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Published: Thursday, 5/26/2005

Rock has roles in Longest Yard, Madagascar


Is it so weird that Hollywood wants to remake everything known to mankind, including the home movies from your second-grade confirmation? The cannibalistic music biz remakes songs so frequently, and has for decades, that it s not uncommon to have, say, the White Stripes Seven Nation Army on the radio at the same time the Flaming Lips are performing their cover of Seven Nation Army.

Aretha Franklin s Respect came not so long after Otis Redding recorded the original (and promptly admitted that the Queen of Soul topped him).

Hot tip: MP3 blogs have been abuzz with the unintentionally twisted tunes from Kidz Bop, a kind of K-Tel CD compilation of current hits performed by children. (You have not lived until you ve heard 5-year-olds sing Modest Mouse and Alicia Keys.)

What matters is not the song but the singer. Which is a high-minded way of saying if you loved the original Longest Yard from 1974, you ll probably have an easier time than you think of sidling up to The Longest Yard starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. Paramount has even taken the added precaution of employing the star of the original, Burt Reynolds. Yes, Sandler takes the Reynolds role, playing an inmate who organizes a team of prisoners to stand against a squad of bone-crunching prison guards. The original is the most rousing football movie ever made, but then the competition was a bunch of sissies.

Rock, clearly rethinking his viability as a leading man, can also be found this week in DreamWorks Madagascar. He does the voice of a zebra. Ben Stiller is the voice of a lion. Jada Pinkett Smith is a hippo (proving the woman is definitely not vain). They escape Central Park and wind up roughing it on the island of one guess. A curious tidbit: Aside from Disney s June anime release, Howl s Moving Castle, and August s Valiant (talking carrier pigeons), Madagascar is your only animated choice until fall.

Digital or traditional.

A film that might have wanted to rethink its opening date and held out for fall itself is Winter Solstice, which opens at Super Cinemas Cinematheque in Spring Meadows. It does not scream Summer is here! Anthony LaPaglia plays a widower drifting though life in a fog after the death of his wife. Of course, if that s too heavy for you, feel free to catch one of the 1,368 screens showing Star Wars. It tells a gentle story of galactic enslavement, vivisection, and planets of lava.

Cookout, anyone?

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