There are more good shows on TV than ever, but the traditional fall season has become the dumping ground for the least exciting new series – perhaps because they need the extra buzz of Fall TV Previews more than something with the cachet of an “Atlanta” or a “Fargo.” Still, some quality series rise to the surface: Recent years have given us “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “This Is Us,” along with glitzy franchise entries like “The Gifted” and assorted MCU efforts (“Iron Fist” and “Daredevil” boast new seasons this fall).
“Tag” – now available for home viewing – isn’t too bad for what it is. The problem is that we know exactly what it is from the get-go: A group of friends carry their game of tag into adulthood. The theme is mentioned several times in the dialog: People don’t stop playing games because they grow old, they grow old because they stop playing games. Although it’s not common for adults to play tag, neither the characters nor viewers need convincing that it is a harmless way for these friends to stay in touch with each other, and with their youth.
Director and co-writer Gus Van Sant channels some of the character- and relationship-building magic of “Good Will Hunting” in “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot,” which delivers a message that a good life can grow out of horrible circumstances if one works at it. Yet this film – which is still playing in some arthouse theaters — is never preachy.
The fall movie season arguably looks better than the summer season this year, with a nice mix of traditional fall films and a few scattered blockbusters – although a look at each film’s pedigree reveals this to still be the season of the auteur. Here are my picks for the top 10 movies to see:
In 2016, I begrudgingly acknowledged that “Deadpool” served up exactly what its fans wanted, even if it didn’t totally connect with me. I got much more into “Deadpool 2” – now available for home viewing – because it has great new characters and fun action sequences (including one that hits the sweet spot of being darkly, brilliantly funny). But quite possibly I have also adjusted to the rhythms of this type of comedy. (Note: This is a review of the theatrical cut, not the Super Duper Cut.)
It’s easy to see why “Like Father” went straight to Netflix (the modern equivalent of straight-to-video) rather than getting a theatrical release, but fans of Kristen Bell and/or Kelsey Grammer will still find this light comedy to be mildly charming. The feature-length writing-directing debut from Lauren Miller Rogen, it portrays a workaholic woman, Rachel (Bell), who reconnects with her dad, Harry (Grammer), after being left at the altar by a man who realizes she loves only her job.
Ah, a tale of a kid who feels like an outsider. It’s not exactly untapped territory for a movie, yet comedian Bo Burnham, in his assured debut as a writer-director, approaches this material with tones and angles that haven’t been put together quite like this before. In “Eighth Grade,” Burnham writes from the heart about his own experiences as an eighth-grader, but the character emerged on the page as a girl, Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher, who has a tremendous career ahead of her), and in present day.
The films of the “American Pie” trilogy open with Jim caught in an embarrassing – and to the audience, hilarious – sexual situation by his parents. Nearly two decades later, “Blockers” – which features three high school senior girls making a prom-night sex pact — starts by showing how similar mother Lisa (Leslie Mann) and daughter Julie (Kathryn Newton) are. They sleep in the same position, and brush their teeth next to each other in the same bathroom mirror. The generation gap has narrowed in the years since those iconic awkward exchanges between Jason Biggs and Eugene Levy.
Earlier this month, I reviewed “Annihilation,” a mediocre movie with a great trailer, and following it onto home video is “Game Night,” which somehow has an awful trailer but is laugh-out-loud funny from start to finish. John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who wrote last year’s sharp superhero film “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” smoothly transition to the director’s chair, wonderfully finding the humor in a script by Mark Perez (“Accepted”).
The idea of “summer movies” is already past its time, as “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” prove that “summer” is now year-round in the movie business. Still, old habits die hard – such as my annual Summer Movie Preview post. Here are one blatantly obvious and nine not-so-obvious films on the summer schedule that I wouldn’t mind seeing: