Somehow, it’s already the end of September, and this weekend offers more options at the box office than there are colors of autumn leaves! Whether you’re in the mood for goofy Kevin Hart, charming Robert Redford, fierce Joan Jett, or one of the other powerhouses on display in this week’s crop of new releases, you’ve got all kinds of reasons to go to the movies. In between your “leaf-peepings,” that is. Here’s what you need to know about what’s now in theaters:
Forgive the hot take, but Night School is probably better than Billy Madison. Why? Because Tiffany Haddish, that’s why. Get ready for hijinks, both scatological and slapstick, wrapped around a surprisingly earnest story about people from vastly different walks of life, brought together through trying to better themselves. Night School will succeed or fail based on the strength of the ensemble cast that includes Taran Killam as a condescending principal with a “blaccent” problem and Rob Riggle as one of indefatigable lead Kevin Hart’s classmates. Oh, but it feels good to laugh, doesn’t it?
The Old Man & the Gun
A major takeaway from this trailer concerns the value of respectability as a social currency. Apparently, if you have enough of it, that entitles you to actual currency! Privilege snark aside, it doesn’t get much better than Redford and Spacek. The Old Man & The Gun oozes effortless charisma and promises a satisfying cat-and-mouse caper with a side of sweet romance. It will be the kind of movie that rambles on down the road at a pleasant pace and on an even keel without much effort on the part of either its actors or its audience. And you know what? After the experience of watching both Assassination Nation and Mandy last weekend, that sounds great.
Well, the good news is, we finally found a way to desexualize Channing Tatum: Make him the voice of a CGI snow monster in a children’s movie! As long as we don’t think too hard about it, it works. The concept art for Smallfoot seems to borrow heavily from the Dr. Seuss playbook, and the story seems to pilfer heavily from Horton Hears a Who, among another classic youth-facing fare. But while it may not be bringing anything particularly new to the table, its message is timeless. Plus, voice acting by Zendaya, Danny DeVito, Common, and James Corden sure doesn’t hurt. Watch this yeti to forget your regrets.
All About Nina
“Cynical New Yorker moves to woo central” is one of our favorite riffs on the “fish out of water” trope, and Nina Geld (former scream queen Mary Elizabeth Winstead) would probably be good friends with Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) from Obvious Child. These broads, for whom unruly toughness and raunchy, comedic talents are defense mechanisms that are finely honed and tough to penetrate, could be called “manic pixie chaos demons.” In their movies, it’s the male love interest who breaks through their shell and gets them to believe in love again. Hey, we love a good anti-heroine. In All About Nina, said male love interest is played by Common; that’s right, you can see two movies starring Common on the same weekend. What a time to be alive.
Take that, Tom Cruise! If you see Free Solo in theaters, don’t bother getting refreshments — you’ll be too busy white-knuckling your armrests to eat or drink anything. Even the camera crew filming the climb can’t watch without grimacing! This landmark documentary combines jaw-droppingly high (literally) stakes with technically impressive filmmaking, and both climber Alex Honnold and his co-star, the 3,000-foot, the sheer rock face of El Capitan, make awesome subjects. In the trailer alone, it’s as exhilarating to watch Honnold’s athletic mastery and physical intelligence as it is to try to wrap our heads around his motivations. In a cultural landscape dominated by characters with superpowers, it’s still visceral to witness superlative human achievements… even if we’re watching through our fingers.
Thank you, rock goddesses! Not to get too political or anything, but the release of this Joan Jett documentary could not have come at a better time. Can we all just agree that every time one of her songs comes on, we’ll all scream along with it together in the darkened auditorium? Great, cool, meet you there.