Toon Talk: Summer Nights - Apr 28, 2008

Toon Talk: Summer Nights
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The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Another popular series weighted down in later years with heavy mythology hopes to lighten things up this go round with a good ol� �monster of the week� story. Creator/director Chris Carter promises that The X-Files: I Want to Believe (July 25) harkens back to the classic �stand alone� episodes of the cult TV favorite (in other words: no black oil). Good call, as those were always the best of the bunch.

This one is shrouded in secrecy too (big surprise); what we do know is that Mulder and Scully will, of course, be back, once again played by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Mitch Pileggi�s Skinner will also return (original series co-stars Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish are MIA). Amanda Peet and rapper Xzibit portray new FBI agents, while Billy Connolly plays a crazy priest (naturally).

Another kind of crime fighter from primetime, Secret Agent Maxwell Smart, returns to the movies once more in the updated Get Smart (June 20). This time, it�s Steve Carell as the bumbling super-spy, and he has some big shoe phones to fill as the first actor to �get Smart� after the one and only original, the late great Don Adams.  Anne Hathaway, as the fetching Agent 99, joins Carell as they take on CONTROL�s archenemies, KAOS, once again. Alan Arkin is the Chief (of �sorry about that� fame), with Dwayne Johnson, Terence Stamp, Bill Murray and Heroes� Maski Oka on hand as more secret agent men.

Wrapping up the sequels on August 1 is The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (get it? Mummy � wrapping up � is this thing on?). Brendan Fraser returns once more as the poor man�s Indiana Jones, this time with a new actress (Maria Bello) playing his wife (Rachel Weisz got her Oscar and ran) and a new mummy (Jet Li) to battle.

Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D

Fraser also stars in Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D, a high tech thrill ride inspired by the Jules Verne classic. You�ll thrill as thundering T-Rexes leap off the screen and lava spills into your laps! Bridge to Terabithia�s Josh Hutcherson plays Fraser�s pint-sized sidekick, which gives us the perfect �bridge� to the other kid adventures hitting the multiplexes in the next few months.

For the boys is Son of Rambow (May 2), Garth Jennings� semi-autobiographical look back at his childhood obsession with Sylvester Stallone�s First Blood. And for the girls, we have Abigail Breslin as Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (July 2), inspired by the doll line (Transformers it ain�t), and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (August 8). This sequel to the sleeper hit about the transformative powers of a pair of jeans re-teams original stars Alexis Bledel, Amber Tamblyn, Blake Lively and Ugly Betty herself, America Ferrera.

Racing onto standard and IMAX screens May 9 is Speed Racer. Based on the beloved old school cartoon series, Emile Hirsch stars as the titular lead foot, joined by Christina Ricci as Trixie, Susan Sarandon and John Goodman as Mom and Pops, and Matthew Fox as the mysterious �Racer X�. The candy-colored, high-octane trailer has fans revving their engines for this one, the directorial return of Matrix mavens Andy and Larry Wachowski.

By the looks of it, Speed is a virtual cartoon come to life, which leads us to the actual animated features gearing up for the summer months. First up is DreamWorks Animation�s Kung Fu Panda (June 6), yet another anthropomorphized animal adventure from the studio that brought us Madagascar and Over the Hedge. Jack Black voices the title bruin, who undergoes martial arts training with Dustin Hoffman�s sensei character to take on a nasty snow leopard (Ian McShane). Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Angelina Jolie and Seth Rogan add their celebrity pipes to the comedy as well.

More animated animals are on hand in Space Chimps (July 18), which is about, well, chimps in space. Andy Samberg, Cheryl Hines, Patrick Warburton and Jeff Daniels will be heard in this one from Vanguard Animation, who previously gave us Valiant (so adjust your expectations accordingly). Also of note is Fly Me to the Moon (August 22), a 3D adventure about flies that hitch a ride on the Apollo 11 mission. In addition to Adrienne Barbeau, Ed Begley Jr., Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Kelly Ripa and Nicolette Sheridan as various insects, real American hero Buzz Aldrin plays himself.

Naturally, I�ve saved the best for last: WALL-E (June 27), the latest Disney offering from the fine folks at Pixar. Poised to become their ninth straight hit in a row, WALL-E (directed by Finding Nemo Oscar winner Andrew Stanton) tells the tale of a little robot left alone on Earth who finds love -- with the arrival of a very special visitor -- and meaning -- when he follows �her� into outer space.

The title character has already charmed the pants of just about everyone, young and old, who has seen the preview footage and, unlike the previous three films listed here, this one doesn�t rely on celebrity stunt casting, as it has been described as a mostly dialogue-free affair. Nevertheless, Sigourney Weaver, Fred Willard, Kathy Najimy and John Ratzenberger (of course) are slated to be heard.

All in all, it appears to be an exciting summer season as far as the movies are concerned. Be sure to �toon� in for my views and reviews on most of these titles in the coming months, right here in Toon Talk.