(D: Steve Oedekerk, 90 min)
How much animated product can the public digest? It's worth asking, especially after the flea-sized opening weekend of the Tom Hanks-produced film The Ant Bully. Barnyard is yet another anthropomorphic kids' film, with voices including Kevin James , Courteney Cox , Sam Elliott , Danny Glover and Wanda Sykes . None of them has the A-list cred of a Meryl Streep or a Julia Roberts (both in Ant Bully), but then again, what matters most with feature cartoons these days is a captivating look and a good script. The motorcycle-riding animals look standard-issue, and writer/director Steve Oedekerk is better known for his adult comedies (Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty) than his kids' films (he wrote Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, which was critically reviled). Count on animators to be watching this movie's opening numbers very carefully.
World Trade Center
(D: Oliver Stone, 125 min)
This could go down as the year of the 9/11 movie. We've already seen the nicely understated United 93. Now comes World Trade Center , directed by Oliver Stone , a guy who wouldn't know the meaning of the word "understated" if it grabbed him by the throat and yelled at him repeatedly. The film stars Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena (Crash) as real-life police officers John McLoughlin and William J. Jimeno, the last two men dug out alive from under the rubble of the towers. It's supposed to be incredibly moving and inspirational. Gee, maybe Stone's mellowed. Or maybe he wants company for his Platoon Oscar.
Barnyard opens Friday (August 4). Screened after press time - see review August 3 at www.nowtoronto.com/film. World Trade Center opens August 9. See review in the August 10 issue of NOW.