We’re inching ever closer to the Summer Movie Season. In fact, this weekend is the lull before the storm begins. But this past weekend, we saw several interesting releases. Here’s a look at all the new films I saw this week! If you’d like to see more of my scores for films and thoughts, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd here.
The Bad Guys (Theaters)
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Zazie Beets, and Richard Ayoade
Synopsis: I remember seeing Steven Soderberg’s take on Ocean’s 11. It was crazy, cool and a lot of fun. If that energy and storytelling style could be conveyed as an animated film intended for family-friendly audiences, it would be The Bad Guys. The film, a new animated release, focuses on a group of friends that are great at pulling jobs. There’s a wolf (Rockwell), snake (Maron), tarantula (Awkwafina), Piranha (Ramos) and shark (Robinson). When one of their jobs goes awry, a philanthropic guinea pig (Ayoade) pitches to the Governor (Beets) a way to give them a chance to rehab their image. Can the bad guys go good? That’s the essential premise of the film, which has some hidden layers and a few fun twists as well. I enjoyed the voice performances and story here. The film’s twists worked well and the style was a lot of fun, capitalizing on that kind of stylized heist story. This one works as a film for the whole family but has a fun enough hook and story to be compelling for older viewers. This is one of the better animated entries of the year so far, a film that’s a fun distraction worth checking out with the family.
Rating: Rated PG for action and rude humor.
Polar Bear (Disney+)
Synopsis: The latest documentary feature from Disney puts the focus on Polar Bears living in the artic. As has been the case for a few decades, around Earth Day it’s typically for Disney to release a nature documentary. Sometimes these have been lavish films released in theaters. This time it’s a Disney+ release, but it follows the same pattern. It focuses on a bear and its mother as a cub, following its journey over a few years until the cub grows up to be a mother herself. The journey is voiced by Catherine Keener and the film runs just under 90 minutes. It features some beautiful footage, an engaging story and a warning about the ravages of climate change. For those that enjoy nature documentaries, this is an easy watch. It’s not as dynamic as some Disney has released, but it was worth checking out.
Rating: Rated PG for some thematic elements.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (Theaters)
Starring: Nic Cage, Pedro Pascal, Tiffany Haddish, Sharon Horgan, and Neil Patrick Harris
Synopsis: Parody is a difficult trick to pull off. At times, we’ve seen stars play fictionalized versions of themselves on screen. In the case of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, it’s completely reliant on that idea. Nicholas Cage takes the lead in the role he was born to play—himself. It’s a fun walk down memory lane, with references to his films and to the many rumors and stories about him. And Cage does some of the best work of his career. But what helps this film step forward and become something incredibly compelling is the overall story and the work of the supporting cast. I enjoyed Pascal greatly as Javi, and he has great chemistry opposite Cage. Horgan is fun as Cage’s wife, too, while Haddish has some great scenes as a CIA Agent who recruits Cage, too. Overall, this film gets you in the door with a hook and keeps you there with a fun story and some great moments and performances. Cage is brilliant in the lead role and I hope that’s not forgotten as we move through the rest of this year.
Rating: Rated R for language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and violence.
White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch (Netflix)
Synopsis: The new Netflix documentary puts the focus on the fashion label Abercrombie and Fitch, following it’s rise to the top of culture and the issues within the company and within the company’s approach that caused the same public to turn on the brand. As a person who went to high school and college in the late 1990s and early 2000s in California, I remember the stores and the impact it had on my peers. I remember being fascinated by the marketing and the oddities of the stores. In that sense, this documentary felt like a time capsule that took me back to the Abercrombie & Fitch experience. And it was an experience. I thought the documentary did a great job of exploring the origin of the stores and controversies that arose. I enjoyed the exploration and felt like I learned more about the brand, what made it tick and what ultimately brought it down. For those that enjoy these type of documentary stories, this one does a good job of painting a picture and telling the story.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.