Excess Hollywood

In the season of sequels and Happy Meal toys, 05 may be a pleasant surprise.

THE LORDS OF DOGTOWN

Starring:Heath Ledger, Emile Hirsch and Johnny Knoxville

Directed by:Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen)

Written by:Stacy Peralta

What it's about:Another of Peralta's cinematic valentines (this one lightly fictionalized) to the 1970s beach-fun culture in Venice, California.

Why it will be fabulous:If you didn't get your sun-kissed fill from Peralta's Dogtown and Z-Boys and Riding Giants, this may be the summer movie for you.

Why it will be dreadful:You've more than likely had your fill of Peralta's surf-and-skate cheerleader act.

ROCK SCHOOL

Directed by:Don Argott

What it's about:Paul Green, founder of the Paul Green School of Rock Music in Philly, teaches a bunch of kids between the ages of nine and seventeen how to get their Axl on in this documentary that was a big hit at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin -- the home, incidentally, of Richard Linklater, whose School of Rockwas the fictional version of this very true story.

Why it will be fabulous:Kids rock.

Why it will be dreadful:Star pupil C.J. Tywoniak loves himself a good guitar solo.

THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS Starring: Amber Tamblyn, Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel and America Ferrera

Directed by: Ken Kwapis (Dunston Checks In)

Written by: Delia Ephron and Elizabeth Chandler

What it's about: Based on a popular novel by Ann Brashares, this teen-girl flick is the story of four friends whose lives go in separate directions. To keep in touch, they pass around a pair of pants that happens to be a perfect fit for all four of them.

Why it will be fabulous: It has the coolest title of the year by far.

Why it will be dreadful: One pair of pants that fits four different adolescent girls equally well?

THE ADVENTURES OF SHARK BOY AND LAVA GIRL IN 3-D

Starring:Caydon Boyd, Taylor Dooley and David Arquette

Written and directed by:Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Spy Kids)

What it's about:In a pre-adolescent fantasy, a boy's imaginary friends -- superheroes all -- spring to life and pitch in to get him through a series of harrowing adventures.

Why it will be fabulous: Rodriguez likes playing with toys, and 3-D Nouveau should fit the bill.

Why it will be dreadful:Let's just say that unless you're an eleven-year-old diving into a box of gummy bears, you'd better bring a book.

5 x 2 Starring: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Stéphane Freiss and Géraldine Pailhas

Directed by: François Ozon

Written by: Ozon and Emmanuele Bernheim

What it's about:The five stages of romance between a man and a woman.

Why it will be fabulous: There's probably explicit sex.

Why it will be dreadful: Lousy title, lousy premise...it's an uphill slog toward the explicit sex.

HEIGHTS Starring: Glenn Close, James Marsden, Jesse Bradford and Isabella Rossellini

Directed by:Chris Terrio (Book of Kings)

Written by: Amy Fox

What it's about: Yet another drama set in New York and following characters whose stories intersect.

Why it will be fabulous: The cast -- also featuring Rufus Wainwright, George Segal and Eric Bogosian -- is pretty impressive.

Why it will be dreadful: It's helmed by Chris Terrio and not, say, Robert Altman or John Sayles.

THE HONEYMOONERS

Starring:Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps, Gabrielle Union and Regina Hall

Directed by:John Schultz (Like Mike)

Written by:Danny Jacobson, Saladin Patterson, Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield and Don Rhymer

What it's about:Hollywood's latest raid on vintage TV: Cedric puts a new ethnic spin on Jackie Gleason's beloved loudmouth Ralph Kramden.

Why it will be fabulous:Cedric's ability to play blue-collar could send this one to the moon.

Why it will be dreadful:Nobody can channel the spirit of The Great One. Do you get the feeling you'll pine for the murky black-and-white images and canned laughs that once emanated from your old Philco?

HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE

Starring: English dub features the voices of Lauren Bacall, Christian Bale, Billy Crystal and Blythe Danner

Written and directed by: Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away), from the novel by Diana Wynne Jones

What it's about: Animated fantasy in which a young woman is transformed by a curse into an old hag and winds up in servitude at the castle-cum-vehicle of an infamous wizard.

Why it will be fabulous: If you don't like Miyazaki, you might not be human. If you don't know Miyazaki, now's the time.

Why it will be dreadful: The late, normally great Phil Hartman was a blemish on Disney's English dub of Miyazaki's Kiki's Delivery Service. Billy Crystal may be likewise here.

MR. AND MRS. SMITH

Starring:Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

Directed by:Doug Limon (The Bourne Identity)

Written by:Simon Kinberg

What it's about:An unhappy married couple who earn their paychecks as assassins learn that they've been hired to kill each other.

Why it will be fabulous:The Pitt-Jolie twosome should be fun to watch under Limon's fast-action framing.

Why it will be dreadful:This promises to be a plot-heavy romp that could easily fire blanks.

BATMAN BEGINS

Starring: Christian Bale, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson

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