It’s not every week that not one, but two former stars of The Office appear onscreen in two totally different new movies! What an auspicious sign. Surprisingly enough, though, neither are in comedic roles—no, the laughs have been reserved for the likes of… wrestler John Cena. Black is white. Up is down. Here’s what’s in theaters this weekend:
First of all, casting Ed Helms in this movie is genius—he’s been gunning for a Kennedy-adjacent role since his WASP-core days as Andy Bernard on The Office. Second of all, can you believe that this happened at the same time as the Apollo landing? Even though the actual, real-life Chappaquiddick incident (as this tragedy is now known) is almost a half-century in the past, its dramatization is a chillingly relevant reminder that for some American dynasties, the rules are just different. Watching money and power close rank around a faltering son and realizing that this is a piece of history and not just a fictional crime is akin to watching a mother opossum with her clinging brood: You appreciate it, and you hate it. We asked ourselves, “What if this happened today?” and we’re still chewing on the answer like so many leftover red vines.
A Quiet Place
John Krasinski’s first foray into writing and directing, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, wasn’t exactly what you’d call a home run. But then again is adapting David Foster Wallace ever advisable? And we didn’t even know that he also wrote and directed The Hollars, a 2016 dramedy that seemed to be a bit “blink and you’ll miss it” at the box office, despite a solid cast. Now he’s back with something completely different, and we think this time it’s going to be a winner: a tightly crafted and highly effective genre piece set in a post-apocalyptic future (well, if 2020 can really be considered “the future”) where silence isn’t just golden, it’s necessary for survival. Krasinski and co-star Emily Blunt (Sicario, The Girl on the Train), who may just be a big part of his secret for success on this project, are a couple both on and offscreen, and by the trailer, it’s safe to say that if you have kids, or are having one any time soon, this movie might royally mess you up for a little while. Luckily, John Krasinski has plenty of experience with nonverbal communication from his days as Jim Halpert on the Office—I mean, you’ve seen what that guy can do with just a loaded glance!
You Were Never Really Here
You could say that director Lynne Ramsay has a deep relationship with death—her last feature was the utterly harrowing We Need to Talk About Kevin (starring Tilda Swinton), and You Were Never Really Here promises to be just as unflinchingly grim. Joaquin Phoenix, who stars as a contract killer with PTSD, hasn’t been this brutal since Gladiator, and he’s also grown up and into his carefully-cultivated gravitas quite a bit since then—though we can’t help but wonder (said in our best “Carrie voice” from Sex and the City) if a movie like this will stoke the flames of conspiracy theories like Comet Ping-Pong and QAnon, Internet phenomena that feed off of the hysteria around child trafficking and have very real and very dangerous consequences.
Whew! Finally, something “funny.” After all of that intensity, horror, grit, and gore, we could really use a good old-fashioned high school raunch-com to take the edge off, so to speak. Do we love that it’s basically an hour and a half of well-meaning adults actively undermining young women’s sexual autonomy? Not really, but who watches these kinds of movies for their nuanced view of gender politics, anyway? No, it’s for the slapstick scatological humor and the hardcore vicarious awkwardness, always! We’re just hoping that all three of the teen girls in Blockers are as much the spiritual descendants of Michelle from American Pie as this trailer hints them to be. We’re ready for more sexually-awakened geek girls on the big screen, already!