John, I got your notes concerning this summer's releases and the relentless negativity rankled my cankles; not because the Big Summer Blockbusters of 2015 looked so excellent, but because we as men and fathers have committed ourselves to excellence in the fields of positivity, inclusiveness and stylish gentlemanliness. More than le cinema, isn't that really what our critically-acclaimed and universally beloved website is all about?
In the spirit of positivity and inclusion, I'm going to ying your yang (link NSFW) and find a silver lining for each and all of these Summer Movie Events towards which you have spewed so much negativity, contempt and curmudgeonly aspersion. And maybe, just maybe, we'll all of us, our readers and ourselves, come away from the experience a little wiser, a little humbler because of our new-found wisdom.
Film descriptions taken (and mangled) from imdb.com.
Director: James Wan.
Writers: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson (characters.)
Stars: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, super-hot newcomer Nathalie Emmanuel, Lucas Black (in one goddamn scene.)
Deckard Shaw seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto and his family for his comatose brother.
John: The least we can all hope for is a tribute to a great man who tragically died in a fiery wreck. This one's for you, Han.
Chris: This one already opened to great reviews and a Massive Box Office take. I'm going to go see it ASAP (as soon as possible) because all signs point to excellence. Tony Jaa is in it, for fuck's sake. And James Wan, much like O'Doyle, rules.
THE LONGEST RIDE
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Writers: Craig Bolotin, Nicholas Sparks (novel.)
Stars: Scott "Son of Clint" Eastwood, Britt Robertson, Alan Alda.
The lives of a young couple intertwine with a much older man as he reflects back on a lost love while he's trapped in an automobile crash.
John: Eastwood's kid takes the popcorn counter gal from Whiplash on a ride she ain't never gonna forget - oh yeahhhh. Wait, this is The Notebook on horseback? Goddamit.
Chris: John, don’t be afraid of your emotions. Melodrama is still the most disreputable genre in mainstream film and it's time we accept in our hearts the appeal and joy of getting our tears jerked. Also, it's from the director of Soul Food, Notorious (no, the other one, the better movie with that title) and Cuba Gooding Jr.'s prestigious navy diver movie. So, there's a 40% chance this movie is meant sarcastically.
THE MOON AND THE SUN
Director: Sean McNamara.
Stars: Pierce Brosnan, William Hurt.
King Louis XIV's quest for immortality leads him to capture and steal a mermaid's life force, a move that is further complicated by his illegitimate daughter's discovery of the creature.
John: I didn't know anything about this flick, but I'm a fan of Vonda N. McIntyre so I'll have to check out the novel. Seems the movie is about Pierce Brosnan trying to capture and cannibalize a mermaid. It definitely has Cloud Atlas potential.
Chris: There are no trailers or promotional stills available right now for this one, but the description sounds bonkers. The director has been continuing the proud Baby Geniuses franchise in its DTV era, including the unforgettable Baby Geniuses and the Space Baby. [Also a Three Ninjas sequel starring Thunder in Paradise-era Hulk Hogan. And the Bratz movie. And Soul Surfer. --jc] There's a 40% chance this is the best movie ever made.
[UPDATE: The film has been pulled from its April wide release by Paramount. Its fate is now uncertain. Poor Pierce Brosnan. A man that handsome should suffer no set-backs in life.]
Director: Daniel Espinosa.
Writers: Richard Price (screenplay), Tom Rob Smith (novel).
Stars: Tom Hardy, Joel Kinnaman, Noomi Rapace.
A disgraced member of the military police investigates a series of nasty child murders during the Stalinera Soviet Union
John: Holy shit; a movie based on the investigation of Anton Chikatilo starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Vincent Cassel and Paddy Considine, with a script by Richard Price? Did you and I request this movie specifically? I haven't read the book but I wonder if I should. At any rate, after The Drop I'd see Hardy & Noomi in anything together, they're the new Tracy & Hepburn in my opinion.
Chris: Good call - I'd watch Hardy and Rapace in just about anything. That cast is delightful and I enjoyed the director's film Easy Money. The Chikatilo investigation is totally fucking insane, including the time they used a girl as bait and then lost her (she was later found dead. But probably not at the hands of the serial killer!) I'm also convinced Chikatilo got railroaded by the Soviet justice system and they almost certainly never got the correct guy. There's a lot to work with there...
PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2
Director: Andy Fickman.
Stars: Kevin James.
After six years of keeping our malls safe, Paul Blart has earned a well deserved vaction.
He heads to Vegas with his teenage daughter before she heads off to college. But safety never takes a holiday and when duty calls, Blart answers. Part of a planned $420 million trilogy crossing over with the Pitch Perfect Cinematic Universe.
John: I'd be willing to see this, but I insist on wearing sweatpants to the theater (unless of course Ryan Gosling will be present at the screening) and being provided with the largest bag of gummi bears imaginable. I just have to be at my most pathetic to make this work. And nobody's allowed to come with me. I'm like Paul Blart...a loner.
Chris: You're like Paul Blart in that you're one of America's most beloved delightfully ursine goofballs! My son is super excited for this one. And goddammit, I genuinely enjoy Kevin James as a physical comedian. He's charming and all you anti-Happy Madison negativists can ram it up your ass. You know what? I like going to the mall to get chili cheese fries at the food court, and I really enjoyed the first Paul Blart. I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy this one, too. I'm calling it right now, this will be the European Gigolo to part 1's Male Gigolo. Is Raini Rodriguez back for this one? I hope so because she's great.
Director: Levan Gabriadze.
Writer: Nelson Greaves.
Stars: Cal Barnes, Matthew Bohrer, Courtney Halverson.
A group of online chat room friends find themselves haunted by a mysterious, supernatural force using the account of their dead friend.
John: Found footage horror movie with the plot of I Know What You Did Last Summer retooled to include the suicide of a person who was ridiculed by peers on Skype. Classy movie, real fuckin classy. Is there a single thing about that opening description (not to mention that title) that makes this not sound like the worst thing ever?
Chris: No. But after the disappointments of art horror like the repetitive, silly It Follows and the seemingly unceasing flood of irksome pastiche films like You're Next, I'm up for some braindead Hollywood teen screams. Horror films should be tasteless, exploitative and a little bit puerile.
How did they miss the opportunity for UnfrienDEAD, though? You dropped the ball, Hollywood film titling impresarios!
Director: Alejandro Monteverde.
Stars: Kevin James, Ben Chaplin, Emily Watson.
An 8year old boy is willing to do whatever it takes to end World War II so he can bring his father home. The story reveals the indescribable love a father has for his little boy and the love a son has for his father.
John: "Little Boy"? I think we all know the kind of person who's excited to see this movie. A person with good taste in cinema, ammirite?
Chris: I already told you: I'm down with Kevin James. Also, look at that cast: Emily Waston, Ted Levine, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Tom Wilkinson, even Ali Landry. These are all people I immensely enjoy seeing on screen. You cannot deny that. I tell you, "John, we got this new Ted Levine/Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa/Emily Watson joint coming your way, you interested?" and your answer is going to be "...yes." Man, I fucking love Ted Levine. We all do.
John: Wow, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa? Between this and The Man with the Iron Fists 2, 2015 promises to host a roaring comeback for one of the greatest actors to ever decapitate a topless blonde with a katana.
THE AGE OF ADALINE
Director: Lee Toland Krieger.
Stars: Blake Lively, Harrison Ford.
A young woman, born at the turn of 20th century, is rendered ageless after an accident. After years of a solitary life, she meets a man who might be worth losing her immortality for.
John: Blake Lively plays Ellen Burstyn's mother. Wrap yr head around that, hipster.
Chris: You know, when you talk about Hollywood movies, it's fair to just focus on the actors. Blake Lively is awesome. She's gorgeous and funny and smart and charming. I'd watch her in a movie. Who wouldn't? Probably some asshole in ISIS or that dipshit who really wants to talk to you about the new Earl Sweatshirt album. You can hang out with those guys, I'll be over here with Blake Lively.
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
Director: Joss Whedon. Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, a puppy dressed up like Murphy Brown, Jeff Foxworthy, Mark Ruffalo
When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.
John: What's with all these "age" movies? I mean Ultron's like just a couple days old, right? Because Tony Stark just invented him (even though we all know Hank Pym invented Ulton, but I guess he was busy being played by Michael Douglas in a different movie). I dunno - Shane Black did such a good job wrapping up Stark's story I kind of wish Downey Jr. had hung it up with part 3. And I still don't give a shit about Hawkeye.
Chris: The Marvel movies are great. Case closed!
WELCOME TO ME
Director: Shira Piven; Writer: Eliot Laurence. Stars: Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Linda Cardellini.
A year in the life of Alice Klieg, a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder who wins Megamillions, quits her meds and buys her own talk show.
John: Look at me, I'm Adam McKay's wife so I get to make a movie! Fuck you. Go make your daughter say naughty words and turn it into a popular youtube video.
Chris: Adam McKay is great and his wife can do whatever the fuck she wants. Case closed!
Linda Cardellini is great. Case closed!
Jennifer Jason Leigh is great. Case closed!
Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack are great. Two cases, double-closed!
Kristen Wiig? Prosecutorial malfeasance was discovered upon appeal. Case re-opened for further review!
Also, I'm really into the idea of winning the lottery and doing crazy things with your earnings. Whenever some stable middle-class guy wins it and is like "we put some away for Jenny's college fund, paid off the mortgage and put the rest in a low risk, blah, blah, blah" I want to start throwing punches and smashing noses, just jump directly on the guy's neck. You've been magically and pointlessly granted the ability to live out fantasies of an enormity of weirdness and perversion and insanity beyond your wildest dreams. To not pursue a inimitable life under those circumstance is an insult to all of those around forced to live in mundanity.
People are always like "he got $90 million and somehow blew it all in three years, it's so sad" and those people are wrong, entirely fucking wrong. That guy who blew all the money did it right. He lived the right way, pouring his money into designer drugs and urbane strippers and fancy monster trucks which he then used to compete in exclusive upper-crust demolition derbies and hare-brained businesses like the guys trying to invent the robotic monkey butler (which is a robot butler for your monkeys, which you now own dozens of because you won $90 million.)
I'm into this movie, is what I'm obliquely getting at.
Director: Anne Fletcher. Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Sofía Vergara.
An inept police officer must protect the widow of a drug dealer from criminals and dirtybpolicemen.
John: A remake of the terrible John Cusack-Robert Loggia movie? I always enjoy Reese's comedic bids, and of course Vergara's very funny. But the poster looks more like the cheap-o dvd-release cover.
Chris: Yeah, you and I might be the only two How Do You Know? superfans in existence and when I insist to my high-minded cineastic colleagues that Reese Witherspoon is kinda great, I am greeted with confusion and dismissal. Vergara is obviously among the most beautiful women in the world and comes through in the clutch. She's Nick Foles-esque, that one! I give this movie a 40% chance of tickling my funny-bone, a 40% chance of tugging at my Midnight Run-bone and a 40% chance of including a rappin' grandma. Directed by the "choreographer" of Hugh Jackman's Real Steel? Yes. That is correct.
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Director: Mastermind George Miller. Stars: Charlize Theron, Max Rockatansky, Zoe Kravitz (as a piece of toast.)
In a postapocalyptic world, in which people fight to the death, Max teams up with a mysterious woman to try and survive. This is not at all a vague description that seems to apply as much to Thunderdome as Road Fury.
John: Dust devil! Guitar blowtorch! Liberated slave harem! Imperator Furiosa! FUUUUUUCK YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.
Chris: I have literally never been more excited for a movie than I am for Fury Road. The other day, I was thinking about it and just started pacing around my apartment. I wasn't doing anything, just remembering the trailer and pacing around, getting all worked up. I get mad now when I go to an R-rated movie and they don't show the trailer, like that's kinda the only reason I'm going to the theater to see Run All Night or Furious 7, just to see the trailer for Fury Road again on the big screen.
There's a 97% chance my heart explodes when the theater dims and the credits roll on this one.
PITCH PERFECT 2
Director: Elizabeth Banks.
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld (who apparently is now a member of "young, sexy Hollywood" and a true friend to the end of Taylor Swift.)
Collegiate a cappella group the Barden Bellas enter into an international competition that no American team has ever won.
John: Go away.
Chris: Adam Devine is in this. I never saw the first one because it just looked too good, you know? But now that I know Mr. DeMamp is in it, I could talk myself into giving a shot. Goddammit, that song is now stuck in my head again. Elizabeth Banks directed it. She and Katey Sagal are in it, too. See? I can talk myself into this one, no problemo. (According to imdb, Freddie Stroma of "nothing whatsoever" fame is only rumored to be in it at this point. No confirmation yet. Let's keep our fingers crossed.)
Director: Brad Bird.
Writers: Damon Lindelof, Brad Bird.
Stars: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie
Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.
John: Obviously love Brad Bird, but the name Damon Lindelof has undermined many a promising production. I just need more proof that this movie is going to be awesome.
Chris: I was just reading about Richard Price's novel Freedomland and the terrible Julianne Moore movie that got made from it. Surely you can admit this will be better than Freedomland? You want more proof this will be worth your time? Just remember the trailer for Freedomland: they're making movies like that all the goddamned time.
Director: Paul Feig.
Writer: Paul Feig.
Stars: Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Morena Baccarin, Jude Law, Melissa McCarthy
A deskbound CIA analyst volunteers to go undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent diabolical global disaster.
John: Statham, goddammit. What the hell are you doing in a Paul Feig-Melissa McCarthy "comedy?" Fire your agent...out of a window.
Chris: Statham gets compared to Bronson a lot, perhaps because they are both stone killers with no discernible sense of humor. I'm fine with the man wanting to take a departure and spread his comedic wings - do we know he's not funny? We won't know until we see Spy. He's getting the chance Bronson never got. And what if this turns out to be his Kindergarten Cop? What then, my friend?
John: Last time Statham tried straight comedy, the result was a cameo in The Pink Panther. Aren't the Guy Ritchie movies considered "comedies?" And Chev Chelios is an underappreciated comedic performance.
Chris: You're right: Statham is a major comic talent and a proven commodity as a yuckster. Therefore, Spy will be great.
Director: Cameron Crowe.
Stars: Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bradley Cooper.
A celebrated military contractor returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs and re-connects with a longago love while unexpectedly falling for the hardcharging Air Force watchdog assigned to him.
John: Aloha and aloha to Cameron Crowe, attempting to wedge himself back into public cognizance. Emma Stone finally gets her Manic Pixie Girl movie.
Chris: I find Cameron Crowe's movies to be perfectly watchable and only object to them in the context of being taken as "good." I will watch this. If I can talk myself into Pitch Perfect 2 over Adam DeVine, I can certainly talk myself into this hot load over Danny McBride. What the hell is Jody Hill up to these days? Did he just give up? I miss him. I miss him a lot.
Director: Brad Peyton.
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Alexandra Daddario, Carla Gugino.
In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescuechopper pilot makes a dangerous journey across the state in order to rescue his estranged daughter.
John: Until Dwayne Johnson goes back to being billed as The Rock I refuse to see any of his movies.
Chris: I was just reading about Salman Rushdie's novel The Core and the awful Hilary Swank movie that got made from it. Surely you can admit that THE ROCK IS AWESOME!!
Alexandra Daddario's in it as well and she's genuinely the hottest woman on the planet. Those eyes. [Swoons.] Carla Gugino, Kylie Minogue, Archie Panjabi - wait, did I cast this movie? Mr. Dwayne Johnson and Ioan Gruffudd ain't tough on the ol' peepers either! 40% chance I'd prefer if this movie ended with an orgy. Vegas is willing to give me -6000 odds it does not.
INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3
Director: Leigh Whannell.
Stars: Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Angus Sampson.
A prequel set before the haunting of the Lambert family that reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.
John: Absolutely can not wait for this to be available at the library.
Chris: These movies are great. The first one was like Poltergeist without Zelda Rubenstein! I'm glad Leigh Whannell is getting a chance to direct now that James Wan has moved on the Hollywood Big Time. Wan, incidentally, is Hollywood's greatest pulp/genre director, hands-down. I bet Whannell is pretty good. That's my bet. I am a betting man.
John: If Whannell's so great how come Cooties never came out? Huh? I was actually excited for Cooties.
LOVE & MERCY
Director: Bill Pohlad.
Writers: Michael A. Lerner, Oren Moverman (screenplay.)
Stars: Elizabeth Banks, John Cusack, Paul Dano.
The life of reclusive Beach Boys songwriter and musician Brian Wilson, from his successes with highly influential orchestral pop albums to his nervous breakdown and subsequent encounter with controversial therapist Dr. Eugene Landy.
John: The latest John Cusack-playing-real-life-person movie for nobody to give a shit about. Nobody wanted to see The Frozen Ground. Nobody wanted to see The Raven. Nobody cared that he played Richard Nixon for some reason in Lee Daniels' The Butler. Nobody's going to care about this one, unless they got Paul Dano to play young Brian Wilson. Oh, they did? Nope, nobody cares.
Chris: Look man, I'm only human. Not even I can pretend to care about this horseshit. Movies like this are the fucking worst. Paul Dano as Brian Wilson? Lick. my. butthole.
Director: Doug Ellin.
Writers: Doug Ellin (screenplay), Rob Weiss (!!!!!!) (story.)
Stars: Adrian Grenier, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Connolly, Larry Storch.
Film star Vince Chase and his cronies take on Hollywood.
John: Ugh, fuck off! Who wants to see this??
Chris: I have never seen a single episode of the show, therefore I can maintain a positive mental attitude about this film. Maybe I go and see it and find out it's totally my thing. Then I get a great movie and as a bonus 3 seasons (5 seasons? 14 seasons?) to dig into like a rich buffet of...t.v. Yessir, a t.v. buffet.
Director: Colin Trevorrow.
Stars: Chris Pratt, Judy Greer, BD Wong.
Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park (1993), Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfill a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to respark visitor's interest, which backfires horribly.
John: No, this time we swear the dinosaurs won't run amok. O they did? O fuck.
Chris: Like anyone else, I haven't been entirely able to escape the hype machine around this thing and in interviews the director seems like he has the right idea: there's no need to be so precious about disposable junk like Steven T. Spielberg's Wildin' Dinos. Just because you saw some shit when you were 12 doesn't make it sanctified. There's plenty of room in this life (and the next) for Chris Pratt, dino-cycles and more rascally, wascally wildin' dinos.
Directors: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen.
Stars: Diane Lane, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler.
Ever hear of Herman’s Head? That, but a cartoon.
John: I'm excited that my daughter's excited, but this looks like some bullshit C-grade Dreamworks joint not Pixar. Sorry, it doesn't look good.
Chris: Of all of the terrible live-action sitcoms to follow The Simpsons on Fox, Herman's Head was possibly the least worst. Pixar understood that. In some ways, Wall*E a remake of Woops! while Up was a remake of Ned and Stacy, so Pixar clearly knows what they're doing when it comes to remaking short-lived early 90's Fox sitcoms as crummy-looking feature films. For that reason, I gotta give this one the benefit of the doubt.
Director: Jake Schreier.
Stars: Cara Delevingne, Nat Wolff, Halston Sage.
A young man and his friends embark upon the road trip of their lives to find the missing girl next door.
John: If you liked Fault in Our Stars...then you suck. Get off my lawn.
Chris: What I'm learning from looking these movies up is that there's a young lady named Cara Delevingne who is an actress in motion pictures. She's going to be in 5 fucking movies this year and has the role of "Enchantress" in Suicide Squad coming up after that. I'm looking forward to learning more about her, yet another way in which once again I play right into the hands of Important Hollywood Insiders.
Director: Seth MacFarlane.
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Amanda Seyfried.
Newlywed couple Ted and TamiLynn want to have a baby, but in order to qualify to be a parent, Ted will have to prove he's a person in a court of law.
John: Ted 2's coming out? It's just like that time my cousin got his dick stuck in that pencil sharpener. [Cut to: guy standing in classroom next to a pencil sharpener. Day turns to night. Night turns to day. Maybe snow gathers on top of the guy's head (too much?) He never moves. Finally teacher enters the classroom, looks astonished: "Spelter, have you been here all summer??" Spelter: "...It was worth it."] Fuck Seth MacFarlane.
Chris: Mark Wahlberg is deeply underrated as a comedic talent. Look in your heart, John, you know this to be true. He's dynamite in Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees. He's a delight as one of the few comedic presences in The Departed. He exceeds the crummy films around him in Date Night and Pain & Gain. You should be encouraging, not disparaging, his comedic turns.
RICKI AND THE FLASH
Director: Jonathan Demme.
Writer: Diablo Cody.
Stars: Meryl Streep, Sebastian Stan, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Jay Garrick.
A guitar player returns home to make amends with her family.
John: Man, I feel like I owe Diablo Cody another shot after being pleasantly surprised by Young Adult. So I want to thank Jonathan Demme for casting Meryl Streep as an aged former rock star, Kevin Kline as her ex-husband and Streep's real-life daughter Mamie Gummer (official worst name ever) as, are you ready for this?, Streep's daughter - thereby guaranteeing there is no possibility of me ever seeing this movie. None whatsoever.
Chris: Man, Young Adult is so good. It's great. Did you know I was a close personal work acquaintance of Jonathan Demme before I got fired for surliness and/or incompetence? He once asked to borrow my dvd of The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant. True story.
MAGIC MIKE XXL
Director: Gregory Jacobs.
Writers: Reid Carolin, Channing Tatum.
Stars: Amber Heard, Channing Tatum, Elizabeth Banks.
The continuing story of male stripper, Magic Mike.
John: No Soderbergh, no McConaughey? Even if the first one was better than "fine," I'd have no interest in seeing this...wait, Amber Heard? Who am I kidding, I'm in.
Chris: I saw the first one with Eric Pfriender on opening weekend in a theater packed full of women. I think most of them assumed we were there as a couple because we were in fact the only pair of straight dudes on a date to see Magic Mike. Anyhoo, after it ended, we were surrounded by this throbbing gaggle of horned up lady-folk and it made me understand what it must be like to be a lady, just surrounded all the time by sweaty, unappealling horndogs with crazed looks in their eyes, getting locked in the hypnotized focuses of their indifferent, zombified lusts. It was pretty unsettling. So, I'm looking for to seeing this one on opening night, is what I’m getting at.
Director: Alan Taylor.
Stars: Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
After finding himself in a new timeline, Kyle Reese teams up with John Connor's mother Sarah and an aging terminator to try and stop the one thing that the future fears, "Judgement Day."
John: That is some obnoxious misspelling there, subtitle. I hate the movie because of it and don't care to hear any more.
Chris: I don't know... You do your best, you know what I'm saying? Another Terminator was going to get made. I'm sure everybody involved tried really hard.
Directors: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin.
Some shit where they speak gibberish, punch each other, fall off of stuff and eat bananas.
John: I'm actually more excited to take my daughter to see this than Inside Out.
Chris: The minions are the best part of Despicable Me and removing them from all the other noise is a delightful prospect - sorta like what happened with The Penguins of Madagascar which was a pretty excellent, joke-a-second, pun-filled Naked Gun-style comedy of sheer volume and shamelessness. There is a 100% chance Minions is better than Inside Out.
Director: Peyton Reed.
Writers: Adam McKay (screenplay), Paul Rudd (screenplay.)
Stars: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Hayley Atwell, Judy Greer, Michael Douglas.
Armed with a supersuit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, conman Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
John: Gaaaah. I'm going to see this out of loyalty to Peyton Reed more than anything. Down by Love scored him at least 3 "passes", and The Break-Up was only like half-a-strike. Which means if this shit is a hit I have to see all 3 Ant-Man movies.
Chris: Yeah, Peyton Reed earned our loyalty. You and I might be the only people who are equal parts R.W. Fassbinder and Bring it On superfans. Down with Love and The Break-Up, whatever their flaws, are the type of movies you get down on your godless knees and pray the fat-cats out in Hollywood try to make with unceasing regularity. But they never do. Prayer is a load of horseshit.
Marvel seems to have a bead on The Pink Smoke's favorite oddball directors, though - Shane Black, James Gunn, now Reed. If Carl Franklin gets hired to do a New Warriors movie then I'll... well, I'll be pretty into it actually.
Director: Joe Wright.
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Cara Delevingne, Rooney Mara, Amanda Seyfried, Garrett Hedlund.
The story of an orphan who is spirited away to the magical Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan.
John: Oof, this title is just setting itself up. Congratulations critics, your work is half done. It might have taken a slight mental effort to revert "Chappie" into "Crappy," but this one's done for them - just add a "d" and you're done. "Hey has it been 3 years? We need another Peter Pan reboot. Actually let's make 2 for good measure."
Chris: The enduring fascination with Peter Pan is a mystery to me. I just don't get why this is a story that gets told over and over again. It's not that great. This movie looks like someone said "let's make it all Rufio - the costumes, the sets, the hair, the flying pirate ships and tea kettles! Rufio-ize it, down to the last doorstop!" Joe Wright is the world's premiere director of interesting, stylistically adventurous films that I have almost no interest in. He seems like a filmmaker I'd really like if he'd just lay off the Peter Pans and Anna Kareninas and Prides and Prejudices for a second.
Director: Judd Apatow.
Writer: Amy Schumer.
Stars: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, John Cena, Method Man, Tim Meadows, Marisa Tomei.
Having thought that monogamy was never possible, a commitmentphobic career woman may have to face her fears when she meets a good guy.
John: Have no cultural awareness of Amy Schumer whatsoever but I kind of hate Bill Hader. And Apatow's day is done. However I'd be lying if I said I wasn't perplexed/intrigued by the casting of John Cena in a supporting role.
Chris: Amy Schumer is great and Apatow reminds me of Peyton Reed in that they're both at least trying something. Apatow is probably the only Big Time Hollywood Filmmaker who any longer makes comedies about actual human beings. Unlike Reed, I'm not an Apatow superfan (I just don't see the world in any way like he does) but he's admirable, getting out there trying to make something funny and human and not relentlessly insulting to everyone's intelligence. Plus, the clips of him interacting with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog on the set of This is 40 are pretty endearing.
Director: Chris Columbus.
Stars: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Brian Cox.
When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games.
John: Adam Sandler gets attacked by Pac Man. I liked this premise when it was a Futurama episode 15+ years ago.
Chris: I like this premise as an Adam Sandler movie in 2015.
Director: Gil Kenan.
Writer: David Lindsay Abaire.
Stars: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jane Adams (is she going to be sexually humiliated by a ghost?)
A family's suburban home is invaded by evil forces.
John: No Zelda, no Poltergeist. Jared Harris is no Zelda. Amazed that I have to explain this.
Chris: I watched and enjoyed "poltergeist in a high rise." I think I'm up for this one. Sequels, remakes, knock-offs and rip-offs are all proud horror movie traditions. This is a proud, traditional film. I'm just surprised any actors were willing to sign on to this. Get your bowels checked, everybody.
Director: Antoine Fuqua.
Writers: Kurt Sutter, Richard Wenk.
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Naomie Harris.
A boxer fights his way to the top, only to find his life falling apart around him. Also, presumably some other things that aren’t entirely generic.
John: This was supposed to be an 8 Mile sequel, but now it stars Jake Gyllenhaal for some reason. Antoine Fuqua, king of the bland genre movie - how is he still working??
Chris: Southpaw Grammar? That's a stupid name. Ooooh, sick burn on Morrissey! Jakey Gylley made the jump along with Tom Hardy for me last year where I'm genuinely excited for any movie in which they appear. And it looks like he got fucking JACKED for this movie, so we should all respect the work he put in for this role and go see this motion picture film. I'm enjoying the recent wave of "gritty street fightin' man" movies - if this one is as good as Out of the Furnace and Warrior, that'll be more than good enough for my purposes. My shady, ugly purposes.
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION
Director: Christopher McQuarrie.
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Alec Baldwin.
Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.
John: Are they going to call this one MI:5? That will be confusing.
Chris: You're telling me you'd prefer if they didn't make any more movies about the Impossible Mission Force? That can't be what you're telling me because that is some straight-up nonsense. That would be gibberish to me. Unintelligible. "Oh, I never saw MI:5." You will never say this to me. Never. Especially if they end calling the movie something else.
Director: Josh Trank.
Stars: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Don Yesso, Yes Nondo.
Four young scientists achieve superhuman abilities through a teleportation experiment gone haywire. They must now use these abilities to save the world from an uprising tyrant.
John: The dweeby d-bag from Whiplash is no Ioan Gruffudd (despite being able to spell his name properly), Mara's no Alba, Michael B. Jordan's got charisma but his charm withers compared to that of Chris Evans. It looks like garbage. If this one bombs, I guess they'll just have to acknowledge that this comic doesn't work as a movie and move on...right?
Chris: Can you link to Norm MacDonald's joke about the Fantastic Four? An opportunity to shine a light on that bit alone would justify this film's entire existence. Plus, there's an unconfirmed rumor on imdb that Michael Chiklis and Ioan Gruffud (hubba-hubba!) will be making surprise cameos behind prosthetic noses in order to wryly lampoon their roles in the original!
MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.
Director: Guy Ritchie.
Stars: Alicia Vikander, Henry Cavill, Hugh Grant, Armie Hammer.
In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons. Also, presumably a bunch of other generic stuff.
John: I love the original show, so this movie can go fuck itself please. Guy Ritchie + Cavill + Armie Hammer = blandness in a blender.
Chris: Pass. Pass! I get one pass per round, right? No? Well... I like the poster. Or, I like how they're dressed on the poster. Those are two foxy dudes.
Director: Jared Hess.
Writers: Chris Bowman, Jody Hill, Danny McBride.
Stars: Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis.
A night guard at an armored car company in the Southern U.S. organizes one of the biggest bank heists in American history.
John: Just stop putting Kristen Wiig in every movie, Hollywood. Please. I'm not outright offended by her, but I'm definitely fucking sick of her.
Chris: The other night on Comedy Central one entire commercial break was just an extended preview for this movie that they tried to pass off like it was something the home viewing audience had been waiting for, perhaps tuned in exclusively to see. It looked just awful, but here's the thing you can't deny: the cast is loaded with people who when they are good, they are the so very good. Galifianakis, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudekis, Ken Marino, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Jon Daly. I mean, it's written by Danny McBride and... oh, hey. That's where Jody Hill went. I missed that dude. I am not giving up on this one until after it has disappointed me. Even then, I will likely spend some time trying to convince myself I liked it more than I did.
John: And from the director of Napoleon Dynamite? I failed to mention that.
Director: Ariel Vromen.
Stars: Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds, Alice Eve.
The memories & skills of a deceased CIA agent are implanted into an unpredictable and dangerous convict.
John: Aka Brain Jail. "A criminal is implanted with a dead CIA agent's memories to finish a mission." He's gotta get out of brain jail! Poor Ryan Reynolds...he's never going to catch a break like Chris Evans did, is he? Also starring Gary "Thanks for the paycheck, mate" Oldman.
Chris: Ryan Reynolds already caught a break - he was in Marjane Satrapi's bananas schizophrenia melodrama terror comedy. He's also playing Deadpool, who if I am understanding things correctly, is not related to the Enchantress and is neither the Flash nor Ricki. I like him. He'll be fine. This movie will be fine. It's another great cast - Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Pitt, Robert freakin' Davi. Scott Adkins will be on hand to (presumably) kick someone. And of all of the unremarkable models turned actresses to have been recently forced on an unsuspecting public, I find Gal Gadot to be the most luminous/charming. She's fine. The director did The Iceman. Remember that movie? That movie was fine. There's no need to overreact here.
Director: Boaz Yakin.
Writers: Sheldon Lettich, Boaz Yakin.
Stars: Robbie Amell, Lauren Graham, Thomas Haden Church.
A dog that helped US Marines in Afghanistan returns to the U.S. and is adopted by his handler's family after suffering a traumatic experience.
John: Nice try, Boaz Yakin! There is only one Max of summer 2015 and that is Max Rockatansky, as reimagined by Tom Hardy. But get this - Max is co-written by Sheldon Lettich, writer of Van Damme's early movies, and it's about a dog with PTSD. I'm not even kidding. It's a sensitive drama...about a dog who was in Afghanistan...and returns home, traumatized by his experience. So this...might be amazing? Do you...remember the titans?
Chris: I'm so excited for Fury Road, just seeing the word Max is getting me hyped up. Also, I'm glad that they finally made a movie out of Sam Kieth's finest creation and the crown jewel of the Image catalogue.
Director: Ciarán Foy.
Stars: Shannyn Sossamon.
A young mother and her twin sons move into a rural house that's marked for death. Soon, they find themselves under siege by an evil that is hard to kill.
John: Scott Derrickson sucks. He's just the absolute worst.
Chris: Ethan Hawke's performance in the first one was actually some of the very best film acting of that year. I'm deadly serious - he's kind of amazing in that movie. He's replaced by Shannyn Sossamon in the (presumably) squeakquel - talk about someone who can't catch a break. Remember her part in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang? What the hell happened there? I'm not sure it's on the record, so let's get it on the record: I aaadddoooorrrre her. She's a delight. Charming. Talented. Luminous. I'm 100% committed to seeing her in crap like Sinister 2. If I don't support her, who will? It's not like they're going to cast her as Deadpool and the Green Lantern.
John: Holy shit, Sossamon? In the lead role? This movie gets a reprieve...but as much as I love the Soss, shouldn't her starring in this make it an immediate DTV sequel?
Chris: You. monster.
HITMAN: AGENT 47
Director: Aleksander Bach.
Stars: Zachary Quinto, Rupert Friend, Ciarán Hinds.
An assassin teams up with a woman to help her find her father and uncover the mysteries of her ancestry. Movies sound fucking idiotic if you reduce them to single line.
John: Ah, the video game equivalent of Fantastic Four - Hollywood insists the story is worth telling, scant ticket sales be damned! Maybe this time it'll work! I mean we hired the same screenwriter, what could go wrong?
Chris: Shit - is Sossamon in this one, too? No - I read her bio wrong. It's worse. She did a voice in the video game. I didn't see the Olyphant version, so I've got a recently formatted hard-drive on the issue in that regard. I'm sure they've worked out all the bugs and this one will be a more user-friendly experience. Patched it right up. Video games. Controller. Xbox. Rail shooter. End boss. Extra points. Fire flower.
Director: Alejandro Amenábar.
Stars: Emma Watson, Ethan Hawke, David Thewlis.
A father is accused of a crime he has no memory of committing.
John: "Agora?" What the hell is that?? Apparently it was the highest-grossing film in Spain in 2009 (that can't be right - highest grossing Spanish film in Spain, maybe?) But anyway, Amenabar made something called "Agora" between The Sea Inside and this movie, which I predict will suffer an Agora-esque fate (...of being a big hit in Spain! Jeez, not everything I have to say is negative.)
Chris: Agora is a Rachel Weisz movie about ancient mathematicians. So, back to Ethan Hawke - he's in Regression. So is David Thewlis. I might... I might be out of energy. I mean, those guys... one of the them was in Naked and the other keeps making wonderful Richard Linklater movies. Would a brain jail have helped or hurt this dude's situation?
Director: Alex Kendrick.
John: "...from the director of Fireproof."
Chris: The tagline for this movie is "Prayer is a powerful weapon." You're telling me you're not interested? It's going to be like a Christian version of The Fury or a piddling Niche Market take on Firestarter. They're going to pray until people's heads fucking explode. That's a powerful weapon, my friend! Beware shadowy governmental agencies as you plot and plunder from the comfort of your War Rooms, there's a psychic Christian murder-bomb with your names on it!
JANE GOT A GUN
Director: Gavin O'Connor.
Stars: Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor.
A woman asks her ex-lover for help in order to save her outlaw husband from a gang out to kill him.
John: Natalie Portman is married to Noah Emmerich in this movie? Whaaa? The pock-marked, 50-year-old character actor?? That's like Elle Fanning making a romantic comedy with Gary Busey.
Chris: This is the movie where Lynne Ramsay got fired. She was replaced by the director of Kurt Russell's Miracle. Everything about this movie makes me feel bad. If this movie were a child, it would have my sympathy and pity. It apparently had a budget of $50 million. Doesn't that seem like an awful lot? What a waste. This is bumming me out.
Sympathy and pity are kinds of silver linings, right? They’re better than contempt and fury.
John: Unless you mean Fury Road.
I just read that Lynne Ramsay is planning to direct an adaptation of Moby Dick...set in space? It's got to be a joke, right? I mean, Futurama just did that a few years ago. Whatever, I'd be down with it. In fact, one of my childhood traumas involved a space whale: the sudden appearance of the monstrous "Astro" in Pinocchio In Outer Space used to give me nightmares. You can see it here, around the 10:50 mark. It looks silly now, but when I was a kid it scared the shit out of me.
TRANSPOTER: LEGACY... REFUELED
Director: Camille Delamarre.
Stars: Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson.
A reboot of the story of transporter Frank Martin.
John: So Statham decides to co-star with Melissa McCarthy and some white rapper asshole takes over Transporter? Bullshit. And how lazy is Hollywood that every time they reboot an action franchise with a new actor they just add the word "legacy" to the end of the title? More like Transporter Leg-assy.
Chris: Uh, it’s called The Transporter Refueled now. It's funny that they're still calling him Frank Martin, like there's some mythology built up around The Transporter's legendary non-looker-at-packages Franklin T. Martin (nee Martinski). I mean, is there anything to the character beyond "he's some guy who drives stuff to places" and "played by Jason Statham?" He's got rules, you see?
Rule #1 is never... oh relax, of course I'm in. You think there's going to be a new Transporter film in theaters and I'm not going to see it? I'm on the record as being interested in the new Paul Blart movie. If Spy works out, they could reboot Paul Blart with Statham as the titular boob.
Director: John Erick Dowdle.
Stars: Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Owen Wilson.
In their new overseas home, an American family soon finds themselves caught in the middle of a coup, and they frantically look for a safe escape in an environment where foreigners are being immediately executed.
John: "...from the director of The Poughkeepsie Tapes." And not a Lance Henriksen in sight.
Chris: This is just an unconfirmed rumor from imdb, but apparently Henriksen will appear in the film behind a prosthetic nose in order to wryly lampoon his role in the original!
Director: John Hillcoat.
Writer: Matt Cook.
Stars: Norman Reedus, Gal Gadot, Kate Winslet.
A gang of criminals and corrupt cops plan the murder of a police officer in order to pull off their biggest score yet across town.
John: Holy shit, this supporting cast is bankable: Chiwetel, Anthony Mackie, Casey Affleck, Aaron Paul, Kate Winslet, Michael Pena and Clifton Collins Jr. I like all those guys. And it's a heist movie directed by John Hillcoat with a screenplay not written by Nick Cave, so maybe it won't suck like Lawless did.
Chris: Agreed - although I feel like you slipped Anthony Mackie onto your list just to see if I was paying attention. I am easily more excited for Gal Gadot and Aaron Paul than that dude. I also didn't dislike Lawless as much as you. I think all three of Hillcoat's major films are pretty interesting, The Road, The Proposition and Lawless.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan.
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan.
Stars: Kathryn Hahn, Ed Oxenbould.
A single mother finds that things in her family's life go very wrong after her two young children visit their grandparents.
John: M. Night trying to claw back to former glory. Kathryn Hahn is in this, which makes me want to see it since she's so awesome in Step Brothers and How Do You Know?
Chris: Yeah, I love Kathryn Hahn. I enjoyed her on Kroll Show as well. I feel like I don't even understand what Shyamalan's career is at this point. It's such a sharp arc from the heights of Auteurism to the dumpster of Auteurism. Maybe it'll be good for his work that Hollywood Tastemakers have rejected him and The Suits have put him on notice - ego-driven bloat and self-satisfied shtick were the problem with stuff like Lady in the Water and The Happening. If he's forced to prove himself and submit to the will of The Market, I bet some of that fat can get sliced off of the meat.
A mixed metaphor? What a twist!
Director: Scott Cooper.
Stars: Dakota Johnson, Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch.
The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.
John: Not an adaptation of The Black Mass of Brother Springer? No, this is the Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger movie. Give me a break - when did Depp decide he needed to play every famous wanted criminal from the 20th century? And the rest of the cast: Cumberbitch...Joel Edgerton...Sienna Miller...Dakota Johnson...fucking Juno Temple. I'm sick of these people, and really don't want to hear Cumberbatch attempt a Boston accent.
Chris: "Cumberbitch?" I think you can do better than that. You're better than that. I believe in you John! (My belief in you is the silver lining.)
John: That was honestly a typo - I really have nothing against Cumberbatch other than the fact that he's not a versatile enough actor to be as overexposed as he is. Also I rescind my anti-Joel Edgerton stance after Exodus: Gods and Kings, he was enjoyable in that. And I liked him in Warrior.
Director: Baltasar Kormákur.
Writers: Simon Beaufoy, Lem Dobbs, Justin Isbell, Mark Medoff, William Nicholson, Lem Dobbs, Lem Dobbs, and LEM DOBBS.
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robin Wright, Keira Knightley.
A climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snow storm.
John: This is described as "an upcoming 3D historical biography action adventure disaster thriller film." Could have just said "A Perfect Storm in the snow." Got it.
Chris: As a K-2 superfan, it goes without saying that I am the target audience for this film.
THE MAZE RUNNER: SCORCH TRIALS
Director: Wes Ball.
Writers: T.S. Nowlin.
Stars: Young and beautiful Hollywood types.
After having escaped the Maze, the Gladers now face a new set of challenges on blah blah doo doo dah YA crap on the big screen hoo boo.
John: I'm going to be leaving scorch trails in the urinal of the bathroom in any theater that shows this movie, just out of spite.
Chris: Don't be bitter just because of your poor showing at your own scorch trials. Anyhoo, this movie is for teenagers, who are only interested in fantasy epics about chosen ones who are good at fictitious sports. Since we are not teenagers, we don't have to acknowledge it even exists. Silver lining!
Director: Edward Zwick.
Writers: Steven Knight.
Stars: Tobey Maguire, Lily Rabe, Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard.
American chess champion Bobby Fischer prepares for a legendary matchup against Russian Boris Spassky.
John: Because y'see, some pawns gotta get sacrificed if the queen's gonna live. It's like life, really. I hate this movie based on title alone, and Bobby Fischer was a giant prick. Next.
Chris: Yes, but aren’t you interested in what kind of giant prick he was? Are there not multitudes within each prick?
John: Actually...I miss Tobey Maguire. Maybe I'll wait to see a preview.
Director: Denis Villeneuve.
Stars: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin.
A young female FBI agent joins a secret CIA operation to take down a Mexican cartel boss, a job that ends up pushing her ethical and moral values to the limit.
John: The title means "hitman," which makes me wonder if they are rebooting the video game twice in one year. No, this is Villeneuve's new one. I like the cast, I like Roger Deakin, I like Enemy so I guess I'm in.
Chris: Yeah, after Enemy, Villeneuve gets my eyeballs for his new one. Also, I never had any feelings one way or the other on Emily Blunt, but I thought she was the best thing by far about Into the Woods. She's on a nice little hot-streak with her work in Looper, Edge of Tomorrow and Into the Woods. The script for Sicario sounds like junk, but I think there's a 40% chance it's satisfying junk.
THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM
Director: D.J. Caruso.
Writer: Wentworth Miller.
Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Gerald McRaney.
A mother and her young son release unimaginable horrors from the attic of their rural dream home. They are later disappointed by these unimaginable horrors.
John: Written by Wentworth Miller. I wonder if the disappointments room is where they keep his script for Stoker and dvds of all Kate Beckinsale's movies. Zing!
Chris: Good ol' Major Dad. Nice to see him hanging around with D.J. Caruso, director of Taking Lives, Two for the Money, Eagle Eye, I Am Number 4 and other movies you do not remember. Caruso is not blandness in a blender. He is the blender. His movies are all enjoyable, though. Those films are all boring concepts rendered as well as is humanly possible. I like Kate Beckinsale, too. I know I'm not supposed to, but I do.
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky.
Writers: Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel.
Stars: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, Kevin James, David Spade.
When the old-fashioned vampire Vlad arrives at the hotel for an impromptu family gettogether, Hotel Transylvania is in for a collision of supernatural oldschool and modern day cool. Hilarity has a reservation! But you won't have a single one about seeing it on opening night! Reserve your tickets now!
John: The first one was surprisingly ok, but I don't know if that warrants a sequel. A Mel Brooks voice performance is exciting for as long as it takes you to realize they also let Fran Drescher in here for some reason.
Chris: You said enough nice things about this that I don't feel a silver-lining take is warranted. It might be kinda unseemly, truthfully. And am I going to keep going on and on about how much I like Kevin James? That would gauche. And I'm not gauche, John. You know that. You damn well know that.
Director: Nancy Meyers.
Stars: Anne Hathaway, Robert De Niro.
A comedy about a fashion website that brings in an elderly intern. Hilarity ensues... or you’re fired!
John: Nancy Meyers fans, this note's for you. (What the fuck, is this still the summer? Holy shit I kept going straight through September. That's how desperate I am for a good movie!)
Chris: Summer's over. Go home everybody.
(Wait - hold on! This one has Adam Devine and Anders Holm in it. Blake Anderson must be...not pissed. Probably ok. He's probably ok with not being in the new Nancy Meyers movies.)