Summer is here, and with it comes the usual litany of wannabe-blockbusters vying for your box office bucks. This year brings so many remakes and reboots of classic franchises (see: Vacation, Jurassic World, Terminator Genisys), you might think it’s the ‘80s all over again. Thankfully, here are our summer movie previews 2015 to help you sort the wheat from the chaff…
The Stars: Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven
The Scoop: Four years after ending its 8-season HBO run, the original cast reunites with writer/director Doug Ellin. Former talent agent Ari Gold (Piven) is now running a studio, and taps old pal Vince (Grenier) to direct and star in his first film. If history holds true, hijinks will ensue.
The Skinny: Entourage had a strong following 6-7 years ago. But how many people are still passionate enough about the show to plunk down $12 for the movie? Our guess is, not enough to make it a hit.
LOVE & MERCY
The Stars: Paul Dano, John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti
The Scoop: This biopic of Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson examines two key periods of his life. Dano plays him in his drug-addled 20s, when struggles with mental illness put him at odds with his band. Cusack plays him in middle age, when his girlfriend (Banks) rescues him from a shady shrink (Giamatti).
The Skinny: Described as “unconventional,” the film has gotten good early buzz from several critics I know who are fans of the pop music legend.
The Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Jude Law
The Scoop: This action-comedy finds McCarthy reuniting with director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) for the story of a best-in-class CIA agent stuck ing an office job who finally gets her chance to work in the field. Silly costumes, physical comedy and Byrne as a big-haired aristocratic villain follow.
The Skinny: We’d be foolish to bet against McCarthy, but we’re hoping this one has more in common with St. Vincent than Tammy.
The Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson
The Scoop: The dinosaur theme park envisioned in the original film is now a huge tourist attraction, with Pratt doing behavioral research on velociraptors and Howard as operations manager. When geneticists create a hybrid dino that makes T Rex look tame, all hell breaks loose.
The Skinny: It’s been 22 years since the original (and 14 since the mediocre JPIII). The fact that this is one of summer’s most anticipated films shows our appetite for dino destruction hasn’t waned a bit.
The Stars: Shameik Moore,. Tony Revolori, Zoë Kravitz
The Scoop: Writer-director Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood, Brown Sugar) paired with producer Forest Whitaker and Pharrell Williams (who wrote four new songs) for this indie about a geek in an Inglewood punk band whose dreams of leaving the ‘hood for Harvard are endangered when a drug deal goes sour.
The Skinny: This hip blaxploitation teen comedy sparked a bidding war at Sundance. Don’t be surprised if it’s a Little Miss Sunshine-style sleeper hit.
The Stars: Amy Poehler, Diane Lane, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Kyle MacLachlan
The Scoop: Directed by Pete Docter (Monsters Inc, Up), the latest film from Pixar follows the myriad emotions (including Poehler as Joy, Hader as Fear and Black as Anger) roiling inside an 11-year-old uprooted from the Midwest when her dad gets a job in San Francisco.
The Skinny: They had us at “the latest film from Pixar.”
The Stars: Al Pacino, Chris Messina, Holly Hunter, Harmony Korine
The Scoop: Director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) gets Al Pacino to dial it down a notch for this drama about a locksmith who balances a strained relationship with his son (Messina) and friendship with a kind-hearted teller (Hunter) while pining for the girl who got away.
The Skinny: Early reviews have not been kind to Pacino or Green: A.V. Club deemed the film “damn near unwatchable.”
The Stars: Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, Judith Godreche
The Scoop: Executive produced by the Duplass brothers, this unpredictable sex comedy from writer-director Patrick Brice (Creep) casts the four leads as two couples who bond in more ways than one during a playdate for their young sons. French newcomer Godreche is said to be especially strong.
The Skinny: Offbeat and risqué, the film’s appeal will likely be limited to the art-house. But its playful subversiveness seems to be resonating with the Duplass’ growing cult of diehard fans.
The Stars: Seth MacFarlane, Mark Wahlberg, Morgan Freeman, Amanda Seyfried
The Scoop: MacFarlane’s potty-mouthed Teddy Ruxpin look-alike returns for more brew-guzzlin’ bromance with Marky Mark in this sequel, which follows the bear’s bid for legalized personhood so that he can have a baby with his new wife.
The Skinny: The first film became one of the most profitable R-rated comedies of all time. We won’t be surprised if the MacFaralane-directed sequel performs even better.
MAGIC MIKE XXL
The Stars: Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Jada Pinkett Smith, Michael Strahan
The Scoop: The sequel to 2012’s male stripper smash finds Mike and his hard-bodied homies road-trippin’ to a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach, running into a strip-club owner (Smith) and her lead dancer (Strahan) along the way. Although Steven Soderbergh had his longtime AD, Gregory Jacobs, direct this one, he remains in place as cinematographer and producer.
The Skinny: Savvy counter-programming against action movies and dirty comedies should give Mike & Co. an advantage for all-important female dollars at the box office. This one could own July.
The Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney
The Scoop: Thirty-one years after Ah-nuld starred as a cyborg sent back from the future, the former Governator returns to the role that made him an action film icon. There’s a new Sarah Connor (Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke) and a more complex John Connor (Jason Clarke), with a time travel plot that veers from 1984 to 2017 and 2029.
The Skinny: The last film, 2009’s Terminator Salvation, nearly killed the franchise. But longtime fans know that the Terminator never stays down for long.
The Stars: Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Sandra Bullock
The Scoop: Set 42 years before they meet lovable arch-villain Gru in Despicable Me, his future yellow henchmen Bob, Kevin & Stuart set off on a quest in search of a genius to serve. The find one in the deliciously evil Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Bullock).
The Skinny: The Minions are a pop culture phenomenon recalling the silent era physical comedy of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Released 3 weeks after Pixar’s latest, with no major family film competition, directors Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda should be set for total world domination.
The Stars: Ben Kingsley, Ryan Reynolds, Natalie Martinez, Derek Luke, Matthew Goode
The Scoop: In this psychological sci-fi thriller, Kingsley stars as a wealthy cancer patient who has his consciousness transplanted into the body of a healthy whippersnapper (Reynolds). But the more he learns about the shadowy organization behind the operation, the more desperate he is to stop them.
The Skinny: Director Tarsem Singh (Mirror Mirror, Immortals) has failed to live up to the promise of his music video career (REM’s “Losing My Religion”). This sleeper could be his first mainstream hit.
The Stars: Paul Rudd, Corey Stoll, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Judy Greer
The Scoop: Marvel tries to continue its hot streak by pitting Rudd (as con man-turned-superbug Scott Lang, who can shrink himself to gain strength and control ants) and Douglas (as inventor Hank Pym) vs. Stoll (The Strain) as villainous scientist Darren Cross (a.k.a. Yellowjacket).
The Skinny: The Internet had a conniption fit when writer-director Edgar Wright left the project over “creative differences.” But director Peyton Reed (Bring It On, Yes Man) has a solid track record and roots in improv comedy, which should serve Rudd’s irreverent style well.
The Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey, Jamie Blackley
The Scoop: I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that the latest film from writer-director Woody Allen tells the story of an older man in crisis (Phoenix as a college professor) who falls for a younger woman (Stone as his student). Expect Allen’s usual mix of arty intellectual angst and quirky rom-com humor.
The Skinny: Midnight In Paris (which won the Bets Original Screenplay Oscar for 2011) is seen by many as Allen’s return to form, and this is the first film in his 4-picture deal with Sony Classics. Expect a strong showing by all involved.
The Stars: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker, Colin Starkey
The Scoop: Director Bill Condon reunites with Gods & Monsters star McKellen for this tale of Sherlock Holmes’ later years, as the 93-year-old sleuth fights the deterioration of his razor-sharp mind while recalling the unsolved mystery that ultimately led to his retirement.
The Skinny: Miramax’s art-house indie– currently subject of a copyright infringement lawsuit from the estate of Sherlock novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle– may be a tough sell in the dog days of summer.
The Stars: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton, Brie Larson, LeBron James
The Scoop: Under the guidance of director Judd Apatow, Schumer wrote her own starring vehicle about a commitment-phobic men’s magazine writer who unexpectedly falls for a sports doctor (Hader) she’s assigned to write a story about. Panic and hilarity ensue, with James earning rave reviews for his supporting turn.
The Skinny: Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer is coming off a razor-sharp season, so we thoroughly expect this movie to make her a star.
The Stars: Levi Miller, Jugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara
The Scoop: Director Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement) applies his artful style to this swashbuckling adventure, an origin story about Peter Pan and hordes of other orphans who have been kidnapped by Blackbeard the pirate (a scene-chomping turn by Jackman).
The Skinny: Sounds like a smash-up of Finding Neverland and Pirates of the Caribbean, directed by an arty English auteur. In case you’re wondering, for us that’s a good thing!
The Stars: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Halston Sage
The Scoop: Despite the lack of A-list actors, this is one of summer’s most eagerly anticipated films, written by YA novelist John Green (The Fault In Our Stars). This one stars Wolff as a sardonic teen on a road trip to find the girl next door who got away (model-turned-actress Delevingne).
The Skinny: The Fault In Our Stars, which also featured Wolff, grossed $300 million last June. Paramount already announced an adaptation of a third Green novel, Looking for Alaska. Smells like they’re banking on this one being a hit.
The Stars: Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan
The Scoop: When aliens misinterpret video feeds of arcade games as the Earth’s declaration of war, they attack in the form of classic characters such as Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. Naturally, hardcore games (Sandler, Dinklage & Co.) are enlisted to stop them.
The Skinny: Director Chris Columbus sings praises for Dinklage’s performance, but when’s the last time anybody felt they really got their money’s worth from an Adam Sandler movie?
The Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whitaker, Naomie Harris
The Scoop: Gyllenhaal, last seen as a stick-thin sociopath in Nightcrawler, is ripped and tattooed for director Antoine Fuqua’s (Training Day) tale about an angry, undefeated boxing champ forced to care for his young daughter after his wife (McAdams) dies unexpectedly.
The Skinny: Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy) wrote the gritty film as a starring vehicle for Eminem, but Gyllenhaal– so great in Nightcrawler, Prisoners and End of Watch– seems perfectly cast.
THE END OF THE TOUR
The Stars: Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, Ron Livingston, Anna Chlumsky
The Scoop: Segel shines in this unauthorized biopic of author David Foster Wallace (whose Infinite Jest is considered one of the best books of the 20th century). The film examines the brilliant-but-moody Wallace’s epic 1996 road trip/interview with Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky (Eisenberg).
The Skinny: Based on Lipsky’s 2010 book, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, the film should provide insight into a deeply troubled talent (who committed suicide in 2008).
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION
The Stars: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin
The Scoop: With the IMF disbanded and the world increasingly under terrorist attacks from a shadowy organization of deadly rogues known as the Syndicate, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) reassembles his team and joins forces with a mysterious British agent (Ferguson) in an attempt to take them down.
The Skinny: Ghost Protocol was a great franchise reboot, Cruise proved his action hero chops were still strong in Edge of Tomorrow, and Paramount’s already ordered MI: 6. We’ll be there opening day!
The Stars: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Leslie Mann, Chris Hemsworth
The Scoop: This franchise reboot features Helms as a grown-up Rusty Griswold, taking his wife (Applegate) and kids down the “holiday road” to Walley World. Along the way they visit sister Audrey (Mann) and her study man (Hemsworth), with cameos from Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo.
The Skinny: Reboots typically tend to focus on reinvention or nostalgia. Judging from the trailers, Vacation seems more interested in the latter. We’ll pass.
The Stars: Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Nicholas Hoult, Corey Stoll
The Scoop: This adaptation of the second novel by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) stars Theron as Libby, who implicated her brother (Stoll) in the murder of their mother and sisters 25 years ago. Now she’s working with amateur investigators intent on proving his innocence, unearthing dark secrets from Libby’s past.
The Skinny: The story paints a grim picture of poverty, marital abuse and abandonment in rural America. Not sure how that’s gonna play in the fly-over states, especially with French auteur Gilles Paquet-Brenner at the helm.
DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL
The Stars: Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgård
The Scoop: This bold adaptation of Phoebe Gloeckner’s 2002 novel from director Marielle Heller (who created/starred in the Off Broadway play) features Powley in a breakout turn as a teen who loses her virginity to her mother’s boyfriend during the ‘70s sexual revolution in San Francisco.
The Skinny: Powley star has been fast-rising since the movie premiered at Sundance. Don’t be surprised to hear more about this indie sleeper come Oscar time.
The Stars: Miles Teller, Kata Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell
The Scoop: Directed by Josh Trank (Chronicle), this much-needed franchise reboot is an origin story that finds the titular quartet struggling to come to terms with their newfound powers (rubbery limbs, skin bursting into flames, etc.) in a secret government facility after a bizarre cosmic accident.
The Skinny: The Internet has been having a field day with this one, criticizing Jordan’s casting as “Human Torch” Johnny Storm and falsely claiming director Matthew Vaughn was hired to do reshoots. But if ever a comic book franchise needed a do-over, this one is begging for it.
The Stars: Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis
The Scoop: Directed by Jared Hess (Napolean Dynamite), the film is based on the unlikely true story of the “Hillbilly Heist,” in which a bunch of weirdos in North Carolina robbed $17.3 million from an armored car company, spent their haul on tacky crap and got busted a few months later.
The Skinny: If that cast and that director can’t collaborate on a hit comedy, all is lost. The tale sounds just weird enough to be wonderful.
RICKI & THE FLASH
The Stars: Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer, Rick Springfield
The Scoop: Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Stop Making Sense) directed Streep and real-life daughter Gummer (The Good Wife) in this story about a cover band singer who reunites with her estranged daughter 20 years after choosing rock & roll over her three kids.
The Skinny: Streep proved in Mamma Mia and Into The Woods that she can sing, but can she also shred? Given her track record, we wouldn’t bet against her.
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.
The Stars: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant
The Scoop: Director Guy Ritchie is a fan of James Bond, so it’s no surprise that his reboot of the ‘60s TV series is a paean to classic spy films. Cavill and Hammer play a CIA agent and KGB spy who team up during the Cold War to battle a shadowy organization that kidnapped Vikander’s father.
The Skinny: Sherlock Holmes proved Ritchie is ready for mainstream action epic success. Cold War spies are hot right now (see: FX’s The Americans), so we expect a hit.
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON
The Stars: Corey Hawkins, O’Shea Jackson Jr, Jason Mitchell
The Scoop: Late ‘80s L.A. was like Ferguson and Baltimore today, with racial tension, police brutality and gang violence at full boil. This Ice Cube and Dr Dre-produced biopic follows the personal story behind NWA’s rise as leaders of the gangsta rap revolution, with F Gary Gray (The Italian Job) directing.
The Skinny: Dre was reportedly on-set more than half the time, and Cube’s son is playing Cube. Expect edgy dramatic depth examining the gritty reality of Compton’s street culture.
SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE
The Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Natasha Lyonne, Amanda Peet, Adam Scott
The Scoop: This romantic comedy follows womanizer Sudeikis and serial philanderer Brie after they meet for the first time since losing their virginity to each other in college. Writer-director Leslye Headland (Bachelorette) describes it as “When Harry Met Sally for assholes.”
The Skinny: Headland’s track record is so-so, but she’s got a killer cast and the early buzz from Sundance was positive.
HITMAN: AGENT 47
The Stars: Rupert Friend, Zachary Quinto, Hannah Ware
The Scoop: Friend (Pride & Prejudice, Homeland) stars as the titular character, a genetically engineered hitman sent to kill Ware as the daughter of a corporate CEO. Quito co-stars as a protector helping her find her dad, whose company is building an army of deadly assassins.
The Skinny: Quick, name the last amazing movie you saw based on a video game? Yeah, we didn’t think so…