EW Staff
April 28, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

RUNNING FREE Lucky is an orphan. And a major stud — literally. In director Sergei Bodrov’s dramatic adventure, a horse struggles in the Namibian desert, falls in love, and challenges the local bully. Bodrov employed Method Acting for equines to help his ”thespians” pony up nuanced performances. Narration by Lukas Haas provides some — pardon the expression — glue. BOTTOM LINE Based on a story by The Bear‘s Jean-Jacques Annaud — now there’s a pedigree. (June 2)

AMERICAN PIMP Warning to young filmmakers: How much Hollywood clout does a ”Sundance sensation” really have? Well, consider the plight of this documentary by brothers Allen and Albert Hughes (Menace II Society). A series of profiles of flamboyant ”mack daddies,” it whipped up a ruckus at Sundance ’99, only to sit around on ice for almost a year and a half. BOTTOM LINE Hype, like cheap cologne, doesn’t smell as sweet when it gets old. (June 9)

SUNSHINE The English Patient‘s Ralph Fiennes does triple duty playing three different period roles in this somber saga about a Hungarian family, stretching across five generations — and three hours. The film — by István Szabó (director of the Oscar-winning Mephisto) — has already won Canada’s Genie Award for Best Motion Picture, but U.S. critics who saw the movie at the Toronto Film Festival last year weren’t so impressed. BOTTOM LINE As Variety‘s critic succinctly put it: ”A tough mainstream sell.” (June 9)

BOYS AND GIRLS Scorsese and De Niro. Fellini and Mastroianni. Robert Iscove and Freddie Prinze Jr. The director and the leading man of She’s All That reconvene for a romantic comedy in which college classmates Prinze and Claire Forlani (Meet Joe Black) quit bickering like an old married couple and start making like a young horny couple. American Pie‘s Jason Biggs and The Blair Witch Project‘s Heather Donahue lend support. BOTTOM LINE Prinze also gets comedically romantic in next year’s Head Over Heels. Can we get enough of his love? (June 16)

BUTTERFLY Originally titled Butterfly’s Tongue — whatever that means — this somber Spanish drama about a young boy sent to school right before the Spanish Civil War won a Goya Award (the Spanish Oscar) for Best Adapted Screenplay this year. BOTTOM LINE Sounds like Au Revoir Les Enfants with a Spanish twist (Adios Niños?); the buzz is that it’s quite moving. (June 16)

JESUS’ SON Billy Crudup stars as a wayward druggie nicknamed FH (that’s short for ”F— Head”) in director Alison Maclean’s adaptation of Denis Johnson’s 1993 book. Lionsgate was so high on Crudup’s raw performance that the studio initially planned a limited Oscar-touting release last December. BOTTOM LINE Its Oscar chances might be better placed in the hands of Crudup’s costar, Sweet and Lowdown Supporting Actress nominee Samantha Morton. (June 16)

TRIXIE After the critical and commercial failure of his Breakfast of Champions, director Alan Rudolph re-teams with Nick Nolte for another bizarre comedy, about a grammatically challenged gumshoe (Breaking the Waves‘ Emily Watson, of all people) investigating a corrupt politician (Nolte). Nathan Lane, Dermot Mulroney, and Brittany Murphy round out the cast. BOTTOM LINE Extreme indifference at the film’s Sundance 2000 premiere indicates that critics and audiences may treat Trixie like a second helping of Breakfast. (June 30)

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