Mark Harris
April 21, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

EW Online names the summer’s top 10 blockbusters

This Friday marks the arrival of EW’s 11th annual Summer Movie Preview, heralding what we call ”all the buzz on 137 new releases.” We’re proud of it, but we have no delusions about what that phrase means, and if you’re a regular reader of EW, neither do you. Out of those 137 new releases, about 17 will get postponed until the fall, and 80 will have only tiny releases (although 10 of those will be great art-house and indie finds). That leaves 40 — 10 of which will be unspeakably awful, 20 of which will range from just fair to pretty good. That leaves 10. Ten movies you have to see this summer.

To find out what they are, I surveyed EW’s own movie writing staff for the pics that they, as civilians, are most eager to see. Deeply intelligent, thoughtful, low-budget works of art were, of course, ruled ineligible (they’ll be highlighted in a later column). The results:

1. ”Gladiator” This is a bit of a cheat. Ridley Scott’s Roman-coliseum epic has already screened for many members of the press, and great buzz is spreading fast. That said, the film topped almost everyone’s list. Expect Russell Crowe to finish the summer season as a major A-list star.

2. ”The Perfect Storm” Few directors know how to combine hard-edged action with genuine emotion as skillfully as Wolfgang Petersen (”Das Boot,” ”Air Force One,” ”In the Line of Fire”). Hopes are high for ”Storm” as a July 4 antidote to the silly kid stuff that’s clogging many of the early summer’s weekends.

3. ”Me, Myself and Irene” We’re not film snobs at EW. Give us Jim Carrey playing a schizophrenic, the Farrelly brothers, spit takes, and a very angry midget, and we’re there. Maybe twice.

4. ”Mission: Impossible 2” Even staffers who didn’t love Brian De Palma’s take on the ’60s series a few years ago are eager to see what ”Face/Off” auteur John Woo has in store for the sequel, thanks to a great trailer, Tom Cruise back where he belongs — in the middle of the mainstream — and a great supporting cast including Anthony Hopkins and Thandie Newton.

5. ”Chicken Run” Here’s a surprise — a clay-animated comedy about chickens that’s causing major fan excitement. Why? Well, it helps that the animation is by cult-fave genius Nick Park, the brilliant Brit whose short ”The Wrong Trousers” currently ranks No. 42 on Internet Movie Database’s list of the best films of all time. We can’t wait.

6. ”Shaft” Samuel L. Jackson. Enough said.

7. ”The Patriot” The American Revolution has more often than not been a land mine for moviemakers (see Al Pacino’s ”Revolution,” to name but one misstep). But the combination of Mel Gibson (also, by the way, a voice in ”Chicken Run”) back in righteous-badass ”Braveheart” mode and the summer-friendly team of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich has us curious. An early peek at footage suggests a darker and more violent movie than one might expect.

8. ”Road Trip” Summer would not be complete without one offering up to the ”Animal House”/”American Pie” gods. This is the one. Reportedly raunchy, stupid, gross (these are the selling points). Topless babes. Horny guys. Tom Green letting a live mouse crawl around on his tongue. If you have a little brother, this will be at the top of his list.

9. ”X-Men” You think we put it on our cover for nothing? If we’re going to be subjected to a barrage of comic-book movies, they might as well be based on really, really big comic books. Selling points include an unnecessarily great cast (Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, big-buzz newcomer Hugh Jackman) and a director (”The Usual Suspects”’ Bryan Singer) who isn’t your standard blockbuster hack.

10. ”Nutty 2: The Klumps” Eddie Murphy, in drag AND a fatsuit AND six different roles. Whaddya want, an engraved invitation? Pray to the movie deities that this will be even half as funny as the dinner-table scene in the last ”Nutty Professor.”

Find more about these movies in our Summer Movie Preview.

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