Talk about raising the bar. Notorious L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke has claimed that Warner Bros. relied specifically on her wisdom when it decided to up the distribution of its forthcoming remake of The Women (due Sept. 12). According to Finke, the studio paid close heed to her suggestion that the movie, formerly consigned to a limited release, could be positioned as a high-profile thematic successor to Sex and the City. No sooner had she blogged to that effect, Finke claims, than a “top Warner Bros exec” phoned her and promised to give their plans for the film “another look.”

Well, shit. You mean we’ve got to act like unpaid consultants now if we want this column to be taken seriously, too? Damn. Double damn. OK, here goes nothing: Morgan Creek should throw its ass into marketing September release Ace Ventura Jr., because all of those class-action suits inspired by Son of the Mask are bound to be tossed out by the Alito court.

And now we wait patiently for the phone to ring.


Opening Friday, July 11

Hellboy II: The Golden Army It’s been four years since the big-screen debut of comics’ Hades-spawned hero, Hellboy, moved the moviegoing audience to a collective “What, now?” Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has since seen his Pan’s Labyrinth amass a trio of Oscars, making him such a respected figure that he now gets credit for films (like The Orphanage) that he did not actually direct. That’s just one reason we expect HBII to outdo its predecessor both commercially and artistically – even if we have heard Hellboy creator Mike Mignola strongly imply that this second film is even more alien to his comic-book template than the first. Yeah, yeah. So where’s his Oscar? (PG-13; Universal)

Journey to the Center of the EarthA mere three weeks before starring in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the eternally game Brendan Fraser plants his aw-shucks flag on Jules Verne’s terrain. Let the mass confusion commence! Once known as Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D, the current movie had to be renamed to reflect the trivial detail that many theaters will be showing it in ordinary old, Keira Knightley–flat 2-D. This commitment to truth in advertising may also explain the short shelf life of what we hear was Journey’s first working title, Brendan Fraser Wouldn’t Dream of Wasting Your Time. (PG; Warner Bros.)

Meet Dave Pleased to make your acquaintance, Dave. But we’re having a busy week, so we’ve gotta run. We’ll catch up with you some other time. How’s next Friday looking for you? On Starz, maybe? (PG; 20th Century Fox)


Available Tuesday, July 15

Meet Bill Does the timing of this unremarkable 2008 release denote some sort of incredibly stealthy cross-marketing with Meet Dave? Probably not, though there’s technically no wrong way to promote an indie comedy about midlife crisis that features Aaron Eckhart, Elizabeth Banks, Jessica Alba and the sublime Kristen Wiig – yet still disappeared from theaters after two weeks of being pilloried as American Beauty lite. (First Look Home Entertainment)

Step Up 2: The Streets Savor the expert contribution of one Harry Shum Jr., who also has appeared in You Got Served, Stomp the Yard and the forthcoming Center Stage 2. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the Laurence Olivier of twinkle-toed crap! (Touchstone; also Blu-ray “Dance-Off Edition”)

The Year My Parents Went on Vacation In this 1970s period piece, “going on vacation” is a euphemism for being sent underground due to your radical political affiliation. Oh, and “visiting Wet ’n Wild” means “doing it.” (City Lights Home Entertainment)


Available Monday, July 14

Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons Here’s one to put up on your cinema bookshelf next to the Mr. Skin guides in case company comes over. The paperback edition of Chicago Reader critic Jonathan Rosenbaum’s 2004 essay collection, with new updates, is said to mostly argue on behalf of underpublicized gems – though there is a “positive with reservations” evaluation of Spielberg’s A.I. What we wouldn’t have given to compile that list of caveats. “Reservation No. 1: Tried to kill me.” (The Johns Hopkins University Press)


Available Tuesday, July 15

Space Chimps Get the interactive jump on next week’s family comedy about a bunch of cartoon monkeys on a mission to a far-off planet. In our most heated imagination, the ghost of Charlton Heston is waiting for them. With a gun. (Brash Entertainment)


Available Tuesday, July 15

American Teen: Music From the Motion Picture Director Nanette Burstein went the keepin’-it-real route when planning the soundtrack to her Oscar-nominated documentary about life in a modern high school: She lifted its lineup of hot artists directly from the iPods of the kids who appear in her film. It’s a good thing for all of us that none of those little suckers were into the Spin Doctors. (Columbia Records)

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