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The Self-Made Critic's Summer Preview 2002

Fresh off my success at predicting the Oscars (I was 1 for 6, if you're keeping score) along comes the yearly tribute to my complete lack of prognostication, the Self-Made Guide to the Summer.

Last year I told you A.I. would be the #2 movie of the year (final gross somewhere around $60 mil) and would do better than Rush Hour 2 (somewhere around $200 million or so). I also said a little movie called Shrek would come in at #19. It was #1.

Meanwhile, two years ago I said Battlefield Earth would make more money than Gladiator.

With that said, here's how the summer of 2002 is going to shape up. Go ahead, bet the farm.

1) Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

At least we start with a no-brainer. Ever Star Wars movie has made at least $300 million bucks, while the unholy horror that was Phantom Menace made over $400 million. All the buzz on Clones says it's a better movie than Phantom, so I see no reason why Clones won't bring in another $400 million. Word is, Jar Jar Binks has a much smaller role this time, which alone is worth $50 or $60 million.

Side note: I saw Ahmed Best (the actor who plays Jar Jar) on stage in a musical version of JFK's life. He played Sammy Davis Jr. And you know what? He almost stole the show. Say what you want about Jar Jar Binks, Ahmed Best is a total stud.

2) Spider-Man

It starts the summer, which gives it a huge boost (see Gladiator, Mummy, Mummy Returns, Twister, etc.). It is the biggest comic book super-hero not yet showcased in a big-budget feature film. He's historic, cross-generational, and pretty much any other year would be the top seed in this game.

Audiences love an origin story, so we get Spidey getting bit, slinging webs, fighting crime. Bring it on! Plus, it's directed by Sam Raimi! Bruce Campbell has a cameo! How cool is that!

3) Men In Black II

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return to save the world from yet more intergalactic scum. First flick made a mint, the second will bring us more of the same. Never can have too many sequels, right? One question: does Will Smith do another rap at the end? Did he actually work the title "Men In Black II" into his lyrics?

4) Austin Powers in Goldmember

Look! A comedy! Don't worry, it's still a sequel and will still sell a bunch of toys, so it's not like we're bucking the blockbuster trend or anything. The time Mike Myers plays Austin Powers, Dr. Evil, Fat Bastard and a new bad guy named Goldmember. He keeps this up, we'll get Austin Powers: The One Man Show.

5) Minority Report

Last year I said a Steven Speilberg sci-fi movie would be a big hit. I was wrong. I'm not gonna be wrong twice in a row. This time Steven enlisted Tom Cruise's help. The movie's about cops who predict the future and stop crimes before they happen, and then Tom gets falsely accused, but then, if the crime hasn't happened yet, then it can't be a false accusation, right? Ow, my head hurts. Don't worry about the plot, just think of the creepy spider things crawling up the wall after Tom in the trailer. Doesn't that make you feel better?

6) XXX

Going out on a limb here, but I think Vin Diesel has arrived. The Fast and The Furious made him a star, and this time he's a super, secret, hunk of an agent. Lots of action, lots of violence, lots of shots of Vin Diesel. That pretty much sells itself, don't you think?

7) Scooby-Doo

Another stretch here. Way I see it, this movie is either gonna be huge, or it's gonna be such a flop that Warner Bros. folds up shop and goes home. The Scooby gang run into trouble on Spooky Island. Like anyone cares. This film hinges on one thing and one thing only: what does a CGI Scooby look like? Does it work? Count the money. Does it look like something out of The Voyages of Sinbad? They're in trouble.

Actually, it might be in our best interest to go out and see this movie even if it isn't any good. If it does poorly, they may feel the need to bring in Scrappy next time.

8) Signs

If anyone else in Hollywood were to make a movie about Crop Circles, they'd be laughed out of the state. But when the movie stars Mel Gibson and is written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, people sit up and take notice. Everything seems cool and above board here, but I can't help but think this movie would have done a lot better ten years ago, before we found out al the crop circles were done by two drunks with some plywood.

9) Road To Perdition

I have no idea what it's about. Mobsters or something like that. But it stars Tom Hanks. And we all know what happens to movies that star Tom Hanks. They make a lot of money.

10) The Sum of All Fears

Eight years ago, I read this book, and thought it would make a great movie. Too bad no one would ever make a movie about an aging hero who saves the world from Arab terrorists armed with a nuclear bomb.

Now the aging hero is a young buck. The Arab terrorists have become neo-Nazis. And any resemblance to any book, living or dead, is now purely coincidental. Still, it's a Jack Ryan movie, and they've done well over time, with or without Harrison Ford. Besides, don't you think America is ready for another Jack Ryan "USA! USA!" movie right about now?

11) Lilo and Stitch

A Disney animated movie that is unlike anything they've ever done. For one thing, it's PG, not G. Not sure what that means, maybe we get some cartoon booty? Lilo is a Hawaiian problem child and Stitch is an alien from outer space with some serious attitude problems. Time will tell if anybody cares. But I have a sneaky suspicion about this movie. Of course, I once had a sneaky suspicion about The Avengersâ^Ŕ¦

12) Stuart Little 2

I had no idea that Stuart Little had been a huge hit. I paid no attention to it, didn't see it, turned around and it had crossed $100 million. So now there's Stuart Little 2. This time, I dunno, Stuart eats some cheese. Like I care.

13) The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

Eventually, the chicks need a flick. And this is it. A bunch of women star in a cross-generational film about relationships and friendship and loyalty and junk like that. Sounds about as entertaining to me as removing a toenail or two, but then I don't think I'm the target audience.

I hear they make hats in the film. That sounds nice.

14) Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams

I still think Spy Kids is a dumb name. But now it's a dumb name for a movie that made over $140 million. The sequel won't make that much, but it'll still pack a punch. Like most movies on this list so far, nobody really cares about the plot. It's just more of what we already know and like. We're a well-programmed movie-going audience.

15) Unfaithful

The director of Fatal Attraction, a film about a husband who cheats on his wife, switches gears and brings us a movie about a wife who cheats on her husband.

Yeah, that's a creative stretch.

Still, everyone likes the guilty pleasures of watching someone else's marriage fall apart. And with Richard Gere as the poor sod being cheated on, how could we stay away?

16) Reign of Fire

This is probably the coolest-sounding movie of the summer. Sometime in the near future, someone accidentally wakes up a bunch of Dragons, who have been sleeping out of sight of mankind for eons. So the Dragons wake up and start burning civilization to the ground. How totally cool is that? Please go see it, I already want a sequel. It'll stat Prince. Purple Reign of Fire. Not buying it, huh? Oh well, I tried.

17) Windtalkers

I'm only putting this film on this list out of pity. I don't actually think it's even going to do this good. See, Windtalkers has far too many strikes against it already. First, it was supposed to be released long before now -never a good sign. Second, it's another damn World War II movie, and we're just about all WWII'd out right about now. Third, it stars Nicolas Cage, who isn't exactly the hottest actor on the planet right now. (Did anyone see Captain Corelli's Mandolin?)

The only thing going for it is that it's directed by John Woo, who can make poo look interesting. Of course it would probably be some sort of ninja poo, but stillâ^Ŕ¦.

18) K-19: The Widowmaker

Not to be confused with Mentos-19: The Freshmaker. Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson play Soviet submariners in this true story. We've had a lot of submarine movies in the last few years, and truth be told, they're each completely identical. I mean, there are only so many things you can do on a sub. "Captain, we can't dive any lower, or the hull will implode!" "Captain, they've dropped depth charges!" "Captain, there's a torpedo in the water!" "Captain, we have a saboteur on board!" "Captain, I'm discovering man-love!"

Basically, until they make the submarine flick that finds Atlantis or something, why bother? This film's only on the list because it stars Harrison Ford. I mean hell, he pushed 6 Days 7 Nights up to $70 million, and that was no easy task.

19) Mr. Deeds

Adam Sandler IS Mr. Deeds. You ever notice that every single Adam Sandler movie can be introduced with the phrase "Adam Sandler ISâ^Ŕ¦" Think about it. Billy Madison. Happy Gilmore. The Waterboy. The Wedding Singer. Big Daddy. Little Nicky.

This time out, he's a uncouth fool brought into the civilized worldâ^Ŕ¦ kinda like most of his other films. Get the "Adam One-Note" drums pounding, please.

20) The Bourne Identity

Matt Damon brings Robert Ludlum's most famous novel to life, basically, once again playing second fiddle to buddy Ben Affleck. See, Affleck had to go bring a cold war conspiracy novel to life with Sum of All Fears, so Matty had to go find himself a cold war conspiracy novel to make. Way I see it, Matt's pissed off that Ben has actually become a bigger draw than Matt. After all, Matt had the head start with the lead in their Good Will Hunting flick. But then Ben did Armageddon and Pearl Harbor while Matt got stuck doing The Legend of Bagger Vance. Now he's just bitter.

There ya go kids, the top 20 films of the Summer of 2002. But to prove there's more original and interesting films available for all to enjoy, you may want to check out some of these other summer films.

Robin Williams plays a bad guy in not one, but two summer flicks, and they both look real cool. Check out Insomnia (also starring Al Pacino) or One Hour Photo and meet the short, dark and evil Robin.

Kids! Want some cartoons? How about Spirit (something about a horse and the old west, whatever, don't they know Pocahontas bombed?) or Hey Arnold! The Movie.

Looking for Julia Roberts? Look no further than Full Frontal! The director of Ocean's Eleven reminds us that he started his career with Sex, Lies and Videotape by bringing us a sexually deviant little film with Academy Award Winner Julia Roberts. Julia does not get naked in the picture. Word is, however, Catherine Keener does. So it's not all bad.

Hey Self-Made Critic! What summer film is going to become the next Buckaroo Bonzai? The next Blade? The next Office Space? Well my friends, if you're asking what film is begging to have a looooong life on video, look no further than Eight Legged Freaks. Giant, killer spiders attack humanity. Kick ass!

Plus Clint Eastwood in Bloodwork, stupid teenagers in The New Guy, Woody Allen in Hollywood Ending, and of course, The Crocodile Hunter movie. Damn, they'll turn anything into a movie, won't they?

Now if only I can get them to make The Self-Made Movie. You'd go see it, right? Right?

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