Summer is the season of high expectations and profound disappointments. That suntan looks more like sunburn, your beer stays ice cold till the moment it's opened, and fat guys are the only ones hanging by the pool in bikini briefs. So it goes with summer movies: Sequels to beloved faves have all the flavor of week-old popcorn, blockbusters make pennies on their many dollars, and somewhere there's Adam Sandler pouring sour lemonade when you were craving something more refreshing. Maybe there's more hope this year, if only because last summer was such a bummer. Monster-in-Law, Stealth, or Dukes of Hazzard, anyone? Thought not.
There is certainly more promise to the 2006 lineup. Film freaks and fanboys find it hard not to get a little worked up over the returns of Superman, Crockett and Tubbs, Jack Sparrow, and Dante and Randal (well ...). A Prairie Home Companion, with its all-star cast and NPR roots, promises to be this year's Cinderella Man: a great movie nobody sees, because the crowds will be too busy huffing Freon with Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, and Vince Vaughn again. Much of what you'll find below feels like yesterday's movies reheated like someone went to Blockbuster and cut-and-pasted everything on the comedy shelf. But they'll all need a prayer to hold their own against The Da Vinci Code. Here's $20 right now that says only the pope won't see it. Though even he may get around to it, once he's checked out Snakes on a Plane. Robert Wilonsky
Starring: Adam Sandler, Christopher Walken, and David Hasselhoff
Directed by: Frank Coraci (The Waterboy)
Written by: Jack Giarraputo, Tim Herlihy (almost every Sandler movie to date), Steve Koren & Mark O'Keefe (Bruce Almighty), and Sandler
What it's about: Sandler obtains a magic universal remote control that can control the universe! Pausing, rewinding, and slow-motion-replaying the world around him is a lot of fun ... until the remote gets stuck in fast-forward.
Why you should see it: Whatever you may think of Sandler, a movie that brings Walken and Hasselhoff together cannot be all bad.
Why you should not: Seems like a good premise, but so did The Benchwarmers at one point.
Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties (Fox)
Starring: Bill Murray, Breckin Meyer, and Jennifer Love Hewitt
Directed by: Tim Hill (Muppets from Space)
Written by: Joel Cohen (Cheaper by the Dozen)
What it's about: America's favorite fat cat twenty years ago takes a trip to Jolly Old London and switches places with a rich fat feline in this essential sequel to 2004's Garfield. For more information, read Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper.
Why you should see it: Old pro Bill Murray can get laughs reading obituaries.
Why you should not: He's Bill Murray, not He Who Is Risen.
Starring: Tyrese Gibson (Four Brothers), Meagan Good (Roll Bounce), and Larenz Tate (Crash)
Directed by: Vondie Curtis-Hall (Gridlock'd)
Written by: Hall, Michael Mahern (Mobsters), and Darin Scott (Tales From the Hood)
What it's about: An ex-convict (Gibson) is driven to desperation when his son is kidnapped and held for ransom by a vicious crime lord. He begins to rob banks to raise the ransom but only banks where the thug has an account.
Why you should see it: It's rated R, and based on the preview it looks like the two beautiful leads get sweaty.
Why you should not: Hall directed Glitter. Yep, that Glitter.
The Devil Wears Prada (Fox)
Starring: Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, and Adrien Grenier
Directed by: David Frankel (Entourage, Sex and the City)
Written by: Aline Brosh McKenna (Laws of Attraction) and Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex), based on the novel by Lauren Weisberger
What it's about: Big-screen adaptation of Weisberger's thinly disguised "fiction" book about working as assistant to Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour (Streep).
Why you should see it: Streep rarely chooses unredeemable projects.
Why you should not: Do we care how hard it is to work for a fashion magazine?
Superman Returns (Warner Bros.)
Starring: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, and Kevin Spacey
Directed by: Bryan Singer (X-Men, X-2)
Written by: Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris
What it's about: Set five years after Superman II, more or less, Superman returns from self-imposed exile to find Lois Lane with a kid and Lex Luthor out of prison, with yet another plan for world domination.
Why you should see it: Singer made the X-Men movies into something accessible to mainstream audiences without sacrificing its comic-book roots; he made superheroes human.
Why you should not: Look, it can't be any worse than Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
Little Man (Sony)
Starring: Marlon and Shawn Wayans
Directed by: Keenen Ivory Wayans (Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2)
Written by: The Wayans brothers
What it's about: A digitally remastered Shawn Wayans plays a weensy little criminal mistaken for a baby by a wannabe dad (Marlon).
Why you should see it: Consider it your biennial dose of Wayans charm.
Why you should not: Perhaps you recall White Chicks?
Strangers with Candy (THINKfilm)
Starring: Amy Sedaris, Matthew Broderick, and Philip Seymour Hoffman
Directed by: Paul Dinello
Written by: Stephen Colbert (The Daily Show), Paul Dinello, and Amy Sedaris
What it's about: A feature-film spinoff of the popular 1999-2000 Comedy Central series starring Sedaris as a 46-year-old ex-con high-school student.
Why you should see it: If you don't think Stephen Colbert knows funny, you don't know funny.
Why you should not: It could feel like one long inside joke made for those who've seen the show.
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