Summer Movie Madness
A Season of Big-Ass, Computer-Generated Explosions in Preview
By Rob Bricken

Well, the summer movie season officially started with The Mummy Returns. What returned along with the Mummy is another lengthy season of explosions, computer effects, the annual death of the use of plot and character development, topped with more explosions and an uncomfortably hot climate.

Maybe if the earth didn't tilt on its axis, we wouldn't have to put up with any of it, but we do. But for all the inanity and goofiness coming out this summer, hidden deep down is a nugget of hope. Sure, the movies coming out are fluff, but some of them might just be entertaining fluff. Probably not.

All dates are tentative, of course; Hollywood can't make up its mind about anything, except that Cocaine has replaced Meats & Protein as a food group. But here's the summer movie plan so far, and it may just be worthwhile to see a flick or two this season.


Let's get a head start and say that Pearl Harbor will be the dumbest movie of the season, the year, and maybe even of the history of mankind forever; it's directed by Michael Bay (Armageddon) and produced by the Plague himself, Jerry Bruckheimer. You probably know the story; of course, if you've seen the trailer, I should probably point out that the Japanese pilots did not fly over every residential zone in Hawaii before attacking Pearl Harbor - 1) they weren't that concerned about clichéed foreshadowing and 2) they were sort of going for a surprise attack - but common sense and reason fly out the window when Bruckheimer is in charge. Even though over half the film will consist of nothing but explosions, Director Bay has assured the world that Pearl Harbor is in fact a tender romance, between the soldier Ben Affleck and Cuba Gooding Jr., who plays Eleanor Roosevelt. God only knows what else will be added or subtracted to the actual bombing when the film finally premieres; it can only be stated that this movie will be massively, colossally, astoundingly stupid.


With June, things pick up a little, but not necessarily for the better. After all, Rob Schneider's The Animal opens, the stirring tale of Rob Schneider making enough money from Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo to get another film. After having his internal organs replaced with animal parts, Schneider goes through goofy antics, very likely involving some kind of scatological ordeal.

What's the Worst That Could Happen? stars Danny DeVito as a rich guy who steals thief Martin Lawrence's lucky charm; Lawrence spends the rest of the movie trying to get it back, kind of like a transposed Road Runner and Coyote cartoon. The worst that could happen is that you'd do better to spend your money on The Animal instead.

Most interesting is Moulin Rouge, by visionary/weirdo director Baz Luhrman (of Romeo & Juliet and Strictly Ballroom fame). It's clear from the trailer that Fox has no idea how to market this movie. Besides being a romance in the infamous 19th-century cancan club, it's a full blown musical? And it uses popular music (like "Roxanne" and some Madonna tunes)? Whether this movie succeeds or fails commercially, it'll be a mighty interesting watch, if Luhrman's still up to speed. Moulin Rouge is likely to be critically acclaimed... but it may take a few years.


David Duchovny has gotten out of sci-fi to go right back into sci-fi - he'll be playing the lead in Ivan Reitman's Evolution, which seems to be a lot like Ivan Reitman's Ghostbusters, except with aliens. Duchovny has to hunt down aliens and kill them... uh-huh. At least it's a comedy, and their are worst films to copy than Ghostbusters; between the chuckles and the alien toy marketability, it seems a reasonable renter at the least.

Speaking of copies, John Travolta will be trying to resurrect his career for the umpteenth time, this time by the Pulp Fiction-esque route again in Swordfish. Travolta plays a villainous villain that causes many explosions and shoots many guns, especially in the vicinity of hacker Hugh Jackman (X-Men, Someone Like You), who has to not explode or be shot. Sounds like action with too little behind it to be good, but after Travolta is down for awhile, he always comes back and surprises us. Maybe he's not sucked long enough this cycle or maybe his time is up permanently.


After years of hating Disney and their animated movie formula, I have to give them a grudging respect for breaking the mold. Their Atlantis: The Lost Empire has no songs, no real romance to speak of (thank God), and no forlorn princess (nothing wrong with princesses, but everyone is tired of poor copies of The Little Mermaid by now). Plus, the setting is a mythical 1914, with plenty of steampunk sensibilities, a good bit of adventure, and - dare I say it - a little bit of character, perhaps.

While boys 12 and younger might visit Atlantis, every boy in the nation 13 and over will be panting and pantsless for Tomb Raider. Angelina Jolie stars as the buxom video game lass, who will shoot and sweat and appear in steamy shower stalls and fight things in a Matrix-kind-of way. It's a pretty safe bet that for all its penile appeal, Tomb Raider will still be a superior video game-turned-movie than Super Mario Bros., although admittedly the bar is low. It's going to make a zillion dollars no matter how good or bad it is. Breasts aside, it may be a fun enough action movie to merit watching anyway if you're a boy. Don't see this movie if you're a girl. It's for boys. You won't like it. I promise.


Dr. Doolittle 2 opens today. There's nothing that can be said about it. You're either going to see it or you won't and no thoughts of mine will dissuade you from your course. Just know that as long as people keep going to see sequels of Dr. Doolittle and The Nutty Professor, Eddie Murphy will make no other movie except in those two franchises. I can't personally condone it, but at least this doesn't include incest with the elderly. Probably.

Vin Diesel will star in The Fast and the Furious, about people who ride cars really fast. If you saw two small boys, playing with their hot wheels, repeatedly ramming and/or throwing them into the living room wall, and then you gave those boys $35 million to spend on computer effects, I'm betting the end product would be The Fast & the Furious, down to the last frame. Use the money for gas instead.


Baby Boy jumps the gun a little bit; it's director John Singleton's "companion piece" to Boyz in the Hood; MTV's Tyrese is a young father who watches his mother's new relationship while living with her in a tough L.A. neighborhood. Singleton's mighty proud of it; if it surpasses Boyz like Singleton thinks it does, then it'll be one of the best films of the season. But can Boy beat Boyz? Frankly, we've got bigger problems to deal with.


Like Kubrick/Spielberg's post-mortem team-up A.I., opening today. Who has any idea how this will be? Spielberg's done great at least in keeping Kubrick's level of secrecy about the project. Will it be more like a Kubrick film or a Spielberg film? Will it be a meld? Will that be really neat or a hideous cinematic monstrosity? All we know is one thing: Jude Law looks like one of the guys from those creepy Duracell family commercials. Not necessarily a bad omen, but A.I. really depends on if Kubrick's tortured soul has been guiding the production or been wailing furiously over it, cursing everyone who worked on it.

Kirsten Dunst won't get naked in Crazy/Beautiful, just to let you know. It's one of them interracial teen romances that have been flooding the screen for the past year or two. Insert the word "Steamy" into this one and take out the words "dance competition" and the movie is ruined for you. Sorry.


Um. Scary Movie II opens. There's really nothing to say about it. It'll have a mess of Wayanses in it, and it'll spoof some other insipid horror flicks of recent years to a slightly better or worse degree than the first Scary Movie. The scariest part, of course, is that this will get enough box office to clear another sequel, about which the exact same things will be said next summer. It never ends

The alternative is Cats and Dogs, a live-action Tom-and-Jerry cartoon - cats and dogs fight with help from computers and Henson puppeteers. Like, they fight like ninjas and spies. Given the dearth of cat versus dog antics in popular society (even Garfield is a pale shadow of its former self), this could be a highly entertaining balm of animals inflicting cartoonish violence on each other. But this is the type of movie - that weird live-action cartoon hybrid, with animals - that often leaves everyone disappointed, crying into a bourbon bottle. Realistically, the odds are against Cats and Dogs, but these are the guys who did Antz, so maybe. Just maybe.


Kiss of the Dragon refuses to give into the Fourth of July pressure and releases two days later. It's Jet Li in a Luc Besson film. These two are remarkably alike in that they often make films that kick a great deal of ass (Fist of Legend and The Professional) but they often don't. They're calling this one a return to their roots, like The Professional Fist of Legend. But will Kiss pay off? Seeing as they both have a 50% chance to make a cool movie alone, together, they have exactly a 25% chance of being highly kick-ass. Fair enough.


Video game geniuses Square have decided to make a CG-movie, vaguely based off their eponymous video game series; while the games themselves are frankly more deeper and better told than 90% of movie currently being made, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within looks like it's going to be a shallow, vaguely preachy sci-fi film. That's not to say you shouldn't go - this is the prettiest, most visually insane movie you will ever see until Square makes a new one. Their computer powers blow even ILM out of the water. Go and see and have your eyes explode from the glory, just don't worry about catching the plot. In that sense, it may be the greatest summer movie ever.


Reese Witherspoon is again the perfect blond woman-child in Legally Blonde, which is the tale of a perfect blond white girl going to law school but sounds more like those Meatballs-esque comedies of the early 80s whose cover involved a tiny man trying to navigate a huge set of breasts. It won't be as good or deep as Election, without some divine assistance, and that's neither its first-time director nor Reese Witherspoon, as much as she may feel otherwise.

But check out The Score: Brando, DeNiro and Edward Norton as thieves of varying age pulling a score - excuse me, The Score. Frankly, this movie could be American Pie 2 and it would be amazing with these three. The movie seems to be a bit of comedy and drama and elderly thieving action, but whatever. Of course, this puts The Score as perhaps the only film opening this summer with actual three-dimensional characters. What a treat!


Jurassic Park III is everything that's wrong with American cinema. We've seen the first two Jurassic Park films. Dinosaurs chase folk, open doors and bite. Without the slightest fear of error, it can be promised that this one will be exactly the same. Sam Neill will run and not get eaten, annoying children will run and not get eaten, and the vaguely villainous man whom forces everyone to go to the island again will get eaten. Fun? No more than rewatching the first film. Now, Sam Neill eating small children there's a movie to think about.

Hollywood's other favorite reptilian beast Julia Roberts returns in America's Sweethearts, which has her smiling a lot and winning the heart of John Cusack, despite the fact his character is married to Catherine Zeta-Jones. The suspension of disbelief necessary to watch this film is astronomical. It's like some kind of surrealist nightmare film. Ick.


Don't return, don't remake, but "revisit" the Planet of the Apes, as director Tim Burton's appropriately named Planet of the Apes. Of all the films coming out this summer, this one is the scariest; Burton promises a far different tale from the original, and while he has plenty of great movies under his freaky goth belt, it seems unlikely that he could differentiate much from the original film and still create something worthwhile. Regardless, this film will have plenty of monkeys, and Helena Bonham Carter, who quite ironically looks less like a monkey with full make-up on than in general.

Its anemic competition will be The Affair of the Necklace, which is a period piece with Hilary Swank and a necklace of some commotion, apparently. I don't think you'll have much problem getting the two films confused. Not a lot of monkeys in the 19th century so your choice should be clear. Good job; have a banana.


August is a grab bag of pain and pleasure - Rush Hour 2 opens, as does American Pie 2, Rat Race (a remake of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad (etc.) World), another hideous Kevin Smith outing in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (complete with cameo by Mark Hamill), Woody Allen's comedic 40s detective story The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, and others that don't deserve the space.

But the real story is Rollerball. They are remaking Rollerball, the 1975 tale of a future where corporations rule the world, and there's only one sport, and it involves roller skates and motorcycles and killing each other while still putting a little ball in a goal.

Now, undoubtedly, Rollerball was a terrible movie. The plot was bad, the sport was bad, but it did have undeservedly good acting. James Caan was great as a quiet, confused player of the goofiest sport ever imagined by man.

For some reason, Hollywood has decided to remake it with a host of young actors, including American Pie's Chris Klein and LL Cool J. There is every likelihood that this remake will be - impossible as it may sound - worse than the original. The plot could be dumbed down, filled with a rote love interest, an even goofier representation of the game itself created, and the film quasi-deep interest in individuality versus community and freedom removed for more action-packed roller-skating brawls, tongue-kissing and explosions. Add one tub of grease-flavored popcorn, put corks in your ears to keep your softened brains from leaking onto the already sticky theater floor, and enjoy your summer. I'm going to the beach.

l More Summer Fun Than You Can Stand
Compiled by Loree Stark


Woodland Park

Friday, May 25th 5:30-8pm.

Poolapalooza offers music, fun and the chance to win a summer pool pass.

Big Wheel Grand Prix

Target on Nicholasville Rd.

Saturday, June 9th, 9:30 am-12pm.

The Big Wheel Grand Prix is open for children ages 2-6. Give 'em a turn with the Beemer first to test-drive their talent.

Swingin' on Main

Triangle Park

Saturday, June 30th, 8pm.

This is the time to learn some new dance moves and get out those 40's style clothes that you've just been dying to wear.

Woodland Jubilee

Woodland Park

Saturday, July 7th, 6-10pm.

Pack up the family and a picnic supper and enjoy the show as Kentucky's best bluegrass performers strut their stuff.

25th Annual Bluegrass 10,000 Foot Race

Downtown Lexington

Wednesday, July 4th, 8am.

Join more than 3,500 men, women and children as they make the 10K run through downtown Lexington.

Ballet Under the Stars

Woodland Park

Friday, August 9th -Sunday, August 12th, 8:30pm.

Bring a lawn chair or a blanket and enjoy a culturally-charged evening of professional ballet.

Woodland Arts Fair

Woodland Park

Saturday, August 18th, 10 am-6pm, Sunday, August 19th, 12-6pm.

Over 150 artists will be at the Woodland Arts Fair to display and sell their work.


Triangle Park

Saturday, September 15th, 6pm

Local bands, concessions, and an evening of fun. And admission is free. You can't beat that.

Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus

Rupp Arena

Wednesday, June 13th-Friday June 15th, 7:30pm, Saturday, June 16th. 11:30am, 3:30 and 7:30pm.

Clowns, animals and cotton candy. What else can we say? Fun for the whole family.