By: Daniel Reynolds
Wow, we’ve got five (5) weekends of possible movie picks to make this month — and today is a Canadian holiday. Will we be able to run through all the selections? Of course. And while this summer has so far been rather dispiriting for films (quick, what movie have you seen that you really loved?) we must soldier on. Film is no joke.
It’s the July picks for What to Watch. Ten films for five weeks, plus a bonus 11th limited screening pick. Never tell me I don’t try to help.
Winner: Swiss Army Man
I don’t remember where exactly I first heard about Daniel Radcliffe and his bloated corpse movie. I recall thinking I’d misheard something — wait, you mean Harry Potter is dead the entire time? That’s it? Folks, that’s it. But wait, there’s more: Swiss Army Man is actually a stranded island movie starring Paul Dano, whose only buddy is the aforementioned corpse. Oh yeah, it’s also a buddy comedy… sort of. Look, it looks wild and weird and just the kind of thing to see (instead of the stately blandness of our runner-up).
Runner-Up: The BFG
What other choice do we have? The Purge is right the hell out, I want no part of The Legend of Tarzan, and Cell looks, uh, not great. So, The BFG. I don’t know, the reviews aren’t great, maybe take your kid?
Winner: Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
Is it a bad year? Isn’t the time in and around the July 4th weekend supposed to be a big one for movies? How long have I been asleep? I applaud the notion that Adam freakin’ DeVine is the co-lead in a summer comedy. It feels like only yesterday we were all watching him hilariously blow apart the show Workaholics. Now he’s in there with ur-bro Zac Efron. It’s not exactly a mega-monster movie, but it’s something. But all of this is burying the lede: Get ready for 98 minutes of Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza going full-bore bonkers. In retrospect, what more could you want?
There is literally nothing else scheduled to be released on the 8th that looks worth seeing. What is going on with the summer of 2016? Good lord.
I think the thing that bothers me most about the Ghostbusters backlash is that the actresses who are in it are really funny. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon (especially) are a great comic mix. And while I’m not in love with Paul Feig’s grasp of big tent filmmaking, he hasn’t ever done an out-and-out bad job. He understands how to highlight and maximize the talent he has. And he has great talent to work with! So yeah, this happens to have Ghostbusters in the title. This should not be the thing that drives you to go see it.
Go see Ghostbusters again, even if it’s not great, just to drum up some more business and really annoy the MRA jabronis who think ragging on women-led movies is a good idea.
[In a small voice: I’m not crazy about just rebooting all 80s and 90s properties, but Ghostbusters is decidedly not some sacred cow that can never be touched. Have you seen half the stuff its original creators made? There’s a lot of trash out there, guys. Let Feig and his quartet of women be.]
Winner: Star Trek Beyond
These’s this weird veneration of the Star Trek brand that works to squash whatever fun could be had with such a fantastic universe of people, places and things. It’s how you get people upset with Justin Lin helming an ST movie (and subsequent Beastie Boys-infused trailer). But this is a good thing! These rebooted Star Trek movies should absolutely figure out ways to be bigger, faster, more robust. The only thing stopping that from happening in their heyday was a lack of budget, technology or both. If Lin wants to race space ships around the goddamn universe, I say we let him.
(Also, this will be one of the last screen performances by Anton Yelchin, may he rest in peace.)
Runner-Up: Captain Fantastic
Hear me out: Viggo Mortensen. Hippie dad. Six kids. You in? Yeah, you are. OK OK, it’s also got Kathryn Hahn and Frank Langella. Now you have to be in.
Winner: Jason Bourne
When the reboot needs a reboot, you go back to the core of the idea. As part of that, you drop all subtitles. Those are the rules. As such, we get: Jason Bourne. No added qualifiers necessary; these are the straight goods. In any case, to make a workable Bourne movie you need four things: Paul Greengrass behind the camera, check; Julia Stiles, check (and how much of a lucky break did this turn out to be for her); a grizzled older actor like, hey, Tommy Lee Jones, check; and Matt Damon, check, check, check. I have a feeling this one will be worth it.
Runner-Up: Cafe Society
Another year, another Woody Allen movie. Steve Carell is in this one. See it or don’t. It’s 2016.
Bonus Limited Screening Pick: Closet Monster
There are enough arresting images in the trailer for this — the debut feature from Canadian Stephen Dunn — to recommend it. Mix in the words “coming of age” and you’ve got a hook to hang a movie on. I know very little about Closet Monster, besides its award-winning pedigree, but again, phew, that trailer. This looks like something to see.
And we did it! Look at those glorious picks. All right, you have your assignments. Godspeed. See you back in this space next month.