The Generic Summer Movie Guide
No one, of course, could possibly keep up with the barrage of movies the studios unleash on us each summer. On top of the usual romantic comedies and and action adventures and sci-fis and sequels and animated monsters, the movie industry this year seems to be big on men in skirts and cinematic versions of execrable novels. And it's hard to ignore them, since TV previews and star interviews and billboards and ads for the summer crop seem to proliferate like fungi in a rain forest. It can get downright discouraging, thinking about how out of it you'll be if you can't join in discussions of all those blockbusters. But never fear. You don't have to spend countless hours and a medium fortune to sound like an Ebert, or even a Siskel. The "Generic Summer Movie Guide" will help you speak knowledgeably about what the major stars and studios are doing this summer, and you won't even have to interrupt your reading of War and Peace or Bleak House. These actual titles may not appear at your neighborhood multi-plex between now and Labor Day, of course; but they provide a virtual snapshot of today's movie industry, and you can bet people will notice if you drop just a few references to some of the following films into your summer conversations: The Englishman Who Went to Paris for Nine Months of Mad Love and Forgot How to French Kiss While He Was Sleeping: Hugh Grant plays the title character, a shy, nervous British engineer who is sent to France to measure the Eiffel Tower. On the Chunnel train, he meets a skittish young American teacher (played by Meg Ryan) who is fleeing her despicable yuppie fiance (Tom Cruise) to rendezvous with her lover, an older American history professor (Gene Hackman) who is reading a scholarly paper at a decontructionists' convention. Before Grant and Ryan leave the train, she's pregnant and they're madly in love, although they've both been robbed of their cash, jewelry and credit cards by a scruffy French con artist (Kevin Kline) and a psychotic young American couple (Drew Barrymore and Chris O'Donnell). When Ryan calls the professor to get help, he tells her he's having an affair with a French bus driver (Sandra Bullock) who had been enagaged to a notoriously crooked soccer referee (Billy Crystal). Things finally work out when a hotel concierge (Debra Winger) humiliates and leaves her long-suffering husband (Bill Pullman), seduces the referee (we learn about this in flashbacks), and talks the Frenchman (her step-brother, it turns out) into returning everyone's valuables. Conceived, produced, written, and directed by the French Bureau of Tourism. The Britches of Madison County--Sharon Stone plays May, a western-wear designer with full, ripe breasts, buns of steel, and thighs as firm as day-old bread, who comes to rural Iowa to supervise production of an ad campaign for her new line of jeans. Before long she's attracted to Marvin, a depressed and taciturn Norwegian (Clint Eastwood) who's been assigned to help her find locations, and whose wife Brenda (Meryl Streep) is in Des Moines, attending a 4-H convention with their adolescent children. After Marvin spruces up his wardrobe with a visit to the nearby Wal-Mart, May and Marvin do some slow dancing in Marvin's workshop, mellowed by the Chablis and the joints they've shared; and before long May is obsessing about Marvin, pushing her pliant, pulsing body at him at knife-point while she recites doggerel about peregrines and the ecstasy of drinking whiskey sours in Cedar Falls. Complications arise when Brenda and the kids return early, and May has to depart, leaving behind a half-case of empty wine bottles and six pairs of pre-washed, pre-torn jeans, which Marvin's children find in a tool chest after Marvin and Brenda have passed away. Produced and directed by Leo Buscaglia, based on a "novel" by James Robert Waffle. Son of Gump--It opens when Junior Gump (Johnny Depp) is twenty and being dismissed from Alabama Christian College for failing the introductory course in automatic weaponry and for using public prayer improperly, in this case to ask that ACC's main football rival, Alabama Baptist, beat the betting spread in ACC's homecoming game, on which Junior has bet half his father's stock portfolio. Seething with resentment, Junior believes he's been victimized by jack-booted liberal administrators carrying out the wishes of the United Nations, which resents his father's efforts during the Vietnam War. Since his father has been incarcerated for harassing people at bus stops, Junior retreats to a wooded enclave in rural Mississippi, where he organizes a heavily-armed militia to attack the repressive, socialistic establishment which Junior believes is planning to put every single United States citizen into concentration camps, after ripping out their teeth and finger nails. While preparing for the attack, he invents talk radio, settles the baseball strike, and coins the term "cyberspace," while developing a lucrative side business with Dennis Rodman (Samuel L. Jackson), designing and selling tattoos to prospective NBA players at try-out camps. The film ends as Junior's militia begins an attack on the Tallagoosa County courthouse, which sets up Return of the Son of Gump, scheduled to appear next year in a theater near you. Co-produced by Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson, directed by G. Gordon Liddy, from an original story by Oliver North. Pulp Vengeance--Samuel L. Jackson plays Appolo, a bible-spouting serial killler, and Bruce Willis is O'Neill, a degenerate New York cop who is an undercover member of a biker gang. John Travolta is Nick, an ex-middle-weight boxing champion who has ballooned to 300 pounds and spends his time eating heavy meals and reading trashy novels at the diner owned by his ex-wife Bella (Uma Thurman), whose mobility is limited due to the artificial heart she's had to use since she suffered a puncture wound to her biological one. Ving Rhames plays Milo, who runs a video rental shop, where Tony (Quentin Tarantino) is an obsessive customer, renting every splatter film he can get his hands on. Harvey Keitel plays The Hoover, the only male on the housekeeping staff at the Dreamland Motel, where Tim Roth is Buster, the wise-cracking desk clerk. Al Pacino plays Sal Genitale, the mayor, and Gene Hackman is Art Thompson, his veteran police chief. Though none of them have ever had anything to do with each other, they all end up bound and gagged in box seats at an otherwise empty Yankee Stadium, where a trio of giggling clown-suited men (Dennis Hopper, Anthony Hopkins, and Jeremy Irons) slice off their noses with machetes before they blow up the Stadium as a diversionary tactic so they can rob the Federal Reserve of all the money in the world. Produced by Rupert Murdoch, directed by Tarantino from his own original screenplay. Also, keep your eye open for Rob Heart and Brave Roy, in which Liam Neeson and Mel Gibson play cross-dressing military officers whom no one dares ask, so they never tell. And look for The True Lion Specialist Forever, a half-animated Disney feature with an excrutiatingly loud sound track by Michael Jackson, in which Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tommy Lee Jones, and Val Kilmer (in a sculpted wet-suit) play warring computer hackers who create hordes of cyber-monsters which threaten to destroy the world as we know it. And don't forget Waterworld, in which Kevin Costner sprouts gills and blows $200 million. That sounds like the craziest one of all.