The Austin Chronicle

What's the Buzz?

Guide to Summer Films

By Peter Debruge, May 26, 2000, Screens

Films for Children

Gotta Catch 'em All!

What a perfect summer to be young and in line (for the movies, that is). Hatching things off to a dazzling start with Dinosaur, Disney spared no expense building their digital Jurassic playground, the first animated entry in a season full of creative, kid-friendly fare. Still to come are plenty of cartoons and such for all ages. On July 21, the young'uns will be scrambling to catch Pokémon: The Movie 2000 as well as the collectible new characters the film plans to introduce (parents were duly warned more was on the way when Pokémon: The First Movie opened last fall). Don Bluth and Gary Goldman (An American Tail, Dragon's Lair) target teenagers who think they've outgrown cartoons with Titan A.E. (June 16). The effects-heavy space adventure picks up after earth explodes (the "A.E." of the title), tracking the rebellion as a select group of human survivors (voiced by Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, Janeane Garofalo, and Bill Pullman) fight back against the aliens who enslave them. On June 16, audiences of all ages will get a chance to enjoy Disney's lively extension of their animated musical revue without having to seek out the nearest Imax theatre. Planned for wide theatrical release, Fantasia 2000 introduces seven new sequences (including a spry tribute to caricaturist Al Hirschfeld that playfully reinvents Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue") and allows Mickey another go at his lovable magical mayhem in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." Forgoing classical intuition for genuine outrageousness, the Aardman Animations team (putty parents to Wallace & Gromit) plan to unleash a claymation poultry revolt with Chicken Run (June 23). Mel Gibson lends his voice to Rocky, a wise-cracking chicken who decides he's tired of being cooped up on this particular funny farm. By now, animation is old hat to Gibson -- he played John Smith in Disney's Pocahontas -- though a number of other actors will be giving kids' movies a first try this summer. A longtime fan of the spy-defying squirrel-and-moose duo from the Sixties, Robert De Niro decided to produce and star in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (June 30), saving the role of Fearless Leader for himself. When Boris (Jason Alexander) and Natasha (Rene Russo) cross over into the real world, Rocky and Bullwinkle must quickly adapt their cartoony status to a new setting in time to foil the villains' plan to take over the world. In another upgrade from small to big screen, Alec Baldwin jumped at the opportunity to conduct his daughter's favorite train in Thomas and the Magic Railroad (July). When Mara Wilson (Matilda) chugga-chugga-chooses to visit her grandfather (Peter Fonda), she hops aboard the friendly, computer-animated caboose for an enchanted ride. Last but not least, Bruce Willis shows up for some genuine live action as a grown-up jerk who gets whipped into shape by an eight-year-old version of himself (Spencer Breslin) in Disney's The Kid (July 7).

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