Excess Hollywood

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Opening July 15

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Starring: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore and Helena Bonham Carter
Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: John August
What it's about: Charlie Bucket (Highmore, Depp's Finding Neverland co-star) finds one of the golden tickets that allows him to tour the candy factory of demented sweets-maker Willy Wonka (Depp). Also on the treacherous tour are the usual suspects, including Charlie's Grandpa Joe, Veruca Salt, Augustus Gloop, and the Oompa-Loompas.
Why it will be fabulous: There's no music this time, and Burton promises to go deeper and darker than Mel Stuart did in his 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Why it will be dreadful: Because as much as you and I and everyone else loves Johnny Depp, he ain't no Gene Wilder. And because, alas, "Pure Imagination" is a swell song that will be missed.

Wedding Crashers
Starring: Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams and Christopher Walken
Directed by: David Dobkin (Shanghai Knights)
Written by: Steve Faber and Bob Fisher
What it's about: Two wild and crazy guys keep crashing wedding parties in order to score with chicks, but when they hit up the wedding of a presidential candidate's (Walken) daughter, one falls in love while the other meets a psycho obsessive girl.
Why it will be fabulous: Any movie that envisions Christopher Walken as a presidential candidate must ipso facto be fabulous.
Why it will be dreadful: Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson aren't the most picky actors in the world when it comes to scripts.

Opening July 22

The Bad News Bears
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Sammi Kraft and Ridge Canipe
Directed by: Richard Linklater (Before Sunset, Dazed and Confused)
Written by: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, based on the screenplay by Bill Lancaster
What it's about: A broken-down, beer-guzzling Little League coach (Thornton) takes on a diamond full of hopeless-but-feisty kids who start to win and, with that, renew the old man's spirit.
Why it will be fabulous: Thornton has a way of giving an edge to icons. If he can make Santa hip, he can do the same for sandlot ball.
Why it will be dreadful: It's awfully hard to top 1976's original Bears as a baseball movie -- or as an endorsement of redemption. Sorry, unless the kids shoot steroids, this is bound to seem corny.

Opening July 29

The Brothers Grimm
Starring: Matt Damon and Heath Ledger
Directed by: Terry Gilliam
Written by: Ehren Kruger
What it's about: A fictionalized fantasy about the German fairy-tale authors, here portrayed as con men who lift fake curses, only to encounter a genuine form of black magic that will force them to deal with things they've only written about.
Why it will be fabulous: After Gilliam's aborted Don Quixote effort, The Brothers Grimm sees him back in fantasy mode, which is what he does best.
Why it will be dreadful: Its release was postponed for a year, as Miramax's Harvey Weinstein tried recutting it. His version then scored lower with test audiences than Gilliam's did.

Stealth
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Jessica Biel and Josh Lucas
Directed by: Rob Cohen
Written by: Cohen and W.D. Richter (Big Trouble in Little China)
What it's about: After a super-advanced stealth fighter is struck by lightning, the onboard computer takes on a life of its own and decides to initiate the next world war.
Why it will be fabulous: WarGames meets Short Circuit? How could it not be?
Why it will be dreadful: Okay, yeah, it's made by the director of xXx and The Skulls, so it might be pretty bad.

Opening August 5

The Dukes of Hazzard
Starring: Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, Burt Reynolds and Jessica Simpson
Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar (Club Dread)
Written by: Jonathan Davis, John O'Brien, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Erik Stolhanske and Paul Soter
What it's about: Based on the TV series, in which two lovable good ol' boys tooled around Hazzard County in their bright orange Dodge Charger, finding trouble at every turn.
Why it will be fabulous: Chandrasekhar reportedly keeps the proceedings as delightedly mindless as their boob-tube inspiration.
Why it will be dreadful: Burt as the Duke boys' nemesis Boss Hogg could be the high point of this low-concept fare.

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Bill Gallo
Luke Y. Thompson
Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky