From the director of Napoleon Dynamite (ligers!) comes a comedy starring Jack Black as priest by day, luchador (Mexican wrestler) by night; as Nacho Libre, Black dons a sequined mask and tights in order to support an impoverished orphanage (run by Sister Penelope ***image6***Cruz). The weekend otherwise launches a couple of likely duds, chief among them The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and, based on the interminable comic, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties (Bill Murray must be putting his wife's kids through med school). Loverboy, another twisted-sexuality story from Kevin Bacon and spouse Kyra Sedgwick (The Woodsman), will probably open in cities other than Santa Fe, as will Wordplay, a documentary that dominated critical buzz at Sundance-even though its decidedly unsexy subject is crossword puzzles and one of their chief creators, NYT/NPR editor Will Shortz (but Jon Stewart puts in an appearance-lustful sigh). Finally, Keanu, Part One: Break out the marshmallow fluff and your lace-trimmed hankie for The Lake House, starring Reeves and Sandra Bullock and based on the South Korean film Siworae (but probably with the sci-fi turned down a notch or two). Ms. Bullock plays a doctor who, glum at having to move out of her dream home, begins writing letters to its new architect occupant, Keanu Be Thy Name; the pair fall in epistolary love, only to discover he thinks it's 2004, she thinks it's 2006. Oopsie, small time-space continuum issue.
Adam Sandler wrenches back the last shred of critical regard he'd gained from Punch-Drunk Love and throws it to the winds with Click, helmed by The Waterboy's director and written by the guys behind Bruce Almighty. Sandler plays an exhausted workaholic dad (albeit one energetic enough to have bagged Kate Beckinsale) who obtains, courtesy of a wild-haired, Doc-Brownesque Christopher Walken, the ultimate universal remote, one that allows him to pause, fast-forward and rewind the events of his own life. Wow, you don't want to lose that one in the sofa cushions. Waist Deep looks like a gritty nail-biter of a vehicle for Four Brothers' Tyrese Gibson; he stars as a recently released con walking Carlito's Way now that he's outside, keeping his nose clean-until his son is kidnapped and the law won't help. Two limited releases may come our way: First, directors Michael Winterbottom (Wonderland, A Cock and Bull Story) and Mat Whitecross go for the jugular of the administration with The Road to Guantanamo, the true story of four bewildered British Muslim friends suspected of being al-Qaeda operatives, chucked into Gitmo for two years and then released without ever being charged; and Liam Lawson seeks to shed light on the secluded life of singer-songwriter (and Zen monastic) Leonard Cohen in his documentary I'm Your Man.
"Fifteen men on a dead man's chest; / yo ho ho, and it's crowded, too…" Gore Verbinski learned from Peter Jackson's gazillion-dubloon earnin's and filmed two sequels to his swashbuckling success at one go; the first of them, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, puts hearty mates Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley back on board, with sword-fightin', deck-swabbin', plank-walkin' and tooth-blackenin' for all. Yarr! Keanu, continued: Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly renders The One, along with costars Winona Ryder, Robert Downey, Jr. and Woody Harrelson, into animation à la Waking Life; with a script adapted from Philip K Dick. The Wayans boys look to duplicate the box-office bucks of White Chicks with Little Man; through the magic of ***image4***the movies, Marlon plays a pint-sized bank robber whom Shawn mistakes for his new foster son, with Keenen Ivory Wayans writing and directing. But best of all, this weekend sees the release of Strangers with Candy, a prequel to the cult Comedy Central parody of after-school specials, starring Amy Sedaris as the 47-year-old "boozer, user and loser" Jerri Blank, returning to high school after her prison release; Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Allison Janney and Philip Seymour Hoffman costar.
Wilson Brothers, Part One: In You, Me and Dupree, Kate Hudson and Matt Dillon's newlywed contentment sours thanks to the fact that best man Owen moves in and overstays his welcome (in addition to setting their house on fire). But who wouldn't want Dignan as a permanent houseguest? Then, in the spirit of Cry Wolf, White Noise and several thousand other horror movies about technology, comes Pulse, the remake of a Japanese horror film, this time starring Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) and Ian Somerhalder (Lost) as students who must stop a hideous wireless evil from the other side, accidentally accessed via someone's BlackBerry.
Heads up to M Night fans: Shyamalan's Lady in the Water comes out this weekend, with Paul Giamatti as Cleveland Heep, an apartment super who discovers an aquatic young lady (Manderlay's ***image5***Bryce Dallas Howard) in the complex's pool. Wilson Brothers, Part Two: Luke plays Matt, a schmo who dumps Uma Thurman (yeah, you read that right) to hook up with Anna Faris (uh-huh, that too)…trouble is, Uma's a superheroine who's faster than a tall building, and she's going to leap speeding bullets to get her b/f back. Finally, Robert Zemeckis protégé Gil Kenan makes his directorial debut with Monster House, made with the same motion-capture technique Zemeckis used on The Polar Express to tell the story of three kids who discover that there's a monster in the neighborhood. We suspect Zemeckis also helped him assemble the cast; in addition to the three 'tween leads, the grown-ups include Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jon Heder, Kevin James, Jason Lee and Kathleen Turner.
We're sure hoping the otherwise classy Michael Mann (The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, The Insider, Collateral) knows what he's doing with his remake of Miami Vice, starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx as vice detectives Crockett and Tubbs, the former of whom falls unluckily in love with the wife of one of their drug-trafficking suspects-though she's played by the actress many have called the world's most beautiful woman, Gong Li (which readily explains any indiscretion). The CGI-animal movie of the month is Barnyard, with Kevin James, Courtney Cox and Danny Glover among the farm livestock, while the teen-girl movie is John Tucker Must Die, an updated The Witches of Eastwick in which Sophia Bush, Arielle Kebbel and Ashanti are three high-schoolers who, upon discovering that the title character (Desperate Housewives' Jesse Metcalfe) is triple-timing all three of them, unite against their social differences to surgically remove John Tucker's John Thomas. Two hot properties close out the week: Scope, Woody Allen's second London-set film (his second with Scarlett Johansson, here playing an American journalism student having an affair with upper-crust Hugh Jackman); and Little Miss Sunshine, a dysfunctional-family black comedy and Sundance fave, featuring a drool-worthy cast (including Alan Arkin, Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear).
***image7***Paul Giamatti, Part Two: The Sideways star will also appear (or anyway his voice will, along with those of Nicholas Cage and Julia Roberts) in The Ant Bully, an animated comedy about a shrinking boy, from the same director who created Jimmy Neutron. Grimmer fare will include Oliver Stone's anticipated and dreaded World Trade Center-Nicholas Cage again, playing a Port Authority police officer trapped in the rubble of 9.11-and The Night Listener, based on the novel by Armisted Maupin, in which Robin Williams stars as a radio-show host who makes friends via mail with a young man (Rory Culkin, all growed up) telling a tale that's hard to believe. It may not be Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, but Billy Crudup, David Duchovney, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Julianne Moore play two couples on the rocks in director Bart Freundlich's (The Myth of Fingerprints) indie romantic drama Trust the Man. Marky Mark runs with the ball in Invincible, Disney's dramatization of a true story: Part-time bartender, substitute teacher and Philly Eagles fan Vince Papali (Wahlberg) managed to impress someone during an open try-out for his team, because he made the cut, lasting three seasons as a walk-on for the Eagles. Greg Kinnear co-stars as a coach who believes in him, man! Heck, they could have just called it Inspirational. Kevin Smith resuscitates beloved characters ***image1***from the days of yore (or anyway the '90s) in Clerks II; Jeff Anderson and Brian O'Halloran reprise Randal and Dante, forced to take fast-food jobs when the Quick Stop at long last shuts down. Expect an inordinate amount of screentime devoted, as usual, to the non-activities of Jay and Silent Bob. But the summer cult championship title may be snatched away from Smith by a movie with one of the funniest monikers since The Killer Shrews: Snakes on a Plane, or SoaP as it's known to legions of bloggers, already fans without even having seen it yet. SoaP stars Samuel L Jackson as an FBI agent who's escorting a mob witness across the Pacific (which explains why they can't just land the plane, see) when an assassin releases a crate of venomous reptiles; everyone on board must band together, united by their common revulsion at the thought of foil-wrapped in-flight meals, to find out if the slithery critters do, indeed, taste like chicken.