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by Darwin Mayflower


NOTE: The screenplays we review are often in development and may experience many rewrites, some could end up being completely different than what is reviewed here. It is our hope that our reviews generate more interest in the film. Thank you.

Hello Utopians, your humble editor and chief intellect here. I was shocked when Darwin staggered into my office yesterday afternoon, and it wasn't the stench he exuded from not having bathed or slept in 2 days, but the thick manuscript he dumped on my desk. Eighty-two pages worth. I told him I didn't like to read friend's scripts as I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. He mumbled a few obscenities, lit a cigarette, took several hits, and left. Haven't seen him since the incident though I hear he's wandering the streets of Brooklyn mumbling to himself, and chain smoking the folks there think it's the second coming of D.W. Griffith. Out of respect I picked up the manuscript only to find out it wasn't one at all, but his own bloody "State of the Union" of the movies 2002. Don't know if we'll ever hear from him again after this bloodbath So enjoy this edition of Cinematic Darwinism!

Darwin here chief. I was thinking the other day about all the films that will hit the screen in 2002. I was going to write up a small piece about the best entries. That ballooned into writing about every film. (Its also the opposite of short). So I now invite you to read my list of the Films of 2002. (All presented with my oh-so relevant thoughts.) If this document is nothing else, its a fairly comprehensive overview of the movies that will be released this year.

SU - The total package for Hollywood

I culled the Internet for the info found here, but I would be remiss if I didnt name the three best sites for movie information:,, and

Without further ado, I give you the films of 2002:


The last time I did this type of thing, my list started with the bomb AMERICAN OUTLAWS, and I, a regular American Male, said you might as well go out and see it, because Ali Larter is in it and, well, boy, she sure is cute. I havent lived that down yet. Its fitting, then, that I should start this list with another movie starring an attractive blonde --

CROSSROADS. Directed by Tamra Davis. Written by Shonda Rhimes.

Dreamed up by its star on a napkin over a three-cookies-and-cream-martini gab-fest, the story finds three friends from Georgia who head off on a road trip to L.A. On the way they meet a musician who hooks them into a music competition.

CROSSROADS will probably topple the lilliputian numbers of GLITTER and the decent numbers of A WALK TO REMEMBER because it is being co-produced by MTV. Britney Spears is on top of the world right now -- her every move getting the same coverage on the news as the war were fighting -- and since they havent asked her to stretch as an actress (sing and joke with your friends) the movie will probably be a forgettable non-nightmare. The news that Spears character loses her virginity in the movie should interest a few males to come see it.

JOHN Q. Directed by Nick Cassavetes. Written by James Kearns.

JOHN Q. was a gimmicky script that didnt need to be. The writer, James Kearns, when he was keeping his creation in the realm of small-world reality, swept me up with the common-but-heartbreaking tale of everyman John Q. -- desperate to gather enough money to pay for his kids heart transplant. It lost me, though, when John Q. picks up a gun and takes a hospital hostage. The script dissolves into an op-ed piece -- each of the faceless people in the hospital firing off his or her shots about HMOs and doctors -- and the real issues are lost in a bloodthirsty inventory of gripes and slights. The ending, too, is so choreographed and inevitable it robs the last half of the movie of its proper dramatic sting.

The character John Q. should have been arrested and used his newfound fame as a way to fight the HMOs and hospitals -- through the courts. But this is Hollywood. And a gun and irrational thoughts always wins above maturity and reality.

DRAGONFLY. Directed by Tom Shadyac. Written by David Seltzer, Brandon Camp, Mike Thompson.

Kevin Costner plays a grieving widow who believes his wife is communicating with him through the near-death experiences of her pediatric cancer patients.

Its no secret that I despise the script STEINBECKS POINT OF VIEW, written by Camp and Thompson. This film has a similar taste -- another story about people communicating beyond the grave -- and knowing Shadyacs penchant for schmaltz (see PATCH ADAMS) I can only assume that the writers and the director fed off of each others worst instincts, in a collision of bad taste, to produce a movie that will quickly, MOTHlike, fly away from the movie screens.

From the order of the writing credits, I had assumed Camp and Thompson were the rewriters; apparently, this is incorrect. Seltzer, who wrote MY GIANT (not exactly a perfect-record writer himself), was the one who came on for the cleanup job.

Since Seltzer ended up with top credit, we can at least take comfort in the fact that little of the Thompson-Camp script remains.

QUEEN OF THE DAMNED. Directed by Michael Rymer. Written by Scott Abbott and Michael Petroni.

Anne Rices "Vampire Chronicle" books were never grand literary treats. But they were highly entertaining (that is, before Rice went off the deep end and destroyed them with lunacy, redundancy and terrible writing). Neil Jordans take on the first book in the series, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, was pretty but empty. And the one major change he made to the story, how and why Lestat reappears, wrecked the third act of the movie.

Now we have QUEEN OF THE DAMNED, which, despite it being the last appearance of the talented Aaliyah, doesnt have a smidge of the talent the first film did.

I was ready to write it off as an easy-on-the-eyes distraction when I saw that its star, Stuart Townsend, called it "cheesy and camp(y), veering into ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW territory."

With a recommendation like that (from the star of the movie!) how can anyone do anything but go see something else?

Wes Bentley was going to star in this and dropped out at the last minute. Maybe now we can see why.


40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS. Directed by Michael Lehmann. Written by Rob Perez.

Josh Hartnett (BLACK HAWK DOWN) stars as a man who, post-breakup with his girlfriend, decides to abstain from sex for Lent. Which makes it a perfect time for the girl of his dreams to make an appearance. Meanwhile, his ex is scheming to get him into her bed, to break his pledge.

Anyone remember the famous SEINFELD episode called THE CONTEST? George, Jerry, Elaine and Kramer enter into a contest to see who can go the longest without masturbating. The show, penned by Larry David, was SEINFELD at its best. George, whose mother caught him in the act and had to go to the hospital, gets tempted to lose the bet thanks to the ridiculously hot nurse who sponges down the ridiculously hot patient in the room with his mother. Elaine meets up with John Kennedy Jr. (who takes a shine to her). Kramer is out in a premature five seconds after he sees a woman walking around naked in her apartment across the street. Jerry is dating a virgin. "Im dating a virgin. Im in a masturbation contest. Something has to give," he growls.

Yes, it was all very funny. So funny, I guess, that someone saw fit to turn it into a movie. Im not saying 40 DAYS is a pure rip-off of THE CONTEST, but the idea is basically the same, and I doubt Rob Perez is going to come up with such gems of why Hartnett should break the vow.

Perez, by the way, told Variety that the script is based on a personal experience; that, to me, smacks of someone gracelessly covering up any questions about the real origin of the story.

WE WERE SOLDIERS. Written and directed by Randall Wallace.

Another Vietnam movie, this one about four hundred Americans caught in an ambush by two thousand North Vietnamese soldiers.

BLACK HAWK DOWN and WE WERE SOLDIERS have a lot in common. The idea of a-few-versus-many in an ambush is the centerpiece for both films. But these stories are fact -- they happened. Which is what makes Mel Gibsons comments about HAWK so damned hilarious. "It always happens," sighs the actor to Entertainment Weekly. "It seems like youre in the arena all by yourself, but no sooner do you get there that you find that someone else is camping in your backyard. I dont know if its industrial espionage or the collective unconscious." Gibson almost makes it sound like Ridley Scott "stole" the idea for his movie. Hate to tell ya, Mel, but you cant steal history. And since both movies shot at the same time, it sounds more to me like Mel realized HAWK will be a better, more relevant film.

Had HAWK not come out this would seem like a more exhilarative, spectacular film; a gritty war movie exposing the true horror of battle when our boys are ambushed by the enemy. But HAWK got there first, has stolen its thunder, and as able as Wallace may be, he is no Ridley Scott.

ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS. Directed by Kevin Bray. Written by Ron Lang and Ice Cube.

If Ice-T and Ice Cube teamed up as a crime-fighting duo, they could be the Refreshing Drink crime-busters! Anyway...

This is the story of a bounty hunter tracking a bail jumper; the chase leads them to an abandoned warehouse which just happens to be the setting of a major diamond-heist rendezvous. Hunter and prey team up to stop the bad-bad guys.

Ill give this much to Ice Cube: hes a prolific writer for a former rap star. And hes not half bad. Both FRIDAY movies were funny. His drama and directorial debut, THE PLAYERS CLUB, was a bust, however. Where will this land? With a video director at the helm, its hard to say.

It sounds like Cube is ripping off a movie he already made: the Walter Hill-directed, Bob Gale-, Robert Zemeckis-penned TRESPASS.

THE TIME MACHINE. Directed by Simon Wells. Written by David Duncan, John Logan and Simon Wells.

Guy Pearce stars in a movie about...well, you know what its about. TIME MACHINE has a surefire storyline, and it would take a half-wit to screw it up. Having said that, John Logan (BATS, GLADIATOR) wrote the script. Im not Logans biggest fan (his PURE EVEL script is pure trash), but his words have to be better than Simon Wells. The man who directed the animated feature THE PRINCE OF EGYPT. Wells is the great-grandson of H.G. Wells, the man whose novel this movie is based on. To quote another writer: so the hell what?

With Wells inexperience (which led to "exhaustion" and Gore Verbinski taking over the film) with live-action and his stumbling rewrite of the script, Im guessing TIME MACHINE will not live up to its potential.

UNDISPUTED. Directed by Walter Hill. Written by Walter Hill and David Giler.

Ving Rhames plays a heavyweight boxing champ sent to jail who is forced into a jailhouse match against prison champ Wesley Snipes.

Story doesnt sound like much, and Walter Hills ability to make a good, sturdy, commercial movie has diminished greatly over the years. Hill is still famous for his 48 HRS. movies, but recently hes had to take jobs like SUPERNOVA, which he took his name off of when it was reedited.

Hill is sort of a workingmans director -- a down-and-dirty technician -- but his writing skills have eroded. (As good as Hills early work is, he is still the man that butchered Jim Thompsons brilliant THE GETAWAY, but thats for another time.) The story just sounds too damned hokey and DIGGSTOWN-like to envision anything but another hint in the puzzle that Hill is not going to regain his will for one last great movie.

RESIDENT EVIL. Written and directed by Paul Anderson.

RESIDENT EVIL sounds really cool. Something or other about blasting away zombies. And it has a perfect actress for the job: the feline Milla Jovovich (who hasnt done much, besides a nice turn in THE CLAIM, since THE FIFTH ELEMENT). Its a lot like LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER -- funky, stupid but fun plot, matchless actress. And, as with TOMB RAIDER, this doesnt have a director to support even its trivial goals. Neither as a writer or a director do I believe Paul Anderson can come through with a tight, inflamed, zany number that will have teens and teens-at-heart laughing and jumping in their seats. For whatever reason, Andersons films always look cheap and phony to me. The pacing is off. Everything feels staged. Just take a look at the mangled SOLDIER to see what I mean.

Maybe they shouldnt have fired George Romero.

In any event, I was rooting for TOMB RAIDER and Ill be rooting for this movie, too.

SHOWTIME. Directed by Tom Dey. Written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and Keith Sharon.

SHOWTIME sounds a lot like the comedy version of FIFTEEN MINUTES. I think the pairing of Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy (who play cops cast in a reality TV show) is a union destined to stimulate. But the trailers for this movie Stilted and affected and false. And also not very funny. De Niro looks uncomfortable. Murphy seems desperate to upgrade the material (which, lately, is when hes at his worst). Add to the fire that the film was written and directed by the team behind SHANGHAI NOON and I dont think theres much to expect here. Despite William Shatner making fun of himself...again.

SORORITY BOYS. Directed by Wally Wolodarsky. Written by Greg Coolidge and Joe Jarvis.

Three male college students solve their housing problem by dressing as women and entering a sorority.

I say why bother disguising your theft. If youre gonna steal -- do it brazenly! As here, with this transparent BOSOM BUDDIES "homage."

DEATH TO SMOOCHY. Directed by Danny DeVito. Written by Adam Resnick.

Resnicks script was a hoot -- a pitch-black comedy about the dark side of kiddy TV programming. DeVito directs an all-star cast that includes Edward Norton, Robin Williams and Catherine Keener.

DeVitos skills as a director are sometimes forgotten because of his acting work. But his sharp eye for the wickedly funny, in movies like WAR OF THE ROSES and MATILDA, mark him as one of the few men right for this job.

I didnt agree with all the casting, and Resnicks script might have repeated the same joke a few too many times, but the ending is a scream and everything looks in place for a highly pleasurable trip to the movies.

NATIONAL LAMPOONS VAN WILDER. Directed by Walt Becker. Written by David Wagner and Brent Goldberg.

An overgrown college student, Ryan Reynolds, is in his sixth year and doesnt want to stop now. But his father plans to cut off the cash-flow and he has to become a party-planner. Tara Reid, so scratchy-voiced she sounds like a person who lives inside a Manhattan nightclub, co-stars.

The writers became famous for their short spoof SAVING RYANS PRIVATES. Im glad that heavy buzz from the Internet gets you all the good jobs.

PANIC ROOM. Directed by David Fincher. Written by David Koepp.

Jodie Foster plays a newly divorced mother, alone with her daughter in their lovely, expensive Manhattan townhouse, when three criminals break in.

Luckily for her this place comes with a "panic room" -- and she hides in it and uses its various accessories to get out of trouble and save her ill daughter.

David Koepps spec script sold for four million dollars. With that kind of money, you knew the reaction to it -- once it hit the Net -- couldnt be good. And it wasnt.

I enjoyed PANIC, though. I thought it was a fast-paced adventure yarn with the Hitchcockian twist of having it all take place in one location. It was a clear descendent of WAIT UNTIL DARK, but it expanded on that movies themes and made it much more exciting and lively.

So is it like WAIT UNTIL DARK meets HOME ALONE like a lot of people have said? Yeah, it is. But I like that. I dont mind silly movies if they entertain me, and Koepps PANIC did just that.

David Fincher directed the film, and hopefully the one location will soothe the destructive nature of the FIGHT CLUB director.

The trailer looked hot. Jodie, too, looked terrific. And, with all this talent coming together, PANIC is at the top of my list of movies Im eager to see.

Since FIGHT CLUB and THE GAME did not, I think PANIC ROOM will show Fincher is able to make an accessible, brawny movie that doesnt fold in on itself.

THE ROOKIE. Directed by John Lee Hancock. Written by Mike Rich.

The true story of the oldest Major League rookie in thirty years. A high-school baseball coach takes a bet from his team: if they win the championship, hell try out for the majors. Obviously, he makes it. Dennis Quaid and Rachel Griffiths star.

This is John Lee Hancocks first gig as a director. Its always odd to me when writers move on to directing -- but with someone elses material! Hancock wrote one of my favorite scripts: A PERFECT WORLD. He also penned the adaptation of MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL.

Hancock has a beautiful ear for dialogue and accents; his characters come alive the instant they open their mouths.

The premise of this movie is impossible not to love. For any man who looks down dismayed at his growing belly in the bathroom mirror, but still has enough spunk to picture himself whacking a home run, this is the dream -- live and in living color.

Now, can it be kept out of the realm of hokum? Can Hancock pull back on it so its not drowned out with "meaningful" music and moments of the older player doubting himself?

I dont know. Hancock is a new guy, but this material seems suited to his sensibilities. And Im hoping hes done work on the script (it seems far-fetched that he didnt).

I think if this film keeps it in that dreamworld -- that place our minds float to when we drift to sleep -- and doesnt bog it down with all the commonplaceness that could plague this story -- were looking at one hell of a break-out-the-beers-and-smile movie for anyone "who dared to dream."

FULL FRONTAL. Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Written by Coleman Hough.

Soderbergh shot this film, as he puts it, "like an episode of COPS." In other words, fast and cheap. A sort-of sequel to "sex, lies and videotape," the movie is about a magazine journalist (Julia Roberts) on a movie set to interview a major motion picture star (Blair Underwood).

Steven Soderbergh is probably the best director working whos never made a film that I truly liked, or felt truly moved by. I appreciate the Benicio Del Toro section of TRAFFIC; I think ERIN BROCKOVICH is a great crowd-pleaser; OCEANS ELEVEN is a lark; THE LIMEY was too puerile and skinny; OUT OF SIGHT was Leonards book without that light cool spritz of air; Schizopolis, Underneath, King of the Hill and KAFKA do nothing for me.

And I seriously doubt that FULL FRONTAL, which also stars David Duchovny and Nicky Katt, will be the Soderbergh experience that creeps into my brain.

I like the idea of Steve going back to the days of "sex, lies and videotape" and making a movie quickly and inexpensively, but this film has pretentious, look-at-me BS written all over it.

Also: is Coleman Hough a real person? Or is this some sort of joke? He has no credits on, yet hes writing the hottest director in towns new movie. Who the hell is he?

STOLEN SUMMER. Written and directed by Pete Jones.

Now that Ive traduced Soderberghs entire oeuvre, Ill agree with his thoughts on this film: STOLEN SUMMER, which is about a young Irish kid trying to get a dying Jewish kid into heaven, is not something Id normally want to see. But, after watching the fascinating HBO show about the making of it, theres no stopping me from checking it out. Even for curiositys sake. As Soderbergh said: "Id pay fifty bucks to see it now."

Will SUMMER be good? Im not sure. If its not better than its premise, then it will be a disaster. The coverage report found on the Project Greenlight web site, which pegs it as an After-School Special, is what worries me most of all. Even though critics such as Owen Gleiberman liked the film, can a first-time director, who didnt always have control, be good and strong enough to shoulder a story like this into a touching, satisfying family drama?

Well have to wait and see. But as for the movie itself, after seeing so much of it shot, by seeing so many of the filmmakers travails during the shooting, not watching it would be like not hearing the punchline to a joke or the resolution to an anecdote.

NO SUCH THING. Written and directed by Hal Hartley.

Its hard to find a true original. Someone who separates him or herself from others simply by the way he thinks. Hal Hartley is one of those people. His films are like no one elses, and what he seems able to do is create his own language.

David Lynch, the Coen Brothers, Todd Solondz, David Mamet -- theyve all gone on to great success and acclaim. Thanks to FARGO, people know who the Coen Bros. are; thanks to WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE, people recognize the name Todd Solondz. Hartley is in the realm of those fine names, his films almost like an amalgam of all four, and in some ways hes even better. Not as internal as Lynch, not as playful as the Coen Brothers, not as self-conscious as Solondz, not as conceited as Mamet.

Hartley brings a dose of intelligence, a refreshing, cool breath of it on your collar, to his movies. The cadence of his dialogue is like a song. Flowing with precise rhythm. Dueling drumbeats rattling and jamming, orbiting around, swirling up a concentrated storm of thought.

Hartleys early films were sort of like Lynch meets Solondz (though Todd wasnt around yet); only they were about the middle-class malaise of Long Island. He moved on to more experimental movies, such as AMATEUR, a hilarious take on the modern action-suspense movie, which had a beautifully constructed, convoluted plot involving nymphomaniac virgins and porn stars; HENRY FOOL, about an untrained, natural poet, whose "offensive" poems rise so high they engender the ire of the Pope; and BOOK OF LIFE, a movie made for French TV, starring singer P.J. Harvey, about the end of the world. The ideas set forth, all in sixty minutes and blurring digital video, make DOGMA and END OF DAYS look like rejected episodes of BARNEY.

Ever-changing, Hartley now takes on the classic tale of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. He directs our most talented young actress, Sarah Polley, in the story of a young journalist who travels to Iceland to find her missing fianc�and forges an unlikely friendship with a mythical monster (played by Robert John Burke).

Helen Mirren and Julie Christie (this is like an actress fairyland!) also star.

You can expect a lot more than the pedestrian and bare plot description above. Im sure Hartley has something more to say, something more to expose.

Even at his worst, Hartley is trying to do something different, trying to show you something new and in a novel way. And at the end of the day, how many can really say that? Few. At best.


BIG TROUBLE. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. Written by Matthew Stone and Robert Ramsey, and Barry Fanaro (based on the book by Dave Barry).

BIG TROUBLE, which got pushed back from its original release date, is really just GET SHORTY II. Its an Elmore Leonard-esque multithreaded caper-comedy set in Miami. It all revolves around a bomb that looks like a garbage-disposal, and various people, from various walks of life, will cross paths.

The script I read, by Stone and Ramsey, was a zippy, amusing, madcap comedy that hit its mark more than it missed; it also had one of the best openings Ive ever read. I thought the writers did a fine job with the ensemble, never slipping into the "wacky character syndrome," and, by the end, I felt like I had been given a fair shake. It was black comedy lite, with a nice dollop of oddball.

Alas, my friends, the script was rewritten, thanks to its director Barry Sonnenfeld, by Barry Fanaro, who is responsible for such cinematic visions as KINGPIN and THE CREW.

Sonnenfeld was smashed into a thousand pieces over the debacle of WILD WILD WEST, and BIG TROUBLE was clearly an attempt to recapture whatever he had after GET SHORTY.

So why cast Tim Allen?

With a script this funny, he couldnt fine a younger, more bankable star?

I guess not. The casting ranges from the spot-on (Stanley Tucci, Tom Sizemore, Jason Lee, Zooey Deschanel) to the horrendous (Heavy D, Omar Epps, Dennis Farina) to the indifferent (Janeane Garofalo).

Once Sonnenfeld rejiggered the material my interest waned; when I saw the casting my heart sank even further; at this point, with the film delayed and nearly forgotten, I dont think many people will care.

I dont.

FRAILTY. Directed by Bill Paxton. Written by Brent Hanley.

Paxton plays a single father raising two sons who becomes an axe murderer in the name of God.

Someone told me this is an extremely weird, extremely disturbing movie. And while Im sick of films about killers, that Bill Paxton would take on the job of director for this script arouses my interest.

I cant speak for Paxtons directing skills, but something about this project -- the story, that Paxton would direct -- compels.

CHANGING LANES. Directed by Roger Michell. Written by Chap Taylor and Michael Tolkin.

Ben Affleck plays a lawyer who has a fender-bender with Sam L. Jackson in Manhattan. They accidentally swap their important attach�cases, and set out to make each others life miserable using courtrooms and banks as their battlegrounds.

The only appeal here for me, in this sub-sub-FALLING DOWN wannabe, is that RAPTURE screenwriter Michael Tolkin worked on the script.

That alone means it wont be humdrum, but otherwise this film will have to prove a lot to be what it wants to be -- or claims to be.

MURDER BY NUMBERS. Directed by Barbet Schroeder. Written by Tony Gayton.

If I could be Movie God for one day, Id create this tenet: No more serial killer movies unless you have something really new and really original to bring to the table. All tales about serial killers trail behind the real-life exploits of these sick men, Hithcocks Oedipal PSYCHO, Shane Stevens, and then the man who cleaned up the dishes -- Tom Harris (creator of Hannibal Lecter).

Here we find Sandra Bullock, who executive produced, on the trail of two ingenious teens who think they have committed "the perfect murder." Bullock, partnered with a greenhorn, matches wits with the gruesome twosome as she hunts them down.

Maybe Norman Bates was right. Maybe we all go a little crazy sometimes. And, taking it further, maybe theres a bit of a killer in all of us. If you dont find the latter sentence true, then why do we so voraciously gorge on serial-killer movies? Why in the hell do we want to see stories of men who go out, seeking us, and rob the precious breath of life from innocent victims?

Am I saying I havent watched, and enjoyed, movies about serial killers? I have. In fact, I love movies and books about amoral behavior.

But in the post-Lecter world, we dont show serial killers -- we celebrate them. Their ingenuity, their smarts, their outfoxing of the authorities.

The twist to this latest serial-killer movie is that Bullock and her partner (Ben Chaplin) find the "shocking" truth of the killers childhood and come to realize why they do what they do. Let me guess: their parents are involved and it has something to do with abuse.

I love the idea of Bullock, who is a very likable actress, going for something divergent in her goody-goody star-plan. But the film sounds too heavily cliched: the new partner; the parry-and-riposte matching-wits game between stalker and prey; the internally damaged FBI agent.

Bullock promises a mind game, which is welcome, but Schroeder is too hit and miss to guarantee his best will be on display. (You dont know if youll get BARFLY or DESPERATE MEASURES.)

THE SCORPION KING. Directed by Chuck Russell. Written by Jonathan Hales, Will Osborne and Stephen Sommers.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars in a prequel to Stephen Sommers hit MUMMY movies.

Im proud to say Ive avoided, for the most part, Sommers mind-numbing action-adventure INDY JONES rip-off flicks. (I did read his script for the first film, but it was to a blind, insane casting director, who, despite being sightless, made me dress in costume. Very long story.)

I could stomach only so much of Brendan Frasers mugging and the bad CGI.

THE SCORPION KING doesnt have Brendan and Sommers, which sounds good, but it does have Chuck Russell, which turns out to be worse.

My only real knowledge of The Rock comes from when he was on Martha Stewards show, saying things like, "The Rock likes to eat a steak once a day."

Hes a good-looking, well-put-together gentle giant with a thousand-watt smile.

He is teamed up here with Michael Clarke Duncan. Good stuff.

Its too bad that Chuck Russell is one of the biggest hacks going. Hes also notorious for rewriting his scripts (which he might or might not have done here) and, while I think this movie will make money, anyone expecting even the lowliest of highs they got from THE MUMMY and THE MUMMY RETURNS should look elsewhere.

THE SWEETEST THING. Directed by Robert Kumble. Written by Nancy Pimental.

Im a big fan of Nancy Pimentals script. It was a brash, female-skewed, gross-out comedy that had a free-flowing naturalness to it.

Cameron Diaz, who got fifteen million dollars for her troubles, stars with Christina Applegate as two partyin chicks who take to the road to break up a wedding. The night before the nuptials Diaz made a soul connection with a stranger, and wants to see if it was the real deal before he takes the plunge.

Nancys script was not perfect -- the characters were weak and theres a badly conceived turnaround in the end -- but what worries me more is the team that brought this to the screen. I have little faith in Roger CRUEL INTENTIONS Kumble. Im wary of Christina Applegate and Jason Bateman. On the good side Selma Blair has a hilarious part back at home, and Thomas Jane, who plays the object of Diazs desire, is aptly hunky enough.

Applegate is starring in another movie Kumble wrote, so it explains her appearance, but doesnt her casting and Jason Batemans make it seem like, by giving Cameron fifteen million dollars, they had to cut corners? The movie has a fifty-million-dollar budget; with Cameron, Pimental (who got over a million for her script) and director-producer Kumble, youre talking about half the budget.

In the Entertainment Weekly piece about the movie, all Applegate and Kumble talked about was the stupid gloryhole scene. Which was the single worst joke in the script and something I had hoped they cut. (The same scene is in SCARY MOVIE, only not as violent.) If this is what they think is the highlight of Pimentals writing, we may be in trouble, indeed.

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