Sunday, May 23, 1999

Summer movies strike back

Those menaced by 'Phantom' can see horror stories, cartoons, comedies, even adult dramas

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        With Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace hoovering up theater screens and box-office dollars nationwide, you might get the impression that nothing else is happening moviewise this summer.

        Fear not: There is hope for the space-weary. Dozens of new movies — some of them actual adult dramas set on the planet Earth — are on their way to local screens.

        It's true that release dates for several films have been pushed into July to avoid the Phantom Menace juggernaut. Even so, something new is on tap virtually every week from now until Labor Day — although release dates, as always, are subject to change.

        Here are the highlights:

BIG! LOUD! FAST! Did we say LOUD?
        Wild, Wild West — Will Smith and Kevin Kline headline the big-screen version of the campy 1960s TV western series, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. June 30.

        The Haunting — Judging from the trailers, director Jan (Twister) De Bont's version of the subtle 1963 bone-chiller The Haunting will be a mega-decibel, special-effects blow-out. Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jones star. July 23.

        Deep Blue Sea — Renny Harlin (Cutthroat Island) directed this underwater thriller about a group of marine scientists who tangle with some monster sharks. Saffron Burrows and LL Cool J star. July 30.

        The Thomas Crown Affair — Steve McQueen made it a hit in 1968; now Pierce Brosnan will have a go at the tale of a suave billionaire art thief with a taste for speed. Rene Russo co-stars. John McTiernan directs. Aug. 11.

Drama to die for
        Instinct — Anthony Hopkins is a prisoner stuck in an African jail after going on deadly rampage while studying mountain gorillas. Cuba Gooding Jr. is a psychiatrist assigned to help him. June 4.

        The General's Daughter — John Travolta stars in a murder mystery set on a U.S. Army post. June 11.

        Limbo — Master storyteller John Sayles travels to Alaska for his latest drama, starring David Strathairn and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. June 25.

        Summer of Sam — Spike Lee's film focuses on the panicked reaction to the “Son of Sam” murder spree that terrified New Yorkers in 1977. July 2.

        Arlington Road — Is Jeff Bridges just being paranoid, or is his bland, suburban neighbor (Tim Robbins) really a vicious terrorist? July 9.

        The Fight Club — Brad Pitt and Edward Norton star in this drama about an underground group of violence junkies who compete in secret. Aug. 6.

Brokedown Palace Claire Danes and Kate Beckinsale land in a Bangkok jail. Aug. 13.

        In Too Deep — Omar Epps spent a few days in Cincinnati last winter shooting scenes for this tale of an undercover cop swallowed up by his job. Co-stars LL Cool J (him again!). Here's hoping it will make us forget The Mod Squad. August.

In the company of kids
        Tarzan — Phil Collins wrote the music for this animated musical version of the great Edgar Rice Burroughs tale. From Disney. June 18.

        Inspector Gadget — Matthew Broderick plays a detective with lots of built-in extras in this adaptation of the TV cartoon show. July 23.

        Muppets From Space — Forget those Jedi guys; the summer's most intriguing outer-space adventure is the search for Gonzo's alien roots. July 14.

        The Iron Giant — A really, really large robot lands on Earth and strikes up a friendship with a little boy. Animated shades of E.T.! Aug. 6.

Your laughs or your life
        Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me — Mike Myers' follow-up to his 1997 hit is the summer's second most eagerly awaited return to past glory. June 11.

        South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut — The big-screen take on the animated Comedy Central cable show promises to be even bawdier than the proudly offensive TV version. June 18.

        Drop Dead Gorgeous — Kirstie Alley and Ellen Barkin are the mothers of rival beauty-queen contestants. July 16.

        The Wood — On the eve of a big wedding, best friends Taye Diggs and Omar Epps flash back to their childhood high jinks. July 16.

        Bowfinger — Steve Martin is a would-be producer who sets out to capture an action-movie superstar (Eddie Murphy) for a special role. July 30.

        Mystery Men — Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria and William H. Macy, among others, star in this live-action adaptation of the Dark Horse comic book series about regular guys who act like superheroes. Aug 6.

        Blue Streak — Hot off of Life, Martin Lawrence stars as a thief trying to retrieve stolen diamonds he buried under a police station. Aug. 20.

The Muse — Angst-ridden Albert Brooks directed and stars in this Hollywood satire about a badly blocked writer. Sharon Stone and Jeff Bridges co-star. August.

Comedy: teen division
        Big Daddy — This summer's Adam Sandler comedy, about an immature young man who adopts a 5-year-old to impress his girlfriend. June 25.

        American Pie — A crew of high school boys promise one another they will have sex before they graduate. Natasha Lyonne stars. July 9.

        Outside Providence — The Farrelly brothers (There's Something About Mary) wrote and produced this comic coming-of-age tale about a misfit (Shawn Hatosy) in prep school. Alec Baldwin co-stars. July 30.

        Dick — A '70s comedy about two teen-agers who play a role in the Watergate scandal. Aug. 4.

        Detroit Rock City — In the '70s, four teen-agers, led by Edward Furlong, brave heck and high water to make it to a Kiss concert. Aug. 13.

        Teaching Mrs. Tingle Scream author Kevin Williamson makes his directing debut with a black comedy starring Katie Holmes and Helen Mirren. Aug. 27.

        Mad About Mambo — An 18-year-old boy (William Ash) who takes mambo lessons to improve his soccer skills falls in love with Keri Russell. Aug 27.

Music! Music! Music!
        Buena Vista Social Club — German director Wim Wenders took the helm on this musical documentary featuring Ry Cooder and the Cuban musicians who have won the ear of American fans. TBA

        Notting Hill — The owner of a small bookstore (Hugh Grant) and the world's biggest female movie star (Julia Roberts) fall in love. Hey, it could happen. May 28.

        An Ideal Husband — An adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play, starring Cate Blanchett, Minnie Driver, Rupert Everett, Julianne Moore and Jeremy Northam. June 25.

        Runaway Bride — Richard Gere and Julia Roberts (her again!) — along with director Garry Marshall — try to recapture their Pretty Woman magic in the story of a woman who keeps leaving grooms at the altar. July 30.

        Next to You — Melissa Joan Hart stars in a high-school comedy based on the novel Girl Gives Birth to Own Prom Date. Aug. 11.

        Mickey Blue Eyes — Hugh Grant (him again!) plays an English art dealer who falls for the daughter of a Mafia bigwig. Aug. 13.

Sci fi monster horror chiller theater
        13th Floor — A thriller about a futuristic virtual reality system gone cuckoo. May 28.

        Stigmata — When life gets kinda medieval for Patricia Arquette, the Vatican sends Gabriel Byrne out to set her straight.July 9.

        Lake Placid — Paleontologist Bridget Fonda finds something weird lurking underwater in the Maine wilderness. David E. Kelley (The Practice, Ally McBeal) wrote the script. July 16.

        The Blair Witch Project — Set in the Black Hills Forest of Maryland, this faux-documentary follows three young filmmakers who disappear while trying to make a documentary about a legendary ghost. July 30.

        The 13th Warrior — Antonio Banderas stars in this often-delayed version of Michael Crichton's novel Eaters of the Dead. Aug. 13.

        The Astronaut's Wife — If you recall that old sci-fi chestnut I Married a Monster From Outer Space, you're clued in to this sci-fi thriller. Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron star. Aug. 27.

        Lost Souls — Winona Ryder and Ben Chaplin co-star in a thriller about some nasty business involving demonic forces. TBA.

Erotic drama from revered now-dead director starring box office monster and real-life wife
        Eyes Wide Shut — This steamy tale about a married couple exploring the far reaches of sexuality was Stanley Kubrick's last work. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman spent the better part of two years working on what has become the summer movie event for grown-ups. July 16. Check out Margaret A. McGurk's movie reviews at


Jobs lure Hispanic immigrants to Tristate
Illegal worker cases are low priority for INS
Illegal workers live life in shadows
The aftermath of 'teen violence'
A loud cheer for intolerance in our schools
What's the big idea?
Tristate lawmakers wary of new controls on guns
Truth about teen-agers found at Ryle
Ad points up Sen. Bunning's support from gun lobby
Hazardous chemicals around high school raise cancer fears
Mom, son, 7 share arrest
Renovations divide church
'99 council race is prologue to '01
Advocates continue fighting execution
Parole vote ahead for cop killer
Republicans miss big chance
Only CBS lineup has some shows for all generations
Rebuilder of cities calls for more culture
- Summer movies strike back
Systems help deaf, blind enjoy movies in theater
Conference boosts endangered beasts
Developers stymied by sidewalks
Festival honors area youth
Hazards get a new approach
Opening-week aquarium attendance meets expectations
Organ donation standards could widen at conference
Police exam must be redone
Springboro weaves tales of its 19th century heritage