Not Coming Soon

Expect the expected with these
movies from an alternate summer.

by Jesse Fox Mayshark

There's nothing much to review this week.

With the next Star Wars darth-a-rama giving Spider-Man a respectful 12-day gap between mega-movies, we're left unenthusiastically to a choice of Adrian Lyne's Unfaithful (hint: it's about adultery) or a sad-sack comedy called The New Guy. No thanks. And no offense if you happen to see and love either movie. I've been chided before for being snide about films I haven't actually watched (technicalities, technicalities), so I will offer no pronouncement on either of the above-mentioned vehicles. It is entirely possible they are masterworks that future generations will look back on as a cinematic and cultural touchstone. In which case, they will need some clueless contemporaneous critic to pick on as an example of the way mainstream society underappreciated the genius of Adrian Lyne or Richard Gere. They can pick on me.

That said, we do need to put something in this column. It would be traditional at this time of year to write a Summer Movie Preview, with a breathless recitation of all the names and release dates of upcoming box-office-record breakers and bombs. Plus the part where I, the sophisticated film critic, say, "But what I'm really looking forward to is the latest [insert adjective here] [insert "comedy," "drama" or "genre inversion" here] from [insert cool director here], and [insert foreign word here], the acclaimed family drama from [insert exotic Asian or Latin American country here]."

And really, I'd be happy to do that. Hell, it's easier than working. But sadly, my copy of Entertainment Weekly's "Summer Movie Issue" is buried somewhere under a week's worth of newspapers, magazines, and junk mail, and I don't really feel like cleaning my office right now. Besides, you're going to hear all you want about summer movies in the next few months, and most of them are going to be crap anyway. So instead, I'm writing my own Summer Movie Preview. These films will not be coming to a theater near you. Probably.

Below the Radar–Tense action flick with Gene Hackman as the commander of an Air Force squadron on a top-secret mission in Colombia. When a CIA agent (Val Kilmer) is captured at the jungle headquarters where Muslim fundamentalists, Korean communists and Fidel Castro are directing the international drug trade, Hackman is called back from retirement to lead his men on the most dangerous flight of their lives. With Anne Heche as the CNN reporter.

It Ain't So, Joe–Dreamworks animated comedy "inspired by" the 1919 Chicago Black Sox, with songs by Ryan Adams. Historians are already raising a fuss about the ending, in which a repentant Shoeless Joe Jackson leads his team to victory and is given the Most Valuable Player award by a young Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Features the voices of John Goodman (Shoeless Joe), Kevin Costner (Ring Lardner), and Jimmy Fallon (Pitch, the clubhouse cat).

Coca-Cola IMAX–A 30-minute "digital odyssey" following the life of a single bottle of Coca-Cola from its filling at the Coke plant through shipping and shelving to its eventual purchase by a boy in a hospital cafeteria who shares it with his ailing grandfather. Among other things, it shows you "what it feels like to be inside a 40-foot-tall bottle of Coca-Cola!" With James Earl Jones as the voice of the Coke bottle. At IMAX theaters only.

Out of the Woods–Romantic comedy about a recently widowed bipolar astrophysicist (Tom Hanks) on a disastrous backwoods camping trip. He ends up lost in the Ozarks with a plucky obsessive-compulsive women's basketball coach (Meg Ryan). Despite their differences, they are forced to rely on each other to survive. Directed by Ron Howard and Rob Reiner, from a script by Nora Ephron and Billy Crystal.

Spitballs–Those wacky Farrelly brothers are back, with a change of pace: It's an existential drama (loosely based on Kafka's Metamorphosis) about a 12-year-old boy, Alex (Ben Stiller), who believes that his body is made entirely of saliva. As he hits puberty, he begins drooling uncontrollably. With Jerry Stiller (Ben's real-life dad!) as the doctor who becomes Alex's only hope. Also featuring Janeane Garofalo, Woody Harrelson and Dame Judi Dench.

National Honor Society–Director Larry Clark (Kids, Bully) is back with another searing teen drama. This one follows a group of straight-A students as they careen through a weekend of cocaine parties and violent sex just before the SAT exams. With Reese Witherspoon, Christina Ricci and the cast of 7th Heaven.

Grrl Talk–A feminist punk rock band (Winona Ryder, Ashley Judd, Tori Amos, Christina Applegate) reunites for one more tour after five years apart. They find that some things have changed–Ryder has a son, Judd's not a lesbian anymore, Amos is a lesbian again, and Applegate is a dot-com millionaire–but their rivalries and affections for each other haven't. With Johnny Depp as their roadie. Written by Joan Jett, directed by Allison Anders. A favorite at Sundance, where Amos won a special prize for Best New Actress. Amos and Jett wrote the music.

Boom Boom Boom–When a cadre of evil terrorist geniuses (Jeremy Irons, Ben Kingsley, Malcolm McDowell, Gary Oldman) financed by a wealthy Islamic drug dealer (Saddam Hussein) rigs the entire state of Indiana with nuclear explosives, the president (played by Harrison Ford and Michael Douglas) calls together a squad of retired mercenaries (Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Patrick Swayze, Jean-Claude Van Damme) for one last assignment. With Vin Diesel as the new kid in the group, a cyber-terrorism expert and karate master. Written by the Windows NT operating system. Directed by Michael Bay, Michael Cimino and Michael J. Fox.

Or something like that.


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