The summer of 2015 is brimming with big stars who want to be your superhero, teaming for epic adventures, side-splitting comedies, and sweeping romances that will stir your heart from its winter slumber. There are also some movies that aren’t Entourage. And so, as Vincent Chase and company prepare to enter theaters, we ask of their many tagalongs the three eternal questions posed by the show that desperately needed a big-screen coda to answer them properly. Meanwhile, The A.V. Club’s resident self-loathing Entourage expert Sean O’Neal addresses the most important question of all: Is Vince doing the movie? And if Vince isn’t doing the movie, should you?
Avengers: Age Of Ultron (May 1)
What’s the story, bro? Phase two of Marvel’s plan to transform the entire movie industry into one big superhero crossover event culminates with the return of Earth’s mightiest (and most profitable) heroes. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, and Jeremy Renner suit back up to take on the Auto-Tuned voice of James Spader, who’s been cast as artificial intelligence gone rogue. Look also for some of the supporting cast of Marvel’s solo franchises, and for new costumed characters played by the likes of Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, and that boring dude from Kick-Ass.
Should you do the movie? While by no means a disaster, Age Of Ultron suffers from a surfeit of characters, plot, action sequences, callbacks, and setups. It’s a much more overstuffed film than the original, proving that there’s only so much that returning writer-director Joss Whedon can do with the strict mandates of a mega-budget franchise.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. Apparently no one at Marvel saw Vince’s blockbuster turn as Aquaman—a performance so legendary, Aquaman should just be included in all comic-book movies. Let’s see how that big robot does in the water!
Far From The Madding Crowd (May 1)
What’s the story, bro? Thomas Hardy’s 1874 breakthrough novel gets yet another adaptation, this time scripted by David Nicholls (One Day) and directed by one-time Dogme 95 signatory Thomas Vinterberg. Carey Mulligan stars as Hardy’s headstrong heroine, Bathsheba Everdene, while Matthias Schoenaerts plays Gabriel Oak, the ruined former suitor who becomes Bathsheba’s most trusted employee when she inherits her uncle’s farm. Like many major novels of the period, Far From The Madding Crowd originated as a serial, and has no shortage of plot twists or memorable supporting characters, played here by Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, and Juno Temple, among others.
Should you do the movie? We’ve seen it, and though Vinterberg is typically fine in his handling of actors (especially Mulligan and Sheen) and has a sense for the same rural landscapes that inspired Hardy’s fiction, the novel’s complicated plotting—predicated on reversals of fortune—seems to elude him and Nicholls.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. Did Nicholls not even see Vince in Gatsby? Good enough for Martin Scorsese, bro!
Welcome To Me (May 1)
What’s the story, bro? Kristen Wiig channels seven years of SNL character work into the role of Alice Klieg, a reclusive woman with borderline personality disorder who spends her days in front of a television. When she wins millions in the state lottery, Alice uses the cash to leverage airtime of her own on a flailing television channel. The network suits (played by Joan Cusack, James Marsden, and Jennifer Jason Leigh, among others) are at odds with how to handle their unlikely new talent, but as long as she’s got the money, they’re willing to indulge in whatever flight of fancy Alice is engrossed in at the moment.
Should you do the movie? That depends on your Wiig tolerance level: The actress has become known for characters with quirks, both subtle and broad, that have endeared her to many, but rubbed others the wrong way. Those in the former group should have something to look forward to here.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. And who knows more about using money to force a bunch of sycophants to indulge your every whim than Vinny Chase?
Hot Pursuit (May 8)
What’s the story, bro? Reese Witherspoon plays a cop escorting a drug dealer’s wife (Sofia Vergara) to safety after her husband gets killed; both criminals and crooked cops are hot on their tail. As no one would have guessed, they are opposites in both physicality and temperament, but by sharing this terrifying yet wacky situation, they may buck the odds and turn into an affectionate, winning pair of buddies. Of course, this only works if director Anne Fletcher (The Proposal; 27 Dresses) can nail the precise and correct combination of antics, shenanigans, and zaniness.
Should you do the movie? It’s been long enough since Witherspoon did a comedy (not counting her excellent work in Inherent Vice for a variety of reasons) that it’s easy to forget how good she can be at it, and also how bad most of her comedies are. For that matter, Fletcher doesn’t have a great track record either. But this early in the season, the sheer existence of a buddy comedy where both buddies are women, of which there are perilously few, might be enough.
Is Vince doing the movie? No, but that’s okay. Vince has long demonstrated his mad respect for women, be they shopgirls, bottle service waitresses, porn stars, or comically mismatched archetypes.
Maggie (May 8)
What’s the story, bro? In a rare non-joking admission of his advanced age, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Wade, a father in the Midwest whose daughter, Maggie (Abigail Breslin), becomes infected by a zombie virus. Rather than double-fisting shotguns in vengeance, Wade retreats to their home, where he attempts to care for his transforming progeny.
Should you do the movie? Schwarzenegger fans will want to check it out, if only for the novelty of Arnold tackling one of his most human-scale (and somber!) roles ever. Over the course of Maggie, Schwarzenegger’s Wade only dispatches a handful of zombies, saving his gumption to defend and support his (very slowly) transforming daughter. The relationships don’t have much depth, but at least the movie combines a star and genre in just about the least expected way possible.
Is Vince doing the movie? No, even though zombie movies, by their very nature, call for dead-eyed, expressionless shells.
The D Train (May 8)
What’s the story, bro? What initially seems like a fairly broad comedy, in which Jack Black plays an energetic but unpopular guy trying to persuade a barely famous classmate (James Marsden) to attend their high school reunion, abruptly takes a much more serious turn. The trailer is careful not to give too much away, but this is a remarkably bold film in one particular respect; even as recently as five or six years ago, the idea of two major stars signing on to play these roles would have been all but unthinkable.
Should you do the movie? First-time writer-directors Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel struggle to maintain the right tone, and there are times when The D Train skirts right up to the edge of being offensive. In the end, though, it’s surprisingly sincere, and is likely to be one of the summer’s indie conversation pieces.
Is Vince doing the movie? No, even though Vince has had plenty of experience offering rides on The D Train—know what I’m saying? I’m saying it’s a conversation piece.
Saint Laurent (May 8)
What’s the story, bro? Pretty much what you’d expect: a biopic about famed fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Didn’t one of those come out just last summer? Indeed, but it was directed by an actor making his big directorial debut, whereas this one comes from acclaimed French filmmaker Bertrand Bonello (House Of Pleasures). Plus, Saint Laurent has a superior cast: Gaspard Ulliel (Hannibal Rising) as Saint Laurent, with Jérémie Renier, Léa Seydoux, Louis Garrel, and the omnipresent Brady Corbet in supporting roles.
Should you do the movie? Unfortunately, above-the-line talent doesn’t automatically make a biopic any less enervating. Bonello does his best to shake things up with narrative elisions and striking juxtapositions, and the movie looks predictably fantastic, but it’s still mostly the same old shapeless biographical trivia.
Is Vince doing the movie? No, despite Vince’s lifetime of experience with wearing clothes. His buddy Turtle also knows a lot about sneakers. Maybe they’ll just make their own movie about famous designer Jacques Sneequer.
Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15)
What’s the story, bro? George Miller’s long-in-the-works fourth Mad Max movie, with Tom Hardy filling in for Mel Gibson in the title role and the deserts of Namibia doubling for the post-apocalyptic Australian Outback. Other than that, it seems to have all the ingredients you’d expect from the long-dormant series: rusty, souped-up cars; sublimely silly character names; monstrous goons; spectacularly staged crashes; lots of dust. Miller has described the film as a continuous, two-hour chase, and the trailers suggest a wildly entertaining one.
Should you do the movie? Miller is an imaginative filmmaker with a gift for filling out fantastical worlds and for mounting energetic, large-scale live-action mayhem. Also, have you seen the trailers?
Is Vince doing the movie? No. Apparently George Miller has different ideas about what constitutes a “continuous, two-hour Chase.”
Pitch Perfect 2 (May 15)
What’s the story, bro? The Barden Bellas, a few years off from their collegiate a cappella triumph at the end of Pitch Perfect, have been humbled back to underdog status in the time-honored tradition of comedy sequels and must again train for a massive singing competition. Original Bellas Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, and Brittany Snow all return, joined by freshman recruit Hailee Steinfeld. More succinctly: Pitch Perfect was a hit in theaters and an even bigger hit on DVD and cable; it has played on HBO, at minimum, 1 billion times. An encore was inevitable.
Should you do the movie? It’s tough for a comedy sequel to match the original, and if Pitch Perfect was just a shade too self-conscious about its desire to become a Bring It On slumber-party classic, just imagine how self-conscious the sequel will be after that actually happened. That said, it’s exciting that co-star and producer Elizabeth Banks gets a chance to direct this time, and you might have to be made of stone to resist the cast, especially Kendrick and Wilson. Plus, opening weekend crowds are bound to be intoxicatingly ecstatic regardless of the movie’s actual quality.
Is Vince doing the movie? Sorry, but an unnecessary sequel to something that was played ad nauseam on HBO just isn’t the sort of thing Vincent Chase would do.
Good Kill (May 15)
What’s the story, bro? Ethan Hawke wipes that stoner smirk off his face for this fact-based drama about a Las Vegas drone pilot who becomes disillusioned with his death-dealing day job. January Jones, adapting her Betty Draper routine for a new century, plays his concerned wife. Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, Lord Of War) wrote and directed.
Should you do the movie? Good Kill has (mostly) good intentions, keeping UAVs—and the ethics of deploying them—in the national conversation. But it’s also dreary and heavy-handed, turning most of the characters orbiting Hawke’s broody soldier into delivery systems for its talking points. Only a choir looking to be preached to may get much out of it.
Is Vince doing the movie? No, even though he would have nailed it as one of the drones.
Slow West (May 15)
What’s the story, bro? A young Scottish immigrant (Kodi Smit-McPhee) journeys to Colorado in the late 1800s to find the girl he loves and stumbles into a sweeping folk-tale of bandits and bounty hunters. Along the way, he finds a fellow wanderer in Michael Fassbender’s Silas, a resourceful yet shifty man who may be his only hope for survival. Though it takes place in the familiar Wild West, the film was shot in New Zealand, which may give it a sense of otherworldliness unique to the genre.
Should you do the movie? Director John Maclean is a bit of an unknown quantity at this point, but early previews hint at a lush and highly stylized romp on the American frontier. And with talent like Fassbender and the reliably menacing Ben Mendelsohn (as a flamboyant baddie draped in fur), it looks like it’ll be a bonanza well worth the price of admission.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. Wandering aimlessly through the West is what Vinny does in his ostensibly entertaining off-hours.
The Connection (May 15)
What’s the story, bro? Dapper Frenchman Jean Dujardin dons sideburns and rumpled polyester for this look at the drug trafficking ring that inspired The French Connection. Set in Marseille in the mid-1970s, The Connection (original title: La French, oddly enough) follows magistrate Pierre Michel (Dujardin) as he attempts to take on the city’s heroin-smuggling underworld and the crime ring presided over by Tany Zampa (Gilles Lellouche). Expect broad-daylight hits, Steadicam shots, and period pop songs.
Should you do the movie? Reviews from the festival circuit have mostly painted the film as a re-hash of earlier, better crime epics. Still, Dujardin is a very charismatic actor—and one who often seems more at home in kitschy period settings than in the present.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. Vince already did the real-life drug smuggling thing when he played Pablo Escobar in Medellin, a film whose scathing reviews were the most authentic thing that has ever happened to him.
Every Secret Thing (May 15)
What’s the story, bro? Elizabeth Banks plays true detective in this crime thriller, adapted by Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said, Please Give) from a paperback potboiler of the same name. An unfortunate kidnapping puts Banks’ traumatized Detective Porter on the trail of Ronnie and Alice (Dakota Fanning and newcomer Danielle Macdonald), two teenage girls fresh out of juvie for a similar incident years earlier. Of course, things are never as they seem, and the hunt for whodunit ripples throughout the community, pulling others like Porter’s partner (Nate Parker) and Alice’s cagey mother (Diane Lane) into the fray.
Should you do the movie? The film has garnered mixed reviews since debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival more than a year ago, but director Amy Berg has proven her ability to tell a riveting crime story with documentaries Deliver Us From Evil and West Of Memphis. Either way, it’s got an intriguing wealth of female talent in front of and behind the camera, which is always worth paying attention to, and all signs point to one hell of a scene-stealing performance from Lane.
Is Vince doing the movie? No, even though Vince’s birthday party was sponsored by Victoria’s Secret. So clearly this film doesn’t have every secret thing. Suck on that, film!
Tomorrowland (May 22)
What’s the story, bro? Like most projects associated with Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof, there’s a great deal of mystery surrounding Tomorrowland. With a script co-written by Lindelof and director Brad Bird (Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, The Incredibles), the film transports George Clooney and Britt Robertson to a futuristic utopia not unlike the worlds of tomorrow envisioned by Walt Disney. Beyond its fantastic gizmos and the sense that not all is well in Tomorrowland, the film is one immaculately art-directed question mark.
Should you do the movie? A question mark can be a lethal weapon in Lindelof’s hands, but he’s done excellent work when there’s another creative heavy balancing him out. Bird’s live-action debut gave new life to a tired franchise, and the odds are he’ll manage the same trick with Disney’s faded notion that there’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow awaiting humanity.
Is Vince doing the movie? Not even Vince can be sure. Damn you, Damon Lindelof!
Poltergeist (May 22)
What’s the story, bro? They’re here… and this time, they can fuck up your smartphone. From the producers of 2013’s Evil Dead comes another modern makeover of a revered ’80s horror film. As in Tobe Hooper’s 1982 version, a suburban family is tormented by spirits that crawl out of its (now-flatscreen) TV. Don’t worry, the possessed clown doll is back, too, and he’s even creepier.
Should you do the movie? From the looks of it, the filmmakers have stuck pretty close to the template of the original—a double-edged remake strategy, as it potentially preserves the virtues of a classic while rendering the copy job redundant. But director Gil Kenan proved with Monster House that he can do a mean Spielberg (producer and some say ghost-helmer of the original), and the casting of Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt is a good omen. Plus, that clown doll…
Is Vince doing the movie? No. When it comes to remnant spirits whose time has passed crawling forth from your TV screens, Vince already has that covered.
Sunshine Superman (May 22)
What’s the story, bro? There are “extreme” sports, like paintball and snowboarding, and then there are extreme sports—the kind that kill people like Carl Boenish, the “father of BASE jumping.” For those unfamiliar: It involves getting on top of something very, very tall—buildings, bridges, cliffs—and then parachuting off. Sunshine Superman tells Boenish’s story, including lots of footage he shot himself before and during those death-defying dives. (All death-defying except the one, to be more accurate.)
Should you do the movie? It looks thrilling, and it’ll probably convince at least some moviegoers to get out there and do something a little thrilling or even dangerous. Plus, the guy died 30 years ago, and he died doing something he absolutely loved and that he knew could kill him, so it shouldn’t be too weepy.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. What?! Vince starred in Smoke Jumpers, the most “extreme” kind of jumping there is. It involves smoke! What?!
Aloft (May 22)
What’s the story, bro? Story doesn’t seem nearly as important as pregnant pauses and long looks in Aloft, which is about a mother (Jennifer Connelly) who abandons her son (Cillian Murphy, once the kid grows up), and also hawks of some sort, or maybe those are just an illusion. There’s also a faith healer, apparently, and a journalist played by Inglourious Basterds’ Mélanie Laurent. Watching the trailer will actually reveal less than all of that, somehow.
Should you do the movie? Nothing can inspire a yellow light of caution more than “lukewarm festival reviews” and “came out in Europe over a year ago.” So no, you probably shouldn’t, and chances are good that you weren’t going to anyway.
Is Vince doing the movie? No, even though “leaving the audience wondering what they’ve been watching and why” is right within the old Vincent Chase wheelhouse.
San Andreas (May 29)
What’s the story, bro? A massive earthquake hits California, and the only man who can lead the survivors to safety is Dwayne Johnson, the Arnold Schwarzenegger who looks natural and comfortable on-camera. Expect large-scale, 2012-style tableaux of destruction in post-converted 3-D, with plenty of clunky, almost-out-of-breath exposition mixed in. If the trailers are to be believed, Johnson will spend the entire movie wearing a pilot’s helmet.
Should you do the movie? On the one hand, Johnson is always a hoot to watch—a charismatic star with a comic-book physique, a winning smile, and a knack for comedy. On the other, this comes from the director of Cats & Dogs: The Revenge Of Kitty Galore.
Is Vince doing the movie? Vince lives in California. So in a sense, yes.
Aloha (May 29)
What’s the story, bro? A defense contractor (Bradley Cooper) undergoes some manner of personal and professional crisis, during which he meets an Air Force pilot (Emma Stone) in Hawaii, which is also where his ex (Rachel McAdams) lives. It’s not entirely clear how Danny McBride (as Cooper’s buddy), John Krasinski (as McAdams’ current beau), Bill Murray, or Jay Baruchel fit into the story, but they’re all there, too. But this is a Cameron Crowe film, so there will be soul-searching and falling in love and a pretty good soundtrack.
Should you do the movie? It probably depends on your degree of Cameron Crowe commitment, and how much you mind that he seems to be taking a mulligan on Elizabethtown; Aloha even appears to cast Alec Baldwin as another giver of colorfully angry first-reel admonishment. But when he’s really on, Crowe makes all-timers like Say Anything and Almost Famous. This cast certainly deserves something on that level, but even a Singles would be fine at this point. In the tradition of a Crowe hero, get ready for greatness and go for it, even if potential disappointment looms.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. It’s cool. He’ll just take his friends on his own jet to Hawaii, which is a thing he can just up and do right now because he is a rich movie star.
Results (May 29)
What’s the story, bro? Having surprised fans by making his last film a bizarre period piece about the dawn of artificial intelligence (Computer Chess), so-called mumblecore filmmaker Andrew Bujalski throws them another curveball with this relatively mainstream comedy, for which he turns for the first time to well-known actors. Guy Pearce and Cobie Smulders play personal trainers with a combative personal history, while character actor extraordinaire Kevin Corrigan steals scenes as a wealthy client with an odd agenda.
Should you do the movie? Corrigan has a lot of fun, but The A.V. Club film staff is divided on whether “relatively mainstream comedy” is really Bujalski’s thing. At least one of us finds the relationships—the backbone of previous Bujalski films like Funny Ha Ha and Mutual Appreciation—less than convincing.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. Ari screamed, “Vince gets results!” repeatedly into his Blackberry, but no one knew what he was talking about or why he was screaming or who even does business like that.
Heaven Knows What (May 29)
What’s the story, bro? The only film to play at last year’s Venice, Toronto, and New York film festivals is a harrowing junkie romance: introduced in the midst of slitting her wrists, 19-year-old Harley (Arielle Holmes) is fixated obsessively on her boyfriend Ilya (Caleb Landry-Jones); she’s as hooked on him as she is on heroin, and her twin addictions are slowly killing her. Directors Joshua and Ben Safdie (Daddy Longlegs, Lenny Cooke) based the story on Holmes’ real-life experiences in New York, resulting in an emotionally charged, street-level melodrama with an unsettling documentary texture.
Should you do the movie? With its grim subject matter, restless camerawork, and eerie electronic score, Heaven Knows What isn’t exactly the definition of escapist summer fare. But it’s a worthy piece of work by two impressive young filmmakers, and the inevitable post-screening discussions/arguments you’ll have with your friends about the implications of casting a young, non-professional actress in a difficult role that drifts perilously close to autobiography could rage on all night.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. Vince had his own struggles with drug addiction when he got into cocaine, and it took him at least half an episode of rehab to get over it, thanks.
Entourage (June 3)
What’s the story, bro? The deal went through. Four years after flying to Paris and out of our lives forever, HBO’s favorite bromantic posse returns to hug it out on the big screen. Golden boy Vinnie Chase has conquered Hollywood, but what he really wants to do is direct. Trouble starts when the production goes over budget and the boys have to secure funding from a Texas billionaire played by Billy Bob Thornton. Hey, if it all falls apart, they can just move back to Queens, right?
Should you do the movie? If the question “should you do the movie?” puts a nostalgic smile on your face, eight seasons of winking celebrity cameos, gratuitous model ogling, and things always working out probably wasn’t enough. So have at it.
Is Vince doing the movie? OH YEEEEAH. OH YEEEEAH. OH YEEEEEAHHHHHH.
A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence (June 3)
What’s the story, bro? Swedish auteur Roy Andersson completes his trilogy about the tribulations of being human with this episodic comedy, in which a large cast of characters ranging from a pair of traveling salesmen to King Charles XII stagger through scenes so austerely deadpan that they make Steven Wright look like Gallagher. It’s the same Monty Python-ish MO that Andersson employed in his 2000 arthouse hit Songs From The Second Floor, and it’s been known to wow critics and festival audiences around the world. (The film beat out Birdman for the Golden Lion in Venice last fall.)
Should you do the movie? Andersson’s comedy is an acquired taste, and it’s hard to say how Pigeon will play for those who haven’t seen Songs From The Second Floor and You, The Living, which introduce and develop his perennial themes of absurdity and despair. But even first-timers will appreciate the masterful staging and execution of the sight gags here, and the sheer weirdness of a lot of the scenes— including a fiery climax that may the bleakest image of the year—will appeal to those viewers worn out by emptier CGI spectacles.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. The contemplation of man’s tragicomic existence amid a grim and often surrealist tableau is what we do in the club, baby.
lSpy (June 5)
What’s the story, bro? Melissa McCarthy notches a third collaboration with director Paul Feig to play Susan Cooper, a CIA analyst who spends most of her time unnoticed behind a desk. But when top agents played by Jude Law and Jason Statham fail, Cooper is sent into the field to take down an arms dealer (Rose Byrne) with incredible, towering hair. Presumably she will also deliver McCarthy’s signature improvised threats and insults.
Should you do the movie? Word out of its South By Southwest screening has been quite positive, and McCarthy has done her best big-screen work with Feig, so this seems like a good bet for profane but heartfelt fun.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. Another Vincent Chase role stolen by Melissa McCarthy.
Insidious: Chapter 3 (June 5)
What’s the story, bro? The third installment in Blumhouse Productions’ “it’s the person, not the house, that’s haunted” series is actually a prequel for the first two films. Instead of Patrick Wilson, it’s Dermot Mulroney whose child is under assault from a supernatural entity. There’s a greater focus on psychic Elise Rainier (the always fun Lin Shaye), and how she came to use her abilities to help fight evil.
Should you do the movie? The Insidious films are one of the only fantasy-horror franchises out there, with the second film creating an even larger mystical universe. It’s a fun—if not always terrifying—world. That being said, it was horror maestro James Wan, who also made The Conjuring and is currently riding high in Hollywood on the success of Furious 7, who deserves most of the credit for those earlier films. Their screenwriter, Leigh Whannell, has made part three his directorial debut, so it could go either way.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. Call Vince when it’s not the house that’s haunted, but the yacht.
Love & Mercy (June 5)
What’s the story, bro? It’s the story of Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson, a biopic that alternates between two pivotal periods in the pop savant’s life: the making of band’s seminal Pet Sounds and the time he spent under the influence of Svengali-like psychotherapist Eugene Landy. The younger Wilson is played by a gradually unwinding Paul Dano, who becomes a nervy John Cusack in the 1980s. Sound a bit like the similarly experimental Bob Dylan portrait I’m Not There? That’s intentional: I’m Not There co-writer Oren Moverman was brought in to revise a script named for another Wilson composition: Heroes And Villains.
Should you do the movie? Wilson’s life contains all the prerequisites for a conventional musician’s biopic—troubled childhood, mercurial genius, addiction—but Love & Mercy appears to juke the formula. Positive buzz from the film’s Toronto premiere suggests that Love & Mercy won’t reflect the opening lines of its namesake tune: “I was sitting in a crummy movie / with my hands on my chin.”
Is Vince doing the movie? No, but Vincent Chase did almost play Joey Ramone. That is literally a thing that happened on Entourage, a show that is now a movie.
The Nightmare (June 5)
What’s the story, bro? A group of people suffering from vivid witching-hour hallucinations (the by-product of a condition known as sleep paralysis) share their experiences with director Rodney Ascher in this horror-documentary hybrid, which creeped the fuck out of audiences at Sundance earlier this year. Floating shadow-men, red-eyed demonic cats, X-Files-style alien abductors—the gang’s all here, and Ascher, whose previous Room 237 unpacked the subtext of The Shining, brings them all to life in a way that’s perfectly pitched between cheesy and chilling.
Should you do the movie? Ascher has said in interviews that people who suffer from sleep paralysis have found The Nightmare cathartic and validating, so if reading descriptions of the bad dreams here prompts a shiver of recognition, this could be your must-see of the summer. A lot of other folks will probably be watching through their fingers.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. If you want to see Vince in a waking nightmare, his voice the chittering madness lurking in the limned darkness between dream and reality, it’s called Entourage.
Jurassic World (June 12)
What’s the story, bro? Ten years after realizing John Hammond’s dream of a safe and profitable amusement park featuring dinosaurs, the proprietors of Jurassic World figure it’s time to spice things up by genetically inventing a new attraction. “Probably not a good idea,” concludes hunky dino trainer Chris Pratt, totally putting that arrogant, uppity woman manager Bryce Dallas Howard in her place. Cue, as Jeff Goldblum would put it, the running and the screaming.
Should you do the movie? Yes, it looks silly. But so was the one with the talking raptors. And the one with the T. rex loose in San Diego. And while director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) clearly lacks Steven Spielberg’s masterful command of CGI, he gives us something the original film didn’t: Andy Dwyer riding a motorcycle through the jungle, a pack of raptors by his side. That’s dumb fun we can get behind.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. But one time Vince bought a dinosaur skull, and then he threw a party for it. Whose world is it now, dinosaurs?
Me And Earl And The Dying Girl (June 12)
What’s the story, bro? Winner of both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s energetic teen weepie follows a high-school filmmaker (Thomas Mann) forced to befriend a classmate (Olivia Cooke) with leukemia. They bond over his movies, short parodies of Criterion selections with hilarious titles like Pooping Tom.
Should you do the movie? It sounds a bit like a Fault In Our Stars knockoff—and indeed, the YA novel on which it’s based has earned some John Green comparisons. But Gomez-Rejon, a Glee and American Horror Story veteran, injects the material with a lot of comic energy, as well as a deep and genuine love for cinema. And the poignancy really sneaks up on you; the film left few eyes dry at Sundance, and seems poised to have general audiences reaching for the hankies, too.
Is Vince doing the movie? No, Vince already did a young-adult movie about a girl stricken with a tragic illness, back when he co-starred in A Walk To Remember. And that time, he got to bang Mandy Moore. He’s good, bro.
Live From New York! (June 12)
What’s the story, bro? Saturday Night Live has been on the air for 40 years, and in case the star-studded anniversary special (or multiple past anniversary specials and documentaries) didn’t drive that fact home, it’s a big deal. This particular iteration of the SNL-history subgenre focuses on the show’s relationship to American culture, particularly politics. It features behind-the-scenes access, some relatively rare footage, and interviews with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Molly Shannon, Chris Rock, Jimmy Fallon, and more.
Should you do the movie? SNL superfans are the demographic here, which is a mixed blessing; they’ll both know a lot of what the documentary tells them already and devour it anyway. Director Bao Nguyen does manage to eschew many of the most overplayed clips; he seems much more interested in the intersection between SNL and real life than trotting out a bunch of recurring characters and catchphrases. The doc doesn’t have the strongest through-line, but its innovations, like a brief segment on the show’s sketchy use of race-bending impression casting over the years, make it a fan-worthy addition to over-covered territory.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. Somehow in all his charmed life, in which he is the envy of all other famous actors and prized by all the top directors, Vince has never even been asked to host SNL. How is this believable?
Madame Bovary (June 12)
What’s the story, bro? On the heels of a new take on Far From The Madding Crowd (May 1) comes the umpteenth adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. Mia Wasikowska—who, between this, Jane Eyre, and Alice In Wonderland, seems to have carved herself a niche playing the iconic heroines of 19th-century literature—stars in the title role, a beauty tragically bored by passionless country life. The likes of Jean Renoir, Claude Chabrol, Vincente Minnelli, and David Lean—who helmed the loose adaptation Ryan’s Daughter—have previously tried their hand at the story; Sophie Barthes (Cold Souls) directed and co-wrote this version.
Should you do the movie? Flaubert’s novel was a milestone in the development of literary realism, and previous adaptations have often struggled with translating its sense of place and social order to the big screen. It remains to be seen whether Barthes is able to bring a fresh perspective, or whether Madame Bovary will turn out be merely the latest in the ongoing cycle of 19th-century literary adaptations distinguished only by handheld camerawork.
Is Vince doing the movie? No, but one time Drama called it “Madame Ovary,” and everyone laughed for a solid 30 minutes.
The Wolfpack (June 12)
What’s the story, bro? Crystal Moselle’s filmmaking debut is an entry in the stranger-than-fiction documentary genre. Susanne and Oscar Angulo raised six boys and one girl in the middle of a Manhattan housing project—without any connection to, or interaction with, the outside world. Instead, the Angulos home-schooled their children with a steady diet of movies, which they would watch constantly and then attempt to re-create themselves, à la Be Kind Rewind. It sounds utterly bizarre, and utterly fascinating.
Should you do the movie? Early reviews suggest that Moselle may have bitten off more than she could handle with her first feature, as some say the film lacks a strong narrative through-line and that it doesn’t dig very deep. Still, the subject matter alone should make The Wolfpack an interesting watch.
Is Vince doing the movie? Not directly, though one assumes the movies the boys watched included the oeuvre of Vincent Chase, acclaimed and popular film star.
The Tribe (June 17)
What’s the story, bro? This Ukranian shocker, about a deaf teenager who gets in deep with a gang at his new boarding school, boasts a pretty novel gimmick: All dialogue is delivered in unsubtitled sign language. The film dropped jaws in Cannes last year, winning top honors at parallel festival Critics’ Week.
Should you do the movie? For those who can’t sign, piecing together the plot is a fascinating challenge—an exercise in reading body language and cinematic cues. Once parsed, though, the story itself isn’t quite as groundbreaking. And those with a low tolerance for violence, explicit sex, and medical horrors should know what they’re getting into.
Is Vince doing the movie? No, even though not speaking is totally Vinny’s strong suit.
Inside Out (June 19)
What’s the story, bro? A teenage girl copes with conflicting emotions—quite literally, in fact, as the sentient feelings in her brain (voiced by Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, and others) grapple for control. It’s the first of two Pixar films headed for theaters in 2015. The second, The Good Dinosaur, drops this fall.
Should you do the movie? One could argue that Pixar’s creative hot streak fizzled out a few years ago. So it’s a good sign that the studio has handed the reins to one of its pros, Up and Monsters, Inc. director Pete Docter, and that it’s taken a break from forcing sequels and prequels from its library of existing hits. Inside Out is an original story, and a promising one at that. The little voices in our heads are telling us to get excited.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. He’s busy with the live-action version of this story, in which a collective of avatars representing single-minded character traits squabble within the American mind, driving it to madness.
Dope (June 19)
What’s the story, bro? One of the big crowd-pleasers at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Dope observes the rowdy chaos that ensues when a trio of college-bound nerds accidentally get involved with the drug drealers they always go out of their way to avoid. Imagine a modern-day, African-American remake of Risky Business—in which the characters are obsessed with ’90s hip-hop—and you’ll have the basic idea. Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood, Brown Sugar) directed, and this film is likely to be his commercial breakthrough.
Should you do the movie? Critic Wesley Morris famously dismissed Dope as “black shit white people like.” But the film’s sheer energy is infectious, and Famuyiwa deftly blends ’90s nostalgia (by kids too young to remember) with up-to-the-minute gags about Bitcoin and viral memes. It’s a lot of fun.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. Turtle is sad.
Manglehorn (June 19)
What’s the story, bro? Al Pacino’s been making the indie rounds lately, and here he teams up with David Gordon Green (Joe, Pineapple Express) for a story about a sadsack locksmith who tentatively romances a bank teller (Holly Hunter) even as he continues to pine for the woman who dumped him decades earlier. He’s also negotiating a rapprochement with his adult son (Chris Messina) and dealing with the unwanted attention of a sleazeball (filmmaker Harmony Korine, well cast) who’s worshipped him since childhood.
Should you do the movie? Like Joe, which gave Nicolas Cage his best role in years, Manglehorn benefits from an unusually restrained performance by its star—Pacino tones it way down, to poignant effect. Unlike Joe, however, this is ultimately a rather maudlin redemption tale that needed several rewrites.
Is Vince doing the movie? Is this about a mountain? One time Vinnie wrote a movie about a miner, which was sort of about mountains. It’s not? Then no.
Eden (June 19)
What’s the story, bro? The talented French writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve (Father Of My Children, Goodbye First Love) applies her insightful eye and unique sense of the passage of time to a story set in the world of French house music. Co-written with the filmmaker’s brother, DJ Sven Hansen-Love, the movie follows a French DJ named Paul (Félix De Givry) over nearly two decades. Tastes change, relationships fall apart, and he keeps spinning house records; meanwhile, in the background, his old buddies from the scene ascend to global stardom as Daft Punk. As in Goodbye First Love, Hansen-Løve resists noticeably aging the characters; they instead remain the same people they were as teenagers.
Should you do the movie? Though Hansen-Løve has jokingly referred to the film as “the Heaven’s Gate of house music,” it resists epic sweep, instead unfolding as a series of minor episodes and dead ends. That might irk some viewers, but it speaks to the filmmaker’s rendering of life on the big screen.
Is Vince doing the movie? Vince plays a DJ in his new movie—a cyborg DJ with superpowers. But this sounds like it doesn’t have one of those, because it’s all “French.”
Burying The Ex (June 19)
What’s the story, bro? After spending most of the decade directing TV, the great Joe Dante (Gremlins) is back, and he’s returning to his roots in low-budget horror-comedy with this story of a dorky guy (Anton Yelchin) whose overbearing girlfriend (Ashley Greene) rises from the dead just as he’s trying to start dating again. Once seen as a kind of alternate-universe Spielberg, Dante has always had a knack for combining special effects and film buff in-jokes with a Looney Tunes sensibility; we’ll see what he does with this premise, expanded by screenwriter Alan Trezza from his 2008 short.
Should you do the movie? Early reviews have been mixed, with critics praising the game cast, while describing the film as technically and stylistically inferior to Dante’s last attempt at a comeback, the under-seen (and underrated) 3-D family flick The Hole.
Is Vince doing the movie? Man, Vincent Chase knows about exes, man. This one time he got back together with his ex-girlfriend Mandy Moore and it was crazy awkward. It almost ruined Aquaman, man. But no, he’s not in this.
The Overnight (June 19)
What’s the story, bro? You may have seen the primary marketing image for this film: an asterisk that’s deliberately meant to suggest a literal asshole. That’s a good indication of how far The Overnight takes its comic premise, which sees a straitlaced couple (Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling) attend a dinner party with their new neighbors (Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche), then watch the evening gradually spiral out of control. For an ostensibly mainstream movie, it pushes the envelope pretty hard.
Should you do the movie? Everybody’s going to be talking about The Overnight’s funniest scene, which features a full-frontal dance routine by Scott and Schwartzman (both equipped with hilarious prosthetic dongs). What’s surprising and gratifying, though, is how heartfelt the film is beneath the raunchy laughs.
Is Vince doing the movie? No, but one time Turtle called E a “prosthetic dong” and they laughed all night, so it’s pretty much the same thing.
The Face Of An Angel (June 19)
What’s the story, bro? Michael Winterbottom (The Trip, 24 Hour Party People) does his gloss on the true-life tale of Amanda Knox. Based on reporter Barbie Nadeau’s account of the crime and subsequent media furor surrounding the case, The Face Of An Angel stars newcomer Cara Delevingne as a lightly fictionalized version of the young American woman accused of murder while abroad. The film adds an extra layer of meta-narrative by having Daniel Brühl play a director offered the chance to film a book based on a journalist’s account of the killing.
Should you do the movie? While Winterbottom might not be quite in Adaptation territory, he’s definitely not interested in just doing a straight-ahead crime thriller. The director has had his share of misfires, but even the tepid reception of the film thus far shouldn’t dissuade anyone from checking out the latest experiment from the oft-unpredictable Brit.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. Vinny Chase does not do things related to true life.
Ted 2 (June 26)
What’s the story, bro? The talking teddy-bear movie that definitely isn’t Paddington returns for a sequel in Ted 2. This time around, said talking teddy bear has given up the bachelor life and settled down with his new wife, presumed plushie Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). But the couple’s attempts at adopting a baby are thwarted by institutional anti-talking-teddy-bear prejudice (a legal marriage was fine for some reason), forcing Ted to sue for his personhood in court. Amanda Seyfried co-stars as the lawyer who helps Ted prove he’s human.
Should you do the movie? The world’s thirst for Seth MacFarlane’s Boston-accented, reference-based, unabashedly juvenile sense of humor remains unquenchable, so you might as well see it to stay in touch with popular tastes. Beyond that, Liam Neeson appears in a small role, and any reinvention (or re-reinvention, as the case may be) on Neeson’s part usually produces interesting dividends.
Is Vince doing the movie? No. Vince is already starring in another Mark Wahlberg project with a pot-smoking animal pal.
Max (June 26)
What’s the story, bro? “Best Friend. Hero. Marine.” From director Boaz Yakin and “a producer of Marley & Me” comes a very patriotic-looking movie about a military dog who’s adopted by a suburban family. To be perfectly honest, there is very little about the film that doesn’t suggest that it’s a parody poster you’d see in the background of a Hollywood satire, though The A.V. Club is intrigued by the fact that it was co-written by Sheldon Lettich, screenwriter and director of many Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, some of them very good.
Should you do the movie? How much do dogs figure into your selection process when deciding on a movie to see? Are you a Thomas Haden Church completist?
Is Vince doing the movie? Vince once voiced a dog. No, for real. Not this one, though.
Big Game (June 26)
What’s the story, bro? Finland’s attempt to produce a Hollywood blockbuster. The most expensive film the country has ever made, it stars Samuel L. Jackson as the president of the United States, who is forced to team up with a young boy in the Finnish wilderness when Air Force One is shot out of the sky and the terrorists responsible come a-calling.
Should you do the movie? Ho-lee shit, does this thing look ridiculous. If you watch the trailer, you should be able to determine pretty quickly whether this is geared toward your particular brand of stupid. Hopefully it falls closer to the dumb-but-fun side of the cheesy blockbuster spectrum, but we’re not holding out much hope.
Is Vince doing the movie? No, but this sounds exactly like the sort of movie Vincent Chase should be in.
A Little Chaos (June 26)
What’s the story, bro? There’s nothing sexier than 17th-century gardeners, and director-star Alan Rickman attempts to draw all the juice out of the construction of Louis XIV’s heavenly Versailles gardens by pitting Kate Winslet against Matthias Schoenaerts in a tug of war involving a pond or something. There will be costumes.
Should you do the movie? First ask yourself these questions: Is my AARP membership up to date? Do I enjoy accents and costumes more than the average moviegoer?
Is Vince doing the movie? No. Costumes? Ponds? Again, did Rickman not see Aquaman?