MOVIES

War Of The Worlds vies with Be­witched

NOW Magazine - Hot Summer Guide - - CONTENTS - By GLENN SUMI

Let the War begin

No one knows how to make a big, classy, got­tasee-it sum­mer movie like Steven Spiel­berg, who prac­ti­cally in­vented the genre. War Of The

Worlds, adapted from H. G. Wells’s sci-fi clas­sic, is set in present-day New York, with Tom Cruise play­ing a dad try­ing to es­cape un­speak­able death with kids Justin Chatwin and Dakota Fan

ning. The last time Spiel­berg and Cruise co­zied up with a sci-fi script was 2002’s su­perb Mi­nor­ity Re­port, based on an Isaac Asimov story. This one looks just as good, full of sus­pense, chases and many-legged crea­tures. The trail­ers are ter­rific, es­pe­cially the shot of a ter­ri­fied Fan­ning look­ing back through the car win­dow as some­thing – aliens? ado­les­cence? – comes chas­ing af­ter her. Opens June 29.

Root­ing for Roos

Let’s bounce right by Don Roos’s last pic, the dread­ful Ben Af­fleck/Gwyneth Pal­trow com­edy called, well, Bounce. In­stead, we’ll re­mem­ber his ter­rific 1998 indie film called The Op­po­site Of Sex, which proved that Lisa Kudrow had bet­ter dra­matic chops than all of her Friends com­bined. Kudrow is back in Happy End­ings, play­ing an abor­tion coun­sel­lor who gets caught up in a plot in­volv­ing black­mail, young film stu­dents and mas­sage par­lours. Here’s hop­ing the ti­tle, er, comes true. Opens in July, date tba.

Comic com­mit­ment A lot of come­dies are com­pet­ing for your laughs this sum­mer: Steve Martin in The Pink Pan­ther (Au­gust 5); Steve Carell in The 40-Year-Old Vir­gin (Au­gust 19); and Billy Bob Thorn­ton in Bad News Bears (July 22). And don’t for­get Deuce Bi­ga­low:

Euro­pean Gigolo (Au­gust 12). Just make sure you RSVP to The Wed­ding

Crash­ers. Bud­dies Vince Vaughn and Owen Wil­son play the tit­u­lar dudes who pick up girls from the sin­gles ta­ble un­til they crash the wrong nup­tials and meet Canada’s own sweet­heart, Rachel

McA­dams (also in the Wes Craven sum­mer thriller Red-Eye). Ex­pect lots of tacky brides­maid dresses, em­bar­rass­ing speeches and the grossout bar to be low­ered a bit more. Here’s toast­ing the clos­est thing to a cin­e­matic sure thing. Opens July 15.

Wayne state

Christo­pher Nolan di­rected Me­mento and In­som­nia, so how bad can Bat­man Be­gins be? That’s our hope, any­way, as Chris­tian Bale packs on the 60 pounds he lost for The Ma­chin­ist plus some mus­cle and a la­tex suit to play the young, quest­ing Bruce Wayne in this caped-cru­sader pre­quel. The cast in­cludes 28 Days’

Cil­lian Mur­phy, The Last Samu­rai’s Ken Watan­abe and Os­car win­ners Michael Caine and Mor­gan Free­man. The to­ken woman is Tom Cruise’s cur­rent plus-one,

Katie Holmes. Bad news: the last Bat­man movie, Bat­man & Robin, tanked. Good news: comic book fans have al­ready caught glimpses of the script on­line, and they’re not pissed off. Opens June 15.

Wild at heart

If au­di­ences don’t flock to ev­ery big stu­dio re­lease, The Wild Par­rots Of Tele­graph Hill could take off. It’s a quirky, G-rated doc­u­men­tary about philo­soph­i­cal San Fran mu­si­cian and drifter Mark Bit­tner, who bonds with some pretty mouthy (beaky?) fine-feath­ered crea­tures. Some par­rots have es­caped cap­tiv­ity, oth­ers were aban­doned by their own­ers. Al­ready a hit in se­lected cities south of the bor­der, this doc takes wing July 15.

Dark drip­pings

Baby boomers’kids are now grown up and hun­gry for pop­corn. How else to ex­plain the stu­dios’ in­sane churn­ing out of hor­ror films? Agents are clam­our­ing to get their big­gest ac­tors into fright flicks. Hence, Jen­nifer Con­nelly in Dark Wa­ter. The Os­car win­ner plays a sep­a­rated mom with a five-year-old who moves into a creepy Man­hat­tan apart­ment that’s full of drip­ping, leak­ing wa­ter. Are the pipes bad or is it all in her head? The solid sup­port­ing cast for this re­make of the 2002 Ja­panese box-of­fice smash in­cludes John C. Reilly as a real es­tate agent and Tim Roth as a lawyer. This marks a ma­jor break for direc­tor Wal­ter Salles, who’s mov­ing into the big leagues af­ter art­house hits Cen­tral Sta­tion and The Mo­tor­cy­cle Di­aries. Opens July 8.

Do the Hus­tle

If all goes ac­cord­ing to plan, this time next year you’ll know Ter­rence Howard’s name. Smaller roles in pics like Ray, Crash and Dead Pres­i­dents have made his lead­ing-man-hand­some mug familiar, es­pe­cially those clear, un­mis­tak­able eyes and that mis­chievous grin. His turn as a South­ern pimp who aims for rap­per star­dom in Hus

tle & Flow is gen­er­at­ing big buzz, es­pe­cially af­ter the flick’s de­but at Sun­dance net­ted pro­ducer John Sin­gle­ton a three-pic­ture, $16-mil

lion con­tract. Opens in July, date tba.

Kid­ding Kid­man

The last time Ni­cole Kid­man played a witch was in a ter­ri­ble movie called Prac­ti­cal Magic, and the last time she tried com­edy was in a big flop called The Step­ford Wives. Let’s hope there’s bet­ter comic alchemy in Be

witched, based on the sit­com about a sub­ur­ban homemaker with a twitchy nose. Nora Ephron di­rects a cast that in­cludes Will Fer­rell as hus­band Dar­rin and Shirley

Ma­cLaine as En­dora. Opens June 24.

Tom Cruise and Dakota Fan­ning land on screens in War Of The

Worlds, June 29.

Ni­cole Kid­man and Will Fer­rell get Be­witched,

June 24.

Steve Martin stars in The Pink Pan­ther re

make, Au­gust 5.

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