Think Different

Could it be that this year's crop of summer movies actually requires a brain cell or two?

Prozac Nation Better bring a feather duster to clear off this 2001 shelf-warmer so you can actually see it. In the '90s, it was hip to be depressed, which gave rise to Elizabeth Wurtzel's self-obsessed novel. Christina Ricci stars as Wurtzel, having a rotten time in her first year at Harvard because Anne Heche and Jason Biggs are there. Boo hoo! Erik Skjoldbjaerg (the original Insomnia) directs. (Miramax)

Rugrats Go Wild (June 13) Those really grotesque-looking kids meet up with the globetrotting Thornberrys in what promises to be an exotic adventure. Where else -- apart from maybe Spago -- are you going to get Tim Curry and LL Cool J at the same place? With music by Devo's zany front man, Mark Mothersbaugh. (Paramount)

Sweet Sixteen English working man's filmmaker Ken Loach (Poor Cow, Bread and Roses) delivers the story of a Scottish lad (Martin Compston) struggling to make a new home for his mother, who's newly sprung from prison. Naturally, more hard knocks await. (Lions Gate)

Together(June 13) Chinese auteur Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine, The Emperor and the Assassin) returns with He ni zai yi qi, this tale of a young, aspiring violinist who travels with his father to the bright lights of Beijing. Another "boy's journey" sort of movie, and an obvious bid by Kaige to bridge the gap between his Chinese roots and Hollywood paychecks, but indeed it looks -- and sounds -- charming. (United Artists)

2 Fast 2 Furious(June 6) Star Vin Diesel and director Rob Cohen may have bailed on this particular franchise, but Paul Walker's still around, now directed by John Singleton, and hanging with a new bald-headed ethnic sidekick in the form of Tyrese Gibson. Multiculturalism was cited as a major part of the last film's success, so the cast also includes Ludacris, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser and the simply monikered Jin. We figure it's the fast cars people like, though, and there are plenty -- as long as they crash into stuff, it's all good. (Universal)

Wrong Turn(May 30) Director Rob Schmidt of the iffy, pretentious Crime and Punishment in Suburbia has somehow managed to keep working. His latest concerns teens chased through the mountains of Virginia by -- what else? -- hideously deformed, inbred, cannibalistic mutants. In case you don't get enough of this in real life, you may consider joining Eliza Dushku and Jeremy Sisto for their little adventure. Or you may not. With effects by Stan Winston. (Fox)

JULY and AUGUST

American Splendor The popular favorite at this year's Sundance Festival mixes drama and documentary in its look at the life of Harvey Pekar, who chronicles his own true life story in a comic, also called American Splendor. Pekar appears as himself in the real-life segments; Paul Giamatti plays him in the reenactments. Sounds like a tricky balance to pull off, but all indications are that husband-and-wife directing team of Shari Berman and Bob Pulcini have done so with aplomb. (Fine Line)

American Wedding For all the so-called immorality that goes on in the American Pie movies, it now seems that in this third one, long-suffering protagonist Jim (Jason Biggs) will end up marrying the first and only girl he's ever had sex with (Alyson Hannigan). Cast members who've gotten progressively more expensive (Mena Suvari, Tara Reid, Chris Klein, Shannon Elizabeth, Natasha Lyonne) have been jettisoned, but Fred Willard (yes!) joins the series as Hannigan's dad. Bob Dylan's less famous son Jesse (How High) directs. (Universal)

Bad Boys II At long last, Michael Bay has come to his senses and quit with the Ben Affleck PG-13 crap. The original Bad Boys didn't get much love from critics, but it didn't need it -- this one doesn't look like it could use the help, either. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are back as mismatched cops, with Gabrielle Union replacing Téa Leoni as the potential love interest (good call!), and a supporting cast that includes Joe Pantoliano, Henry Rollins and Peter Stormare. (Sony)

The Battle of Shaker Heights The second film to come out of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's HBO-funded Project Greenlight, this one features a pair of directors who have actually made a film before, and a screenplay that won a separate contest. The plot involves a teenager who's obsessed with World War II, to the point of re-creating some of its battles. Well, what teen isn't? (Miramax)

Cabin Fever Director Eli Roth's big-screen debut has a buzz surrounding it similar to that of Sam Raimi's original Evil Dead. The plot sounds similar, too, with a bunch of unsuspecting friends trapped in a cabin by a mysterious threat. The danger in this one, though, comes from a flesh-eating virus. As Joe Bob Briggs might say, "Anyone can die at any time." (Lions Gate)

Casa de los Babys Who cares what this one's about? Any movie with that title has to be worth a look. Okay, turns out it's directed by John Sayles, which makes it even more of a must-see. And check out the cast: Marcia Gay Harden, Lili Taylor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Daryl Hannah, Mary Steenburgen and Rita Moreno. The story involves six women who go to South America to adopt babies, then find out that the law requires them to live there. (IFC)

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