This may be the first time we can recall when two major studio releases have come out at the same time with protagonists who use prosthetics or wheelchairs for enhanced mobility. That’s really something, especially when you consider how different Skyscraper’s Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) and Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot’s John Callahan (Joaquin Phoenix) are from one another, and how divergent their backgrounds, goals, and struggles are. It’s moments like this that really cement our love of entertainment media, because it has the immense power to act as a mirror for the best in us, and to give us an indelible image of what the best in us looks like.
Also, Transylvania Hotel 3: Summer Vacation is out. Happy Friday the 13th! Here’s what else you can see in theaters this weekend:
Fire in the hole! This time, what The Rock is cookin’ is, quite simply, a heartfelt and high-octane tribute to Die Hard. What’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing.
Sure, we could wax on about Dwayne Johnson doing his own stunts, disability politics, Neve Campbell, and architectural aesthetics. But why would we? Look, it’s blockbuster season, and if you look up “blockbuster” in the dictionary, you’ll see Johnson hanging from a steel girder while engulfed in an inferno. Of course, if you’re really fired up about debating this particular movie’s merits, you’re welcome to check out Fandor’s Point/Counterpoint review.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
We’re still shuddering over his hauntingly intense performance in Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, but Joaquin Phoenix has moved on with his life, and in this Oscar-baiting turn as a cult cartoonist and perpetually-recovering alcoholic John Callahan, he’s traded in his hammer for a pen. With Jonah Hill (doing his best impression of upper-class Jesus) leading a recovery group that includes Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, The Gossip’s Beth Ditto, and actor Udo Kier, it’s clear that director Gus Van Sant still has some street cred, even if this feels way more like Good Will Hunting than Last Days. Will Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot join the ranks of other top-notch biopics in the vein of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly or American Splendor? Only one way to find out.
Shock and Awe
Remember when the (second) Bush administration lied about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction, and then we went to war for eight years? Those were the good old days. On the heels of last year’s The Post and in the wake of the tragic Capital Gazette shooting, Shock and Awe may well be the bellwether of an emerging historical drama genre: “Not Fake News.” This is a genre that gently reminds us that the fourth estate is, actually, really freaking important to the health of a democracy. At the same time, with everything currently and persistently going down on the national and global stages right now, it’s a little hard to muster outrage over headlines from fifteen years ago. It’s not hard to muster enthusiasm over watching Rob Reiner (who also directs) going toe-to-toe with Woody Harrelson, James Marsden, and Tommy Lee Jones! Plus, this will give viewers so, so much fodder for future fights at the holiday dinner table.
Comedian Bo Burnham’s directorial debut has already made our list of 2018’s best movies so far, which is further proof that media company A24 can basically do no wrong. We didn’t think a movie could make us feel such intense retroactive awkwardness for our own middle school experience, or make us so thankful we were born before YouTube! But somehow, a twenty-seven-year-old man managed to channel both Welcome to the Dollhouse and Ingrid Goes West without overdoing the reference to either. If you still have friends from that time in your life, go see it with them. Then, stalk all of your classmates on social media, for old times’ sake.
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
Full disclosure: We somehow completely missed the first two installments of this saga. But the premise of the movie seems simple, right? He runs a hotel and she runs a cruise ship, so they’re basically fated to fall in love based on their shared passion for hospitality. Except, he’s an undead bloodsucker, and she’s a direct descendant of vampire hunter Van Helsing. Cue the PG-rated cruise ship comedy and romantic hijinks! If you like Adam Sandler’s “mouth noises” and think that a blob monster getting seasick and throwing up a smaller blob monster is the height of comedy, then you won’t want to miss this. If you don’t, and you have kids, well, you’re probably getting dragged to it anyway. Have fun!