Rarely, if ever, has Hollywood seen an onslaught of youth culture quite like it has over the past several years. And if Lindsay, Hilary, Christina and Britney are Mount Rushmore, well, they're clearing off the mountain these days for several fresher faces.
The new year brings with it some big movies for Miley Cyrus, Zac Efron and more, along with questions about whether these budding stars are ready to have their training wheels taken off. Still others will hope to embrace similarly huge teen fanbases, while establishing themselves as the next big thing.
"High School Musical" star Corbin Bleu swaps high school for handlebars in this inspiring tale of a teenager overcoming his working-class background (and outrageously curly hair) to become a motocross superstar. With a soundtrack featuring Bleu, the Jonas Brothers and others, "Style" hopes to get our engines revved up February 6.
Isn't Isla Fisher supposed to be a huge star by now? After she stole "Wedding Crashers," the beautiful Australian actress seemed on the fast track — then came "Hot Rod," "The Pleasure of Your Company," "Definitely, Maybe" and others. Now, Borat's baby mama finally has her chance to shine with "Shopaholic," based on Sophie Kinsella's hit books about a young Carrie Bradshaw wannabe who longs to wear designer duds but needs her pocketbook to catch up with her shopping bag. Here's hoping it's the movie that finally makes Isla as hot as a Gucci Sukey Python Tote.
Sometimes, the danger with Disney movies is that they become too generic, relying on the old conventions of princesses, talking animals and music. Although all three are in next December's "The Princess and the Frog," it boasts a unique backdrop: New Orleans at the height of the jazz era. What we've seen of the animation looks promising, and you can't go wrong with a cast featuring distinctive voices such as John Goodman, Oprah and Keith David. Let's hope this "Frog" is worth kissing.
7. "Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: The Squeakuel"
This article officially marks the first of many times in 2009 that my spell-check nearly self-destructs as I try to make it pass over the word "squeakuel." Still, people want their Chipmunks, and ever since MTV broke the news that the Chipettes would be in tow for the second film, fans have been dying to see the three ladies whose voices are even higher than Alvin, Simon and Theodore's. Mix in new songs like "The Time Warp" and a plot that sends the Chipmunks to school, and it sounds like you can already plan your family movie outing for next holiday season.
Nearly 30 years after the dance movie/ TV show/ musical craze ruled pop culture, "Fame" is making good on its pledge to live forever. But does it still know how to fly? High? We'll find out in September, when the currently shooting musical updates the tale of high-kicking students from the New York Academy of Performing Arts. Bonus: This time, Kelsey Grammer, Bebe Neuwirth, Charles S. Dutton and Megan Mullally are all along for the ride, creating an unlikely sitcom goulash. If "Fame" is half as successful at re-envisioning as last year's "Mamma Mia!" was, you can bet that people will remember its name. Remember, remember ...
5. "Stay Cool"
The most adult-minded film on this list, "Stay Cool" will see Hilary Duff continuing her recent evolution ("War Inc.") from teenybopper titan to all-grown-up actress. She's once again in good company, working with wunderkind twins Mark and Michael Polish ("Northfork," "The Astronaut Farmer") and co-starring with Winona Ryder, Sean Astin and Chevy Chase. Likely to arrive sometime in late 2009, the flick tells the story of an author who returns to his high school, only to find himself caught between an old girlfriend (Ryder) and a student (Duff).
The plot sounds like "E.T.," "Home Alone" and "Gremlins" all rolled into one and targeted toward people too young to have seen any of the three in theaters. But add in "High School Musical" alumna Ashley Tisdale and a charming four-armed alien, and this February 13 fantasy flick might just be worthy of its own celebratory dance. The fun-looking trailer has the former Sharpay and her cinematic siblings moving into a vacation home, only to discover a herd of nasty-looking alien invaders hoping to spoil their fun. If only they were afraid of musical numbers ...
3. "17 Again"
In 1988, "Big" put a little boy in the body of Tom Hanks, giving him a hit film, an Oscar nomination and two decades atop the Hollywood A-list. In 2004, "13 Going on 30" put a little girl in the body of Jennifer Garner, and not nearly as many people cared. So what will happen when the red-hot Zac Efron pulls a reverse-switcheroo and finds himself sharing a teenage body with Matthew Perry's world-weary adult mind? Well, the first trailer looks promising for this April release, and if Zac manages to sneak in his signature facial twitch, it will be at the top of the box office in the wink of an eye.
Last February, Miley Cyrus' "Best of Both Worlds" opened in a mere 638 theaters and poked Jessica Alba in "The Eye," earning more than double her opening weekend box office. And "Both Worlds" was a concert film! In April, Hannah Montana will finally be unleashed as a full-fledged feature film, bringing her back home to Tennessee, where she'll sing some songs, fall in love and hang with Dolly Parton — and judging by the footage we saw a few months ago, it won't disappoint.
Millions of shrieking fans would gladly give up their texting fingers for the chance to be onstage with Joe, Nick and Kevin Jonas. Hundreds of thousands of homework assignments would undoubtedly be turned in on time if teachers could only promise their students the reward of a backstage pass to hang with the boys. In February, you'll be a mere movie ticket away from living out both fantasies — well, kinda. "Concert Experience" is promising to take the "Burnin' Up" singers off the movie screen and into your laps, courtesy of the latest 3-D technology. The only thing left for you to do is sit back, slip on your 3-D glasses, and pray that the guy sitting next to you isn't Russell Brand.
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