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The girls of summer (buffy mention)

Mary McNamara

Saturday 6 May 2006, by Webmaster

Blink and you might miss the women in the summer movie lineup. But indie movies save the day, along with some tough-girl roles.

This just in: There are still women working in Hollywood, and many of them, we have it on good authority, are actresses. You just wouldn’t be able to prove it by this summer’s movie lineup. With the romantic comedy teetering on endangered-species status, popcorn roles for women are becoming few and far between. For some reason, screenwriters and studio executives still seem to think that women are less capable then their male counterparts when it comes to blowing things up, masterminding heists, saving the world and generally doing the blockbuster-y things movies do during the summer.

This after seven successful seasons of "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer" and the entire oeuvre of Angelina Jolie.

Fortunately, not every blockbuster out there is a remake of a male-dominated cop show. The X-Men have always included a few pretty groovy X-Women - including Halle Berry, Anna Paquin and newcomer Ellen Page. Mucho macho "Mission: Impossible III" managed to include a stunt-requisite role for Keri Russell. And what would Superman be without Lois Lane, played in "Superman Returns" by Kate Bosworth.

If you peer among the tent-pole flicks, there are, of course, the smaller summer standards, some of which actually star women.

To every season, there is a chick-lit flick, and this summer it’s "The Devil Wears Prada" with Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep. The devil also makes an appearance in "The Omen," with Julia Stiles as the latest unwitting mother of Satan, as well as Mia Farrow, who started it all.

And parents may want to teach their teenagers the perils of cellphone usage by letting them see "Pulse," with Kristen Bell battling the demon spirits infecting our world through wireless technology.

On a more indie level, "Little Miss Sunshine" may be a Steve Carell road picture, but it does star newcomer Abigail Breslin as an unlikely child beauty pageant finalist and Toni Collette as her mom. Lili Taylor, currently burning up Broadway, is the woman Charles Bukowski falls for in "Factotum"; Amy Sedaris is a middle-aged ex-junkie who returns to high school to begin again in "Strangers With Candy"; and Emily Rios debuts in "Quinceañera," about a 15-year-old in trouble who goes looking for family.

And let us not forget the time-honored fact that behind every superhero, crooked cop and sleuthing art historian is, inevitably, a mother/wife/potential girlfriend. So if all those clenched-jaw heroes and evil-eyed villains start to blur, you can find a few fabulous girls of summer; you just have to keep your eyes peeled.