There’s still one more month of summer left, but we can feel the end of the season upon us. Students are heading back to school, online magazines are piling up with college how-tos and personal stories, so it seems only fair to include a summer recap of movies that we loved, and of course a few that didn’t quite entertain us in the way we hoped. Here’s a list of some of the best and worst films that hit theaters this past summer.
Who wouldn’t love a Pixar animated movie with the voices of Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, and Bill Hader (just to name a few)? “Inside Out” discusses the reality of one’s own emotional turmoil during a major transition in life. Sitting at a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, “Inside Out” continues to play in a number of theaters after its release on June 19th. If you haven’t had a chance to catch it, I recommend taking a break from your fall preparation to sit in an air-conditioned theater and see what all the hype is about.
My favorite movie of the summer, hands down, is “Dope,” written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa. With all the racial problems currently taking place, this movie speaks directly towards everyday racism and the challenges of breaking down racial stereotypes. “Dope” has a lot of laughs, a fantastic soundtrack, and enough drama to make it a hard-hitting/stick with you/make you think sort of film.
Although not the most widely known film of the summer, for films buffs “Tangerine” is one of the best films released. A film shot completely on iPhone 5s and edited with Final Cut Pro, “Tangerine” tells the story of two trans women in Hollywood in search of Sin-Dee Rella’s pimp boyfriend who has recently begun dating a cisgender woman. “Tangerine,” with its 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating, proves that the romantic comedy genre isn’t only reserved for cis relationships and gender stereotypes.
I didn’t fully engage with the film because it’s not my go-to genre. But there were definite moments of hysterical, side-aching laughter. We knew this would be one of the summer’s best, most seen films once it was announced that Amy Schumer would write and Judd Apatow would direct. Outside of those two, the film is worth seeing for Tilda Swinton’s performance as Schumer’s boss. Swinton is unrecognizable and one of the funniest parts of the film!
“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”
I know, I know, there’s been like seven other M:I’s (actually there’s been four other M:I’s), but Rogue Nation is one the highest-rated movies of summer 2015. A thrilling action movie about friendship, Tom Cruise deserves some major snaps for performing all of his own stunts. This is a great flick to catch in the theater on a hot day.
“Best of Enemies”
From the Oscar-winning director who brought you “20 Feet From Stardom,” Morgan Neville brought audiences “Best of Enemies” this summer. A film about the well-known feud between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr., this movie follows a traditional linear timeline that tells the story of these two characters and the aftermath of their televised debate. If you’re fond of documentaries be sure to check out “Best of Enemies” before it leaves theaters.
This low-budget indie flick has a well-known cast that includes Taylor Schilling (“Orange is the New Black”), Jason Schwartzman (all Wes Anderson movies), and Adam Scott (“Park’s and Recreation”). The movie was shot primarily in one house and follows two couples as they navigate friendship and sexuality as adults.
“The Gift” is a psychological thriller and is Joel Edgerton’s (“Warrior,” “The Great Gatsby,” and “The Thing”) directorial debut. Starring Rebecca Hall and Jason Bateman, this film follows Simon (Bateman), a bully who has yet to suffer any consequences for the way he treated, and still treats, people he finds weaker than himself. However, this film isn’t about positive messages and making amends, it’s about seeking justice via an eye for an eye.
Honorable Mentions: “Diary of a Teenage Girl,” “Mistress America,” “The Look of Silence,” “The End of the Tour,” and “Straight Outta Compton.”
It’s not that the entirety of the movie was bad; I personally had a great theater experience with it in terms of the sound and special effects. What really categorizes this film as bad is its writing. We knew Arnold would be dishing out one liners, but did Kyle Reese, Sarah and John Connor have to as well?
This movie is just bad. With a budget of $120 million, you’d think they would have stepped up their writing. According to director Josh Trank (“Chronicle”), it was the studio’s fault. The whole story is controversial. Entertainment Weekly wrote a great article about the whole situation that (maybe) helps us understand why “Fantastic Four” flopped so hard.
Typical Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock). Typical post 9/11, destruction of a major city movie. If you haven’t heard about the post 9/11 theory in film, it refers to the shift in cinema that occurred after the 9/11 attacks. Movies began to focus on the demolition of cities either by natural causes or via terrorist attacks (see every single Marvel movie that has come out in the past 15 years) and end in the rubble of the aftermath. In the end, they leave the audience feeling hopeful and patriotic, as though mass destruction could not tamper the American spirit. The point being, this film is nothing new, so save your $15 for another movie.
Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg seemed like the perfect match in this comedic, action flick. But alas, they and the movie were a flop. Although my significant other believes this movie to be one of the better summer releases, the majority of film goers would disagree with him. The film is categorized as an action comedy, but it doesn’t quite fulfill either role.
We love Christina Applegate and Ed Helms and we love the Chevy Chase vacation movies. In theory this film could have been the perfect match. But could any duo really top the Chevy Chase vacation films? No. Some movies are meant to be left alone. “Vacation” tries too hard with its humor instead of trying to become its own film.
This movie wasn’t the worst movie of the summer, but by no means was it one of the better ones. Jake Gyllenhaal was great (I mean come on, his transformation deserves some applause, especially after seeing him in “Nightcrawler”), Rachel McAdams was great, and Oona Laurence was great. The story itself was not so great.
A part of me feels for Adam Sandler (“Pixels” was a Happy Madison production and included the voice of Sandler) because his films in the last handful of years have been total flops, but alas, so too is this one.
Honorable Mentions: “Entourage,” “We Are Your Friends,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” and “Irrational Man.”
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