I won’t go so far as to call this the most disappointing summer for cinema in decades, but I think you could make the case for that.
“Dismal”? Almost. “Desultory”? Most certainly.
If you didn’t wet your nappies over “Captain America and His Avenger Friends,” you’re going to be hard-pressed to grab hold of anything to point to and say, “Now THAT was a summer movie.” And I defy anybody to summon up a memory of it that one doesn’t include the Big Cameo Moment with Antman, Spider-Man the Latest, et al.
“Star Trek Beyond” showed the franchise’s age — nothing new to say.
“Ghostbusters” lacked the laughs necessary to beat back the wave of abuse that greeted its release from delusional fans of the original. Less money on effects and a few bucks on script doctoring/joking up might have helped.
“Bourne” again? Matt Damon wasn’t the only one yawning.
“Warcraft” found fans only among movie-savvy cultures, and “Suicide Squad” put Warner Brothers gamblers on suicide watch.
But this weekend, THIS weekend, things are different. It’s a transitional one, featuring movies that would be right at home in September of October.
Here is Meryl Streep delivering the season’s best comedy and bringing High Grant back from the movie dead with the delightful, sentimental and hilarious “Florence Foster Jenkins.”
Jeff Bridges bites off a plug and drawls his way through a wily pursuit of farmhand bank robbers Chris Pine and Ben Foster in “Hell or High Water”, a great genre picture and one with biting social commentary — both about the America “left behind” in the current economy, and about Texas and Texans.
Not everybody bought into “Anthropoid” the way I did, but a World War II thriller about Czech ex-pats on a suicide mission that will get a lot of their countryment killed, ugly facts that Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dorman wear on their faces in every scene? War with consequences, grown men old enough to know their fate and face it not knowing if their actions are futile, even if they succeed? That’s a great story to tell, and it’s artfully told, war without sugar-coating.
“Sausage Party,” an animated dirty joke turned into a feature length cartoon by Seth Rogen & Co., is hilarious and lowdown and dirty and downright daring. If you see but one R-rated animated comedy about groceries, sex, pot and atheism this year, this is it.
Will anything else this summer measure up? Yeah, “In Order of Disappearance” opens in a few weeks. And then comes September and the Oscar contenders of fall.
But in a summer that could only boast of the occasional moment of heart (“Captain Fantastic”) or originality (“Swiss Army Man”), a summer where the jig finally seems up for Woody Allen and only the aged “Ab Fab” gals and Kathryn Hahn (“Bad Moms”) and Aubrey Plaza (“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”) delivered real laughs, we’ll take it.