In the 2010s, the key ingredients for the Summer Blend Recipe for Movies is as follows:
• Multiple portions of costumed superhero adventures
• Equal helpings of reboots and sequels
• A spoonful of romantic stories and hard-R comedies
• Just a dash of adult drama
• A sprinkling of edgy original fare
• Add a dash of hope
Here’s a look at some of the films I’m most anticipating, some of the movies that have me asking, “WHY ME!” — and a few predictions about how it will all shake down.
“The Angry Birds Movie” (May 20)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: As an actual human (insert joke here), of course I look forward to some movies more than others — but I keep an open mind every time I enter the screening room.
Having said that, “The Angry Birds Movie” falls squarely into the category of, “WHY ME!”
“The Nice Guys” (May 20)
A 1970s period piece, with Ryan Gosling’s private eye and Russell Crowe’s veteran detective teaming up to investigate the seedy and violent world of Los Angeles porn. Co-written and directed by Shane Black, who wrote the first two “Lethal Weapon” movies and a number of other big action films in the 1980s and 1990s, disappeared from the scene for years at a time and resurfaced in a big way in 2013 as the writer and director of “Iron Man 3.”
Here’s hoping this harkens back to Black’s work on the original “Lethal Weapon” and not “The Last Boy Scout.”
“X-Men Apocalypse” (May 27)
The “X-Men” series is one of the few superhero franchises to improve over the years. And the great Oscar Isaac IS Apocalypse. Color me in.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” (June 3)
“Finding Dory” (June 17)
It’s a “Finding Nemo” sequel. How can we go wrong!
“Clown” (June date TBA)
Question: Does anyone actually like clowns, with the possible exception of other clowns? You were afraid of clowns as a kid and they freak you out now that you’re an adult, right? Me too!
By now it’s beyond cliché to make clowns the villains on TV shows and in movies, but I have to say this entry looks intriguingly horrific: When the hired clown is a no-show at a boy’s 6th birthday party, his father gets a clown outfit and entertains the kids. Ah, but this suit is cursed and could turn daddy into a sadistic maniac who likes to kill children.
He’s no Fizbo!
“Free State of Jones” (June 24)
Inspired, as they say, by true events. Matthew McConaughey stars as Newton Jones, the Jones County, Mississippi, farmer who teamed up with slaves to rebel against the Confederacy. One of the relatively few “heavy” films coming out this summer.
“The Shallows” (June 24)
Blake Lively has the timeless beauty of a 1940s movie star and she can act when given the right vehicle, which hasn’t happened all that much. This one could be a nifty little sleeper. Lively is in the water HERE and the BEACH is over THERE — and the one thing keeping her from swimming to safety is that killer shark right THERE.
“Swiss Army Man” (July 1)
This sounds like a much creepier version of “Weekend at Bernie’s,” which was pretty creepy in the first place when you go back and take a look at it.
Paul Dano, who has played more oddballs (“Love and Mercy,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Prisoners”) than just about anyone of his generation, is marooned on a desert island, where a corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) with a rope around its neck washes up. Turns out this dead man is plagued by flatulence, can talk and can even get aroused.
Oh, THAT old storyline again.
“The BFG” (July 1)
Steven Spielberg’s first Disney movie is an adaptation of the Roald Dahl book, with Oscar winner Mark Rylance as the Big Friendly Giant. This is the opposite of a WHY ME! movie.
“Ghostbusters” (July 15)
Here’s an idea. Why don’t we all settle down and wait to see the movie before going all Social Media Crazy about the casting, the trailer, the perceived slights to minorities, etc., etc.?
“Equals” (July 15)
It’s the future, and emotions are forbidden — because it’s Movie Law that at about eight out of 10 movies about the future paint a bleak picture of totalitarian rule where attractive young people in monochromatic wardrobes must meet secretly to express their love, lest “The Elders” or whatever the heck they’re called find out and condemn them to “The Great Wasteland Beyond the City” or whatever the heck it’s called.
“Lights Out” (July 22)
David F. Sandberg’s feature-length adaptation of his cool, wickedly dark, award-winning 2013 short about a demon who surfaces only when the lights go out. And that demon just might have a connection to Mommy.
“Jason Bourne” (July 29)
Yeah! Matt Damon returns to erase our memories of Jeremy Renner as the franchise star.
“The Founder” (Aug. 5)
Ever since 1982 and “Night Shift,” Michael Keaton has been one of those actors who adds something special to a role every time out, whether he’s starring in a blockbuster, a thriller, a comedy or a quirky indie. (OK, even Keaton couldn’t do anything with “Jack Frost,” but even the greats have their limits.) In “The Founder,” Keaton headlines as Oak Park’s own Ray Kroc, who purchased a small chain of hamburger restaurants from Richard and Maurice McDonald in 1961 and had just a little bit of success expanding the franchise.
“Suicide Squad” (Aug. 5)
This is my most anticipated movie of the summer: a superhero version of “The Dirty Dozen,” about a team of Death Row arch-villains who are granted freedom in exchanging for doing black-ops work for the government. Starring Viola Davis, Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Cara Delevingne, Jai Courtney — and Jared Leto, whose Joker looks so chilling I’m wondering if this will be the SECOND time an actor is nominated for playing the pasty-faced, cackling maniac. (Heath Ledger, of course, won best supporting actor posthumously for his portrayal of the Joker in “The Dark Knight.”)
“Nine Lives” (Aug. 5)
Kevin Spacey as an evil billionaire trapped in the body of a cat he gave to his daughter.
“Sausage Party” (Aug. 12)
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg team up for a hard-R, animated film. What could possibly go subtle?
“Southside with You” (August date TBA)
Nifty premise: The entire film covers one day in the summer of 1989, as one Michelle Robinson goes on a first date with one Barack Obama. Writer-director Richard Tanne’s “Southside With You,” filmed last summer in the Loop and on the South and West Side, received strong reviews at Sundance. With the Indiana-born, London-based Parker Sawyers (who has had small roles in “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”) as the future POTUS and Tika Sumpter (“Gossip Girl,” Kevin Hart’s significant other in the “Ride Along” movies) as the future FLOTUS.
Hmmmmm, perhaps years from now we’ll get a sweet little movie about the party in 1998 when future POTUS Donald Trump was on a date but still tried to get future FLOTUS Melania’s number, or maybe an indie film about the day when future FLOTUS and POTUS Hillary met future POTUS and FMOTUS Bill on the campus at Yale.