The 19 movies you can't miss this spring -- Look out for ''Never Been Kissed,'' ''Mod Squad,'' and ''True Crime''

By EW Staff
Updated February 12, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

200 Cigarettes
Starring Kate Hudson, Casey Affleck, Jay Mohr, Ben Affleck, Dave Chappelle, Gaby Hoffmann, Courtney Love, Christina Ricci, Paul Rudd, Catherine Kellner, Martha Plimpton, Janeane Garofalo
Directed by Risa Bramon Garcia
What’s the big deal? A young, very ’90s cast parties like it’s 1981. Plus: Elvis Costello as himself.
As far as the hype-meisters are concerned, this megamix of hot young talent should be the American Graffiti for Y2K. Then again, it could turn out to be just another excuse for a cool soundtrack. And it’s very cool, with such retro pop as the Cars’ ”Just What I Needed” and Costello’s ”(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” Set on New Year’s Eve, 1981, 200 Cigarettes traces the lives of various young couples and friends on their way to a party and on quests for love. Or, in the words of Bramon Garcia, making her feature directing debut, it’s ”a romantic disaster movie.” Features may be new to Bramon Garcia, but assembling a cool cast isn’t. As a casting director, she’s recruited for True Romance, Speed, and a bunch of Oliver Stone flicks. This cast, however, was ”never actually all together at once,” says Rudd, who plays a bitter painter in love with Love. ”As far as I was concerned, the only people in the movie were Courtney and Elvis.” (Feb. 26)

The Mod Squad
Starring Claire Danes, Giovanni Ribisi, Omar Epps, Josh Brolin, Dennis Farina, Michael Lerner, Steve Harris
Directed by Scott Silver
What’s the big deal? Missing Linc? Have we got a movie for you.
In the high-haired world of ’70s television, no ‘fro stood taller than that of The Mod Squad‘s ringleading star Clarence Williams III (unless you count Bernie’s from Room 222). Updating a figure like Linc — and badgeless, bulletless, underage crime-fighting buds Julie and Pete — is no small undertaking. For starters, in the ensuing 26 years (the ABC series ended its five-season run in 1973), the corduroy suits and shag vests favored by the Mod trio haven’t aged very well. This probably explains why the new Squad is set in the natty ’90s. But these young thug-busters will have to do more than drop a few Starbucks or Internet references to make hip young audiences buy a cop caper without guns. ”The hardest thing,” says director Silver, ”is remaining faithful to a TV cop show that our target audience doesn’t even remember.” However, this Mod Squad update does offer one surefire turn-on. Says Epps: ”Claire Danes wears some really tight leather pants.” (April 1)

Eight Millimeter
Starring Nicolas Cage, Joaquin Phoenix, James Gandolfini
Directed by Joel Schumacher
What’s the big deal? The director of Batman amp Robin gets down and dirty.
When Warner Bros. grounded Tim Burton’s big-budget Superman, Cage (the man who would have been Clark Kent) took this trip to the dark side with another Warner alum, director Schumacher, who’s currently on leave from the big-budget summer corridor while the studio’s Batman franchise is on hold. And with a screenplay credited to Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven), Eight Millimeter is about as far from blockbuster territory as you can get. Cage, who stars as a detective hired to check out a snuff movie (so called because a young woman appears to be actually murdered on film), says he hopes Eight Millimeter will ”tap into that feeling of, What is going on out there, that there are people who can do such atrocious things?” The MPAA found a few atrocities of its own in an early cut of Eight Millimeter, which it slapped with an NC-17. Schumacher says bits of sex and violence were trimmed in order to get an R from the ratings board, and endorsed Sony’s decision to move the film from its original Feb. 5 release date. ”That would’ve put us right up against Valentine’s Day,” says Schumacher, ”which wasn’t the best idea.” (Feb. 26)