by Leroy Grey
Winter movies gets a lot of short shrift. Sandwiched between the holiday holdovers and the Oscar re-releases, the movies that debut aren't usually known for getting people across the snow. Of course, we haven't had a lot of snow, so let's see what coming soon!
BARBERSHOP 2 - You ever wonder what would happen if Ice Cube had a sitcom on UPN? Me neither. Ice Cube continues his full-media assault with his second hit movie series. LOOK FOR: Queen Latifah, trying to jumpstart the next branch of this franchise, as the owner of a beauty shop.
MIRACLE - This film attempts to relate the struggles and spirit that led the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team to an unbelievable gold medal win, and the classic sports phrase, "Do you believe in miracles?" Okay, it's Lifetime for guys. But so was "The Rookie" (also produced by the makers of "Miracle"), and I watched that three times. LOOK FOR: Kurt Russell to get a little respect.
CATCH THAT KID - This should be in theaters long enough to inject in the subconscious, and get some decent rentals in five months. It's supposed to be "Ocean's Eleven" meets "Mission: Impossible" meets "Spy Kids", but the director (Bart Freundlich) isn't known for laughs. On the plus side, Kristen Stewart ("Panic Room") is starting to look like Amanda Peet. LOOK FOR: the German-language original version of this film, called "Klatetosen"
50 FIRST DATES - Now, this has got to be the perfect date movie. For the guys, you got Adam Sandler in prime comedic form and Drew Barrymore at the perfect midpoint of beauty between Julia Roberts and the Olson Twins. For the girls, you got Drew Barrymore continuing in Meg Ryan mode, and the story of a guy who spends the whole movie trying to get his girlfriend to remember their first date. What girl can't feel that pain? LOOK FOR: Ten Second Tom, played by Happy Madison regular Allen Covert.
WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT - Now, this has got to be the perfect TV movie. Remember when they made those? Ray Romano (whom Everybody Loves...) plays a small-town handyman. Gene Hackman plays the retired former President who moves into said town, hooks up with an old flame of Ray's and gets drafted for mayor. So Ray decides to run against him. Surely, hilarity must ensue. LOOK FOR: another TV alumnus, formerly Kevin Arnold. I wonder if Winnie's still campaigning for McGovern?
CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE DRAMA QUEEN - Aw, geez... This thing's based on a tweenage novel. The movie stars Lindsay Lohan, but it was supposed to star Hilary Duff. And somebody still owes me for ditching me with babysitting duty on "Freaky Friday" to check out "Freddy vs Jason." LOOK FOR: any suspicious looking solitary grown-ups in the audience. Alert management as quickly as possible.
AGAINST THE ROPES - This is a weird two-genre movie: the Meg Ryan movie meets the boxing movie. Actually, Meg Ryan's trying for the second time to make us forget she's Meg Ryan. She's got a solid crew behind her: co-star Omar Epps was awesome when he first teamed with director Charles Dutton in "First-time Felon". And at least she doesn't wear her hair like Don King. But do we really watch boxing movies to cheer for the management? LISTEN FOR: some of the final work of composer Michael Kamen.
EUROTRIP: Consider this the unofficial sequel to "Road Trip", because it's the same creators, with new kids. This time, a lonely guy crosses the EU to reach his girl, with his three buds in tow. And I thought we were trying to make friends with Europe, too... LOOK FOR: a handful of SNL featured players, getting warm-up time before their inevitable character spinoff movies.
PASSION OF THE CHRIST: Okay, it's not in English, there's no subtitles. Mel Gibson didn't act in it; he just directed it. People got struck by lightning on two separate occasions while they were making this film. In fact, people will take this movie so seriously that I don't know what to say about it that won't get a phone call from my momma. Just don't expect any Happy Meal toys. LOOK FOR: the baby.
TWISTED: Ashley Judd's a cop chasing a serial killer that's killing off her ex-boyfriends. Morgan Freeman's playing the wise cop again, but just in case you think you've seen this movie before, it's the first time she's acted with Andy Garcia! So there! LOOK FOR: the killer! There he is, behind you! Yaagh!
DIRTY DANCING: HAVANA NIGHTS: I can't believe I'm talking about a sequel to Dirty Dancing in the theaters. It's on the Latin train a few years late; if they'd made it on schedule, it might have featured Ricky Martin and Natalie Portman. Instead, they picked a couple that actually looks like a couple. LOOK FOR: the explanation for how Johnny Castle ended up in Havana, Cuba. Always figured him for a commie...
CLUB DREAD: The Broken Lizard Comedy Troupe fire their second salvo in their quest to assume Monty Python's mantle. Sure, "Super Troopers" may have been subversively funny, but this murder mystery at a Caribbean resort looks like they got the "Scooby-Doo" set on the cheap. But it's the tropics! Bask your perma-frosted eyes in that for an hour-plus. They also got Bill Paxton in all his wild-eyed, mulleted glory. LOOK OUT FOR: the 'touch'.
February's late show at the Wehrenberg is the animated classic Shrek. So why is a cartoon getting screened after bedtime? No, this isn't the R-rated version; it's the same one that charmed kids of all ages three years ago. It's the version that got 2 Oscar nominations, among a toolshed of other awards and recognitions. It's the movie that definitively proved how lame Disney cartoons had become. It's the last great character Mike Myers ever created, and certainly the last watchable movie Eddie Murphy's been in. It's like "The Princess Bride" with fart jokes. It's not just one of the best animated movies of all time; it's one of the best fantasies, comedies and romantic movies of all time. Why do you think the sequel is scheduled to compete in this year's Cannes Film Festival? Because it's that good. So if you're still with your valentine the weekend after Valentine's Day, or even if you don't, consider checking it out.
That's February for you. Nothing else, go see Lord of the Rings again. I know you're going to, anyway. Until next month...