The 2021 Film Release Calendar: June

It’s been such a protracted year, but finally we’re ready to finish the Release Calendar (and finally I can actually start watching stuff from this year in earnest.

By now, the calendar’s starting to get more filled out than it usually is when I start going over everything and we’re starting to get a sense that maybe, just maybe, by the latter half of the year movie theaters will be open and operating again at a level relatively near to what we’re used to.

So, in the hopes of that happening, let’s go over all the stuff that’s fixing to come out.

Here’s June:

June

Vivo

Sony Pictures Animation’s first-ever musical adventure featuring all-new original songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda, will take audiences on an epic adventure to gorgeous and vibrant locations never before seen in animation.

I question this coming out in less than three months without so much as a trailer being out. This feels more likely to get pushed to a friendlier Thanksgiving date when they can be more sure people will go to a theater for it. But we’ll see.

The standard line on animation is, if it’s not Disney or Pixar, don’t assume higher than 3 stars. But I know this is Lin-Manuel and I know they got Roger Deakins to help out on the cinematography. But that doesn’t mean much past the look of the film, since I wasn’t really a fan of anything past the first How to Train Your Dragon movie, and he helped out on all of those. I really have to decide if I think Sony can pull off a legitimately well-told story and not give into the usual animation bullshit most things fall victim to 90% of the time.

Looking at what Sony’s made… it’s mixed. They’re the Angry Birds studio but they’re also the Spider-Verse studio and also even the Surf’s Up studio, which I enjoyed. Their big studio is Hotel Transylvania, which is not promising to me.

I don’t know. Something tells me to go 3.5 stars on this, because I feel like they might have a story worth telling here. Worst case it’ll be 3 and I’ll be wrong. But something about the way they’re selling the ‘never before seen’ tells me they’re gonna be doing something about the immigrant experience which will help this ring more true than the usual bullshit. So I’m hopeful this can be good. But sight unseen, I have no idea.

Samaritan

A young boy learns that a superhero who was thought to have gone missing after an epic battle twenty years ago may in fact still be around.

So this is by Julius Avery, who did Son of a Gun and Overlord, which were both solid efforts. This stars Sylvester Stallone and it sure sounds like it’s trying to be what Hancock should have been. The question is if I think it can get there.

You know what? It’s not going lower than 3, so let’s take a shot. 3.5 stars. I think this can be good if they know what they’re doing.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

A chilling story of terror, murder and unknown evil that shocked even experienced real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. One of the most sensational cases from their files, it starts with a fight for the soul of a young boy, then takes them beyond anything they’d ever seen before, to mark the first time in U.S. history that a murder suspect would claim demonic possession as a defense.

Well this is easy. Hate horror, don’t care about this franchise, I’m guessing I’ll have mentally tuned out within 25 minutes.

2.5 stars.

Luca

On the Italian Riviera, an unlikely but strong friendship grows between a human being and a sea monster disguised as a human.

So this is where Pixar’s at, huh? They’re just gonna do Call Me By Your Name and not even hide it? Maybe don’t make it so obvious by calling your movie THE NAME OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE OTHER MOVIE.

Also, and I’m getting serious now — why is it that when Pixar has to deal with a non-white or non-straight protagonist, the story involves creatures in some way or death? Princess and the Frog, first Black princess. She’s a frog for most of the movie. Coco, first Mexican lead. He’s dead for most of the film. Soul, first Black Pixar main character. He’s dead and turned into a cat. Out, first gay protagonist. Turned into a dog for most of the short. And now, when you’re doing what’s clearly a Call Me By Your Name thing, there’s a fucking sea creature. That’s not okay, guys. You’re basically perpetuating the notion of treating these people as ‘other’. And no amount of ‘but we’re humanizing’ rationalization can make up for that. Because you could just not do it and treat them like they were Riley or Andy or Mr. Incredible or Linguini.

I don’t know where to rate this one. I’m cynical about the whole thing, but on the other hand, it’s Pixar and it’s not a sequel. That usually means the automatic rating is 4 stars. But part of me wants to only go 3.5 on this. But you know what? They did earn it and the worst I’m getting here is 3.5, so I’ll say 4 stars. But you guys are on real thin ice. You’re starting to seem like you’ve completely run out of creative juices.

In the Heights

A feature version of the Broadway musical, in which a bodega owner has mixed feelings about closing his store and retiring to the Dominican Republic after inheriting his grandmother’s fortune.

I like screen musicals, I like the idea of this. Never saw the show, but it sounds fun. Not sure I love the director, but I can give him the benefit of the doubt.

Essentially I’m trying to see if I can talk myself into 3 stars. But you know what? The flavor of New York is gonna get me to 3.5 stars along with the music. I think I can enjoy this, even if I may not love it.

Fatherhood

A father brings up his baby girl as a single dad after the unexpected death of his wife who died a day after their daughter’s birth.

It’s directed by Paul Weitz, which gives me hope. Because Kevin Hart as a lead does not. However, this is based on a memoir and it feels like it’s gonna have that sort of dramedy feel to it. The question here is — since I can believe Kevin Hart in this type of role. He can do enough drama to get by in this.

The question is how bad they’re gonna try to force the comedy and how well they’ll be able to not fall into all the pitfalls of a movie like this. Looking at Paul’s output when he’s not with Chris… I have to say 3 stars. I think 3.5 is the ceiling on this, and there’s a lot of ‘I’m not sure’ in that filmography.

I have enough doubts to not expect this to win me over while also knowing that it could win me over if this is made in a way that has charm and doesn’t feel overly derivative or trying to be funny.

Blue Bayou

As a Korean-American man raised in the Louisiana bayou works hard to make a life for his family, he must confront the ghosts of his past as he discovers that he could be deported from the only country he has ever called home.

This is Justin Chon, whose films I’ve really liked. Gook was great and Ms. Purple was also great. He stars with Alicia Vikander here and I like that he’s taking a step up into the mainstream. That’s pretty exciting.

3.5 stars feels like the guess, and I’m excited for him to start to become someone most filmgoers know rather than just the people who’ve caught his first few films.

F9

Cypher enlists the help of Jakob, Dom’s younger brother to take revenge on Dom and his team.

It’s a Fast and Furious movie. The guess is 3.5 stars and the movie will be 3.5 stars. This franchise is very consistent in its rating the way Mission Impossible is consistent in its rating. You know what you’re gonna get every time out and it’s basically an assembly line movie with the only difference between entries being what the main set pieces are (and most of the time you struggle to remember what set piece is in what movie). There’s absolutely no surprise left in this franchise, but on the other hand you know exactly how much entertainment you’re gonna get out of it. That’s the tradeoff.

Zola

A stripper named Zola embarks on a wild road trip to Florida.

I’ve heard this movie is fun and crazy and I’ve been excited for it for a while. I have no idea what it’s gonna be, but I feel like I can trust everyone involved in this to comfortably say 3.5 stars. So let’s home we can get that.

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