Summertime At The Movies

The summer of 2001 brings the usual cornucopia of action, comedy, drama, and sheer silliness to your local movie theater. The season is seeded with high hopes for history ("Pearl Harbor") and new approaches to animation ("Shrek" and "Atlantis"). But moviegoers will be seeing a cluster of familiar faces, including those belonging to such established stars as John Travolta, Julia Roberts, Colleen from "Survivor," and Helena Bonham Carter (though her face will be hidden behind some very cute monkey makeup).

20th Century Fox
Nicole Kidman in "Moulin Rouge"

"Moulin Rouge", starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, opened the Cannes Film Festival, where it was also in competition. It won no prizes in France and few bouquets from the critics in the U.S. It combines a lush and sensual story from another era with modern music, and the result is a movie that, among other things, suffers from lack of identity. But it does offer Kidman as a dazzling showgirl and courtesan, as well as the can-can.

Group from "Shrek"

If box office receipts are an acceptable gauge, then "Shrek" is in the process of winning the hearts of children and adults alike. It is an animated fairy tale but it is far from traditional. Shrek is an ogre (voiced by Mike Myers) who joins the struggle against the villain (John Lithgow) only to win back some of the peace and quiet he values so highly. Yet another level of humor is contributed by Eddie Murphy, giving voice and character to Shrek's donkey sidekick.

Battleship afire in "Pearl Harbor"

May 25: While Ben Affleck sits alone above the title of "Pearl Harbor", the movie's epic sweep and romantic triangle might just turn Josh Hartnett into a front-rank male star. As in "Titanic," a tragic historical event is anchored by a fictional love story. In this case, the lovers in question are two pilots (Affleck and Hartnett) and a military nurse (Kate Beckinsale). And the military attack sequences are expected to be jaw-dropping.

Colleen Haskell in "The Animal"

June 1: Rob Schneider stars in "The Animal," but Colleen Haskell of Survivor fame makes her big-screen debut as his girlfriend. In a comedy with a twist of "Frankenstein," Schneider plays a hapless fellow who is repaired with animal parts after he is in an accident. Then he takes on some of the characteristics of his animal donors. So he can, for instance, run like a gazelle and perform acrobatics like a monkey. Imagine the possibilities.

David Duchovny and Julianne Moore

June 8: Ivan Reitman of "Ghostbusters" fame directs David Duchovny and Julianne Moore in "Evolution", a comedy about a group of extra-terrestrial species that want to rule Earth. However, as one character points out, there is a problem: "We were here first." Look for Duchovny to make sly references to his old "X-Files" role, and look for the monsters to be played for laughs.

Silver Pictures
John Travolta in "Swordfish"

June 8: John Travolta is unquestionably the star of "Swordfish". But he's bound to get a run for his money from o-star Hugh Jackman, not to mention a red-hot Halle Berry. Travolta plays a charismatic and dangerous spy who needs the skills of a superhacker (Jackman). To gain his services, Travolta's character uses the promise of a reunion with the hacker's beloved daughter.

Angelina Jolie in "Tomb Raider"

June 15: In a stroke of casting that seems as inevitable as Clark Gable playing Rhett Butler, Angelina Jolie takes computer-game action star Lara Croft from the monitor to the multiplex in "Tomb Raider".

June 15: Disney animation goes under the sea once again for the adventurous animationfest "Atlantis".

20th Century Fox

June 22: Eddie Murphy is still talking to the animals in "Dr. Doolittle 2". This time, he has to save a species of bear from extinction by teaching the male how to win a mate.

June 29: Steven Spielberg's "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" was written by the late Stanley Kubrick, so it should not be surprising that the whole production has been shrouded in secrecy. Word is that Jude Law gives a performance that will establish him as a major star. In any case, because Kubrick had a hand in it, film experts are expecting something interesting, if not great.

July 4: Ilness kept Marlon Brando from doing his much-touted $2-million cameo. But family Wayans looks to serve up more R-rated spoofs in "Scary Movie 2."

July 11:Ming-Na Wen gets a full-ripped, photo-realistic alter ego in "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within".

A warm welcome in "Jurassic Park II"

July 18: Sam Neill and Laura Dern are back as Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ellie Sattler in "Jurassic Park III". And this time, Tea Leoni and William H. Macy are among those who come along for the ride. Rumor has it that pterodactyls figure prominently in this installment of the dinosaur saga.

July 20: Oscar winner Julia Roberts plays the assistant (and sister) to movie star Catherine Zeta-Jones in "America's Sweethearts," which also stars John Cusack. In this movie, you will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a fat Julia, as she plays a character who loses weight and wins true love.

20th Century Fox
You're not in Kansas any more

July 27: Mark Wahlberg tries to thrive on a post-apocalyptic landscape filled with primates in Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes". In this remake, synchronized swimmer Estella Warren turns big-screen siren. Less obvious co-stars (hidden under monkey makeup) include Tim Roth and Helena Bonham Carter.

Aug. 3: Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan try to recapture their 21st-century "Lethal Weapon" chemistry for "Rush Hour 2".

Aug. 17: Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and Chris Kline go one-on-one in the remake of "Rollerball", a game that gives new meaning to the phrase, "No autopsy, no foul."

Mariah Carey

Aug. 31: Perhaps the biggest diva of the summer will be Mariah Carey, who will make her starring film debut in "All That Glitters". The movie comes out Labor Day weekend, wrapping up the summer with a rags-to-riches story of a talented singer who uses her music to escape the projects.

Aug. 31: "The Hest", directed by David Mamet, stars Gene Hackman, Danny De Vito, Delroy Lindo, Sam Rockwell, Ricky Jay, Rebecca Pidgeon, Patti LuPone and Jim Frangione. Lured by the possibility of regaining money owed to them from a previous robbery, a group of expert thieves join their old ringleader on his final heist.

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