We’re now halfway done with the summer movie season, and thus far, it’s been a good one. This month is the most exciting of the bunch, as July usually is, but June was no slouch. Man of Steel wowed audiences while dividing critics, but best of all, World War Z became the surprise, if modest, hit of the summer. Not only that, director Marc Forster proved the negative buzz wrong with a clever and efficient action thriller.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for White House Down. Shame on me for not including it on last month’s list, because, according to plenty of trusted sources, it’s a boatload of fun. I still haven’t had the time to see it for myself, but it sounds like the type of self-aware, focused blockbuster Roland Emmerich‘s career has been building up to. Thankfully people turned out for This is the End, so Sony has that going for them.
Let’s hope none of these must-see films of July meet the same box-office fate as the rocket launcher-wielding president:
The Way, Way Back
Opens July 5th
This is a sweet a coming-of-age movie that plenty of people who grew up with divorced parents will relate to. If that isn’t your background but you spent a large chunk of your childhood/teenage years as an awkward introverted kid, then The Way, Way Back will still work its magic on you.
Jim Rash and Nat Faxon‘s directorial debut is an honest movie with light and deft touches. There’s a lot to love here, especially the performances, and it shows Rash and Faxon are talents to continue watching.
Opens July 12th
There’s an unmistakable giddiness to Guillermo del Toro‘s films. With Pacific Rim, his sense of playfulness is intact, but his toy chest has grown larger with Jaegers and Kaijus, mammoths who face off in equally gigantic ways. Del Toro delivers on the possibility of these two opponents facing off, in a variety of different scenarios.
I can’t say much more than that, but even though the film is lacking in certain dramatic regards, del Toro’s movie doesn’t skimp out on thrills, humor, or scope.
Dealin’ with Idiots
Opens July 12th in theaters and on VOD
If you were a fan of Jeff Garlin‘s first time behind the camera, I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With, then Dealin’ with Idiots should be in your wheelhouse. Garlin pulled together an excellent cast - Gina Gershon, Richard Kind, Timothy Olyphant, and Fred Willard, to name a few – for his film about a comic, played by Garlin, who gets to know the parents involved in his son’s little league team. I remember a few of those parental types when playing baseball as a kid, and Garlin captures them in all their awkward, comical, and bizarre glory.
Opens July 12th
Most critics I know who’ve seen Fruitvale Station left the theater with plenty of tears. The film, which focuses on the real-life police shooting of an unarmed man, Oscar Grant, has been described as a powerful drama.
Rob Hunter wasn’t as much of a fan of it at this year’s Sundance Festival, but he concluded in his review that, “The film is at its best when it focuses on his life with friends and family and his drive for a life that he could be proud of, and the inevitability of it all is a powerfully emotional reminder to do our best each day instead of planning for a future that may never come.”
Opens July 12th
Mads Mikkelsen picked up the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival last year for this one, and since then, Mikkelsen and The Hunt have gone on to earn heaps of praise.
After seeing Mikkelsen on this past season of Hannibal, I’m further convinced he’s an actor with zero limitations. In The Hunt he plays a down on his luck former teacher who is falsely accused of touching a student. This kind of thing could turn into a stuffy courtroom drama, but apparently it couldn’t be further from it.