Think Different

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

Dirty Pretty Things Audrey Tautou (Amélie) makes her English-language debut in this crime thriller from stylish Brit director Stephen Frears. In it, she teams up with an illegal Nigerian immigrant (Chjwetel Ejiofor; great name, now how the hell do you pronounce it?) to solve a mysterious murder in a fancy London hotel. (Miramax)

Don't Tempt Me An angel from Heaven (Victoria Abril) and a demon from Hell (Penélope Cruz) come to Earth to try to win over the soul of a boxer with a potentially fatal brain injury. Sounds totally insane, and an absolute must-see. (Fine Line)

Exorcist: The Beginning In what may just be the casting coup of the year, Stellan Skarsgaard steps in as the younger version of Max von Sydow's Father Merrin, battling demons in deepest, darkest Africa. This would have been director John Frankenheimer's final film, but the old master bowed out because of ill health early in the process, to be replaced by Paul Schrader. Thankfully, actor Liam Neeson bowed out, too; for all his strengths, he's no Swede. (WB)

Goofy but fun: Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu are back in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.
Jasin Boland
Goofy but fun: Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu are back in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.

Gigli At last you get to see it, folks: the movie that brought Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez together. What's the plot? Glad you asked: "B.Af" is Gigli, a hit man assigned to kidnap a retarded kid (Justin Bartha) and hold him for ransom. "J.Lo" is the lesbian hit woman assigned to baby-sit Gigli when it seems he won't be up to the job. Both become better (heterosexual) people thanks to the innocence and purity of their mentally challenged prisoner. Sounds like a blast, right? (Sony)

How to Deal Based on two youth fiction novels by Sarah Dessen, Mandy Moore's second feature starring role sees her cast as a cynical teen who has determined that true love doesn't exist. Care to take bets on whether she'll be proven wrong? The title's annoying, the poster banal, but Moore proved to be a surprisingly effective screen presence in the admittedly thin A Walk to Remember, so this could be the start of something big. (New Line)

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life Now that she's gotten over the loss of Daddy dearest, maybe Ms. Croft (Angelina Jolie) can get back to shooting stuff, jumping off things, and running afoul of armored primates made of stone. Jan DeBont takes over the directorial reins of this latest adventure, which sees Lara in Africa, looking for Pandora's box (wait, wasn't Pandora Greek? Does it matter?). (Paramount)

Le Divorce Now that Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts are brand names, James Ivory carts them to Paris to play around at being young zany women having weird romantic issues. (Fox Searchlight)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Apparently Sean Connery plays fictional adventurer Allan Quatermain here, and apparently he absolutely hated working with director Steven Norrington (Blade). Nonetheless, the movie got made, based on Alan Moore's zesty graphic novel, based in turn on classic characters such as Dr. Jekyll (Jason Flemyng), Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah) and Dracula's Mina Harker (Peta Wilson). Takes place in Victorian England, thus -- like Fox's other Moore adaptation From Hell -- shot in Prague. (Fox)

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde Everybody's . . . um . . . favorite frilly Harvard Law School grad is back. Reese Witherspoon dons the pink and heads to Washington to fight for animal rights. Obviously, she begins by removing all animal products from the craft service tables and catering trucks, and serving her Chihuahua vegan dog food. (MGM)

The Medallion Jackie Chan plays a Hong Kong detective with a medallion that gives him super powers. Julian Sands plays a character called "Snakehead," so what more do you need to know? (Screen Gems)

OT: Our Town Scott Hamilton Kennedy's video documentary about inner-city high schoolers putting on a play for the first time in 22 years isn't exactly objective, given that he cohabits with the gorgeous drama teacher at the movie's center. It's the kids' tale, though, and a triumphant one at that -- any pitch for the value of the arts in schools is a welcome one, especially when it's as eloquent as this. (Film Movement)

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Sometimes a sure thing at the box office isn't necessarily nauseatingly trite. This romp from director Gore Verbinski (The Ring) looks adventurous, atmospheric and -- Geoffrey Rush excluded -- generally sex-ay. For sale is one Orlando Bloom (The Lord of the Rings) as a lad who must team up with thickly eyelinered pirate Johnny Depp to save Keira Knightley (Bend It Like Beckham) from bad pirate Rush. Based on the Disney ride, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and certain to earn a doubloon or two. (Disney)

Seabiscuit Tobey Maguire takes time out from slinging webs and wooing the daughter of a high-ranking Universal executive to pretend he's short enough to jockey a horse. Gary Ross (Pleasantville) takes on the novel by Laura Hillenbrand about the titular racehorse and the joy it brought to the country during the Great Depression. (Universal)

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas Everybody's favorite public domain Iraqi hero returns as a two-dimensional caricature voiced, natch, by Brad Pitt. Catherine Zeta-Jones voices the feisty sidekick chick and Michelle Pfeiffer the incongruous Greek goddess Eris. This is DreamWorks' only contribution to the summer screen. (DreamWorks)

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