By Alan Scherstuhl
By Amy Nicholson
By Charles Taylor
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Brian Feinzimer
By CAROLINA DEL BUSTO
By AMY NICHOLSON
By Amy Nicholson
Starring:Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, and Gong Li
Written and directed by:Michael Mann (Ali, The Insider)
What it's about:Gee, lessee. Crockett and Tubbs. Drug dealers. Speed boats. Guns. Flashy suits. Bad accents. Expensive cars. Hot chicks. That about covers it.
Why you should see it:See above.
Why you should not:See above. And no Jan Hammer theme song. Rip. Off.
The Ant Bully
Starring:The voices of Zach Tyler, Julia Roberts, Paul Giamatti, and Nicolas Cage
Written and directed by:John A. Davis (Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius), based on the novel by John Nickle
What it's about:When a little boy (Tyler) takes out his frustrations on the ant hills in his yard, the bugs fight back.
Why you should see it: If you ignore the creepy undertones (to ants, a stomping kid isn't a bully, he's Osama Bin Laden), the story's got promise; Cage and Giamatti are A-list voice talent.
Why you should not:Boy, that creepy undertone seems hard to ignore. If all ants have souls and celebrity voices, that means this kid really is a mass murderer.
Starring:Jet Li, Nakamura Shido, and Betty Sun
Directed by:Ronny Yu (Freddy vs. Jason)
Written by:There doesn't seem to be a credited screenwriter. But Yuen Woo-ping is the fight choreographer, which is what matters most.
What it's about:Jet Li kicks some ass. Then a tragedy happens, and he doesn't want to kick any further ass, so he goes into seclusion, where he learns the true way of the warrior. The claim is that this will be Li's last martial-arts epic.
Why you should see it:Sigh. If you know your Hong Kong films, you'd have no doubt that Jet Li and Ronny Yu and Yuen Woo-ping teaming up can only be awesome.
Why you should not:Steer clear if action isn't your thing.
The Night Listener
Starring:Robin Williams, Toni Collette, and Rory Culkin
Directed by:Patrick Stettner (The Business of Strangers)
Written by:Armistead Maupin & Terry Anderson (The Young Graduates) and Stettner, based on the novel by Maupin
What it's about:Williams plays a Garrison Keillor-like public radio host who tells embellished stories of his life and friends, but when he receives the manuscript of a memoir from an abused child (Culkin), he doesn't realize that it may be equally embellished.
Why you should see it:Stettner deftly dealt with similar issues of deceit in The Business of Strangers; Williams can certainly be as annoying as your typical talk radio host.
Why you should not:When it comes to drama, Williams is either spot-on (One Hour Photo) or insufferably mawkish (What Dreams May Come). His character here is a gay man whose lover has battled AIDS, which may mean lots of hugging, tears, and Williams doing that grinning thing that's supposed to make him look sad but really doesn't.
Starring:Emily Rios, Chalo Gonzalez, and Jesse Garcia
Written and directed by:Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland
What it's about:On the verge of her 15th birthday, pregnant Magdalena is thrown out of her house and moves in with her great-great uncle and gay cousin, but she may lose even this makeshift family to urban gentrification.
Why you should see it:Love the Latina mama-drama.
Why you should not:Wacky outsiders overcome forces of oppression!?
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Starring:Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Sacha Baron Cohen
Directed by:Adam McKay (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy)
Written by:Will Ferrell and Adam McKay
What it's about:NASCAR champeen Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) finds his title being usurped by a French rival played by Ali G., a'ight?
Why you should see it: Anchormanhad some brilliant moments.
Why you should not: Anchormanhad some brilliant moments only if you were really, really high.
Starring:Justin Long (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story), Adam Herschman, and Jonah Hill
Directed by:First-timer Steve Pink
Written by:Bill Collage, Adam Cooper, and Mark Perez
What it's about:A slack senior (Long) finds out that he's failed to get into college. So, of course, he and his similarly unmotivated pals fool their parents by inventing their own fraud of a university, which suddenly becomes crowded with similar rejects. Hey, it couldn't be any more worthless than your liberal arts degree, right?
Why you should see it:If a fake frat was funny (as it was in Old School), an entire fake university has to be a knee-slapper, right?
Why you should not:Of course not. Old School was only funny because it had Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn in it. No similar heavyweights present here.
Starring:Channing Tatum (Coach Carter), Rachel Griffiths, and Heavy D
Directed by:Anne Fletcher
Written by:Duane Adler and Melissa Rosenberg
What it's about:Tatum plays a streetwise punk (is there any other kind?) who trashes a performing arts school and is sentenced to community service. He comes to find it ain't dat bad a joint, once a hot dancer at the school wiggles his broom just a little.
Why you should see it:Rachel Griffiths and Heavy D in the same movie! I only dared to dream . . .
Why you should not:Because it hasto be awful.
World Trade Center
Starring:Nicolas Cage, Michael Peña, and Maggie Gyllenhaal
Directed by:Oliver Stone (J.F.K., The Doors)
Written by:Andrea Berloff
What it's about:Cage and Peña play real-life Port Authority cops who made it out of the World Trade Center alive after the terror attack of Sept. 11, 2001. Word is this isn't the work of a paranoid Ollie Stone, but a sober, down-to-the-details docudramatization of the events of the day, already seen this year in United 93.
Why you should see it:Cage is at his best when playing an everyman stuck in a horrific, real-life situation (his portrayal of an EMT in Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out the Deadremains among his career highlights, even if no one saw it).
Why you should not:Oliver Stone's a real hit-or-miss moviemaker; pray this is closer to Platoonand Salvador than Alexander or Any Given Sunday. Or Natural Born Killers. Or U-Turn. Or Nixon.
Starring:Tim Allen, Courteney Cox Arquette, and Chevy Chase
Directed by: Peter Hewitt (Garfield)
Written by:David Berenbaum (Elf) and Adam Rifkin (Small Soldiers)
What it's about:Remember that Disney movie Sky High, about a retired superhero and the superschool his kids attend? This is pretty much the same thing, but with a bigger budget. And it's based on an actual comic book, Zoom's Academy for the Super-Gifted.
Why you should see it: Sky High was fun . . .
Why you should not: . . . But do we need another version? Tim Allen instead of Kurt Russell isn't exactly what you'd call trading up.
Starring:Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor (I Shot Andy Warhol ), and Marisa Tomei
Directed by:Bent Hamer
Written by:Hamer and Jim Stark, based on the novel by Charles Bukowski
What it's about:Dillon plays Henry Chinaski (Bukowski's alter-ego) in this movie about drinking, writing, having sex, and drinking. In other words, Bukowski.
Why you should see it:Dillon hasn't had a role this dark and juicy since Drugstore Cowboy, and the wonderful Lili Taylor just hasn't had enough roles, period.
Why you should not:Aren't we, as a people, dead-tired of Bukowski yet? Mickey Rourke nailed it in 1987's Barfly, and there hasn't been anything new to say about talented but pathetic drunks ever since.
Snakes on a Plane