Two-minute cinematic history lesson! August used to a dumping ground for crap movies. You know, the ones not shiny enough to hack it over the Fourth of July holiday weekend and not fancy enough to be released in the fall. But in August 1993, a Harrison Ford vehicle called The Fugitive hit theaters, which turned out to be a huge smash and a Best Picture Oscar nominee. Now all sorts of goodies see the sunny light of day, including Guardians of the Galaxy, The Sixth Sense, Tropic Thunder, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Wind River, and more. Here’s your intriguing August movies lineup. But don’t hold out for greatness over Labor Day Weekend. Some traditions still hold.
1. Crazy. Rich. Asians.
And how many times have you watched the Crazy Rich Asians trailer? (Four for me.) Based on Kevin Kwan’s best-selling novel, it centers on Rachel (Constance Wu)’s shocking discovery that her boyfriend (Henry Golding) is a wealthy socialite and considered one of Singapore’s most eligible bachelors. Awkward interactions with his hoity-toity relatives — including his judgy, disapproving mama (Michelle Yeoh) ensues. Awkwafina, last seen pickpocketing unsuspecting idiots in Ocean’s 8, is poised to steal the show as Rachel’s confident confidante. (In theaters August 17)
2. Melissa McCarthy Socks it to Us
It’s time to play the music. It’s time to light the lights. It’s time to settle in for a crass, bizarre R-rated puppet movie tonight. In The Happytime Murders, two clashing detectives — a human (Melissa McCarthy) and a male puppet — work together in the seedy underbelly of L.A. to solve the murders of former cast members of a beloved puppet TV show. Interestingly, the outrageous comedy was directed by Brian Henson, the son of Muppets creator Jim Henson. And the Sesame Workshop recently sued over the use of the movie’s tagline, “No Sesame. All Street.” They lost. (In theaters August 24)
3. A Provocative Spike Lee Joint
Blackkklansman is the true story of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Determined to make a name for himself in the early 1970s, he sets out to infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan (led by Topher Grace). Along with a fellow detective (Adam Driver), they take down the extremist hate group. The drama — directed by Spike Lee and produced by Get Out writer Jordan Peele — debuted at May’s Cannes Film Festival, where it won the prestigious Grand Prix award. Lee, has never even been nominated for a Best Director Oscar. Perhaps it’s long overdue for the Academy to do the right thing. (In theaters Friday, August 10)
4. Jason Statham Goes Down Under (the Ocean)
Because watching the new Sharknado movie is not an option. The Meg appears more fun, anyway: Stalwart action hero Jason Statham plays a rescue diver determined to save a submarine crew — and the Pacific Ocean! — from a 75-foot-long prehistoric shark known as the Megalodon. I have a lot of questions about this creature, and I’m 99 percent certain I won’t receive any of them after watching this disaster flick. And I don’t care! This is the brand of mindless action we need during the dog days of summer. Please let this be better than Skyscraper. (In theaters Friday, August 10)
5. A Low-Key Love Story
Calling it: Ethan Hawke as an aging rock star in Juliet, Naked is the soundest casting choice of the year. He’s Tucker Crowe, a reclusive singer-songwriter that comes between an ordinary, rather unhappy London couple (Bridesmaids costars Rose Byrne and Chris O’Dowd). O’Dowd is fanatical about the musician; Byrne, fed up with her husband’s obsession, posts a scathing review of a previously never-before-heard album. This leads to an unlikely friendship, which leads to a more unlikely romance. The shaggy indie, based on a Nick Hornby novel that I read in two days (thank you very much), already captured the hearts of many Sundance Film Festival-goers in January. You’ll find it as sublime and tragic as a true emo ballad. (In theaters Friday, August 17)