Jackson, Willem Dafoe, Scott Speedman, Michael Roof, Nona Gaye, Peter Strauss, Sunny Mabrey
Director: Lee Tamahori
Premise: In Revolution Studios' follow-up to the successful franchise film "XXX," NSA Agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson), fresh off the success of his last renegade recruitment, once again finds himself in need of an outsider. Gibbons and his new agent (Ice Cube), also code-named "XXX," must track a dangerous military splinter group led by Willem Dafoe that is conspiring to overthrow the U.S. Government in the nation's capital.
Trailer Notes: Anyone believe Ice Cube as an action hero? Check that. An armed forces specialist? Last time Willem Dafoe played a baddie of this type, we had Speed 2. The only thing appealing about this trailer is the presence of mega-hot Sunny Mabrey, recently seen mega-naked in the direct-to-video Species III.


The Bad News Bears
Release Date: July 22
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Greg Kinnear, Marcia Gay Harden
Director: Richard Linklater
Premise: A fresh take on the irreverent 1976 comedy hit, "The Bad News Bears" follows a grizzled former minor league baseball player who is recruited to coach a woefully inept Little League team to a championship against their hated rivals, the Yankees.
Trailer Notes: I wish I could be more excited about remaking a genuinely subversive classic, but doesn’t Billy Bob look like he’s revisiting that Bad Santa role a bit too much? Then again, if you liked Bad Santa (which I didn’t) maybe you’ll be front-and-center.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Release Date: July 15
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, Helena Bonham Carter, David Kelly, Noah Taylor, James Fox, Missi Pyle, Christopher Lee, Jordan Fry, AnnaSophia Robb, Julia Winter, Philip Wiegratz
Director: Tim Burton
Premise: Acclaimed director Tim Burton brings his vividly imaginative style to "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," about eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka, and Charlie, a good-hearted boy from a poor family who lives in the shadow of Wonka's extraordinary factory. Long isolated from his own family, Wonka launches a worldwide contest to select an heir to his candy empire. Five lucky children, including Charlie, draw golden tickets from Wonka chocolate bars and win a guided tour of the legendary candy-making facility that no outsider has seen in 15 years. Dazzled by one amazing sight after another, Charlie is drawn into Wonka's fantastic world in this astonishing and enduring story.
Trailer Notes: An appropriately bizarre teaser has to get fans of both the book and the original film giddy. Anyone else smell a third straight Oscar nomination for Depp? Maybe this is his year.

Dark Water
Release Date: July 8
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Cast: Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Tim Roth, Dougray Scott, Pete Postlethwaite, Ariel Gade
Director: Walter Salles
Premise: Based on a film by the creators of the Japanese version of "The Ring" comes this haunting, chilling film about a young mother who goes to extreme lengths to solve a mystery and protect her daughter. Dahlia Williams (Jennifer Connelly) is starting a new life; newly separated with a new job and a new apartment, she's determined to put her relationship with her estranged husband behind her and devote herself to raising her daughter, Ceci. But when the strained separation disintegrates into a bitter custody battle, her situation takes a turn for the worse. Her new apartment – dilapidated, cramped, and worn – seems to take on a life of its own. Mysterious noises, persistent leaks of dark water, and strange happenings cause her imagination to run wild, sending her on a puzzling and mystifying pursuit to find out who is behind the endless mind games. As Dahlia frantically searches for the links between the riddles, the dark water seems to close around her. But one thing trumps all others in Dahlia's world: no matter what it is that's out there, she'll stop at nothing to find it.
Trailer Notes: A supernatural horror film from the director of The Motorcycle Diaries? Could be interesting. As long as the original Japanese directors aren’t on board the American remakes (ahem, The Grudge, The Ring 2), there’s been some success. Though can we lose creepy children, nursery rhymes as horror clichés and the ultimate life source as a deadly metaphor?

Four Brothers
Release Date: August 12
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin, Garrett Hedlund, Terrence Dashon Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Sofia Vergara
Director: John Singleton
Premise: Four brothers band together to avenge the death of their mother. Loosely based on The Sons of Katie Elder
Notes: John Singleton does another remake. Yay----wwwnnnnnn! Admittedly his remake (Shaft) was miles better than his sequel (2 Fast 2 Furious).

Herbie: Fully Loaded
Release Date: June 24
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Michael Keaton, Matt Dillon, Breckin Meyer, Justin Long, Cheryl Hines, Jill Ritchie
Director: Angela Robinson
Premise: Start your engines! Herbie, the most beloved car star of them all, is back and Lindsay Lohan's got him in Disney's all new revved-up comedy adventure, "Herbie: Fully Loaded." Lohan stars as Maggie Peyton, the new owner of Number 53 - the free-wheelin' Volkswagen bug with a mind of its own - who puts the car through its paces on the road to becoming a NASCAR competitor. Herbie's got some new tricks under his hood as he takes audiences for an action-packed spin in this high-speed comedy. With an all-star cast along for a wild ride, this comedy puts Herbie to the test - on-road, off-road, on the track and into the record books.
Trailer Notes: I’ll admit I respect the Lohan for fulfilling that Disney contract of hers, but that’s about all I can respect anticipating this thing. The director of D.E.B.S. meets the writers of Taxi (who should be doing something far more up to par like their work on Reno 911!) Michael Keaton, what are you doing? Get away from the tween flicks. Call Tim Burton. Do a movie with Johnny Depp.

House of Wax
Release Date: May 6
MPAA Rating: R
Cast: Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Brian Van Holt, Paris Hilton, Jared Padalecki
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Premise: "House of Wax" tells the story of a group of friends who fall prey to a sinister plot while passing through a small town on their way to a college football game.
Trailer Notes: First, shame on you for putting Paris Hilton in a mainstream movie and placing her above the title. Second, haven’t we suffered enough with the Waxwork films? Third, if Elisha keeps doing movies like this, she’ll be waving that no-nudity clause soon enough. So, one positive, since the “Dark Castle” films (House on Haunted Hill, Ghost Ship, Gothika) haven’t been better than mediocre to date.

The Longest Yard
Release Date: May 27
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, James Cromwell, Nelly, William Fichtner, Burt Reynolds
Director: Peter Segal
Premise: "The Longest Yard" is the story of pro quarterback Paul Crewe (Sandler) and former college champion and coach Nate Scarboro (Reynolds), who are doing time in the same prison. Asked to put together a team of inmates to take on the guards, Crewe enlists the help of Scarboro to coach the inmates to victory in a football game "fixed" to turn out quite another way. [br] WATCH THE TRAILER
Trailer Notes: The trailer is more rousing than particularly funny. The sight of Sandler giving a Wet Willy to the referee must be a sign of what level the humor will be at. Of course, Sandler is actually that sign too. Could this actually knock Revenge of the Sith off of its perch in its second week?

The Pink Panther
Release Date: August 5
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Beyoncé Knowles, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer, Kristin Chenoweth, Henry Czerny
Director: Shawn Levy
Premise: A famous soccer coach has been murdered and his priceless ring stolen – a ring set with the stunning diamond known as the Pink Panther. Cracking the case becomes a national obsession, and Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kline), up for the prestigious Medal of Honor…again…for the seventh time...can't afford any mistakes – at least none that can be attributed to him. Enter indefatigable Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Martin), a name that strikes fear into...well, everyone. His deductive powers are limited, his command of the language frightening, his reflexes hazardous. His approach may be alarmingly unorthodox, but he always solves the crime – in his own fashion – with hilarious results. Get ready to be tickled pink! Comic superstar Steve Martin stars as Clouseau in an all-new adventure of "The Pink Panther".[br] WATCH THE TRAILER
Trailer Notes: I have absolute confidence in Steve Martin and Kevin Kline to make the most of this. I even like Jean Reno doing comedy. I have no confidence in hack Shawn Levy (Just Married, Cheaper by the Dozen). PLUS, where in the hell is the DIAMOND? You know, the ACTUAL Pink Panther?

War of the Worlds
Release Date: June 29
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Tom Cruise, Tim Robbins, Miranda Otto, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Rick Gonzalez, David Alan Basche
Director: Steven Spielberg
Premise: Next summer, the earth goes to war. From Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures comes the motion picture event of the year: Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds," starring international superstar Tom Cruise. A contemporary retelling of H.G. Wells's seminal classic, the sci-fi adventure thriller reveals the extraordinary battle for the future of humankind through the eyes of one American family fighting to survive it.
Trailer Notes: The marketing on this has been brilliant, much the same way Jurassic Park barely showed you any dinosaur footage. This looks to have surprises galore and put that crap called Independence Day in its place.


The Brothers Grimm
Release Date: July 29
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Cast: Matt Damon, Heath Ledger, Jonathan Pryce, Monica Bellucci, Lena Headey, Peter Stormare, Mackenzie Cook, Richard Ridings
Director: Terry Gilliam
Premise: A dark fantasy about the two "The Brothers Grimm" (Ledger and Damon) who travel around the Napoleonic countryside vanquishing fake monsters and demons in exchange for cash. When the French government figures out what they're up to, they force the brothers to deal with the real thing—a number of murders being committed under mysterious circumstances in the northern woods between Germany and France. It is there that they have to try and discover what's really happening and deal with it before more people are killed or their lack of success leads to the guillotine.
Notes: It’s Terry Gilliam. Period!

Fantastic Four
Release Date: July 8
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Michael Chiklis, Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans, Jessica Alba, Julian McMahon, Maria Menounos, Kerry Washington, Hamish Linklater
Director: Tim Story
Premise: Marvel's first family of comic superheroes takes the world by storm as the longest running comic book series in history comes to the big screen. The Fantastic Four are: Reed Richards / Mr. Fantastic, who can elongate his body; Susan Storm / Invisible Woman, who not only can become invisible at will but can render other objects invisible; Johnny Storm / Human Torch, who can shoot fire from his finger tips and bend flame; and Ben Grimm / The Thing, a hideously misshapen monster with superhuman strength. Together, they battle the evil Doctor Doom.
Trailer Notes: A lot to live up to after last year’s Spider-Man 2 and this year’s Sin City and impending Batman Begins. It doesn’t get much better as comic book adaptations go and I don’t know if Tim Barbershop/Taxi Story has the stones to pull it off. It ran running from War of the Worlds and could be this year’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Release Date: April 29
MPAA Rating: PG
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel, Martin Freeman, Bill Nighy, Anna Chancellor, John Malkovich, Warwick Davis, Steve Pemberton, Stephen Fry
Director: Garth Jennings
Premise: Don't Panic... Stick out your thumb to join the most ordinary man in the world on an extraordinary adventure across the universe in the hilarious comedy, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Earthman Arthur Dent is having a very bad day. His house is about to be bulldozed, he discovers that his best friend is an alien and to top things off, Planet Earth is about to be demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Arthur's only chance for survival: hitch a ride on a passing spacecraft. For the novice space traveler, the greatest adventure in the universe begins when the world ends. Arthur sets out on a journey in which he finds that nothing is as it seems: he learns that a towel is just the most useful thing in the universe, finds the meaning of life, and discovers that everything he needs to know can be found in one book: "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
Trailer Notes: I’m late on the Hitchhiker bandwagon. I imagine those not already a fan of the book will have the same indifference I did when I saw the trailer. But after reading just a few chapters (finally!), I certainly understand the appeal and cannot wait for the film. And this trailer is one of the best creations I’ve seen in a while.

The Island
Release Date: July 22
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou, Michael Clarke Duncan, Steve Buscemi, Sean Bean, Shawnee Smith, Noa Tishby
Director: Michael Bay
Premise: Lincoln Six-Echo (McGregor) is a resident of a seemingly utopian but contained facility in the mid-21st century. Like all of the inhabitants of this carefully controlled environment, Lincoln hopes to be chosen to go to the "The Island"—reportedly the last uncontaminated spot on the planet. But Lincoln soon discovers that everything about his existence is a lie. He and all of the other inhabitants of the facility are actually human clones whose only purpose is to provide "spare parts" for their original human counterparts. Realizing it is only a matter of time before he is "harvested," Lincoln makes a daring escape with a beautiful fellow resident named Jordan Two-Delta (Johansson). Relentlessly pursued by the forces of the sinister institute that once housed them, Lincoln and Jordan engage in a race for their lives to literally meet their makers.
Trailer Notes: The first Michael Bay film I’m actually intrigued to see. Lots of Bay’s standard slow motion and crashes, but nothing to make you physically ill the way Pearl Harbor or Bad Boys II did. At least, not yet.

Release Date: May 13
MPAA Rating: R
Cast: Val Kilmer, LL Cool J, Christian Slater, Eion Bailey, Clifton Collins, Jr., Jonny Lee Miller, Kathryn Morris, Patricia Velasquez
Director: Renny Harlin
Premise: On a remote island, the FBI has a training program for their psychological profiling division, called "Mindhunters", used to track down serial killers. The training goes horribly wrong, however, when a group of seven young agents discover that one of them is a serial killer, and is setting about slaying the others. Can the few that are left figure out who the killer is in time?
Trailer Notes: This film has been delayed for so long, I didn’t have to change anything on this but the date and the notes. The rest is from the listing in LAST YEAR’S CONTEST!!!


Release Date: August 12
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Keira Knightley, Mena Suvari, Christopher Walken, Lucy Liu, Mickey Rourke, Macy Gray, Jacqueline Bisset, Edgar Ramirez, Mo'Nique, Shondrella Avery, Dabney Coleman, Delroy Lindo, Brian Austin Green
Director: Tony Scott
Premise: Keira Knightley stars in the wild action thriller "Domino," the latest project from director Tony Scott ("Man on Fire," "Beverly Hills Cop II," "True Romance"). A trademark Scott film, "Domino" presents an entertaining mix of gritty action, biting comedy and sharp visuals. The film tells the true story of Domino Harvey, daughter of legendary actor Laurence Harvey and a former Ford model who rejected her privileged Beverly Hills life to become a bounty hunter.
Trailer Notes: Could be just quirky enough to entice the True Romance and The Professional crowds. Not Keira’s best haircut, but the trailer looks cool and a script by Richard “Donnie Darko” Kelly has to excite.

Kingdom of Heaven
Release Date: May 6
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Marton Csokas, Liam Neeson, Edward Norton
Director: Ridley Scott
Premise: "Kingdom of Heaven" is an epic adventure about a common man who finds himself thrust into a decades-long war. A stranger in a strange land, he serves a doomed king, falls in love with an exotic and forbidden queen, and rises to knighthood. Ultimately, he must protect the people of Jerusalem from overwhelming forces – while striving to keep a fragile peace.
Trailer Notes: Has more of that “1492” flavor than “Gladiator”. Big armies do big things while others stare longingly and make hefty speeches. Still, you have to have some faith in Ridley Scott to undo the epic curse put forth by Troy and Alexander last year.

Layer Cake
Release Date: May 13 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R
Cast: Daniel Craig, Kenneth Cranham, Dexter Fletcher, Jamie Foreman, Michael Gambon, Burn Gorman, Tom Hardy, Tamer Hassan, Sally Hawkins, Darren Healy, Nathalie Lunghi, Colm Meaney, Sienna Miller, James O'Donnell, Peter Rnic, Garry Tubbs
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Premise: Sleek, well dressed and polite, our unnamed hero (Daniel Craig) is a consummate professional. Treating cocaine and ecstasy like any other commodity, he has made a fortune for himself by keeping his hands clean and staying under the radar. Having made the decision to retire, his aim is to break free from the world of crime, drugs and violence and live a simple, quiet life with the money he has amassed. But before this can happen, crime boss Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) wants two last favors from him. First, he must track down the missing, drug addict daughter of powerful criminal Eddie Temple (Michael Gambon). Second, he must negotiate the sale of a huge shipment of ecstacy with The Duke (Jamie Foreman), a loose cannon petty crook playing well out of his league.
WATCH THE TRAILER or READ the eFilmCritic Review

Release Date: July 29
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Sam Shepard, Joe Morton, Richard Roxburgh, Ian Bliss, Megan Gale, Ebon Moss-Bachrach
Director: Rob Cohen
Premise: Columbia Pictures' "Stealth" is an epic action thriller about a squadron of elite pilots who embark on a mission of global consequence to neutralize an out-of-control prototype drone fighter plane equipped with artificial intelligence and the ability to precipitate a nuclear war.
Trailer Notes: Could be the funniest film of the summer. The Iron Eagle III of this generation. Jessica Biel is in a bikini. Key Line: “I don’t think war should be some kind of video game.”

Release Date: May 13
MPAA Rating: R
Cast: Morgan Freeman, Jet Li, Bob Hoskins, Kerry Condon, Christian Gazio, Silvio Simac
Director: Louis Leterrier
Premise: Reteaming with writer/producer Luc Besson, international action superstar Jet Li stars as Danny, raised by a gangster (Bob Hoskins) to be a violent killing machine. When Danny has a chance encounter with a blind piano tuner (Morgan Freeman), he experiences true kindness and compassion for the first time - and breaks from the underworld to go live with the piano tuner and his family. But the mob will not give up its prize pupil so easily, and Danny must fight to protect his new family and leave behind his life of violence and crime.


The 40-Year Old Virgin
Release Date: August 19
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener
Director: Jud Apatow
Premise: 40-year-old Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell) has done quite a few things in his life. He's got a cushy job stamping invoices at an electronics superstore, a nice apartment with a proud collection of action figures and comic books, good friends, a nice attitude. But there's just one little thing he hasn't quite gotten around to doing yet--something most people have done by his age. Done a lot. Andy's never, ever, ever had sex--not even by accident. So is that such a big deal?
Notes: Steve Carell may actually be hotter than Will Ferrell is right now. Who would have guessed it? He stole Bruce Almighty in one scene from Jim Carrey. He stole Anchorman and that’s saying a lot. He’s helped do the impossible by making the American remake of The Office actually damn funny. This could be a surprise little hit.

Release Date: August 5
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, David Herman, Sara Rue, Stephen Root, Justin Long
Director: Mike Judge
Premise: Writer-director Mike Judge's ("Office Space") unique brand of social observational humor this time examines an average guy (Luke Wilson) who volunteers to be the subject of a hibernation experiment that goes awry. He wakes up 1000 years in the future, discovering that he’s the smartest guy on the planet.
Notes: Judge hasn’t done anything theatrically since Office Space, but he’s a solid satirist and this could be Sleeper 30 years later.

Broken Flowers
Release Date: August 5 (limited)
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Bill Murray, Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny, Frances Conroy, Alexis Dziena, Pell James, Christopher McDonald
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Premise: In the new film from acclaimed writer/director Jim Jarmusch, Bill Murray stars as Don Johnston. The resolutely single Don’s latest lover, Sherry (Julie Delpy), has just dumped him. Don resigns himself to once again being left alone and to his own devices. Instead, he is suddenly compelled to reflect on his past when he receives, in the mail, a mysterious pink letter from an anonymous former lover. The letter informs Don that he has a 19-year-old son who may now be looking for him. Don is urged to investigate further by his best friend and neighbor, Winston (Jeffrey Wright), an amateur sleuth and family man. Hesitant to travel at all, Don nonetheless embarks on a cross-country trek to search for clues from four former flames (Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone, and Tilda Swinton). Unannounced visits to each of these unique women hold new surprises for Don as he confronts both his past and, consequently, his present.

Release Date: May 13
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda, Michael Vartan, Wanda Sykes, Adam Scott
Director: Robert Luketic
Premise: Unlucky in love, beautiful Charlotte 'Charlie' Cantilini (Jennifer Lopez) has finally met the man of her dreams, Dr. Kevin Fields (Michael Vartan). There's just one problem - his mother! Overbearing and controlling, not to mention volatile, Viola Fields (Jane Fonda) has recently been canned from her job as a star news anchor. Fearing she will lose her son's affections as she has her career, Viola decides to break up the happy couple by becoming the world's worst mother-in-law. Helping her with her crazy schemes is Viola's long-time assistant, Ruby (Wanda Sykes). The gloves come off when Charlie finally decides to fight back and it looks like Viola has finally met her match.
Trailer Notes: From the director of Legally Blonde comes My Best Friend’s Wedding Meets the Parents. If there’s a single laugh in this trailer, point it out to me. More food allergy jokes (Hitch). How dare you even stoop to make a Jerry Maguire joke? Unless there’s some Jim Thompson subtext to it all, count me out.

Must Love Dogs
Release Date: July 29
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Diane Lane, Elizabeth Perkins, Alli Hillis, John Cusack, Christopher Plummer, Stockard Channing, Dermot Mulroney, Julie Gonzalo
Director: Gary David Goldberg
Premise: "Must Love Dogs" centers on a divorcee (Lane) who, after choosing another Mr. Wrong, swears off dating. Her close-knit Irish-American family enrolls her in a number of online dating programs. The film is based on Claire Cook's 2002 novel.
Notes: Great. Another Diane Lane comedy about not finding a good man. Did they officially stop offering these roles to Ashley Judd and Meg Ryan?

Pretty Persuasion
Release Date: August 12 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R
Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, James Woods, Ron Livingston, Selma Blair, Jane Krakowski
Director: Marcos Siega
Premise: The film centers on a sexual harassment scandal that engulfs an exclusive Beverly Hills private school. Wood plays a teen who frames her teacher for sexual harassment. Woods plays the girl's father, Applegate is a reporter for a local news station, and Livingston plays a fellow teacher who also is a lawyer representing his colleague.

Romance & Cigarettes
Release Date: August 19 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R
Cast: James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi, Kumar Pallana, Christopher Walken, Mandy Moore, Aida Turturro, Mary-Louise Parker, Eddie Izzard, Bobby Cannavale, Ivan Fatovic, Tony Goldwyn, Amy Sedaris, Elaine Stritch, Amedeo Turturro
Director: John Turturro
Premise: "Romance & Cigarettes" is a down-and-dirty musical love story set in the world of the working class. Nick (Gandolfini) is an ironworker who builds and repairs bridges. He's married to Kitty (Sarandon), a dressmaker, a strong and gentle woman with whom he has three daughters. He is carrying on a torrid affair with a redheaded woman named Tula (Winslet). Nick is basically a good, hardworking man driven forward by will and blinded by his urges. Like Oedipus at Colonus, he is sent into exile and searches to find his way back through the damage he has done. In an imaginative, humorous, and touching way, "Romance & Cigarettes" explores the cost and value of a relationship through life and death. When the characters can no longer express themselves with language, they break into song, lip-synching the tunes lodged in their subconscious. It is their way to escape the harsh reality of their world – to dream, to remember, and to connect to another human being.
Notes: Turturro does a musical? With THIS cast? This has to be one of the more intriguing experiments of the year. Anyone else I might think trainwreck. But this could

The Wedding Crashers
Release Date: July 22
MPAA Rating: n/a
Cast: Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, Christopher Walken, Will Ferrell, Isla Fisher, Jane Seymour
Director: David Dobkin
Premise: Two of comedy's hottest stars - Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson - team up for the first time in "Wedding Crashers," a fast-paced comedy of love turned upside down. Vaughn and Wilson star as a pair of divorce mediators who spend their weekends crashing weddings in a search for Ms. Right...for a night. But when one of them falls for the engaged daughter (Rachel McAdams) of an influential and eccentric politician (Christopher Walken) at the social event of the year, they get roped into spending a wild weekend at the family’s palatial waterfront estate and quickly find themselves in over their heads.
Trailer Notes: David Dobkin got his Shanghai Knights star and his Clay Pigeons star together. Now he has to deliver. The trailer is a good start which promises to be the great, raunchy comedy guys have been dying for. And if crap like Old School can make $70 million…

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originally posted: 04/02/05 05:50:04
last updated: 09/23/05 14:18:02
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