Think Distinct

This summer's movies could withstand the drought.

Mission Without Permission. Last year, director Bart Freundlich got Julianne Moore's best performance out of her in the otherwise spotty World Traveler. This year he enlists Panic Room's Kristen Stewart to play a young girl concocting a heist to afford her father a costly operation. Probably, like, fun and meaningful. (Fox)

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. Robert Rodriguez returns to his beloved adventure franchise for the third time in as many years. Young spy Alexa Vega gets caught in a virtual-reality video game designed by the evil Sylvester Stallone and must be saved by her brother Daryl Sabara and probably their parents, Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino. With Salma Hayek and Ricardo Montalban, thank goodness. (Dimension)

Buffalo Soldiers. Hmm, this seems a bit familiar -- didn't we write about this one in last year's summer preview? Poor Miramax just can't find a good date to release a movie that's less than flattering toward the U.S. military (though they did okay with The Quiet American). That the movie's set in 1989 seems to be of no consequence. Anyway, to recap: Soldiers (Joaquin Phoenix, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris and others) stationed in Berlin shortly before the fall of the wall get involved in some shady business involving drugs. (Miramax)

Think big: HULK is coming to town.
Think big: HULK is coming to town.
Hot stuff: Justin meets Kelly in From Justin to 
Kelly.
Hot stuff: Justin meets Kelly in From Justin to Kelly.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Now that she's gotten over the loss of Daddy dearest, maybe Ms. Croft (Angelina Jolie) can get back to shooting stuff, jumping off things and running afoul of armored primates made of stone. Jan DeBont takes over the directorial reins of this latest adventure, which sees Lara in Africa, looking for Pandora's Box (wait, wasn't Pandora Greek? Does it matter?). (Paramount)

Seabiscuit. Tobey Maguire takes time out from slinging webs and wooing the daughter of a high-ranking Universal executive to pretend he's short enough to jockey a horse. Gary Ross (Pleasantville) takes on the novel by Laura Hillenbrand about the titular racehorse and the joy it brought to the country during the Great Depression. (Universal)

Gigli. At last you get to see it, folks: the movie that brought Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez together. What's the plot? Glad you asked: "B. Af" is Gigli, a hitman assigned to kidnap a retarded kid (Justin Bartha) and hold him for ransom. "J. Lo" is the lesbian hitwoman assigned to babysit Gigli when it seems he won't be up to the job. Both become better (heterosexual) people, thanks to the innocence and purity of their mentally challenged prisoner. Sounds like a blast, right? (Sony)

August

28 Days Later. A deadly biological agent breaks loose in the UK; in 28 days (the usual length of time for a mail-order package to arrive over there, sorta like "six to eight weeks" here) the entire nation has been quarantined, as the infected have become hideously unpleasant zombies who move in fast motion. Should mark something of a comeback for director Danny Boyle, who's foundered lately with the disappointing A Life Less Ordinary and The Beach. (Fox Searchlight)

American Wedding. For all the so-called immorality that goes on in the American Pie movies, it now seems that in this third one, long-suffering protagonist Jim (Jason Biggs) will end up marrying the first and only girl he's ever had sex with (Alyson Hannigan). Cast members who've gotten progressively more expensive (Mena Suvari, Tara Reid, Chris Klein, Shannon Elizabeth, Natasha Lyonne) have been jettisoned, but Fred Willard (yes!) joins the series as Hannigan's dad. Bob Dylan's less-famous son Jesse (How High) directs. (Universal)

And Now...Ladies and Gentleman. A jewel thief (Jeremy Irons) and a jazz singer (Patricia Kaas) encounter one another in Morocco as they both try to forget their pasts. Rumor had it earlier this year that Irons's wife was a little upset with all the steamy nudity that ensues, but that shouldn't affect your enjoyment one iota. (Paramount Classics)

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Just in case you missed George Clooney's impressive directorial debut last December, Miramax is re-releasing it, thereby delaying the DVD even further. Sam Rockwell stars as Chuck Barris, the Gong Show host who later claimed to be a CIA assassin. Clooney has a way with the camera; he's evidently been taking lessons in directing from his pal Steven Soderbergh. (Miramax)

Dirty Pretty Things. Audrey Tautou (Amélie) makes her English-language debut in this crime thriller from stylish Brit director Stephen Frears. In it, she teams up with an illegal Nigerian immigrant (Chjwetel Ejiofor; great name, now how the hell do you pronounce it?) to solve a mysterious murder in a fancy London hotel. (Miramax)

Freaky Friday. Now in its umpteenth remake, the old "parent trades bodies with child" routine gets handed off to Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan (who also starred in the remake of The Parent Trap). Curiously, director Mark S. Waters made his debut with the perversely incestuous Parker Posey flick The House of Yes, so it'll be interesting to see if he can sneak any twisted subtext past the Disney folk. (Disney)

The Fighting Temptations. Call it "Sweet Homeboy Alabama." Cuba Gooding Jr. plays a hip-hop producer who goes home to the South after his aunt dies, only to find that in order to receive his inheritance, he has to form a successful gospel choir. Irritating Next Friday co-star Mike Epps plays Cuba's country cousin, but with Beyoncé Knowles and Faith Evans lending their pipes, the gospel numbers should at least sound good. (Paramount)

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