Summer blockbusters, like "Spider-Man" and "Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones," are coming to a multiplex near you. These big, loud movies will be accompanied by Happy Meals, action figures and comic books. But movie-goers can look forward to summer's smallbusters too—those movies that sneak in under the radar but hold great promise.
Mel Gibson will star in 'Signs,' a supernatural thriller by M. Night Shyamalan. (Touchstone Pictures)
These big, loud movies will be accompanied by Happy Meals, action figures and comic books.
But movie-goers can look forward to summer's smallbusters too—those movies that sneak in under the radar but hold great promise.
One of last year's great films was "Memento." Its director, Christopher Nolan, returns this summer with "Insomnia" (May 24). Al Pacino stars as a Los Angeles detective sent to Alaska to hunt for the killer of a teenage girl; he finds Robin Williams playing the suspect. "Insomnia" is a remake of a Norwegian film.
"Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" (June 7) looks to be "Steel Magnolias" on hormones. Based on the Rebecca Wells novel, the movie's Web site calls it "a classic Southern tale of hilarity which follows a group of friends who stage an unorthodox intervention for a friend." Directed by Callie Khouri, writer of "Thelma & Louise," most people will call it a chick flick. The cast alone—James Garner, Maggie Smith, Ashley Judd, Sandra Bullock, Ellen Burstyn—will warrant the price of a matinee.
"Sunshine State" (June 21) stars Edie Falco from "The Sopranos." It is written and directed by John Sayles, best known for movies like "Lone Star" and "Eight Men Out." The movie centers on the sale of an island to a developer, which acts as a catalyst to make two women confront and release their past. Sayles is a master filmmaker whose stunning track record makes "Sunshine State" worth a look.
"Lilo and Stitch" (June 21) will be the anti-Disney Disney movie. Lilo is a Hawaiian girl who adopts a dog from the pound. The dog turns out to be an alien criminal named Stitch. A review posted on the Ain't It Cool Web site raved about how wonderfully different this film is. The stale nature of most recent Disney animated fare makes "Lilo and Stitch" worth seeing.
Tom Hanks appears this summer playing a hit man in "The Road to Perdition" (July 12). Based on a novel (not a comic book), Hanks plays a devoted father … and a member of a Chicago mob who has earned the nickname "The Angel of Death." This film also stars Paul Newman and Jude Law, and is directed by Sam Mendes, the Oscar-winning director of "American Beauty." Hanks rarely plays a heavy, so "Perdition" will be worth seeing.
Mel Gibson in the summer means more than just another popcorn film. "Braveheart" came out in the summer of 1995 and went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture. This summer Gibson stars in "Signs" (Aug. 2), the latest from M. Night Shyamalan, who also gave us "The Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable." The film focuses on Gibson as a farmer who has lost the call to ministry. Crop circles begin showing up in his cornfield. And that's when things get interesting.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Burgaw Baptist Church in Burgaw, N.C.