By Kathleen Vanesian
By Amy Silverman
By Robrt L. Pela
By Jim Louvau
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Benjamin Leatherman
By New Times
By Becky Bartkowski
Summer is the season of high expectations and profound disappointments. That suntan looks more like sunburn, your beer stays ice cold 'til the moment it's opened, and fat guys are the only ones hanging by the pool in bikini briefs. So it goes with summer movies: Sequels to beloved faves have all the flavor of week-old popcorn, blockbusters make pennies on their many dollars, and somewhere there's Adam Sandler pouring sour lemonade when you were craving something more refreshing. Maybe there's more hope this year, if only because last summer was such a bummer; Monster-in-Law, Stealth, or The Dukes of Hazzard, anyone? Thought not.
There is certainly more promise to the 2006 lineup. Film freaks and fanboys find it hard not to get a little worked up over the returns of Superman, Crockett and Tubbs, Jack Sparrow, and Dante and Randal (well . . . ). A Prairie Home Companion, with its all-star cast and NPR roots, promises to be this year's Cinderella Man: a great movie nobody sees, because the crowds will be too busy huffing Freon with Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, and Vince Vaughn again. Much of what you'll find below feels like yesterday's movies reheated -- like someone went to Blockbuster and cut-and-pasted everything on the comedy shelf. But they'll all need a prayer to hold their own against The Da Vinci Code. Here's $20 right now that says only the pope won't see it. Though even he may get around to it, once he's checked out Snakes on a Plane. -- Robert Wilonsky
Starring:The voices of Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, and Paul Newman
Written and directed by:John Lasseter (Toy Story, A Bug's Life)
What it's about: Wilson plays hotshot racer Lightning McQueen, who gets stuck in podunk Radiator Springs, where antics and puns ensue, and, shucks, he just might learn a little something about life.
Why you should see it: This is Pixar, people. Its mixture of eye-popping animation, anthropomorphic characters and celebrity voices hasn't yielded a single dud.
Why you should not: Something in the trailers suggests this might be the movie where the Pixar formula goes astray. After the talking toys, fish, monsters, and insects, cars just seem a little pedestrian.
A Prairie Home Companion (Picturehouse)
Starring:Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Lindsay Lohan, and Garrison Keillor
Directed by: Robert Altman
Written by: Garrison Keillor
What it's about: Set behind the scenes of Keillor's beloved National Public Radio show, the movie chronicles a fictional finale in which the St. Paul station that airs the show has been sold to a Texas conglomerate.
Why you should see it: It is a great movie -- a two-hour good-time grin with some surprising moments of heartbreak.
Why you should not: Fact is, even if you don't love Keillor's show or Altman's movies, this sucker packs some profound magic. Perhaps that's not your thing, either?
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (Universal)
Starring: Lucas Black (Jarhead), Bow Wow, and Zachery Ty Bryan
Directed by: Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow)
Written by: Alfredo Botello, Chris Morgan (Cellular), and Kario Salem (The Score)
What it's about: Brightly colored cars in illegal street races . . . this time in Japan. The bad news is that efforts to bring back Vin Diesel fell through. The good news is Paul Walker's gone, too.
Why you should see it: Better Luck Tomorrow showed that Justin Lin had the chops to direct an edgy youth movie . . .
Why you should not:. . . but Annapolis proved he's capable of much worse.
The Lake House (WB)
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, and Shohreh Aghdashloo
Directed by: Alejandro Agresti (Valentin)
Written by: David Auburn (Proof)
What it's about: It's like Speed, but without a bus, bomb, or Dennis Hopper. And with a mailbox that transports love letters through time. A remake of the Korean film Il Mare, in which a man and woman write each other letters, only to discover that they're both living in the same house, but in different time periods two years apart.
Why you should see it: Could Keanu plus time travel equal an excellent adventure?
Why you should not: Every other love story Keanu has ever done. Also, Valentin was cloying, annoying crap.
Nacho Libre (Paramount)
Starring:Jack Black and Efren Ramirez
Directed by: Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite)
Written by: Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess, and Mike White
What it's about: Black (Nacho) plays a Mexican cook who stuffs his face into a wrestler's mask to save his financially strapped orphanage.
Why you should see it: Mike White wrote the best part Jack Black's ever been given, as Dewey Finn in School of Rock.
Why you should not: Because Napoleon Dynamitewas a great four-minute movie that went on just a littletoo long.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Christopher Walken, and David Hasselhoff
Directed by: Frank Coraci (The Waterboy)
Written by: Jack Giarraputo, Tim Herlihy (almost every Sandler movie to date), Steve Koren and Mark O'Keefe (Bruce Almighty), and Adam Sandler
What it's about: Sandler obtains a magic universal remote control that can control the universe! Pausing, rewinding, and slow-motion-replaying the world around him is a lot of fun . . . until the remote gets stuck in fast-forward.
Why you should see it: Whatever you may think of Sandler, a movie that brings Walken and Hasselhoff together cannot be all bad.
Why you should not: Seems like a good premise, but so did The Benchwarmers at one point.