Get Inside!

A round-up of summer's surefire hits (and definite duds)

Lunacy
(Zeitgeist)
Starring: Czech actors you're very unlikely to have heard of.
Written and directed by:Jan Svankmajer (Little Otik)
What it's about: Blending his trademark surrealism and stop-motion animation with live-action, Svankmajer adapts two Edgar Allan Poe short stories and throws in some Marquis de Sade for good measure. Grave robbery, orgies and a mad sanitarium feature prominently.
Why you should see it: Does it not sound fabulous?
Why you should not: All the fat goth girls in the audience will probably reek of cigarettes. And for a movie about a man-eating tree stump, Little Otik wasn't as good as it should have been.

Accepted
(Universal)
Starring:Justin Long (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story), Adam Herschman and Jonah Hill
Directed by:First-timer Steve Pink
Written by:Bill Collage, Adam Cooper and Mark Perez
What it's about: A slack senior (Long) finds out that he's failed to get into college. So, of course, he and his similarly unmotivated pals fool their parents by inventing their own fraud of a university, which suddenly becomes crowded with similar rejects. Hey, it couldn't be any more worthless than your liberal arts degree, right?
Why you should see it:If a fake frat was funny (as it was in Old School), an entire fake university has to be a knee-slapper, right?
Why you should not:Of course not. Old School was only funny because it had Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn in it. No similar heavyweights present here.

Step Up
(Buena Vista)
Starring:Channing Tatum (Coach Carter), Rachel Griffiths and Heavy D
Directed by: Anne Fletcher
Written by: Duane Adler and Melissa Rosenberg
What it's about: Tatum plays a streetwise punk (is there any other kind?) who trashes a performing arts school and is sentenced to community service. He comes to find it ain't dat bad a joint, once a hot dancer at the school wiggles his broom just a little.
Why you should see it: Rachel Griffiths and Heavy D in the same movie! I only dared to dream...
Why you should not: Because it hasto be awful.

World Trade Center
(Paramount)
Starring:Nicolas Cage, Michael Peña and Maggie Gyllenhaal
Directed by: Oliver Stone (J.F.K., The Doors)
Written by: Andrea Berloff What it's about: Cage and Peña play real-life Port Authority cops who made it out of the World Trade Center alive after the terror attack of September 11, 2001. Word is this isn't the work of a paranoid Ollie Stone, but a sober, down-to-the-details docudramatization of the events of the day, already seen this year in United 93.
Why you should see it: Cage is at his best when playing an everyman stuck in a horrific, real-life situation (his portrayal of an EMT in Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out the Deadremains among his career highlights, even if no one saw it).
Why you should not: Oliver Stone's a real hit-or-miss moviemaker; pray this is closer to Platoonand Salvador than Alexander or Any Given Sunday. Or Natural Born Killers. Or U-Turn. Or Nixon.

Zoom
(Sony)
Starring: Tim Allen, Courteney Cox Arquette and Chevy Chase
Directed by: Peter Hewitt (Garfield)
Written by: David Berenbaum (Elf)
What it's about: Remember that Disney movie Sky High, about a retired superhero and the superschool his kids attend? This is pretty much the same thing, but with a bigger budget. And it's based on an actual comic book, Zoom's Academy for the Super-Gifted.
Why you should see it: Sky High was fun...
Why you should not: ...But do we need another version? Tim Allen instead of Kurt Russell isn't exactly what you'd call trading up.

The Night Listener
(Miramax)
Starring: Robin Williams, Toni Collette and Rory Culkin
Directed by: Patrick Stettner (The Business of Strangers)
Written by: Armistead Maupin & Terry Anderson (The Young Graduates) and Stettner, based on the novel by Maupin
What it's about: Williams plays a Garrison Keillor-like public radio host who tells embellished stories of his life and friends, but when he receives the manuscript of a memoir from an abused child (Culkin), he doesn't realize that it may be equally embellished.
Why you should see it: Stettner deftly dealt with similar issues of deceit in The Business of Strangers; Williams can certainly be as annoying as your typical talk radio host.
Why you should not: When it comes to drama, Williams is either spot-on (One Hour Photo) or insufferably mawkish (What Dreams May Come). His character here is a gay man whose lover has battled AIDS, which may mean lots of hugging, tears and Williams doing that grinning thing that's supposed to make him look sad but really doesn't.

Snakes on a Plane
(New Line)
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, some snakes, and a plane
Directed by: David R. Ellis (Final Destination 2)
Written by: John Heffernan and Sebastian Gutierrez (Gothika)
What it's about: The title really says it all here. For full disclosure, it really should be Snakes on a Plane With a Bald-Headed Badass Black Guy Who Yells a Lot. Yes the snakes deserve to die, and he hopes they burn in hell.
Why you should see it: Pay attention. Snakes. Plane. Samuel L. Jackson. What's not to love?
Why you should not: Sorry, there's just no good excuse not to.

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