Statistically, when it comes to the summer movie season, everything is pretty front-loaded. The biggest movies arrive in May, then sort of trickle in throughout June and July. But when we hit August it’s a total crapshoot, full of movies that never seem like they belong anywhere on the movie calendar. It’s almost as if they’re orphan movies, destined to live out their theatrical dreams at the very end of a big season when people aren’t really paying attention.
Things are changing for August, though, much in the same way they’re changing for February, another so-called throwaway month that’s played host to runaway hits like Deadpool and The Lego Movie of late. These months are becoming a home for riskier, more inventive material, and with audiences seemingly starved for something — anything! — that’s a little different, months like August and February are raising their hands all like, “Oh, I’ve got something different for ya right here!”
Say what you want about the divisive reaction to Suicide Squad, but it fits perfectly into the “New August”, a month where similar riskier comic book fare like Guardians of the Galaxy soared and Fantastic Four floundered. Hey, you can’t win ’em all.
This year in particular, though, it appears the rest of August may give us some of the best films this summer has to offer. Here’s a rundown of just a few of the August movies already riding a wave of good buzz.
Sausage Party (August 12)
We’ve seen this R-rated animated film from the warped minds of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, This Is the End) twice now and both times we witnessed an audience laugh harder than we’ve seen any audience laugh this year. Yes it’s filthy and deranged and completely off-the-wall bonkers at times, but it’s so inventive and unlike any animated wide-release animated movie we’ve seen in recent memory.
Plus, admit it — you’ve always secretly wanted to see a hot dog try to put the moves on a bun. Admit it, you’re intrigued.
Pete’s Dragon (August 12)
If Sausage Party will bring tears of laughter, then Pete’s Dragon will bring the other kind of tears. Ya know, that ugly cry. The one where you keep pretending to stretch and do weird things with your arms so that no one around you can tell that your face is just a waterfall of emotion.
This Disney remake of the 1977 animated film about a boy and his dragon is a late-summer surprise, full of heart, soul, a love of nature and beautiful direction from a tremendous up-and-comer in David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints).
Florence Foster Jenkins (August 12)
What’s a year without a tremendous Oscar-worthy performance from Meryl Streep? In what many are calling the year’s first obvious awards contender, Streep plays the real-life New York heiress who attempts to become an opera singer despite her horrible singing voice.
Critics are already drawing comparisons to the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech, with Time Out‘s Cath Clarke calling it a “ridiculously watchable comedy.”
Hell or High Water (limited, August 12)
If you think Star Trek Beyond is the only Chris Pine movie worth watching this summer, think again. Currently standing tall at 100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, this crime drama about brothers (Pine and Ben Foster) who rob banks in order to protect their family’s land from foreclosure is a brilliantly executed thriller that takes the familiar setup of outlaws vs the law and delivers a gripping tale that feels both old school and new school at the same time.
Also, everyone has a badass mustache… in case you’re still not sold.
War Dogs (August 19)
If you’re still feeling that dark, dangerous vibe coming off Hell or High Water, then stick around for War Dogs, based on the real-life story of two twentysomethings who somehow weaseled their way into becoming ridiculously successful arms dealers, working on huge multi-million dollar deals with the U.S. military during the war in Iraq.
This is a much different movie than we’re used to seeing from Hangover and Old School director Todd Phillips, and early buzz indicates the film’s crazy story is elevated by its lead performances from Jonah Hill and Miles Teller, with a vibe that echoes Scorsese-directed films like the recent Wolf of Wall Street.
Kubo and the Two Strings (August 19)
August will give us not one, but two deliciously watchable animated movies. Kubo and the Two Strings comes from the folks over at Laika (ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, Coraline), who are experts at creating these visually powerful and fantastical stop-motion adventures featuring unexpected heroes in inventive settings.
In Kubo, we’re off to Japan for a wild tale about a boy who accidentally summons a vengeful spirit and must team up with a monkey (Charlize Theron) and beetle (Matthew McConaughey) in order to save his family. Take a chance on this one… those wizards over at Laika never disappoint.
Don’t Breathe (August 26)
One of the most talked-about genre movies to come out of this year’s SXSW Film Festival, Don’t Breathe is an edge-of-your-seat thriller from director Fede Alvarez and producer Sam Raimi, who last teamed on a remake of Evil Dead. This time the setting is a blind man’s house, and when said blind man is played by Stephen Lang — one of cinema’s great badasses — than right off the bat you know this ain’t an ordinary house.
A few kids looking for a piece of that wealthy blind man’s pie learn this lesson the hard way when they break into the man’s home, not realizing they’re… well, screwed. If you’re looking for a good kick in the ass before the fall season rolls in, make sure you hit this one up.