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SMART LIST (SNEAKS EDITION)

John Cusack as dad, and Tyler Perry as almost-cad

September 09, 2007|Deborah Netburn

You could talk about: John Cusack grows up even more. Like most women of our generation who spent years renting "Better Off Dead" every other weekend, we have always loved John. We loved him in his high school phase ("One Crazy Summer," "Say Anything"). We loved him when he played dark loners ("Grosse Pointe Blank," "Pushing Tin"), and we think we're going to love him in his third phase: parental figure. This fall he plays a dad in two films: "Grace Is Gone" (sad) and "Martian Child" (spooky). We're into actors who grow. (Oct. 5 and 26)

You'll have to talk about: Tyler Perry meets Janet Jackson. You may remember Perry from such films as "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" and "Madea's Family Reunion." You may also remember that Hollywood types scratched their heads at the impressive returns these films made on rather tight budgets. This fall, when "Why Did I Get Married?" hits theaters, Perry's fans will get more than just the moral stories they've come to love. Janet, "Miss Jackson if you're nasty," is a costar. (Oct. 12)

You'll hear about: Julie Taymor's big experiment. "Across the Universe," Taymor's film about the '60s, finally comes out this fall and we're ready for it. Mostly we just want to know if it's any good, because we think it could go either way. We've heard Taymor's Broadway stagings ("The Lion King") are amazing, but her last film, "Frida," didn't blow our minds. (Friday)

Why not talk about: The absolute weirdest film of the fall. We'd like to congratulate Nancy Oliver, former writer on "Six Feet Under," for coming up with the season's strangest idea. "Lars and the Real Girl" is about a lonely young man who meets a woman online and invites her to stay with him. The woman, it turns out, is a blowup doll, which does not deter our hero from taking her around town and telling people she is a missionary. Somehow the trailer makes this look like a charming small-town comedy. Ryan Gosling stars. We don't know what else to say. (Oct. 19)

-- Deborah Netburn

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