With the pandemic wreaking havoc on all our plans, this year’s summer movie slate is looking a little different.
Gone are many of the season’s biggest titles, shuffled to later months or postponed indefinitely. Some films have pivoted to a straight-to-VOD release, while still others wait with bated breath to see if cinemas will even be open by the time they’re scheduled to debut.
But rest assured: There will still be movies, and there will still be movies worth watching. As long as you’ve got internet access and a few bucks to spare, you could spend the entire summer binge-watching films from the safety of your home. And maybe, if we’re really lucky, we might even finish off with a few trips to the theater.
Here’s what to watch this summer if…
… you miss your friends: The Half of It
The Netflix teen romcom machine continues apace with The Half of It, a Cyrano de Bergerac riff centering on the unlikely friendship that blossoms when sweet jock Paul hires shy outsider Ellie to write love notes to the girl of both their dreams, Aster. Fire up Netflix Party, invite all your closest friends, and melt over this one together.
How to watch: The Half of It hits Netflix May 1.
… you crave mystery: The Vast of Night
Framed as an episode of a Twilight Show-like series, The Vast of Night unfolds in a quiet town beset a strange audio frequency in 1950s New Mexico. Is it an alien message? Is it part of a government conspiracy? Is it something else entirely? If you’re in the mood for a mystery, this festival favorite could be just the thing to break you out of your monotonous routine.
How to watch: The Vast of Night opens in theaters May 15 (if theaters are open) and hits Prime Video May 29.
… you had to cancel travel plans: The Trip to Greece
Seeing as you’re not taking that lavish European vacation anytime soon, the next best thing might be to tag along with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as they eat, drink, bicker, and laugh their way through Greece. (And once you’ve lapped up this sun-soaked morsel, go back and check out the pair’s The Trip, The Trip to Italy, and The Trip to Spain, too.)
How to watch: The Trip to Greece is scheduled to arrive in theaters and on digital / VOD May 22.
… you long for a date night: The Lovebirds
What could be more romantic than a night spent trying to solve the murder you accidentally aided and abetted together? Well, probably lots of things. But we’re not really in a place to be picky right now, and an evening out with the extremely attractive duo of Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae sounds pretty appealing right about now. Even if it is just on a screen.
How to watch: The Lovebirds hits Netflix May 22.
… you and the kids are looking for an escape: Artemis Fowl
We’d wager just about anyone would welcome a trip to a completely different world right now. So if you’re looking for a cinematic journey that’s exciting enough for adults but safe enough for kids, why not give Artemis Fowl a try? The Disney adventure sends a young criminal mastermind into the realm of fantasy as he searches for his father.
How to watch: Artemis Fowl hits Disney+ June 12.
… you could use a laugh: The King of Staten Island
Judd Apatow’s latest stars Pete Davidson as, basically, a fictionalized version of his own public image: a 20something burnout stuck in a state of arrested development. If you only know Davidson from his SNL appearances and occasional tabloid coverage, this could be the comedy project that cements him as a bonafide rising star.
How to watch: The King of Staten Island hits VOD June 12.
… you’re feeling extra soft these days: Kajillionaire
Kajillionaire might be the quirkiest con-artist movie you’ll ever see, following a family of grifters on a series of whimsical low-stakes heists. But beneath all that is an achingly tender tale of human connection, as Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) gradually comes out of her shell and learns to live and love for the first time. After all these weeks in isolation, we can relate.
How to watch: Kajillionaire is scheduled to open in theaters June 19.
… you want to channel your dread: Relic
Relic follows three generations of women as their family home is haunted by a sinister force, and by all accounts it’s one of the most frightening movies to come out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Here’s hoping it’s scary enough to distract us from all the real-life fear and dread out there right now, at least for a little while.
How to watch: Relic is scheduled to arrive in theaters and on digital / VOD July 10.
… you don’t understand how time works anymore: Tenet
It’s hard to say exactly what is going on in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet; even the trailer holds its cards close to the vest. What is clear is that there’s some weird shit going on with its timeline, which seems entirely appropriate at a time when the coronavirus has made it impossible to remember what day, month, or year it even is anymore.
How to watch: Tenet is scheduled to open in theaters July 17.
… you want familiar but not too familiar: Mulan
Combining the basic plot and broad appeal of the 1998 Mulan with eye-popping live-action visuals, a winsome new cast (including the instantly lovable Liu Yifei), and a more modern understanding of cultural sensitivity, Disney’s Mulan remake is the cinematic equivalent of elevated comfort food — fresh and familiar at the same time.
How to watch: Mulan is scheduled to open in theaters July 24.
… you’re really, really ready for a change of pace: Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar won’t be for everyone — it looks too aggressively weird for that. But if you’re dialed into its loopy sense of humor and willing to see where it takes you, this Kristen Wiig-Annie Mumolo team-up, about two women on an eventful trip to Florida, could be the fresh breeze you need after a summer of stale indoor air.
How to watch: Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar is scheduled to open in theaters July 16, 2021. [Note: Barb & Star was previously scheduled for July 2020.]
… you need a hero: Wonder Woman 1984
We don’t know about you, but we could really use a dose of straightforward heroism right now…which is why it’s never been a better time for Wonder Woman to make her return. The superhero sequel takes Diana to the 1980s, in all their glory and excess, to deal with frenemies, bad businessmen, and long-lost loves.
How to watch: Wonder Woman is scheduled to open in theaters August 14.
… you believe in being excellent to each other: Bill & Ted Face the Music
No matter how hard and complicated this world gets, there’s one piece of advice always worth following: “Be excellent to each other.” And if you need a reminder of what exactly that looks like in practice, allow your favorite time-traveling slackers to remind you when they return to save the world once again in Bill & Ted Face the Music.
How to watch: Bill & Ted Face the Music is scheduled to open in theaters August 21.
UPDATE: April 27, 2020, 4:41 p.m. PDT Updated with new release details for ‘The King of Staten Island.’
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