Summer Movie Preview: The under-hyped films you’ve already forgotten about
For anyone who enjoys film, almost any summer movie guide is superfluous at best, insulting at worst.
These guides aren’t telling you anything you didn’t already know. Most film nerds have already made up their mind as to what they will see (“Baby Driver”) and won’t see (“Transformers: The Last Knight”) every summer by mid-December of the previous year.
But even though they’re well aware of the movies they’ll probably love or inevitably hate, what about the movies they don’t care about? Don’t those movies deserve a little attention? Here now is a list of the movies that, in gentler times, would be what remained at the end of the last day of a going-out-of-business sale at Blockbuster.
These are the building blocks of every $3 DVD bin at the back of a Best Buy. I present to you the least anticipated summer movies of 2017.
“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”
The Pitch: A creaky public domain property adapted into something resembling a pilot for a bad “Game of Thrones” rip-off that would air, unnoticed, on Starz.
What it’s Up Against: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “Snatched,” “Alien: Covenant”
The Scoop: It’s hard to believe that at one point Guy Ritchie was mentioned in the same breath as Quentin Tarantino. Nowadays, Ritchie’s movies carry a very specific sense of revulsion. The kind of revulsion that can only come from someone who lived through the ’90s, was never seen without a wallet chain or a gas station jacket and would get into vicious verbal arguments with those “who just didn’t get ‘Snatch.’”
Even worse, as badly as his older films have aged, his new films feel like something you’d give your girlfriend’s father for Christmas if the only thing you knew about him was the fact that he’s old. Much like “Sherlock Holmes” and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,”“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” appears to be a doomed, wannabe franchise tent-pole that was produced at least 40 years too late. Starring a cast so bland I’m shocked it doesn’t include Sam Worthington, “King Arthur: Legend of Sword” will almost certainly drown in the wake of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”
The Pitch: “Fun with Dick and Jane” crossed with the hands-off, “If I never say cut, somebody will almost have to say something funny, eventually,” directorial style of Judd Apatow.
What it’s Up Against: “Wonder Woman,” “The Mummy,” “Cars 3,” “Transformers: The Last Knight”
The Scoop: In a perfect world, great comedians would be like the replicants from “Blade Runner”: They’d give us four years of amazing, groundbreaking comedy and then quietly disappear so we wouldn’t have to watch them grow old, lose their edge and eventually become the voice of a sassy donkey in an inexplicably popular series of CGI family comedies.
As the trailer for “The House” seems to indicate, Will Ferrell is slowly easing into the ‘sassy donkey’ stage of his career. In “The House”, Ferrell and Amy Poehler play parents who open an illegal, underground casino in order to pay their daughter’s way through college. Neither particularly funny nor offensively unfunny, the trailer for “The House” is reminiscent of other late period Ferrell mediocrities in that you’ll watch with half-interest and mumble, “I guess I’ll check that out when it goes to Netflix” before instantly forgetting the film exists. Bill Murray had the right idea, and now it’s time for Ferrell to quietly disappear before he plays Donkey’s oafish uncle in “Shrek: Ogre-gins.”
The Pitch: A vague memory of something you half-watched on the Lifetime Movie Network.
What it’s Up Against: “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “War of the Planet of the Apes,” “Dunkirk”
The Scoop: Can anyone think of anything more unwatchable than a weepy melodrama starring Rob Riggle, the son of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the non-Zendaya half of “Disney’s Shake it Up”? How about a weepy melodrama starring Rob Riggle, the son of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the non-Zendaya half of “Disney’s Shake it Up” that was shelved for almost two years. Based on a 2006 Japanese movie about a teenage girl allergic to sunlight who embarks on a summer romance when — I’m sorry. What am I writing about again?
This film is so slight I have to take copious, “Memento”-like notes just to remember it exists. Ah, here it is written on my inner thigh. It’s called “Midnight Sun” and it’s about — ah shit. I lost it again. At any rate, whatever this movie is, it’s so blandly needless I can guarantee that its July 14 release date will be quietly bumped to the entertainment dead zone of September by the time you finish reading this sentence.
The Pitch: Like going to the Build-a-Bear Workshop but one of the staff keeps sneaking up behind you to set off an air horn at irregular intervals.
What’s it’s Up Against: “Baby Driver,” “The Polaroid,” “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature”
The Scoop: With the exception of “Baby Driver,” every film released this month could be easily qualified as “the least anticipated.” But “Annabelle: Creation” is especially inessential considering that it reveals the unasked-for origins of horror’s least interesting creation. Not only that, but the trailer is so generic, it could just as easily be the “sizzle reel” for almost any horror movie released last year.
“Anabelle: Creation” basically functions as a checklist of every conceivable genre cliché. There’s a sinister nun, a creepy song from the ’30s alternately played on an old record player or a toy piano, a child quickly turning towards the camera to reveal it’s actually a monster and, of course, telegraphed jump scares. Yet for every obvious question “Annabelle: Creation” will answer, it probably doesn’t answer the most nagging one: who would be tasteless enough to buy a doll as ugly as Annabelle in the first place? This thing looks like Ronald McDonald and Wendy’s gave birth to a plasticine baby in the middle of a flea market. Yeesh.