Each week, we give you the quick rundown on the latest movies arriving at your local theater. Because not every Monday morning water-cooler conversation starts with "Netflix" or "Game of Thrones." Check back before next weekend for updates, and for rolling recommendations, read our constantly refreshed list of The Best Movies of 2016 (So Far).
Hitting theaters on August 5:
Walt Disney Pictures/YouTube
Cast: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader
Director: Conrad Vernon (Monsters vs. Aliens), Greg Tiernan (Thomas & Friends)
The official boilerplate: "The first R-rated CG animated movie follows one sausage leading a group of supermarket products on a quest to discover the truth about their existence and what really happens when they become chosen to leave the grocery store."
The buzz: Rogen and his longtime collaborator Evan Goldberg spent 10 years trying to get Sausage Party made, which explains why the raunchy jokes and innumerable food puns feel like they were written by two stoned 20-year-olds. That's all you need to know -- if the idea of a talking hot dog making sweet, sweet love to his bun girlfriend makes you giggle, you need to see Sausage Party.
Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban
Director: David Lowery (Ain't Them Bodies Saints)
The official boilerplate: "The adventure of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon."
The buzz: Disney's remake of the 1977 animation/live-action hybrid swoops into theaters much quieter than a 20,000 pound invisible dragon might. Don't let the low-key landing sway you; Pete's Dragon is one of the most high-flying, emotional blockbusters of the summer. Pure joy beginning to end. If you've ever been emotionally attached to an animal, it's a must see (also, bring eight packs of tissues).
Hell or High Water
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham
Director: David Mackenzie (Starred Up)
The official boilerplate: "A story about the collision of the Old and New West, two brothers -- Toby (Pine), a straight-living, divorced father trying to make a better life for his son; and Tanner (Foster), a short-tempered ex-con with a loose trigger finger -- come together to rob branch after branch of the bank that is foreclosing on their family land. Vengeance seems to be theirs until they find themselves in the crosshairs of a relentless, foul-mouthed Texas Ranger (Bridges) looking for one last triumph on the eve of his retirement."
The buzz: They don't come much leaner, grittier, and rootin' tootin' than Hell or High Water, a formidable crime movie built on relevant economic issues. Great performances enhance a standard issue story that should please any adult who thinks Hollywood's for suckers.
Florence Foster Jenkins
Cast: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson
Director: Stephen Frears (High Fidelity)
The official boilerplate: "Set in 1940s New York, Florence Foster Jenkins is the true story of the legendary New York heiress and socialite (Streep) who obsessively pursued her dream of becoming a great singer. The voice she heard in her head was beautiful, but to everyone else it was hilariously awful."
The buzz: Florence Foster Jenkins is an American tale with the soul of crowd-pleasing British dramedies like The King Speech. The Hollywood Reporter, in line with most critics, says the movie "hits more than a few flat notes, but still delivers gentle laughs and classy star performances."
Cast: Thomas Middleditch, Nick Kroll, Adam Pally, Jenny Slate
Director: Jeff Baena (Life After Beth)
The official boilerplate: "After his engagement suddenly ends, Joshy and a few of his friends decide to take advantage of what was supposed to be his bachelor party in Ojai, California. In their attempt to help Joshy deal with the recent turn of events, the guys turn the getaway into a raucous weekend filled with drugs, booze, debauchery, and hot tubs."
The buzz: Joshy ranks among the wackiest bachelor party movies ever (and technically, it's not a bachelor party). Aside from a handful of jarring tonal shifts, it's a hell of a good time hanging out with these dudes, thanks to friends' (played by goofy-as-ever Nick Kroll, Adam Pally, Brett Gelman, and scene-stealer Alex Ross Perry) valiant efforts to keep the party going.
Cast: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel
Director: Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips)
The official boilerplate: "Years after the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, former CIA assassin Jason Bourne (Damon) resurfaces just as his former employers are implementing a new program aimed at hunting him down. Now fully recovered from his amnesia, Bourne teams up with Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) to uncover the ultimate truth about his past and his family while simultaneously exacting revenge and eluding capture by the government forces hot on his trail."
The buzz: After three hits and a miss (we won't bother asking -- you don't remember the Jeremy Renner-led The Bourne Legacy), Matt Damon's action-thriller franchise pumps out one more installment. Sadly, the fan service might be indulgent. Jason Bourne sits on the cusp of the "Tomatometer," and even praise feels halfhearted. "The thrill isn't entirely gone," writes the New York Times review. "It's just a little more subdued." If this summer wasn't leaving us starving, would anyone be clamoring for more Bourne?
Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jared Leto
Director: David Ayer (Fury)
The official boilerplate:"Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren’t picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it’s every man for himself?"
The buzz: The latest Batman-verse comic book movie has all of its cards close to its chest, save for one: Leto's diabolical on-set behavior. To become the new Joker, the actor lived the part, much to the chagrin of the cast. Will it help the finished film? After mile reception to this year's Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad underwent substantial reshoots to reportedly liven up the villain-centric men-on-a-mission movie. Now it looks more like Guardians of the Galaxy. We hope it's half as good.
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner, Cheryl Hines, Christopher Walken
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black)
The official boilerplate: "Tom Brand (Spacey) is a daredevil billionaire at the top of his game. His eponymous company FireBrand is nearing completion on its greatest achievement to date - the tallest skyscraper in the northern hemisphere. But Tom's workaholic lifestyle has disconnected him from his family, particularly his beautiful wife Lara (Jennifer Garner) and his adoring daughter Rebecca (Malina Weissman). En route to his daughter's party, Tom has a terrible accident. When he regains consciousness he discovers that somehow, he has become trapped inside the body of the cat."
The buzz: Nonexistent, but praise be: a movie where Frank Underwood plays a cat! The Academy Award-winner will lure parents, children, and stoned youth with his take on the Shaggy Dog (or A Talking Cat?! if you're a shlock aficionado). We can't say we're rushing to theaters for this one, but we're Netflixing Nine Lives ASAP.
Cast: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade, Machine Gun Kelly
Director: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman (Catfish)
The official boilerplate: "Industrious high school senior, Vee Delmonico (Roberts), has had it with living life on the sidelines. When pressured by friends to join the popular online game Nerve, Vee decides to sign up for just one dare in what seems like harmless fun. But as she finds herself caught up in the thrill of the adrenaline-fueled competition partnered with a mysterious stranger (Franco), the game begins to take a sinister turn with increasingly dangerous acts, leading her into a high-stakes finale that will determine her entire future."
The buzz: Before they terrified you with Paranormal Activity 3 and 4, directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman made the social media paranoia doc Catfish, an essential document of pre-Tinder online dating. Their new movie Nerve, an Emma Roberts- and Dave Franco-starring techno thriller about a deadly mobile-gaming app, splits the difference between visceral scares and sly social commentary. It's the rare movie that attempts to mimic the aesthetics of the internet -- emojis, text messages, Skype -- and mostly gets the details of the Pokémon Go era right while still providing old-fashioned scares.
Cast: Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate
Director: Jon Lucas & Scott Moore (21 & Over)
The official boilerplate: "When three overworked and under-appreciated moms are pushed beyond their limits, they ditch their conventional responsibilities for a jolt of long overdue freedom, fun, and comedic self-indulgence."
The buzz: Bad Moms has everything going for it. Hahn is hilarious. Applegate is hilarious. Bell is hilarious. Kunis plays the straight woman role to perfection. But Bad Moms is a glorified episode of Modern Family, pitched right down the middle for maximum regression. It'll be hilarious when you catch it on a long flight.
Cast: Anna Gunn, James Purefoy, Sarah Megan Thomas, Alysia Reiner
Director: Meera Menon (Farah Goes Bang)
The official boilerplate: "A female investment banker, fighting to rise to the top of the corporate ladder at a competitive Wall Street firm, navigates a controversial tech IPO in the post-financial crisis world, where loyalties are suspect, regulations are tight, but pressure to bring in 'big money' remains high."
The buzz: We loved this biting financial thriller after catching the Sundance premiere. Six months later, we feel the same way. With an elite cast of women, and steady hands behind the camera, Equity is a movie we've seen before revamped in ways we've never seen before.
Cast: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia, Maria Bello
Director: David F. Sandberg
The official boilerplate: "When Rebecca left home, she thought she left her childhood fears behind. Growing up, she was never really sure of what was and wasn’t real when the lights went out… and now her little brother, Martin, is experiencing the same unexplained and terrifying events that had once tested her sanity and threatened her safety."
The buzz: Produced by The Conjuring and Insidious director James Wan, this is a movie constructed to scare the shit out of you, preying on anyone who sleeps in the dark. Variety describes the directing style as "inventive, relentless jolts." Sounds about right. With the creepy trailers touting a solid cast, Lights Out should help horror fiends beat the heat with a chill down the spine.
Star Trek Beyond
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba
Director: Justin Lin (Fast Five)
The official boilerplate: "The Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test."
The buzz: After 2013's underwhelming Star Trek Into Darkness, J.J. Abrams' spiffy sci-fi relaunch is back with a scaled-down, amped-up installment courtesy of Justin Lin, Fast and Furious mastermind. Beyond is a mixed bag, with loads of character and action dolled out at warp speed. It's the rare blockbuster tackled like an episode of television -- a logical departure from Abrams' takes, considering the source material. If you're a trekker, Beyond's a given. If you can't tell your Trek from your Wars, the trilogy-capper is still the breeziest blockbuster you'll beam into this summer.
Ice Age: Collision Course
Cast: Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary
Director: Galen T. Chu, Mike Thurmeier (Ice Age: Continental Drift)
The official boilerplate: "Scrat’s epic pursuit of the elusive acorn catapults him into the universe where he accidentally sets off a series of cosmic events that transform and threaten the Ice Age World."
The buzz: Collision Course is the fifth Ice Age movie. Yes, there is backstory to follow. Yes, every actor you've ever seen on television voices a mammal on the brink of extinction. You in?
Don't Think Twice
Cast: Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia, Chris Gethard
Director: Mike Birbiglia
The official boilerplate: "For eleven years, an improv group called The Commune has reigned as the big fish in the small pond of their New York improv theater. Then they get news that their theater is shutting down, and scouts from a hit TV show come to a performance, looking for talent. Only two cast members get the nod, upsetting the dynamic of the group and leaving its future in doubt. Relationships begin to crack as six best friends face the truth that not all of them will make it, and for some, it may be time to give up on the dream and move on."
The buzz: Stand-up comedian Birbiglia follows up his tender, autobiographical debut Sleepwalk with Me with another film that mixes his own experience with fictional setup. Echoing raves out of SXSW, The New Yorker calls Don't Think Twice an "amiable, lovingly detailed comedy about comedy."
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones
Director: Paul Feig (Bridesmaids)
The official boilerplate: "Ghostbusters makes its long-awaited return, rebooted with a cast of hilarious new characters. This summer, they're here to save the world!"
The buzz: Despite nostalgic, "they're destroying my childhood!" screams bellowing from the depths of Reddit, the female-driven Ghostbusters redux is one of the funniest movies of the year, and packed with enough action to make it one of the must-see blockbusters of the summer season. Feig makes sure to throw in a handful of references for fans, but better, doubles down on the biting buffoonery and cartoonish action. Even the 3-D is a blast, with swirling ghosts and proton pack beams popping off screen.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
Cast: Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick
Director: Jake Syzmanski (Saturday Night Live, Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
The official boilerplate: "Hard-partying brothers Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) place an online ad to find the perfect dates (Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza) for their sister's Hawaiian wedding. Hoping for a wild getaway, the boys instead find themselves out-hustled by the uncontrollable duo."
The buzz: Like Wedding Crashers made by the generation who grew up watching Wedding Crashers, Mike and Dave follows a predictable formula. There's lots of raunchy laughs along the way -- most from Zac Efron's goofily unself-conscious commitment to his nice-bro role and Aubrey Plaza's brazen potty mouth -- just note that Mike and Dave retreads many movies we've already seen, while adding in some dated "jokes" that are wholly offensive in 2016. Still, a cameo from Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) as a ponytailed, oiled-up masseuse is worth the price of admission alone.
The Secret Life of Pets
Cast: Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Ellie Kemper, Albert Brooks
Director: Chris Renaud & Yarrow Ceney (Despicable Me 2)
The official boilerplate: A terrier named Max regularly invites his friends to hang out at his place while his owner is gone, but his quiet life is upended when said owner also takes in Duke, a stray mutt whom Max instantly dislikes.
The buzz: The summer's second examination of our domesticated animal relationships (the first, Wiener-Dog, isn't family friendly in the slightest), The Secret Life of Pets touts big-name comedians so parents (or uncles and aunts doing a major favor) don't go brain-dead halfway through this animated circus. Positive reviews should encourage, and a lack of Minions should feel like a godsend.
The Purge: Election Year
Cast: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Edwin Hodge, Mykelti Williamson
Director: James DeMonaco (The Purge: Anarchy)
The official boilerplate: "It’s been two years since Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) stopped himself from a regrettable act of revenge on Purge Night. Now serving as head of security for Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), his mission is to protect her in a run for president and survive the annual ritual that targets the poor and innocent. But when a betrayal forces them onto the streets of D.C. on the one night when no help is available, they must stay alive until dawn…or both be sacrificed for their sins against the state."
The buzz: All the buzz you need is the previous Purge movies, two of the decade's most terrifying bits of pop satire. A cynical (and entertaining) echo chamber that some of us need in these pressing political times.
The Legend of Tarzan
Cast: Margot Robbie, Alexander Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz
Director: David Yates (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
The official boilerplate: "It has been years since the man once known as Tarzan (Skarsgård) left the jungles of Africa behind for a gentrified life as John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane (Robbie) at his side. Now, he has been invited back to the Congo to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament, unaware that he is a pawn in a deadly convergence of greed and revenge, masterminded by the Belgian, Captain Leon Rom (Waltz). But those behind the murderous plot have no idea what they are about to unleash."
The buzz: With an impressive cast and behind-the-scenes crew in tow, Tarzan swings into the holiday weekend on a tenuous vine. Word is dour on this theoretical franchise-starter, which may soon join John Carter as an Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation to mistranslate the pulp adventure that made the author's work indelible.
Independence Day: Resurgence
Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe
Director: Roland Emmerich (Independence Day)
The official boilerplate: "Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens' advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction."
The buzz: To put it bluntly: Independence Day: Resurgence lands with a thud -- the worst blockbuster of the year, so far.
Cast: Ruby Barnhill, Mark Rylance, Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader
Director: Steven Spielberg (E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial)
The official boilerplate: "Upon her arrival in Giant Country, Sophie, a precocious 10-year-old girl from London, is initially frightened of the mysterious giant who has brought her to his cave, but soon comes to realize that The BFG is actually quite gentle and charming, and, having never met a giant before, has many questions. The BFG brings Sophie to Dream Country where he collects dreams and sends them to children, teaching her all about the magic and mystery of dreams."
The buzz: Spielberg spent nearly 30 years developing an adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic children's novel. The finished product provoked mixed reactions. Variety calls it an "instant family classic," while ScreenCrush calls it "Spielberg's most dramatically inert movie in 20 years." Consider it a test of your love for a bona fide master.
Cast: Blake Lively
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra (Non-Stop)
The official boilerplate: "In the taut thriller The Shallows, when Nancy (Blake Lively) is surfing on a secluded beach, she finds herself on the feeding ground of a great white shark. Though she is stranded only 200 yards from shore, survival proves to be the ultimate test of wills, requiring all of Nancy's ingenuity, resourcefulness, and fortitude."
The buzz: Collet-Serra is a modern master of B-movie cinema, and Blake Lively possesses all the qualities of a kick-ass scream queen. Word is still out on The Shallows, but at a tight 87 minutes, this classy shark-attack movie looks like perfect summer escapism.
Swiss Army Man
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Paul Dano, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Directors: Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (the "Turn Down for What" music video)
The official boilerplate: "Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded on a deserted island, having given up all hope of ever making it home again. But one day everything changes when a corpse named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on shore; the two become fast friends, and ultimately go on an epic adventure that will bring Hank back to the woman of his dreams."
The buzz: Known around the internet as "the one where Harry Potter plays a farting corpse," we couldn't help but laugh (and swoon) at this imaginative bromance comedy. Out of Sundance, we declared that "there's never been a movie this brainless with so much on its mind." We'll stick with that.
The Neon Demon
Cast: Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Keanu Reeves
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive)
The official boilerplate: "When aspiring model Jesse (Elle Fanning) moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has."
The buzz: Refn is one of the most polarizing directors working today. Drive achieved phenomenon status with its mellow-cool soundtrack and scorpion jackets. Few caught Refn's follow-up, Only God Forgives, a martial-arts revenge movie also starring Ryan Gosling, and reactions from those who did ranged from "bomb" to "masterpiece." The Neon Demon will also divide; audiences at Cannes actually booed the movie when the end credits rolled. We'll say this: the thriller is sleek, splashy, and emaciated. There are moments of gnarly body-horror genius and stretches of aimless fashion-friendly metaphor. The Neon Demon will infuriate some and enamor others. Recommendation-wise, a total roll of the dice.
Free State of Jones
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keri Russell, Mahershala Ali
Director: Gary Ross (The Hunger Games)
The official boilerplate: "The story of defiant Southern farmer Newt Knight and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy. Banding together with other small farmers and local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi, to secede from the Confederacy, creating a 'Free State of Jones.' Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War."
The buzz: Free State of Jones has all the parts needed for Oscar-caliber drama: a Best Actor winner (McConaughey), an emerging actress (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), and a potent topic that'll inevitably strike up controversy. And yet the movie has no pulse on social media, and early reviews are scarce.
Hunt for Wilderpeople
Cast: Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata, Sam Neill
Director: Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows)
The official boilerplate: "Raised on hip-hop and foster care, defiant city kid Ricky gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec, and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options: go out in a blaze of glory or overcome their differences and survive as a family."
The buzz: Coming off Shadows, his hilarious vampire mockumentary, and prepping to shoot the third Thor movie, Waititi dropped this New Zealand-set coming-of-age story at this year's Sundance and pleased the crowds. The Hollywood Reporter called it "a deliciously good time at the movies." At the very least, Ricky's race through the New Zealand wilderness will look good.
Cast: Greta Gerwig, Danny DeVito, Julie Delpy, Zosia Mamet
Director: Todd Solondz (Happiness)
The official boilerplate: "A dark, starkly funny story of a single dog and the many different people she touches over her short lifetime."
The buzz: We flipped earlier this year when we caught Solondz's Welcome to the Dollhouse semi-sequel, which connects four wickedly comedic vignettes together to wrestle with our relationships to pets. If it sounds like a G-rated pick-me-up, beware: Solondz's twisted sense of humor is out in full force. We're all about it. Wiener-Dog might just be a masterpiece -- at least for those who can stomach it.
Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O'Neill, Ty Burrell, Idris Elba
Director: Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo), Angus MacLane
The official boilerplate: "Finding Dory reunites everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang, Dory, with her friends Nemo and Marlin on a search for answers about her past. What can she remember? Who are her parents? And where did she learn to speak Whale?"
The buzz: Everyone loved Finding Nemo back in 2003 (you'll find it swimming toward the top of our ranked list of Pixar movies) and everyone loves the sequel, which most agree doubles down on the frantic comedy and existential dread. In Finding Dory, DeGeneres' surgeonfish with a short-term memory takes the spotlight, and the number of tears you'll shed during her journey could fill the ocean.
Cast: Kevin Hart, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Amy Ryan, Aaron Paul
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball)
The official boilerplate: "A one-time bullied geek, Bob, who grew up to be a lethal CIA agent (Dwayne Johnson), comes home for his high school reunion. Claiming to be on a top-secret case, he enlists the help of former 'big man on campus,' Calvin (Kevin Hart), now an accountant who misses his glory days. But before the staid numbers-cruncher realizes what he's getting into, it's too late to get out, as his increasingly unpredictable new friend drags him through a world of shoot-outs, double-crosses and espionage that could get them both killed in more ways than Calvin can count."
The buzz: Word is unanimous: this spy comedy is dopey, plodding, and unequivocally enjoyable, thanks to Hart and Johnson's mismatched shtick. You know exactly what this movie is, and if it's your cup of whatever The Rock is cooking.
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