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Prepare for Good, Sick Fun

Summertime means action and animation. It also means being grossed out in the name of comedy.

May 07, 2000|ROBERT W. WELKOS | Robert W. Welkos is a Times staff writer

Meanwhile, in what could be a sleeper hit, director Amy Heckerling ("Clueless," "Fast Times at Ridgemont High") returns with another teen comedy, "Loser." It stars that pie lover Jason Biggs as a nerdy, good-natured college student adrift in New York on a scholarship and co-stars Mena Suvari, who was last seen dropping rose petals on Kevin Spacey's face in "American Beauty."

Like Chris Rock? He's starring as a stand-up comedian who gets taken to heaven too soon and comes back as a rich white guy in "I Was Made to Love Her." The film is directed by Chris and Paul Weitz, those same brothers who brought us "American Pie."

In a dark comedy directed by Nora Ephron tentatively titled "Numbers," John Travolta stars as a TV weather caster who tries to rig the station's lottery game with the help of the lotto ball girl (Lisa Kudrow).

Other comedies this summer include Jackie Chan in "Shanghai Noon," Bruce Willis in "Disney's The Kid," Alan Rickman in "Blow Dry," Billy Bob Thornton in "Daddy and Them," Jerry Bruckheimer's "Coyote Ugly," and a spoof of the "Scream" genre called "Scary Movie" starring Carmen Electra.

The DreamWorks Factor. Three years ago, DreamWorks was a fledgling studio. Founded by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, it didn't release one film during that summer. This year, however, DreamWorks has already won the Academy Award for best picture ("American Beauty") and will have six summer releases: "Gladiator," "Road Trip," "Small Time Crooks," "Chicken Run," "What Lies Beneath" and "The Legend of Bagger Vance."

One film, "Chicken Run," is created by England-based Aardman Animation, the Academy Award-winning team behind "Wallace and Gromit" shorts. It's about chickens trapped behind barbed wire who make a run for it before they can be fried, fileted or fricasseed. The trailer has received good buzz.

The studio could also hit the jackpot with the teen comedy "Road Trip," Robert Zemeckis' "What Lies Beneath" and Robert Redford's "The Legend of Bagger Vance."

The Animation Factor. Here's where the battle could get really ugly.

There are seven animated films coming out this summer, some appealing more to adults, while others mainly to children.

Disney, long the champion in animation, is rolling out "Dinosaur" on May 19, and no studio wants to stay in the path of (a) fearsome dinosaurs with huge appetites and (b) a Disney summer animated movie. But later in the summer, other studios are stepping up with their own animated fare--some aimed specifically at children under 10, others more to teens and adults.

Two films that should appeal to young children are Warner Bros.' sequel "Pokemon The Movie 2000," which will introduce six new Pokemon characters, and Destination Films' "Thomas and the Magic Railroad," which combines live action, stop-action animation and digital animation.

Appealing to teens and adults as well as children are DreamWorks' "Chicken Run," Universal's "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle," Disney's "Fantasia 2000" and Fox's supercharged sci-fi film "Titan A.E."

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