Excess Hollywood

Some interesting horror flicks, a couple of relationship movies, and plenty of action save summer from sequels

Why it'll be fabulous:Chandrasekhar reportedly keeps the proceedings as delightedly mindless as their boob-tube inspiration.

Why it'll be dreadful:Burt as the Duke boys' nemesis Boss Hogg could be the high point of this low-concept fare.

Grizzly Man Directed by: Werner Herzog

Superhero motifs are prominent in this summer's crop 
of films, from 
adaptations such as The Fantastic Four and 
Batman Begins 
to the Star Wars finale; meanwhile Brad Pitt 
and Angelina Jolie are 
hired assassins in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, children 
will dig 
Madagascar, and The Sisterhood of the 
Traveling Pants 
appeals to the teenage girl market
Superhero motifs are prominent in this summer's crop of films, from adaptations such as The Fantastic Four and Batman Begins to the Star Wars finale; meanwhile Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are hired assassins in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, children will dig Madagascar, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants appeals to the teenage girl market

What it's about: It's not another Dan Haggerty movie (whew!) but rather a documentary about animal activists who lived with grizzly bears for a time and felt like they were making a connection. Then they were mauled to death.

Why it'll be fabulous: Herzog is a mad genius.

Why it'll be dreadful: Unless you really despise animal activists, it sounds like one hell of a downer.

The Pink Panther Starring:Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Beyoncé Knowles, and Jean Reno

Directed by:Shawn Levy

Written by:Len Blum, Steve Martin, Michael Saltzman, and Glen Bloomberg

What it's about:A new take on Peter Sellers's surpassingly incompetent French detective, in which Jacques Clouseau (Martin) tackles a case combining a murdered soccer coach, a priceless diamond, and the usual selection of beautiful women.

Why it'll be fabulous:It takes les grandes balles for Martin to assail the rich life and high art of Inspector Clouseau.

Why it'll be dreadful:Can The Jerk out-bumble Peter the Great? The smart money says non.

Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo Starring: Rob Schneider and Eddie Griffin

Directed by: Mike Bigelow (a newcomer hired for his surname perhaps)

Written by: Rob Schneider and David Garrett & Jason Ward (Corky Romano)

What it's about: In this sequel to the comedy that introduced the term man-whore into the wider lexicon, Schneider's hapless Deuce is duped into prostituting himself in Amsterdam, where more-experienced hookers are being murdered.

Why it'll be fabulous:The first one was surprisingly amusing.

Why it'll be dreadful: Amusing films are a rarity in the Rob Schneider canon.

Everything Is Illuminated Starring: Elijah Wood, Eugene Hutz, and Boris Leskin

Written and directed by: Liev Schreiber

What it's about: In his directorial debut, Schreiber adapts Jonathan Safran Foer's successful novel. Apparently this flick is a comedic drama about a young Jewish American (Wood) in search of the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. The movie poster gives no indication of any of this; it shows Wood with a flower in his mouth and the tagline "Leave Normal Behind."

Why it'll be fabulous: Films in which Elijah Wood goes on a quest that leads him to a barren and hostile land tend to do rather well.

Why it'll be dreadful: Was there really a demand to see Liev Schreiber direct anything?

Asylum

Starring: Ian McKellen, Natasha Richardson, Hugh Bonneville, and Marton Csokas

Directed by:David Mackenzie

Written by:Patrick Marber

What it's about:Stella Raphael (Richardson) is married to Max (Bonneville), a psychiatrist at an asylum for the criminally insane. She becomes infatuated with Edgar Stark (Csokas), a sculptor who mutilated and then murdered his wife -- so of course Stella and Edgar wind up having an affair after he starts working in the couple's asylum-grounds garden. Eventually Edgar escapes to London, Stella follows him, and the poor lad goes bonkers all over again.

Why it'll be fabulous: It's based on Patrick McGrath's best-selling novel, which is chilling, and was penned by Marber, whose Closerranks a close second when it comes to curdling the blood.

Why it'll be dreadful:Bet you twenty quid it's a bummer -- with an English accent to boot.

Romance & Cigarettes Starring: James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi, and Christopher Walken

Written and directed by:John Turturro

What it's about: Believe it or not, it's a musical. A "savage" one. The plot involves Gandolfini's character, who goes by the name of Murder, having to choose between his wife (Sarandon) and his mistress (Winslet).

Why it'll be fabulous: It's just insane enough to work.

Why it'll be dreadful: Love those actors, but can they sing?

The Transporter 2 Starring: Jason Statham, Amber Valletta, and Hunter Clary

Directed by:Louis Leterrier and Corey Yuen

Written by:Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen

What it's about:In truth, who knows? There's been little info provided on this sequel to the 2002 "hit." But let's offer a guess: Frank Martin (Statham) drives around in his sweet ride, picking up trouble wherever he goes. How's that. Oh, and this one is set in the United States. So, see, it's completely different from the original.

Why it'll be fabulous:Because we always loved those BMW "The Driver" minifilms upon which this burgeoning franchise was clearlybased.

Why it'll be dreadful:The first Transporterwas released direct to Betamax.

The Woods Starring: Agnes Bruckner, Patricia Clarkson, Bruce Campbell, and Lauren Birkell

Directed by: Lucky McKee

Written by: David Ross

What it's about: A troubled girl (Bruckner) is sent to boarding school after pushing her parents too far. But the school, located deep in the middle of the woods of New England, is not what it appears to be, and there are dark forces at work with more than a passing interest in the newcomer. Or are they all in her head?

Why it'll be fabulous: McKee has already made one good movie about a troubled girl who hears voices (May). This one has a bigger budget plus Oscar-nominee Clarkson and fan-favorite Campbell.

Why it'll be dreadful: Will the male-skewed horror audience turn out for a movie with a mostly female cast and no nudity?

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