BOP 25 of Summer: 25-16

By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower

May 3, 2006

Welcome to the fourth annual BOP 25 of Summer. Just as we have for the past three years, we locked the staff into a stale closet and refused to let them out until they voted for their ten most anticipated titles of the period from the first weekend of May through the Labor Day holiday weekend. Since the group of writers we have assembled are stubbornly unconventional, the list includes a fascinating combination of mainstream tentpole releases alongside indie and foreign productions that are unlikely to earn $10 million domestic. We hope that you enjoy our eclectic take on what has us hyped up and glad to be movie lovers.

The top few selections are probably not that surprising, as our group has the same love for comic book heroes and Captain Jack Sparrow that the rest of the free world does. Where we might surprise you are on some of the selections we have picked over much more expensive mainstream productions such as Click and Talladega Nights. Frankly, we're mad at Adam Sandler for keeping his friends Rob Schneider and David Spade in movies, and Will Ferrell may have finally hit critical mass. Or perhaps we're just not NASCAR fans.

After the summer has finally wrapped up, you can look forward to our September review of our selections. That's where we will discuss how right we were about some anticipated hits and make fun of the Bewitched-type selections where we wonder just what the hell we were thinking when we voted for them in the first place.
Admit it, I creep you out, don't I? 25) The Omen

As a youngster, I found few things scarier than the prospect of the Anti-Christ. In church, I came to dread any discussion of the Book of Revelations as the events therein were more terrifying than anything I might read in a Stephen King novel or view in a George Romero film. The Mark of the Beast? Eep! The Rapture and the Tribulation? Are you kidding me?

Naturally, a movie that centered on the main "villain" of these stories, the Anti-Christ, gave me the heebie-jeebies and nightmares aplenty. It also permanently associated the name "Damien" as one of evil, and that's never going to change, even if I meet the nicest, sweetest person in the world who goes by that moniker. The Omen was released in 1976, but my association with the film came later as it aired in numerous repeats on HBO. The film featured the marvelous Gregory Peck as an Ambassador to the United States who substitutes a child for his own when his wife gives birth to a stillborn baby. After a few years, strange and grisly deaths begin to occur, leading to the discovery that the boy is the son of Satan and can only be killed with the seven daggers of Megiddo. Harvey Stephens, who played the boy Damien Thorn, was creepy as all get-out, with piercing eyes and a sinister appearance.

Fast forward to 2006, where re-making old horror classics has become something of a hobby for movie producers. The Omen will be released on June 6, 2006 (6/6/06, get it?) and it hopes to recapture the dark ambience of the original. It does feature a stellar cast, including Liev Schreiber in the Gregory Peck role, Julia Stiles, Mia Farrow, Michael Gambon, Pete Postlethwaite, and the marvelous David Thewlis (whom you might remember as Professor Lupin from the third Harry Potter film). If the photos are any indication, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick is a more-than-adequate replacement for his predecessor in the Damien role, too. If you don't believe me, just check out the trailer. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Next week, on Prison Break... 24) The Road to Guantanamo

Ruhal Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul were natives of England. In Afghanistan, they were incarcerated by United States troops. All three men were suspected of having ties to the Taliban, and the American military shipped them to Cuba for further questioning. These are the facts which are not in question. From there, the situation devolves into accusations and allegations.

The men who have come to be known as the Tipton Three claim they were interrogated and tortured by British and American troops. Charges include them being punched, kicked and having their necks quite literally stepped on. Colin Powell has refuted these charges, stating that everyone involved with the questioning has followed the Geneva Convention. He does not, however, deny the fact that the men were held in captivity for a period of roughly two years. They were eventually released without charges ever being pressed against them.

Road to Guantanamo explores the assertions of the involved parties. The docudrama examines how three men of British citizenship found themselves living such a nightmare. Noted director Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People and Code 46) won the Silver Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for this production. This alone would heighten our anticipation for the project. The film received unexpected further media attention in recent months, though.

While in transit from their triumph in Berlin, four actors from the movie were detained and questioned. Shockingly, one of the questions was, "Did you become an actor mainly to do films like this, to publicize the struggles of Muslims?" The timing of the questioning has our staff intrigued about why this project is causing such overreactions from airport security. (David Mumpower/BOP)
Jimmy really shouldn't let those kids waste away in Margaritaville. 23) Hoot

Author Carl Hiaasen is a popular entity around the BOP offices. Some of us have enjoyed his work dating all the way back to the days when Skip Wiley tried to take over the Orange Bowl parade in Tourist Season, and when Hiaasen expanded his world into the realm of children's novels, it was a pretty solid fit. His first book, Hoot, is gross, funny, full of adventure and consistently engaging - qualities that have been present in all of Hiaasen's work. When we learned that Walden Media would turn the story into a motion picture, hopes were high.

Things only got better as the pieces came together. Some of our staff members (read: the Editors/Webmasters) have a love for Jimmy Buffett that is matched only by...well, it's honestly not matched by much of anything. So when he came onboard not only to produce, but also to do the soundtrack and to take a bit part, our anticipation increased. The presence of Luke Wilson in the bumbling cop role doesn't hurt matters, either. For those of us who are Scrubs fans (and we are numerous), Neil Flynn (aka The Janitor) also has a featured role. Of course, the icing on the cake is that the primary villain is played by one Clark Gregg. Sure, his name might not be familiar to you, but we here at BOP know him and adore him for his quiet, two-episode portrayal of Calvin Trager on Sports Night. If you're uncertain as to how much that means to us, just consider the fact that we named our annual movie awards The Calvins.

Along with the movie's grown-up stars, the film's centerpiece - a boy named Roy Eberhardt - is portrayed by Logan Lerman, who was the best part of the short-lived WB series Jack & Bobby. He's a kid who wants to save some endangered owls from being plowed over for construction of a pancake house - which could only be the handiwork of evil corporate management types. Sure, Mission: Impossible III might be the tentpole release of that weekend, but Hoot will be the fun one. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

This is how people get the nickname Cornholio. 22) Idiocracy

Mike Judge first won our hearts with the underrated social satire, Beavis and Butthead. Yes, I said social satire. The premise involved oversexed, underwhelming teenagers interacting with the world around them. And they also watched some television. Judge later used a similar principle to examine how simple, hard workin' Texas folks handle day to day existence. He also found time to make fun of cubical life in Office Space, a movie everyone ignored the year it was out. Later on, they appreciated the depth of his genius, but that's Judge in a nutshell. His humor is best digested over an extended period due to its subtle nature. King of the Hill is a perfect example, since it has been criminally underrated throughout its run.

Now, Judge is ready to spin the idea of idiots and simpletons living their lives in a new direction. Ideocracy, a project originally entitled 3001, is that movie. The concept is that the military undertakes the "Human Hibernation Project". They enlist a lowly private named Joe Bowers to cryogenically slumber for a year. The idea is to test him when he wakes up. The commanding office also pressures a prostitute named Rita into joining him.

Unfortunately, while they are asleep, the man in charge is arrested and no one else knows about the project. A thousand years later, they awaken to discover they have received the Phillip J. Fry treatment...but with one key exception. Whereas the fledgling space delivery boy is an idiot in any generation, previously sub-par private Joe discovers that the world is a dumber place in the future. Joe is now literally the smartest man alive. How is that for a beautiful movie idea? Advance Butthead in age a few years, stick him in the military, freeze him for a millennium and let the shock come over him as he realizes everyone else there is dumber than Beavis. It's a world ruled by Winger fans, and we can't wait to see it. (David Mumpower/BOP)
Gee, wonder why he agreed to be in the movie? 21) The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

The first two films in the Fast and the Furious franchise made a boatload of money despite the presence of Paul Walker. Now just imagine what could be done with Walker eliminated from the equation. Cha-ching! The latest installment takes Alabama native Lucas Black and dumps him and his extreme southern drawl squarely in the middle of Tokyo. While living with his uncle, Black's character, Sean Boswell, follows the same path Walker's character did in the first two movies. He is drawn to the subterranean world of souped-up cars and drift racing. But this time, it takes place in Japan! The fish-out-of-water theme might sound cliche, but the trailers exhibit an energy and charm sorely lacking in 2 Fast 2 Furious. Taking the whitest of white trash and pulling a Lost in Translation on him seems like a potentially winning premise to BOP. (David Mumpower/BOP)
We're told there's a guy in this picture, but we haven't noticed. 20) DOA: Dead or Alive

Sex sells and BOP is buying. Our staff is simply incapable of resisting the charms of this instant T&A classic. Come on, let's be honest for a moment. We are not going to pretend to have artistic expectations about Corey Yuen's latest offering. What would be the point? Everyone knows DOA: Dead Or Alive has been selected because it features Devon Aoki, Natassia Mathe, Sarah Carter and Jaime Pressly wearing bikinis for 100 minutes. And they are playing volleyball in this attire! Even Uwe Boll would be hard pressed to screw up such a perfect concept.

The DOA series has been a favorite of the staff through multiple generations of consoles now but all of the XBox 360 photo-realism in the world could not hope to match the real deal. Virtual babes in bikinis would (virtually) blush at the thought of how they compare to Devon Aoki. Man cannot achieve that which God has already perfected. Oh yeah, the action scenes should be pretty good as well. We will be sure to pretend to care about that when the time comes. (David Mumpower/BOP)
We used to be friends, a long time ago... 19) Pulse

I've got a secret, Veronica Mars. A good one. I am going to see your new movie, Pulse, as soon as I possibly can. Why? Because I love you to a stalky degree. Also, I am fascinated by the idea that the Internet might be used for such nefarious purposes. I thought MySpace was as evil as it got. But it turns out that people checking their e-mail, talking on their cell phone or surfing the web are susceptible to a much larger evil than an international meeting place for the pubescent and emotionally needy. Pulse would have me believe that every time Veronica Mars, err Kristen Bell, uses her Sidekick to google a criminal straight to jail, she also opens a portal to Hell. Kairo was one of the buzz Asian horror films of the past decade, so a North American remake was inevitable. The fact that it stars Bell is gravy. (David Mumpower/BOP)
If you wanna go out with me, just say so. 18) Nacho Libre

In 2004, a little movie known as Napoleon Dynamite crept up and surprised America as it became a cultural juggernaut. Sure, the movie might have only made $45 million by the time it was all said and done, but we have to keep in mind that its budget was a mere $3 million. Since then, it's become such a cult hit that you can find Vote for Pedro t-shirts in places like Target, and ringtones for your mobile phone at various sites. The film's star, Jon Heder, is even largely responsible for the relative success of The Benchwarmers. In fact, we'd suggest that people saw the film because of him and despite his other two co-stars, David Spade and Rob Schneider.

Once an indie sensation breaks out, it means that the creators are bound to get some attention for some more mainstream projects. Director Joshua Hess, who co-wrote Napoleon Dynamite with his wife Jerusha in addition to helming, is working with a larger budget and a big studio for Nacho Libre. Still, looking at the trailer and the way the film is being marketed, it somehow manages to have an indie feel - and we mean that in the best possible way. Nacho Libre's star, Jack Black, is far from conventional. Far in advance of the film's release, Black has been doing podcasts about the progress of the project. In Nacho Libre, Black portrays a Mexican priest who moonlights as a luchador to raise money for his orphanage. Just the notion of Black battling other masked wrestlers is enough to get us chortling. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Why wouldn't you want to go Mr. & Mrs. Smith's wedding? 17) The Break-Up

Vince Vaughn rides the wave of huge success he encountered after last summer's blockbuster, Wedding Crashers, and hopes to strike gold once again. His only problem here is that his real-life love interest, Jennifer Aniston, has had a tendency to be box office poison. Whether it's simply overload from seeing her on the tabloids so frequently or simply a nagging belief that she'll never be more than Rachel Green, she simply hasn't been able to convert her television popularity to the big screen. Since her primary responsibility in The Break-Up is to look outrageously hot and annoy Vaughn, though, it seems like she might finally be breaking out of the doldrums of Derailed and Rumor Has It.

The premise of the film might be all too topical for Aniston's comfort, but it reeks of potential comedy. When a couple breaks up (hence the title), neither one of them is willing to move out of the condo that they both share. Using advice from friends - and even a few strangers - they begin to engage in a little mental warfare to try to extricate each other. At least Angelina Jolie wasn't involved this time, even though she did co-star with both Brad Pitt and Vaughn in last summer's Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

For those who love Vaughn's antics and over-the-top brand of humor, Aniston is just the dessert. Movies where Vaughn has been the primary draw have only increased in popularity over the past few years. From Old School to Dodgeball to the inexorable force that was Wedding Crashers, Vaughn seems to be the comedy star to whom young men can relate. He's glib, mouthy, and just adds a spark even to films where he has the smallest of roles. Guys see him dating someone like Aniston and realize that there's hope for the Everymen of the world. Add in a hilarious trailer with a gratuitous shot of potential Aniston nudity, and you've got all the elements for another summer popcorn flick with legs. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Dude, the hairdryer's not even plugged in! 16) My Super Ex-Girlfriend

There are plenty run-of-the-mill comic book-type movies. Anyone can do an adaptation of X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman or Superman. They're not always good, but the source material is there. The really fun ideas are the ones that take comic book notions and turn them on their head. In the case of My Super Ex-Girlfriend, veteran comedy director Ivan Reitman intends to do just that.

In the past, Reitman has had incredible success with high-concept comedies such as Stripes, Ghost Busters and Kindergarten Cop. This time around, he works from a script by Don Payne, a veteran writer from The Simpsons (including a personal favorite, Insane Clown Poppy). The idea is that a regular schlub (Luke Wilson, back in the top 25 for a third film) is dating a gorgeous superheroine (Uma Thurman). The trouble is, she's just a -touch- needy. Naturally, he dumps her. But perhaps dumping a woman with superpowers isn't the best idea in the world. Indeed, G-girl (as she is known) proceeds to make his life a living hell, using all of her superpowers in an effort to break up his budding relationship with a co-worker (the always hilarious Anna Faris).

As if the cast members mentioned weren't enough to make us giddy with anticipation, the featured players also include the criminally underrated Eddie Izzard, Rainn Wilson of The Office (U.S. version) and Wanda Sykes. We can't wait to see the sparks (literally) fly. (Kim Hollis/BOP)



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