Review Feature

Wading through Hollywood's hits and misses

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As everyone this side of Sunflower already knows, the big question Will Payson's six-screen Sawmill Theatres really truly honestly ever actually open? has finally been answered.

The question now is this: What movies can the Rim country's cinema-starved populous expect or hope to see at the Sawmill over the holidays and during the coming months?

Alas, there is no exact science to predicting such things.

The first thing Hollywood does each Christmas is to start planning the next year's holiday release schedule, so some of the titles listed below have been set since this time back in 1999.

Now, if any of the listed flicks start smelling like a star-spangled turkey before it hits theater screens, you can bet it will be palmed off on viewers in January or February known in the trade as the movie graveyard instead of taking up potentially lucrative holiday screen space.

For that reason, along with the unpredictable whimsies of studio executives, all listed release dates are tentative.

But according to Brian Deveney, director of theater operations for the Sawmill Theatres, these are the upcoming major motion pictures that you will either definitely, probably, might, probably won't, or don't have a snowball's chance in Hades of seeing over the holidays.

THIS WEEK

All six films now on screen "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "Unbreakable," "102 Dalmations," "The Sixth Day," "Rugrats in Paris" and "Charlie's Angels" will be held over until next week, when at least two of the weakest performers (those raking in the fewest box-office bucks) will be replaced.

DEC. 8, 2000

Definitely:

"The Vertical Limit," a snow-and-ice-packed "Cliffhanger" in which Chris O'Donnell must scale K2 to rescue a group of trapped climbers including his sister. The buzz is that the special effects are ultra cool. With Bill Paxton, Robin Tunney and Scott Glenn. Directed by Martin Campbell ("Mask of Zorro," "Goldeneye").

"Proof of Life." Romantic drama with Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan, wherein a male negotiator falls for a U.S. hostage's wife. With David Morse.

Possibly:

"Dungeons & Dragons." Big-screen version of the role-playing game, set in a mystical land of elves and sorcerers. With Jeremy Irons, Thora Birch and Marlon Wayans.

Not a chance:

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." An unexpected martial-arts period piece, which is already generating Oscar talk, from upscale director Ang Lee ("Sense and Sensibility," "The Ice Storm"). Starring Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh .

DEC. 15, 2000

Definitely:

"What Women Want." Ad exec Mel Gibson develops the ability to hear women's thoughts, and then uses this newfound skill to his romantic and comic advantage. With Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei, Bette Midler and Alan Alda.

"The Emperor's New Groove." In Disney's latest animated feature, an emperor (voiced by David Spade) is transformed into a llama and befriended by a peasant farmer (John Goodman).

"Family Man." Nicolas Cage finds out that it's a wonderful life when he wakes up one day and sees how life could have been.

Probably:

"Dude, Where's My Car?" The title says it all. A pair of teen party animals try to remember where they parked their car while mentally fogged by an all-night party. Starring Seann William Scott and Ashton Kutcher.

DEC. 20

Definitely:

"Cast Away." Tom Hanks stars as a man stranded on an island after a plane crash. Written and directed by Hanks' fellow Oscar-winning cohort from "Forrest Gump," Robert Zemeckis. Helen Hunt plays Hanks' wife.

"Thirteen Days." Drama with Kevin Costner as a JFK aide during the Cuban Missile crisis.

Probably:

"Miss Congeniality." Sandra Bullock is an FBI agent who goes undercover in a beauty pageant to track down a bomb threat team. With double Oscar winner Michael Caine.

Possibly:

"Finding Forrester." Director Gus Van Sant ( "the "Psycho" remake, "Good Will Hunting") casts Sean Connery as a reclusive novelist who hooks up with a 16-year-old black athlete (played by screen newcomer Robert Brown).

Probably not:

"O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Writing-producing-directing brothers Joel and Ethan Coen ("Fargo") return with a loose retelling of Homer's "The Odyssey," set in the 1930s and focusing on three chain-gang escapees. George Clooney, John Turturro, Holly Hunter and John Goodman co-star.

"Wes Craven Presents: Dracula 2000." Yet another version of Bram Stoker's classic tale from the writer-director of "Scream." With Johnny Lee Miller, Omar Epps and singer Vitamin C.

DEC. 22

Maybe:

"The Gift." Widower Cate Blanchett (an Oscar nominee for "Elizabeth") is the mother of three young sons who possess psychic powers, and their neighbors aren't happy about it. With Keanu Reeves and Hilary Swank (Oscar winner for "Boys Don't Cry").

Not a chance:

"State and Main." Writer-director-playwright David Mamet's comedy places a Hollywood movie-making team in a small Vermont town. With Alec Baldwin, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sarah Jessica Parker.

DEC. 25

Probably:

"All the Pretty Horses." Matt Damon plays a post-WWII Texas cowboy who travels to Mexico and falls in love. Directed by Billy Bob Thornton, from the novel by Cormac McCarthy.

Not a chance:

"An Everlasting Piece." The best title of the season belongs to this British comedy about two competing hairpiece salesmen, boasting the best title of the season.

DEC. 27

Probably:

"Traffic." Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones in a drug saga directed by Hollywood hottie Steven Soderbergh ("Erin Brockovich"). Co-starring Erika Christensen.

DEC. 29

Possibly:

"Shadow of the Vampire." Fictional account of the making of the classic German vampire film, "Nosferatu." With John Malkovitch as gay director F.W. Murnau, and Willem Dafoe as his star, actor Max Schreck who in this movie is actually a vampire.

DEC. 31

"2001: A Space Odyssey." New Year's Eve re-release of Stanley Kubrick's groundbreaking sci-fi classic with Kier Dullea and Gary Lockwood and, as himself, Hal the singing, chess-playing computer.

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