Ever since the "summer movie" concept was created with the runaway success of 1975's Jaws, the season has become synonymous with name-brand blockbusters and sequels. To be sure, there is no shortage of sequels, prequels, reboots, pre-boots, remakes, pre-makes, and make-boots coming to theaters this summer. But warm-weather months are also about major-label animation, ribald comedies, unbranded action flicks, underappreciated auteurs, arthouse alternative programming and the ubiquitous horror movies and biopics.
SEQUELS, REMAKES AND REBOOTS
Magic Mike XXL and Ted 2 follow up hit 2012 films, while Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is Tom Cruise's fifth go-round as Ethan Hunt. The Fantastic Four reboot hopes you'll forget all previous movie versions, while The Man from U.N.C.L.E. prays that someone remembers the 1960s TV show. Meanwhile, Vacation and Jurassic World appear to simultaneously sequel-ize and reboot their franchises, and God only knows what's going on in the timeline of Terminator: Genisys.
Critic's Pick: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. This is possibly the most auteur-driven franchise in film history and I'm curious to find out what Cruise sees in Jack Reacher director Christopher McQuarrie.
Entourage brings the HBO series to the big screen; video game characters wreak havoc in Pixels; Kristen Wiig and Zach Galifianakis organize a bank heist in Masterminds; Lily Tomlin plays a feisty you-know-what in Grandma; Melissa McCarthy falls down a lot in Spy; sex addicts Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis form a platonic bond in Sleeping with Other People; Amy Schumer headlines Judd Apatow's Trainwreck.
Critic's Pick: Trainwreck. I've had my issues with Apatow as a director, but it's great to see Schumer in a lead role. Plus, check out the supporting cast: Brie Larson, Tilda Swinton, Randall Park, Method Man and LeBron James.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl swept the top awards this year at Sundance, where the coming-of-age comedy Dope also received praise and the shot-on-iPhones Tangerine played the Next program. Infinitely Polar Bear stars Mark Ruffalo as a manic-depressive trying to win back his family; Adam Driver plays a new father in Hungry Hearts; Ian McKellan assumes the role of Sir Arthur Conan Dolye's great detective in Mr. Holmes; Jennifer Connelly reconnects with her abandoned child in Aloft.
Critic's Pick: Aloft. The bleak trailer for Claudia Llosa's drama makes it seem like the perfect vehicle for Connelly, a great actress who hasn't had a decent role in nearly a decade.