Happy May Day everyone! It feels a bit presumptuous to start looking at a new month of releases when I still have to catch up from April – I hear that there’s been an Avengers picture that made a bit of money. And just as soon as I have any sort of chance to clear five consecutive hours out of my schedule to catch up with it, I’ll be happy to do so. In the meantime, let’s look ahead at the first films of the actual school’s-out-for-summer season.
Sensibly keeping clear of Endgame‘s box-office dominance, May opens with a modest little throat-clearing set of movies that basically nobody will see, but which cost basically no money, so no real loss. The apparent diamond in this rough – or at least, like, a nice amethyst – is Long Shot, a politics-themed romcom starring Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen that has somehow gotten really excellent reviews. No such surprise for the feature-length toy commercial UglyDolls, which appears to have its heart in the best place and all the other organs down in a pile of brightly-colored felt dust. And The Intruder, in which Dennis Quaid goes craaaazy, hasn’t even screened for critics yet, so that tells us pretty much all we need to know.
Whatever else is going to be true of Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, it’s clearly putting in a strong bid to be 2019’s god-damned cutest movie. A photorealistic but still cartoony Pikachu is one of the those things that sounds weird until you see it (and could have presumably gone all sorts of wrong even then), and having been seen, it’s so adorable that it feels vaguely poisonous. I’m not really at all sure that I’m on board with Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Pikachu – he’s squeaky, but not squeaky enough – but I do not have a heart made of stone.
Otherwise, it’s more of the same “burn through small-scale comedies while the comic book movie is sucking up the oxygen” material as last week: The Hustle stars Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson in a gender-swap of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, while Poms finds Diane Keaton leading a squad of geriatric cheerleaders. The former sounds far, far less dire than the latter (for which I haven’t even seen a single trailer, leading me to wonder if it even actually exists), but they’re both doomed to be forgotten within days of coming out, fair or not.
A pair of bizarre fucking literary biopics crop in limited release: All Is True, in which Kenneth Branagh plays post-retirement William Shakespeare being bummed out that he has to spend time with his wife Anne Hathaway – a different one, played by Judi Dench – and Tolkien, which actually looks like it’s trying to do the Shakespeare in Love routine for The Lord of the Rings, bless its heart.
No question what film I’m this month, nor this summer, nor most of this year, frankly: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, the conclusion to what has readily established itself as my favorite action franchise of the decade. In this one, John Wick rides a horse. And wields a sword. While riding the horse.
Elsewhere, the tragic teen romance genre drops the terminal disease angle for political overtones in the immigration-themed The Sun Is Also a Star. And A Dog’s Journey is not A Dog’s Way Home, though it’s understandable why you’d make that mistake.
I would ordinarily not bother mentioning something as tiny-looking as the limited release of the John Lithgow/Blythe Danner romantic drama The Tomorrow Man, except that it also made it onto Carrie’s most-anticipated list. So there we have that.
Disney’s indefatigable attempts to not lose money on Memorial Day weekend bring us now to Aladdin, the latest in the long line of live-action versions of their animated features that look like absolute hell. And with Dumbo having just put the first big dent in that cycle’s history of financial success, it will be interesting to see whether Disney’s Memorial Day Curse or their marketing team wins out.
Up next, a pair of films that have nothing whatsoever in common except for long one-word titles starting with B, and somehow that’s been enough for me to keep getting them confused: Booksmart, a raucous comedy about the end of high school, with the wrinkle that it’s about girls rather than the usual boys, and Brightburn, which is about if Superman was a psychopath.
There is, I think, absolutely no chance in hell that James Gray’s sci-fi epic Ad Astra is actually opening this month – or this quarter – but it hasn’t been officially removed from the schedule yet, so here you are.
Our long national nightmare of not hearing Ian McShane say “cocksucker” ends with the HBO premiere of the long, long-awaited Deadwood: The Movie. TV isn’t my beat, but I’m sufficiently amped-up for this one to make an exception. The night it premieres, I’ll most likely be on a plane to California, so none of you fucking hoopleheads spoil it for me.
Back in theaters, where God intended us to watch movies, we have a pretty well-balanced trio: the popcorn movie crowd gets Godzilla: King of the Monsters, sequel to the 2014 Godzilla that I liked way more than most people I’ve ever talked to. Which means, I suspect, that the new movie will be more the movie that they want than the movie I want, but I will say that I trust director Michael Dougherty, insofar as the directors of these giant studio affairs ever really matter.
Elsewhere, Rocketman is a fantasy musical biography of Elton John that, to my mild shame, I actually think looks really good; it appears to be what happens when you ask the question, “but what if Bohemian Rhapsody wasn’t a piece of shit?” And also had full-on musical numbers. Plus, Octavia Spencer and the director of The Help re-team for Ma, a horror film that looks like it’s giving Spencer the first different role to play since she got typecast so badly following the very same The Help. Not that I think it’s going to be actually effective, but at least she’s going to be having a good time going Big and Psycho.