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Summer Sizzlers | May 2000

by Beth Rowen

Dinosaur

Disney's Dinosaur

Disney's animated extravaganza Dinosaur

What would summer be without a Disney animated extravaganza? This year's entry is computer-generated, à la Toy Story, and the budget has been quoted anywhere between $140 million to $350 million! The intensity and violence prompted a PG rating, but the plot's all Disney: Serendipity lands a baby iguanodon in the land of small mammals, he adapts but longs for his reptilian roots.

Voices of: D B Sweeney, Alfre Woodard, Julianna Margulies, Ossie Davis, and Joan Plowright; directors: Ralph Zondag and Eric Leighton

Gladiator

Summer seems to start earlier and earlier in Hollywood. Usually Memorial Day kicks off the season, but this year summer began May 5, with the release of Gladiator. Russell Crowe has an uncanny talent for acting on the edge of rage and control. His tense physicality is perfectly suited to the role of Maximus who must battle his way back to Rome as an enslaved gladiator in order to stake his rightful claim on Rome.

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Russell Crowe, Oliver Reed, and Djimon Hounsou; Director: Ridley Scott

Hamlet

Hawke plays Hamlet

Interview: Ethan Hawke on Hamlet

Manhattan's the locale in this updating of the Bard's tragedy, and Ethan Hawke plays the young Hamlet who recites the "To be or not to be" speech in a Blockbuster video store. The scene's a stroke of genius. Director Michael Almereyda nails this and many other delicious details, while preserving Shakespeare's original language. Denmark, for example, is a multinational corporation headquartered in Manhattan. While recent retellings may have featured better line readings, Almereyda' version does wonders with its reinvention, and thus honors the timelessness-through-adaptability that makes Shakespeare so relevant.

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Liev Schreiber, Kyle MacLachlan, Julia Stiles, and Diane Venora; director: Michael Almereyda

Mission: Impossible 2

The cryptic plot to the original didn't hinder a record-setting box office ($465 million internationally), so a more accessible theme and even cooler visuals will likely translate into another $100 million summer for Cruise and Co. It doesn't hurt its prospects that MI2 is virtually the only film opening over the extended Memorial Day weekend. Cruise's Ethan Hunt teams up with Thandie Newton to save the world from a deadly virus.

Cast: Tom Cruise, Brendan Gleeson, Anthony Hopkins, Thandie Newton, Ving Rhames, Dougray Scott, Rade Serbedzija, and Steve Zahn; director: John Woo

Road Trip

People didn't expect the lowbrow screwball comedy There's Something about Mary to top $100 million in 1998, so don't discount Road Trip, a gross-out flick starring Tom Green, who's current exploit has him chronicling his real-life fight with testicular cancer on MTV. Josh (Breckin Meyer) enlists three college pals to help him on his cross-country trek to track down an incriminating tape he accidentally sent to his girlfriend.

Cast: Amy Smart, Breckin Meyer, Seann William Scott, Rachel Blanchard, and Andy Dick; director: Todd Phillips

Did you know?
For more than a billion Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a "month of blessing" marked by prayer, fasting, and charity.