So many movies, so little time. Every week brings a new crop of them, opening in multiplexes and arthouse theaters across the nation, and arriving in increasingly high volumes on streaming platforms like Netflix. How’s a voracious moviegoer to keep up? That’s where The A.V. Club comes in. The first week of every month, we’ll be previewing all the major movies coming to theaters (or laptops or gaming systems or Rokus) near you, helping narrow down these upcoming releases by making educated guesses on whether they’re worth your time and money.
America’s most beloved and ill-considered romantic comedy gets a remake, one that will attempt to sidestep all of the 1987 film’s more unsavory aspects—abduction, psychological abuse, slavery—by simply flipping the genders. Now it’s working-class gal Anna Faris who’s gaslighting amnesiac rich dick Eugenio Derbez, saddling him with working a grueling construction job and forcing him to take care of her kids on their way to falling madly in love.
Will it be worth your time? Through the Stockholm syndrome of repeated HBO airings, the original Overboard found a devoted fanbase that was willing to overlook its more unsettling aspects thanks to the chemistry of real-life couple Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. The update adds the uncomfortable layer of a white woman turning a wealthy Mexican man into a day laborer, which should definitely test the limits of Anna Faris’ charms.
In 2014, director Jason Reitman released the worst movies of his career, Labor Day and Men, Women & Children, within months of each other. Now, for his comeback (of sorts), he’s reunited with Diablo Cody and Charlize Theron, respectively the writer and star of Young Adult, the last film he made before that disastrous twosome and arguably his best movie overall. (Cody, of course, previously wrote Reitman’s Juno.) Theron stars as an exhausted mother of three who hires the title character (Mackenzie Davis) as a “night nurse” to help with her newborn.
Will it be worth your time? Do you trust the film critics at The A.V. Club? In our review (Grade: A-), Jesse Hassenger writes: “Neither filmmaker has a reputation that does full justice to their talent—Cody is more than her quippy dialogue, and Reitman’s films aren’t as callow as he’s made out to be—and neither is better at proving themselves than when they’re teamed up. Reitman recognizes the emotion beneath Cody’s tartness, and Cody rewards his attention with incisive material.”
Last year, longtime Roland Emmerich collaborator Dean Devlin, who penned the immortal scripts to both Independence Day and its sequel, moved to the big chair for his directorial debut: Geostorm, a preposterous Gerard Butler meta-disaster vehicle that also had one of the worst/best posters of all time. Now Devlin is training his lens upon a narrower tale, in which a petty thief breaks into the home of a smug rich guy (David Tennant), only to find a woman imprisoned therein.
Will it be worth your time? It’s modestly fun garbage—by Devlin standards, practically a rousing success.
Following the excellent Bullhead and the less-great English-language follow-up The Drop, director Michaël R. Roskam returns with another crime story, this one concerning a Brussels-based bank robber (Rust And Bone and Red Sparrow’s Matthias Schoenaerts) falling for a race-car driver (Blue Is The Warmest Color’s superb Adèle Exarchopoulos).
Will it be worth your time? The leads have chemistry, and it’s a handsomely shot movie, especially when fixing its gaze on cars whipping around a track, speeding down country roads, or screeching to a halt on a highway for a robustly staged heist sequence. But there’s just not much juice in this particular troubled romance, and the hefty 130-minute running time does it no favors, either.
At the ripe age of 85, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is getting the lionizing bio-doc treatment. The liberal lion of the Supreme Court (and second woman ever to be confirmed to the position) is presented in Betsy West and Julie Cohen’s film as equal parts civil-rights pioneer and pop culture icon, with loving scenes of her lifting weights, cracking wise, and being turned into a meme spliced alongside original interviews and archival footage.
Will it be worth your time? Only Ginsburg superfans need apply to this thin, hagiographic documentary portrait, which glosses over whole chapters of its subject’s career and rarely engages with her judicial philosophy.
Melissa McCarthy stars in this spiritual sort-of-remake of Rodney Dangerfield’s Back To School, swapping out Dangerfield’s lovable boorishness for McCarthy’s pastel-sweatshirt timidity in the story of a newly divorced housewife who decides to return to college. Aided by her surprisingly welcoming daughter and her sorority friends, McCarthy’s Deanna soon gets a makeover as “Dee Rock” and discovers all the keggers and casual sex she missed out on.
Will it be worth your time? McCarthy’s previous collaborations with husband Ben Falcone, Tammy and The Boss, both relied on McCarthy going broad. Having her play someone sweet and recognizably human is a real gamble—especially in a premise that’s this contrived—but count on McCarthy to find a few inspired moments of physical comedy, at least.
V For Vendetta director James McTeigue takes a turn for the gritty with this home-invasion thriller about a seemingly ordinary mother (Gabrielle Union) who displays some extraordinary survival skills after she and her kids are attacked and held hostage by a gang at her late father’s fortress of a mountain home. Think Panic Room, but with even fiercer maternal instinct.
Will it be worth your time? Without any festival screenings, all we’ve got to go on for this one is the trailer, which looks like your average B-grade Hollywood potboiler. McTeigue’s flair for splashy visuals should hopefully make for some interesting imagery, though.
The first of May’s back-to-back, theater-veteran-directed Saoirse Ronan-Billy Howle prestige adaptations appears to be a middlebrow take on one of Anton Chekhov’s most famous plays. The selling point here is the cast, which also includes Elisabeth Moss, Annette Bening, Corey Stoll, and Brian Dennehy. With the exception of Vanya On 42nd Street, it seems like no movie has ever figured out how to straightforwardly adapt the plots and ensembles of Chekov’s plays into good filmmaking. Sidney Lumet was defeated by The Seagull in 1968; this latest attempt is by Broadway director Michael Mayer (A Home At The End Of The World).
Will it be worth your time? The Seagull was filmed way back in 2015, though it looks like it comes straight from the mid-to-late ’90s. (Seriously, when was the last time you saw a trailer with a narrator?) Advance word on the film, which had its belated premiere at this year’s Tribeca, has been a mixture of tepid indifference and lukewarm praise.
No, it’s not a remake of the 1983 nuclear-holocaust TV movie of the same name, however disturbingly topical that would be. Instead, this is the latest offering of boozy, lovesick conversation from prolific South Korean director Hong Sang-soo, who’s looking at his third U.S. theatrical release in just half a year. The story does, however, concern a kind of fallout: the aftermath of a messy love triangle involving a philandering publisher (Kwon Hae-hyo), his mistress (Kim Sae-byeok), and his enraged wife (Cho Yunhee). The Handmaiden’s Kim Min-hee plays the new assistant caught in the middle of this romantic/workplace drama.
Will it be worth your time? Though Hong’s films tend to play like variations on the same basic scenario (alcohol and an amorous creative type are inevitably involved), they can still vary wildly in quality—and even the filmmaker’s biggest fans seem to regard this black-and-white dramedy of misunderstanding as a minor work, less satisfying than his recent On The Beach At Night Alone or Claire’s Camera. Rubberneckers, however, might be fascinated by the tabloid-friendly autobiographical parallels. The Day After is, after all, an infidelity story starring the very actress for whom Hong left his wife of 30 years.
French newcomer Coralie Fargeat gives the rape-revenge film a 21st-century update in Revenge. The setup is straightforward: Jen (Matilda Lutz) is raped by one of her wealthy weapons-dealer boyfriend’s sleazy associates while on a hunting trip. Then, after a shocking act of betrayal finds Jen impaled on a tree out in the middle of the desert, the film takes a sharp turn into brutally cathartic, semi-supernatural action as Jen seemingly comes back from the dead to pick off her attackers one by one in extremely painful ways.
Will it be worth your time? For fans of exploitation movies, Revenge is a must-see: a tautly paced, stylish update of a subgenre often known for its ugliness. Fargeat subverts the male gaze throughout the film, transforming Jen from a nubile sex object to a hard-bitten angel of vengeance, making Revenge more empowering than cruder films of this type. A word of caution, though, to the squeamish, as the violence crescendos to an intensity even seasoned horror fans may find hard to take.
Troubled, sheltered Moll (Jessie Buckley) falls for rebellious Pascal (Johnny Flynn), escaping the banality and stifling supervision of her home life for some excitement on the wrong side of the tracks. There’s just one little wrinkle in this whirlwind romance: the string of mysterious murders rocking their sleepy, remote island community. Just how bad is Moll’s new bad boy?
Will it be worth your time? The debut feature from British writer-director Michael Pearce, Beast isn’t a particularly sophisticated or surprising mystery. But the sense of foreboding atmosphere is potent, and Buckley (TV’s Taboo) delivers a volatile performance—the kind of breakthrough turn that any indie thriller would, ahem, kill to secure.
Ryan Reynolds is back for more of the same—only this time, he’s got a new nemesis to bombard with wordplay and wisecracks: Cable (Thanos himself, Josh Brolin), a mutant from the future who is dead set on murdering a young boy (Hunt For The Wilderpeople’s Julian Dennison). Luckily, Wade Wilson has a bevy of superpowered allies (and one guy named Peter) to help him protect the adolescent mutant. Start taking bets now on how many seconds into the movie elapse before Reynolds’ absurdist alter ego breaks the fourth wall.
Will it be worth your time? If you were annoyed by the first one, this probably won’t change your mind. Those who appreciated the meta breath of fresh air Deadpool blew into the superhero genre will, on the other hand, probably have a blast. And the sequel may even be better, thanks to bringing on the director of some of the best studio action of the past decade, John Wick’s David Leitch.
In the most faithful adaptation of Fifty Shades Of Grey to be committed to screen, Book Club follows four women in their 60s who read the horny bestseller and are inspired to spice up their own sex lives. That these four women are played by Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen adds a touch of Hamptons prestige to all the spanking and Viagra jokes.
Will it be worth your time? Although the Fifty Shades stuff takes up half the trailer, the real story of Book Club is that all these women have holes aching to be plugged… in their hearts. Their respective, life-affirming romances with Andy García, Don Johnson, Richard Dreyfuss, and Craig T. Nelson—along with the film’s tastefully appointed, Nancy Meyers-esque aesthetics—should call out like an uncorked bottle of chardonnay to its intended audience.
The classic cops-and-dogs comedy of Turner & Hooch meets the classic talking-animals hijinks of Beverly Hills Chihuahua meets the classic realization that all life is but a slow, drawn-out grind of relentless decay interrupted by acts of senselessness and cruelty. As you sink ever deeper into that suffocating abyss, you can faintly hear the sound of a dog rapping. He is voiced by Ludacris. His human partner, Will Arnett, flails helplessly beside you in the mire. They’re going undercover at a dog show. You begin to weep. A dog farts in the bath, and Stanley Tucci is there.
Will it be worth your time? We’ll all be dead soon.
At once sensitive and outrageous, minimalist and grotesque, Paul Schrader’s dual homage to Diary Of A Country Priest and Winter Light (with a bit of his classic script for Taxi Driver thrown in for good measure) stars Ethan Hawke as Rev. Toller, a depressed, alcoholic former military chaplain who tends to a nearly abandoned old abolitionist church in upstate New York, convinced that his true calling is an “all-consuming knowledge of the emptiness of all things.” Asked to hide a disturbed local man’s suicide bomb vest, Toller becomes increasingly alienated from the rest of the world—even as he becomes drawn more and more into the life of a pregnant young widow (Amanda Seyfried).
Will it be worth your time? First Reformed may not be to every taste, but its delicate balance of contemplation and outrage ranks as some of Schrader’s best work as a director. Hawke’s soft-spoken performance is one of his finest, too. Hey, is that an A.V. Club pull quote we see in the trailer?
Pope Francis—the chill pope—is a fascinating figure, a progressive crusader who has not only helped modernize Catholicism but also released a prog rock record. It’s only fitting that he’d open up to a documentarian, and thankfully he chose Wim Wenders, who films not a traditional bio doc but a travelogue, capturing the sumptuous halls of the Vatican and the unique scale of the pope’s public appearances as he travels the world delivering his message.
Will it be worth your time? Wenders has produced some remarkable documentaries, but this one may be a little too close to its subject matter to really rank among his best. Still, for anyone interested in the pope and his progressive message, it’ll be more tastefully done than the hack-y hagiography it could’ve been in other hands.
Jim Carrey taking on a dramatic movie role isn’t surprising (remember when he won a Golden Globe for his work in Man On The Moon?) but Carrey as a grizzled detective in a gritty thriller? That’s novel. In Dark Crimes, the comedian dons a Polish accent and the scraggly beard of a man obsessed to play Tadek, a homicide detective who goes a little too deep while investigating a murder that eerily resembles a scene in the latest book from crime novelist Kozlow (Marton Csokas), who sure looks like a sadistic killer.
Will it be worth your time? Dark Crimes was finished in 2016 and debuted at the Warsaw Film Festival that fall. It hasn’t played any other festivals since, and is just now coming out after sitting around for a year and a half, both of which are usually very bad signs. The presence of Carrey’s fellow A-lister Charlotte Gainsbourg in the film would seem to be reassuring, except she was also in last year’s laughably bad serial-killer thriller The Snowman, so who knows at this point?
It’s been more than a decade since Atonement earned a 13-year-old Saoirse Ronan her first Oscar nomination. Now she’s starring in another adaptation of an Ian McEwan novel from the 2000s about regret, miscommunication, sexual discomfort, and class. Set in the early ’60s, On Chesil Beach centers on Flo (Ronan) and Edward (Billy Howle, who’s also in the preceding week’s The Seagull with Ronan), a newlywed couple whose relationship falls apart because of the bride’s revulsion toward sex.
Will it be worth your time? Another month, another literary or stage adaptation helmed by a veteran British theater director. But though Dominic Cooke is largely untested behind the camera (he directed some episodes of The Hollow Crown, though haven’t they all), he has some pros in his corner, including McEwan himself—writing his first script since the 1993 Macaulay Culkin movie The Good Son—and Ronan, one of our finest young actors.
If Baltimore has a leading cinematic voice… well, okay, it probably belongs to John Waters. But there’s also Matthew Porterfield, director of Putty Hill, I Used To Be Darker, and this latest unsensational, working-class portrait of The Monumental City, starring McCaul Lombardi (American Honey, Patti Cake$) as a drug dealer under house arrest, trying to stay out of trouble and to not disappoint his concerned father (Jim Belushi) and estranged girlfriend (Atlanta and Deadpool 2’s Zazie Beetz).
Will it be worth your time? The ex-con drama is severely well-trodden dramatic territory—we’ve seen an indie variation on it already this year, even. But the terrific I Used To Be Darker firmly established Porterfield’s talent for scraping all the bullshit off of conventional premises, then replacing it with a wealth of cultural detail. If nothing else, Sollers Point is sure to capture some truth about the spirit of the filmmaker’s hometown, the setting of all four of his DIY features.
Ever wonder what the coolest smuggler in the galaxy far, far away was up to before he sauntered into the Mos Eisley Cantina and shot first? Disney is betting big bucks that you have. Arriving just five months after Rian Johnson’s divisive but still massively profitable The Last Jedi, this origin-story spin-off slides Hail, Caesar! scene-stealer Alden Ehrenreich into Harrison Ford’s iconic vest, warping back to the moment when a young Han Solo first met furry copilot Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and slick frenemy Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover).
Will it be worth your time? The real question here is whether Solo can overcome all the setbacks it’s suffered, from the firing of original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (they were replaced by Ron Howard last year) to the difficulties Ehrenreich reportedly had filling Ford’s enormous shoes (the studio is said to have brought in an acting coach for the star). Howard, the consummate Hollywood journeyman, will probably iron out most of the kinks. Whether Solo does more than clear the low bar its troubled production has set for it probably depends on the script. A good sign: Lawrence Kasdan, of Empire Strikes Back fame, co-wrote it.
For his first feature in seven years, Hedwig And The Angry Inch mastermind John Cameron Mitchell rewinds to late-’70s London, where a punk-rock-obsessed wallflower (Alex Sharp) falls in love with an extraterrestrial dream girl (Elle Fanning). Nicole Kidman, Ruth Wilson, and Matt Lucas round out the cast of this fantastical romantic comedy based on a short story by Neil Gaiman.
Will it be worth your time? Reviews from last year’s Cannes Film Festival were quite scathing. That said, Mitchell’s last movie, Rabbit Hole, was quite moving. And conversely, there’s probably not a Hedwig fan out there who isn’t curious to see the filmmaker return to a colorful rock ’n’ roll backdrop. We’ll hold out some hope that it’s better than its buzz suggests.
A mockbuster-Fury-Road-looking, low-budget post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie co-starring and co-directed by the unstoppable dilettante James Franco—his first since The Disaster Artist, though of course Franco has four more already in post-production. The main thing distinguishing Future World from any number of junky direct-to-video titles is the cast, which includes Suki Waterhouse (as an android), Franco (as some kind of wasteland gang lord), Milla Jovovich, Lucy Liu, Snoop Dogg, and Method Man. Franco’s regular cinematographer, Bruce Thierry Cheung, co-wrote the script and shares the director credit.
Will it be worth your time? We here at The A.V. Club might be pooh-poohing Disaster Artist naysayers, but we’ll give it this much: It’s the closest thing Franco has directed to a purely enjoyable film. The rest of his more than two dozen movies run the gamut from stupendously half-assed to unwatchable. It doesn’t help that Future World’s nominal lead (Jeffrey Wahlberg, nephew of Mark) is barely in the trailer, or that whoever cut it together couldn’t find any line of dialogue better than “I think I want me a robot” to sell the film.
It’s not just Nat Geo making the case for Mary Shelley as a genius in the coming year. Elle Fanning tackles the presumably Oscar-courting title role in this biopic of the Frankenstein author, whose unusual and tempestuous personal life is a rare case of an author’s own story being nearly as compelling as her legendary fiction. Following Shelley from age 16 on through to her relationship with Percy Bysshe Shelley (Douglas Booth), the film looks at how she drew on her own life experiences to help shape her novel of man’s ego run amok.
Will it be worth your time? Despite a game performance from Fanning, Mary Shelley reportedly falls back upon shopworn biopic conventions, transforming a passionate recounting of lively extremes and bold behavior into a mild-mannered narrative, afraid to get daring—ironic when the film’s title character is such an irrepressible rule-breaker.