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Spring Cleaning 

Upcoming films look like yesterday's news

If there's one familiar slogan that applies to the 2003 spring movie season, it's the one about something old being something new. Looking at the titles scheduled to come our way over the next few weeks, it's hard to find many that don't immediately bring up memories of earlier pictures. For example, what is Duplex if not a variation on the Ealing Studios classic The Ladykillers? What's The Hunted if not an Oscar-clad First Blood? What's The Guru if not an update of Being There? You get the picture. Add a handful of sequels to the mix, and suddenly 2003 looks very retro.

Still, as long as the films deliver, it shouldn't matter if rampant plagiarism is the order of the day. Here, then, is a checklist of what we can expect to see in the weeks and months ahead.

January 24:

An evil spirit known as the Tooth Fairy terrorizes a coastal town in the horror yarn DARKNESS FALLS.

January 31:

Obviously hoping to cash in on the success of The Fast and the Furious, BIKER BOYZ is set in the world of "underground motorcycle clubs." Laurence Fishburne plays the seasoned pro, while Antwone Fisher's Derek Luke is the young upstart hoping to knock off the champ...

DELIVER US FROM EVA casts Gabrielle Union as a woman always interfering in her siblings' personal business; LL Cool J co-stars as the bachelor hired to date her and keep her out of the way...

Final Destination was a modest enough hit back in 2000 to warrant a sequel, so here comes FINAL DESTINATION 2, in which more teens meet grisly ends...

An Indian dance teacher (Jimi Mistry) working as a waiter in New York gets mistaken by high society for a spiritual leader in THE GURU, a romantic comedy co-starring Heather Graham and Marisa Tomei...

Colin Farrell, still grasping at stardom, tries again with THE RECRUIT, in which he plays a CIA rookie who isn't sure whether he can trust his mentor (Al Pacino), a fellow trainee (Bridget Moynahan), or neither.

February 7:

By the sort of sheer coincidence found only in the movies, a glamour magazine writer (Kate Hudson) and an ad agency hotshot (Matthew McConaughey) simultaneously decide to make a member of the opposite sex fall in love with them within 10 days and then dump them. By an even bigger coincidence, they end up setting their sights on each other in the comedy HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS...

A sequel to the woeful Shanghai Noon, SHANGHAI KNIGHTS finds Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson ditching the Wild West and heading to London, where they try to stop a plot to murder members of the royal family.

February 14:

The cinematic superhero boom continues with DAREDEVIL, an adaptation of the adventures of one of Marvel's best (and most underrated) costumed crimefighters. Ben Affleck plays Matt Murdock, the blind attorney blessed with exceptional powers, with Michael Clarke Duncan and Colin Farrell respectively cast as villains Kingpin and Bullseye...

Mowgli, Baloo the Bear and the rest of the gang return in the animated sequel THE JUNGLE BOOK 2.

February 21:

A cop (Kurt Russell) known for his unorthodox methods butts heads with a straight-arrow officer (Ving Rhames) in DARK BLUE, from director Ron Shelton (Bull Durham)...

A prequel to 1993's Gettysburg, GODS AND GENERALS looks at the early years of the Civil War. Jeff Daniels, Stephen Lang and Kevin Conway reprise their roles, with Robert Duvall joining the cast as Robert E. Lee...

THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE casts Kevin Spacey as a beloved professor on Death Row for the rape and murder of an activist (Laura Linney) and Kate Winslet as the reporter who tries to prove his innocence. Alan Parker (Angela's Ashes, Mississippi Burning) directs...

According to the press notes, OLD SCHOOL "reunites the team [behind] Road Trip," which sounds like a threat to me. Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn star as three 30somethings who attempt to recapture their wayward youth by starting their own frat house.

February 28:

Rapper DMX re-teams with Romeo Must Die co-star Jet Li for CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE, about a thief (Mr. X) who pairs up with a cop (Mr. Li) to rescue his kidnapped daughter...

The documentary DYSFUNKTIONAL FAMILY mixes footage of comedian Eddie Griffin visiting relatives with footage of Griffin in concert...

An enterprising young man (Ashton Kutcher, currently headlining Just Married) agrees to housesit for his boss -- with disastrous results -- in THE GUESTS.

March 7:

BOAT TRIP casts Cuba Gooding Jr. and Horatio Sanz as two homophobes who find themselves on a cruise ship exclusively for gay men (including former 007 Roger Moore as an elderly queen). This has already opened in England, whereupon readers of a popular movie mag over there voted it one of the year's worst (no surprise to anybody who's seen its terrible trailer)...

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