With the Fourth of July, a heat wave across the East Coast, and a roiling political nightmare happening all at once, there’s no better place to spend a day off than inside a pitch-black, air-conditioned movie theater. Here are our critics’ favorite films now in theaters that you can catch over the holiday.
The Incredibles 2
The super-powered Parr family is back in Pixar’s latest. For superhero fans who need something a little more low-maintenance than the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe, David Edelstein writes that The Incredibles 2 is “delightful as an animated feature but really, really delightful as a superhero picture. It’s proof that someone (not anyone, mainly Bird) can make a Marvel-type movie that’s fleet and shapely, with action sequences rich in style rather than tumult.”
Where The Incredibles 2 is a fun flick about family togetherness, Hereditary is pretty much the exact opposite. Let’s just say there’s no group hug at the end. Edelstein writes “When you pare away its [Hereditary’s] demonic accoutrements, you’re left with the most intractably nightmarish arena of all: hearth and home.” Family matriarch Toni Collette stars “in a performance so raw it’s as if she’s being flayed before your eyes.”
Three Identical Strangers
Before anyone groans about seeing a documentary when they could be shotgunning beers on someone’s (anyone’s) lawn, read them Edelstein’s review, where he explains that “Three Identical Strangers begins as a goofy, believe-it-or-not tabloid story and slowly drifts into darker waters — the realm of horror, then of tragedy.” What more could you ask for on America’s birthday?
Director Bart Layton takes a real-life heist gone wrong and grounds it with themes of “peer pressure, toxic masculinity, and the dread of young men who feel the fruits of capitalism growing beyond their reach,” says Edelstein. If you’re looking for a low-stakes heist movie and have already seen Ocean’s 8, American Animals’ true story will do the job.
So, this is the movie Robert Pattinson was promoting that time Pete Davidson took over his Tonight Show appearance. Pattinson stars alongside Mia Wasikowska in the Zellner brothers’ latest, in which the two men are able to “find a mood all their own, in which comic ineptitude is born of loneliness and desperation.” This is no ordinary Old West picture: Edelstein calls it a “clown show with instances of carnage” and notes that the stars have never been funnier.
Leave No Trace
The last time Debra Granik directed a narrative film, she launched Jennifer Lawrence into stardom and left audiences mournful. Leave No Trace, like Winter’s Bone and 2004’s Down to the Bone, is no different. It similarly features a “maladaptive male authority”: young Tom’s (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) father, Will (Ben Foster), a traumatized vet who lives with his daughter in the eight-square-mile Forest Park in the mountains west of Portland, Oregon. Edelstein writes that Foster and McKenzie “seem keyed to each other’s rhythms, even each other’s thoughts,” with both giving “extraordinary” performances.
Shailene Woodley is back in a movie that, on paper, seems to be one of those films that “focuses on a kind of sun-kissed, beachy-haired surfing/sailing off-the-grid expat,” writes Emily Yoshida. In actuality, Adrift “spends its time ruminating on how and why adrenaline-seeking wanderers get that way, courting worst-case scenarios until it’s their turn to get stranded at sea in a disaster movie.” Just don’t Google this true story beforehand. It simply “doesn’t function if you happen to know anything about the true story,” says Yoshida.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Director Morgan Neville will break your heart with his Mr. Rogers documentary. If you just need to escape all the cacophony of the Fourth of July and weep for several hours in a room full of strangers, David Edelstein says Won’t You Be My Neighbor? “is a wonderful breather from reality, from which you come back more conscious of — and dismayed by — the hate that more than ever runs the world.”
Sometimes you see a film for its technical excellence. That’s cool. Other times, you just gotta go to spot Jeremy Renner’s CGI arms. Surrounding those CGI arms is an all-star cast: Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson, Jon Hamm, and Ed Helms. Emily Yoshida declared Tag to be “an amusing, perhaps unintentionally depressing midlife crisis comedy.” Perfect for the Fourth.
The only cure for your American ennui this year? Watching Bullock’s Debbie Ocean survive in a late-capitalistic society by slipping out of Bergdorf with bags and bags of stolen goods. Emily Yoshida says “these low-stakes scams — just a steely-faced Bullock willing her material life back into place — are where the film feels the most energized.” That is, when it’s not rife with the undeniable lesbian energy of Cate Blanchett’s Lou.
Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
Of Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado, Yoshida writes that “the way [Benicio del Toro] pulls the trigger, with a two-handed flourish that I still can’t decide is brutal or impossibly graceful, is unforgettable, almost hungry in its abandon.” She adds that Soldado “truly wallows in violence … with the kind of hopelessness that film violence, especially around this subject matter, should convey.”
Feeling enraged about the state of the union? Let Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s story move you to action. “Both the film and the ‘notorious’ figure at its center are the best imaginable retaliation to mansplaining,” says Edelstein.” Directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West follow the trajectory of the Supreme Court justice’s life and also physically follow her around with a mic, forcing audiences “to shut up and listen.”