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Summer 2006 Movie Guide


Jem

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'Hoot' (May 5)

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Starring: Logan Lerman, Tim Blake Nelson, Luke Wilson

Directed by: Wil Shriner

The Story: Mean old Mother Paula's Pancakes plots to build another restaurant right smack dab on the Florida nesting grounds of the most adorable little owls you can imagine. A cadre of sweet kids -- including a Montana transplant, a barefoot waif called Mullet Fingers and his soccer-crazy sister -- bands together to thwart Mother Paula's dastardly plan.

The Skinny: "Hoot" is adapted from the first kids' book by Carl Hiaason, known for best-selling grown-up fare such as "Tourist Season" and "Striptease" -- offbeat mysteries laced with a highly sardonic sense of humor and often featuring Big Bad Construction that ain't Florida-friendly. Jimmy Buffett's producing and providing music, and Wil Shriner, veteran of "Frasier" and "Everybody Loves Raymond," directs from his own screenplay. Look for Luke Wilson as Officer Delinko, the hapless cop caught in the middle of this ecological muddle.

'Over the Hedge' (May 19)

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Starring: Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Gene Wilder, Eugene Levy ...

Directed by: Karey Kirkpatrick, Tim Johnson

The Story: While they hibernated, a forest full of animals awakes to discover that a housing development has appeared next door to their turf. Verne the Tortoise (voiced by Garry Shandling), traumatized by a past encounter with a couple of bratty boys, wants to keep his "family" safe and separate from those unpredictable two-legged creatures. Enter R.J. the Raccoon (voiced by Bruce Willis), a con artist extraordinaire, who charms the gang into investigating the world that's just "over the hedge."

The Skinny: A CGI animation from Dreamworks, "Over the Hedge" has been adapted from the charming comic strip of the same name. Verne's furry friends are sharp-witted and cute to the max: Stella the skunk (Wanda Sykes), Hammy the squirrel (Steve Carell), Heather the teen oppossum (Avril Lavigne), perennially embarrassed by her dad Ozzie's (William Shatner) oft-employed penchant for playing dead. The distinctive voices of Nick Nolte and Allison Janney are also loose in the woods.

'Cars' (June 9)

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Starring: Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Cheech Marin

Directed by: John Lasseter

The Story: Lightning McQueen's a hotshot racer heading for California to win a major trophy. Cruising down legendary Route 66, Lightning gets into a fender-bender and is sentenced to community service in the sleepy backwater town of Radiator Springs. There, the cocky roadster learns some headlight-opening life lessons -- you know the kind I mean: winning isn't everything, friendship's more important than championships ...

The Skinny: Happy days! Disney and Pixar didn't divorce, and progeny such as the reportedly high-powered "Cars" can only enhance their cinematic chemistry. John Lasseter, newly appointed head of Disney Animation, helms, Randy Newman provides tunes and Jordan Klubien ("Monsters, Inc.," "Toy Story 2," "A Bug's Life") delivered the distinctive look of the anthropomorphized rides -- including a sexy Porsche (Bonnie Hunt) and a venerable Hudson Hornet (Paul Newman).

'Garfield's a Tale of Two Kitties' (June 23)

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Starring: Bill Murray, Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Love Hewitt

Directed by: Tim Hill

The Story: When Jon Arbuckle (Breckin Meyer), lucky owner of lasagna-loving Garfield, visits England, the rotund Orange One is somehow mistaken for a regal feline who has inherited a castle. Garfield, of course, revels in his ritzy digs -- until nasty Lord Dargis (Billy Connolly) plots to put the fat cat down, so that he can turn the castle into a tourist trap.

The Skinny: You gotta love the pussy with the sarcastic tongue and dead-pan gaze, voiced by the perfect Garfield: Bill Murray. Jennifer Love Hewitt's back as kitty vet, Jon's heartthrob. And Tim Curry, Bob Hoskins and Roger Rees also lurk about the castle.

'Monster House' (July 21)

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Starring: Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee, Jon Heder

Directed by: Gil Kenan

The Story: Who didn't grow up in a neighborhood with a dilapidated old house that was fun to call haunted -- especially around Halloween? But the hair-raising bungalow in this animated feature is a whole other kettle of fish -- or snakes and lizards: Three friends (Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke) discover that the house next door is a real-live monster that eats people!

The Skinny: Drawing on the "performance capture" animation techniques used by Robert Zemeckis (producing, along with Steven Spielberg) in "The Polar Express," director Gil Kenan says he aims to conjure the kind of scary magic that leaks into ordinary suburban environs in movies such as "Poltergeist" and "Time Bandits." Early looks at the real estate in question confirm its authentic monstrousness -- and "Monster House's" voices are cr

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