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.
While the summer blockbuster season has surely had its share of successes from a box-office standpoint (Furious 7, Mad Max: Fury Road, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World), one could argue that the summer season has been somewhat underwhelming up to this point. Save for perhaps Fury Road, many of the highly anticipated films of the season have been disappointments – not quite major enough to cry failure, but not the spectacles that got us loving their respective franchises in the first place. This week brings another set of massive expectations to the fold in the form of a Pixar film, but we’re also given a bevy of deep and varied indie pictures that makes this week very, very, very promising. This is perhaps the strongest week of the year from a quality perspective, and with another huge release coming with high expectations, we’re going to have a lot to talk about, for better or worse, as the weekend rolls around.
#5 – The Overnight (Limited)
With two television stars in Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black) and Adam Scott (Party Down, Parks & Recreation), as well as the always comedically solid Jason Schwartzman (Listen Up Philip), the cast of The Overnight is already showcasing a potentially impressive comedic core. The trailer for the film boasts a quote praising Adam Scott as perhaps the best straight man in comedy, and we tend to agree. Even better, the film premiered and the Sundance Film Festival to a promising response, and writer and director Patrick Brice (Creep) appears to be a gifted new voice in the mumblecore movement. The film tells of a couple still acclimating themselves to L.A., and agreeing to spend the evening with another pair they recently met. Of course, things get interesting as the night wears on, making for a wild, crazy, and humorous experience for the foursome.
#4 – Infinitely Polar Bear (Limited)
Another film in which Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) struggles to keep his emotions in check, Infinitely Polar Bear is decidedly different from this summer’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Polar Bear gives Ruffalo the stage as a man who suffers from bipolar disorder, and has returned home after a prior breakdown forced him to retreat to a halfway house. Upon his return, he must learn to reingratiate himself with his wife – played by Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy) – and children. Attempting to use a lighter touch to deal with an all-too-common (yet drastically under-represented) affliction, writer/director Maya Forbes (who used experiences from her own life, as her father suffered from bipolar disorder) to create a very real and accurate representation of the day to day aspects that come with living with the disorder.
#3 – The Tribe (Limited)
Those who follow the festival circuit are at least moderately familiar with the story surrounding The Tribe. The film turned heads at Sundance, but easily the most talked about aspect of the project was that the film has no spoken dialogue. Not quite a silent film (in the traditional sense, since the film does have sound), the film instead is set entirely at a school for the deaf. This means all of the interactions taking place in the film are through sign language. Yet this school still suffers from the heavy, troublesome issues often endemic to many schools, including gang life, drugs, and even prostitution, as a new student must work his way up the social hierarchy of the school to find his place. Praised as a haunting and deeply affecting work, The Tribe is sure to challenge and push its viewers to places they have rarely encountered before.
#2 – Dope
Another Sundance alum, Dope promises to be a great time at theaters for those of us who suffer from 90s nostalgia rooted in old-school hip hop music and culture. That it supposedly excels in the nostalgia element shouldn’t be a surprise, being that it’s directed by Rick Famuyiwa (Brown Sugar), who directed The Wood back in 1999. That film’s greatest asset was its flashback scenes, undoubtedly the strongest moments of the Omar Epps (Juice) led comedy. With Dope, Famuyiwa focuses his attention on a group of geeky friends from a rough Los Angeles neighborhood with a fascination with retro hip hop fashion trends and music, who during the course of a day, try everything to shed their geeky labels and become “dope.”Undoubtedly a great time at the movies, the trailer oozes with personality and style.
#1 – Inside Out
The fifteenth effort from the much beloved Pixar brand comes with all the weighty expectations of the franchise films that were released earlier this summer, but for perhaps the exact opposite reason. Inside Out is only the studio’s second original film since 2010. That’s right, the studio famous for making wholly original and inventive concepts has only produced two original projects in five years. That’s because three of Pixar’s properties since 2010 have been sequels or prequels (Toy Story 3, Cars 2, Monsters University), with only 2012’s Brave bringing a completely new story to the table. And while we’re not complaining – Toy Story 3 was amazing – it would be nice to see some fresh, new material coming out of the studio known for fresh, new material (even more so now with the upcoming Studio Ghibli hiatus). Enter Inside Out, the most unique and daring concept from Pixar since perhaps Wall-E. The film follows a little girl acclimating herself to a new life and school in a new neighborhood, but dealing with all the emotional baggage that comes with it, which we see occurring in her mind through her varying emotions played by Amy Poehler (They Came Together) as Joy, Phyllis Smith (TV’s The Office) as Sadness, Bill Hader (The Skeleton Twins) as Fear, Lewis Black (Accepted) as Anger, and Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project) as Disgust. The film has gotten the reviews and critical acclaim we’ve come to expect from Pixar properties, which is why it should be sought out without hesitation.