Screen Time

Monday, March 8, 2004

by Leroy Grey

Man, do I have stuff to apologize about. First, I whine about no "Big Fish" in Cape the week after "Big Fish" debuts in Cape. Then, I joke about "Twisted" being another Ashley Judd thriller, and even Morgan Freeman's showing up again. Morgan Freeman's been a cool actor since "The Electric Company," but how I managed to confuse him with SAMUEL EFFIN JACKSON is beyond me! You know what's on the man's wallet! So, to Mr Samuel Jackson, I apologize.

I don't apologize for the Oscars, however.

HIDALGO: Strider's back! Actually, Viggo Mortensen plays Frank Hopkins, a cowboy (they named the horse Hidalgo) who ends up in a legendary around-the-world race. It's supposed to be based on a true-story, although the experts say Hopkins was more storyteller than cowboy. Still, what do you think makes a better movie? LOOK FOR: Incredible special effects (Director Joe Johnson, former ILM techie, also directed "Jumanji" and "Jurassic Park III")

STARSKY & HUTCH: For those who remember the show, forget the show. For those who don't know, it's Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson teaming up again, this time playing mismatched undercover buddy cops. Snoop Dogg plays Huggy Bear, the greatest pimp to ever hit prime time TV. If director Todd Phillips ("Old School", "Road Trip") makes "S & H" work, his next project is "The Six Million Dollar Man" starring Jim Carrey. Which makes me wonder: when does "Magnum P.I." get his own movie? Or "The A-Team"? Or "Hee-Haw?" LOOK FOR: Big Earl.

SECRET WINDOW: Johnny Depp plays a writer accused of stealing a story from a psycho (John Turturro). Director David Koepp has written some of the biggest movies of the last ten years ("Spider-Man", "Jurassic Park", "Mission: Impossible") and directed the other 'seeing-dead-people' movie, "Stir of Echoes". So can he make a good Stephen King movie? LOOK FOR: Timothy Hutton, who was in the Stephen King movie "The Other Half" (Why would I mention that?)

THE GIRL NEXT DOOR: I can't judge this movie impartially. I mean, it's Elisha Cuthbert from '24,' looking her MAXIMum hottest... But it's the girl from '24,' and she gets pretty whiny on that show. Is it right to ignore her voice and just watch her body on the screen? Should I just wait until I get home? LOOK FOR: What you wish happened at your prom.

SPARTAN: First off, we have David Mamet writing and directing again. His characters are so tough, so real, so foul-mouthed and eloquent that if he was tapped to bring 'The Godfather' to Broadway, I'd bite (his day job is as one of America's most respected playwrights.) Val Kilmer's the maverick fed searching for an abducted politician's daughter; Derek Luke (Finding Forrester) is the fresh recruit partnered with him.

LOOK FOR: A reason to quit smoking when you're in the desert.

DAWN OF THE DEAD: This is a remake of the 1978 zombie classic from George Romero and Dario Argento. This time around, the people in front of the camera are more famous than the folks behind the camera: Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer, and Sarah Polley star and first-time film director Zack Snyder is calling the shots. New characters and technology, but the same setup: trapped in a mall with zombies on all sides. LOOK FOR: New survival tips, in case you ever get trapped in an alley with flesh-eating zombies...

TAKING LIVES: Angelina Jolie's a criminal profiler in pursuit of a serial killer/master of disguise. Who is she chasing after? Kiefer Sutherland? Ethan Hawke? Oliver Martinez? Yeah, I'm still talking about the movie. Actually, there's a 'Silence of the Lambs'/ 'American Psycho' feel to the whole thing. LOOK FOR: the novel by Michael Pye, it's a much darker - and original - experience.

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND: This film's a Charlie Kaufman story ('Adaptation', 'Being John Malkovich'), about a guy who elects to have memories of his ex lobotomized, and then his subconscious changes his mind. This film's got Jim Carrey in Truman territory, and Kate Winslet in all her voluptuousness. Why isn't this a summer movie? LOOK FOR: The return of Jim Carrey's career. Also, Frodo.

SCOOBY DOO 2: Can a sequel be better than the first film? Well, they don't have far to go, in this case. Sure, the actors and director and special effects team are the same... But this time, Scooby and the gang are up against such classic nemises as the Ghost of the Black Knight, Captain Cutler's Ghost, the Creeper, etc... Ruben Studdard sings a song, too, ensuring, at least, a better movie debut than either Justin or Kelly. DON'T LOOK FOR: Mary Jane, Shaggy's girlfriend from the first film.

THE LADYKILLERS: The Coen Brothers are the cooks for this movie, serving up Tom Hanks as a Southern-fried con man pulling off a flawless robbery - except for his little old landlady. This remake also features Marlon Wayans. LOOK FOR: J.K. Simmons ('Oz') with a handlebar mustache

JERSEY GIRL: Forget J.Lo is in this movie. Seriously, because before it all went wrong, her casting was a stunt that lasted about fifteen minutes. Know that Ben Affleck plays a single parent who gets over the death of his wife with the help of his wise-cracking daughter (the "Jersey Girl") and Liv Tyler. In fact, forget this is a Kevin Smith movie, because Kevin Smith has left the whole 'Snoochie Boochies' behind, in favor of addressing his inner John Hughes. LOOK FOR: Which of Kevin Smith's regulars show up this go-round...

NEVER DIE ALONE: DMX! You know what that means!

In case you don't, DMX is a fiercly popular rapper known for his raspy delivery and savagely powerful lyricism. He's managed to make the marquee a few times in gangsta/ buddy action films ('Belly', 'Romeo Must Die') But 'Never Die Alone' presents DMX's considerable charisma with the challenge of carrying the film alone, with the actor playing a spiritual-minded criminal reflecting on the repercussions of his life choices on those around him, searching for redemption but only finding violence and tragedy... so YOU KNOW someone's gonna get HURT!

LOOK FOR: Hope.

The Late Night Matinee for March features GHOSTBUSTERS, the blockbuster sci-fi comedy starring Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson. Now, this is blasphemous, but who could you cast in the remake? I mean, all those guys are serious actors these days. How about John Cusack and his friends? (Jack Black, Jeremy Piven, etc...)? How about the dudes from American Pie? (Sean William Scott as Venkman! Jason Biggs as Spengler!) Or the dudes from Half-Baked? (Dave Chapelle as Venkman!) Heck, maybe Kevin Smith needs a box-office slam dunk! (Jay and Silent Bob with proton packs!)

Til next month, save me a seat...

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