Welcome to the Weekend Release Roundup, where we highlight what we think are the most interesting movies to hit theaters this weekend.
Going to the movies isn’t cheap, so we’re here to help you sort through your choices.
This week is a pretty good one, albeit thin on major releases. Instead, what makes this week solid is a trio of documentaries, each one of them dealing with very different subjects. Unexpectedly, it’s also a week that gives audiences some challenging topics to face, with issues like vaccination, climate change, poverty, and cancer all taking up huge roles in their respective films. But for those looking for some simple escapism, don’t worry. Amidst all that heavy, serious content, there’s still dinosaurs. And not just any type dinosaur, but genetically altered dinosaurs.
#5 – Every Last Child (Limited)
Our first of a trio of documentaries is Every Last Child, a film which chronicles the polio crisis that has taken hold of Pakistan, thanks in part because of a ban the Taliban issued against the the polio vaccination. The film highlights the current debate occurring in the country through the eyes of some victims of the disease, some critics of vaccination, as well as local doctors. It’s a revealing topic not only because we’re being shown a crisis believed to have been solved in most of the developed world, but because the vaccination debate has gotten more prevalent even in our own country. It may be a somewhat heavier topic for a movie-going night in June, but those looking to be challenged can’t do much better than this doc.
#4 – The Wolfpack (Limited)
A drastically different sort of documentary than our previous entry on this list, The Wolfpack tells a story on a much smaller scale. Focusing on a group of young brothers born into welfare, and victims of a reclusive father who locked them up inside their home for almost the entirety of their childhood, movies turned out to play a hugely critical role in the children’s lives. As their only connection to the outside world, film became an escape for the brothers, as they would pass time either watching or re-creating scenes from their favorite movies. The documentary focuses on much of this unique childhood, but really kicks off when one of the brothers – who finally comes of age – decides to break free from his trapped existence. An intimate look into a family that cast themselves out of the world, audiences may remember the famous documentary Grey Gardens, which followed a reclusive mother/daughter pair that happened to be relations of Jackie Kennedy. But whereas the subjects in that film used fashion and stories of high society to liven up their confined lives, these brothers use film as their respite.
#3 – The Yes Men Are Revolting (Limited)
Another documentary about the impending doom of climate change might seem redundant at this point (even though it shouldn’t), but this one puts the issue in a more entertaining light that previous docs. That’s right, The Yes Men are Revolting is a lighter, more humorous take on the issue of climate change. This is due mainly to the film’s two subjects – activist-pranksters Andy and Mike – whose unique method of activism is less about picket signs and more about silly costumes and elaborate pranks. Of course, that doesn’t make the two men’s campaign any less sincere, just a tad more entertaining. And since every documentary about climate change these days succeeds in depressing us (as they should), at least The Yes Men are Revolting can attempt to make us laugh us as well.
#2 – Jurassic World
Jurassic World is undoubtedly one of the films in competition for the unofficial title of the blockbuster event of the summer. Loaded with CGI, dinosaurs, CGI dinosaurs, and CGI genetically mutated dinosaurs, the film is looking to fill all the standard requirements of a Hollywood franchise spectacle. It also has a pair of talented leads in Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Bryce Dallas Howard (50/50), with Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil) and Omar Sy (X-Men: Days of Future Past) in supporting roles. The story is, well…the same as with prior films, only with added subplots here and there (the park is now open to the public, there’s an altered super-dinosaur, etc.) to add to the escalation that seems to be inherent with franchise films nowadays. The early buzz on the movie has been solid, if not overwhelming, but this is the sort of film that will garner enthusiastic crowds regardless of critical praise. Plus, with a solid director at the helm in Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed), the talent is all in place for a good time at the movies.
#1 – Me & Earl & The Dying Girl (Limited)
There would obviously have needed to be a good reason to not place Jurassic World atop our list, and that reason is Me & Earl & the Dying Girl. A cancer movie, but not in the John Green or Nicholas Sparks sort of way, Me & Earl focuses on tragedy with drier humor and less melancholic, stringy musical numbers than so many cancer films past. Of course, to merely describe it as a “cancer film” is silly, as the movie looks to be a profound coming-of-age tale with enough wit to keep us engaged throughout. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and with a great buzz describing it as a world-class delight, the film should be the one to seek out this week. Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (The Town That Dreaded Sundown) and starring Thomas Mann (It’s Kind of a Funny Story), R.J. Cyler, Olivia Cooke (Ouija), Connie Britton (This Is Where I Leave You), Jon Bernthal (Fury), Nick Offerman (22 Jump Street), and Molly Shannon (Life After Beth), the film may prove to be just as entertaining as many of the summer blockbusters coming our way.