From Sequels To Reboots, Familiar Faces Return To The Multiplex This Summer

May 30, 2016
Originally published on June 7, 2016 3:38 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Between superheroes and talking animals, Hollywood is having a stellar year. Movie grosses are at an all-time high, and now comes blockbuster season. NPR critic Bob Mondello has this selective preview.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Sequels, reboots, franchises - putting roman numerals in titles may have fallen out of fashion, but the multiplex is still going to be filled with characters you already know.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE")

BILL PULLMAN: (As President Whitmore) They're coming back.

MONDELLO: He's talking about aliens, the ones Earth vanquished in "Independence Day" 20 years ago. In "Resurgence," they resurge.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE")

LIAM HEMSWORTH: (As Jake Morrison) Shouldn't we be nervous?

JEFF GOLDBLUM: (As David Levinson) Yeah.

MONDELLO: And so do we.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE")

JESSIE T. USHER: (As Dylan Hiller) It's the Fourth of July, so let's show them some fireworks.

MONDELLO: Also back for another go around is Matt Damon as that guy who, for the longest time, couldn't remember his name.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JASON BOURNE")

MATT DAMON: (As Jason Bourne) I remember everything.

ATO ESSANDOH: (As Character) That's Jason Bourne.

TOMMY LEE JONES: (As Robert Dewey) Why would he come back now?

MONDELLO: You could ask the same about Captain Kirk and his crew in "Star Trek Beyond."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR TREK BEYOND")

KARL URBAN: (As Bones) You really want to head back out there, huh?

MONDELLO: And heading back out there with them will be the familiar magicians in "Now You See Me 2," familiar assassins in "Mechanic: Resurrection" as well as some new incarnations of old friends - a jungle legend, say, outfitted with washboard abs...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE LEGEND OF TARZAN")

SAMUEL L. JACKSON: (As George Washington Williams) You are Tarzan.

MONDELLO: ...And a freshly enslaved "Ben-Hur" because what movie audiences really need is a chariot race in 3D.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BEN-HUR")

MORGAN FREEMAN: (As Ilderim) Racing is a blood sport. If you lose, you die.

MONDELLO: Elsewhere in the reboot world, the stakes aren't quite so high. If Melissa McCarthy loses, for instance...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GHOSTBUSTERS")

MELISSA MCCARTHY: (As Abby Yates) We have dedicated our whole lives to studying the paranormal. Now there's sightings all over the city.

MONDELLO: ...She just gets slimed.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GHOSTBUSTERS")

MCCARTHY: (As Abby Yates) There are people out there that need our help.

MONDELLO: So who you going to call - Ghostbusters - gal Ghostbusters.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GHOSTBUSTERS")

KRISTEN WIIG: (As Erin Gilbert) Let's go.

MCCARTHY: (As Abby Yates) Let's go.

WIIG: (As Erin Gilbert) Oh.

MCCARTHY: (As Abby Yates) Oh. I'm sorry. Did you want to - I'll let you...

WIIG: (As Erin Gilbert) Next time.

MCCARTHY: (As Abby Yates) OK.

MONDELLO: Even the talking animal kid flicks this summer are mostly recycled - the sixth "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Character) Cowabunga.

MONDELLO: ...The fifth "Ice Age" episode plus a Pixar sequel that will no doubt float a few boats. Having found Nemo, it's now time for "Finding Dory."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FINDING DORY")

KAITLIN OLSON: (As Destiny) Dori?

ELLEN DEGENERES: (As Dory) Yes.

OLSON: (As Destiny) Dory?

DEGENERES: (As Dory) Yes.

OLSON: (As Destiny) You and I were friends.

DEGENERES: (As Dory) No.

OLSON: (As Destiny) It was so much fun because I'd tell you a story, and then you'd completely forget about it. And then I get to tell it to you over and over again.

MONDELLO: How is that for a summary of the season - telling the same story over and over again, like the classic summer film about the surfer looking for the perfect wave. In "The Shallows," she finds it.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE SHALLOWS")

BLAKE LIVELY: (As Nancy) What did you say the name of this place was?

OSCAR JAENADA: (As Carlos) This is paradise.

MONDELLO: Except what is that, a fin?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE SHALLOWS")

LIVELY: (As Nancy) Get out - shark.

MONDELLO: Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water. Also on the serious side - the "Free State Of Jones," a Civil War saga featuring Matthew McConaughey, "Little Men" about two Brooklyn tweens who try to become best friends as their parents are becoming enemies and "The Infiltrator" about an agent who goes undercover to bring down drug cartels.

And if all of that just sounds wrong for hot weather and you want laughs, Andy Samberg is playing a singer who's not nearly as sharp as his high notes in "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING")

JORMA TACCONE: (As Owen) We're like McCartney and...

ANDY SAMBERG: (As Conner4Real) Kanye.

TACCONE: (As Owen) And yeah - I was - yeah.

SAMBERG: (As Conner4Real) You know, it takes a village to make me look dope.

MONDELLO: Elsewhere, Seth Rogan will be hosting an animated "Sausage Party." The writers of the hangover flicks will bring us "Bad Moms." And Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson will odd couple their way through "Central Intelligence" - Hart as an accountant, Johnson with the CIA.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE")

DWAYNE JOHNSON: (As Bob Stone) I got a plan. It might get us both killed, but if it works, it will be a totally boss story - cool?

KEVIN HART: (As Calvin) No, no it's not cool.

JOHNSON: (As Bob Stone) Cool.

HART: (As Calvin) No, I said it's not cool.

MONDELLO: Speaking of odd couples, there's a big-screen "Ab Fab" adventure for Edina and Patsy.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE")

JENNIFER SAUNDERS: (As Edina) Darling, sweetheart...

I think I am now officially fatter sideways than I am front on.

JOANNA LUMLEY: (As Patsy) You don't need those. I am your mirror.

SAUNDERS: (As Edina) How do I look?

LUMLEY: (As Patsy) Fabulous.

SAUNDERS: (As Edina) Thank you.

MONDELLO: Summer wouldn't be summer, of course, without real couples and romance. The tearjerker "Me Before You" concerns a handsome accident victim and the lovely caretaker who falls for him. "Equals" is about love in a futuristic society that outlaws emotions. And the Chicago story "Southside With You" chronicles a first date in 1989 that involves two kids you may have heart of.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU")

VANESSA BELL CALLOWAY: (As Marian Robinson) Michelle - thought it wasn't a date.

TIKA SUMPTER: (As Michelle Robinson) He invited me to a community event.

PHILLIP EDWARD VAN LEAR: (As Fraser C. Robinson III) So what's this boy's name?

SUMPTER: (As Michelle Robinson) Barack Obama.

VAN LEAR: (As Fraser C. Robinson III) Barack O-what-a (ph)?

MONDELLO: Spoiler alert - they hit it off. "Southside With You" is one of several stories this summer that will focus on real people. There's also "The Founder" in which Michael Keaton plays a 1950s salesman who noticed that a hamburger stand he liked was making burgers using the kind of production line that factories used.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE FOUNDER")

NICK OFFERMAN: (As Dick McDonald) Orders ready in 30 seconds, not 30 minutes.

MICHAEL KEATON: (As Ray Kroc) Unique, original - there's nothing like this.

LAURA DERN: (As Ethel Kroc) It's revolutionary.

KEATON: (As Ray Kroc) That's exactly what it is. It's revolutionary.

What is that?

OFFERMAN: (As Dick McDonald) The golden arches.

JOHN CARROLL LYNCH: (As Mac McDonald) It's a way to make the place stand out.

KEATON: (As Ray Kroc) There should be McDonalds everywhere. Franchise the damn thing.

OFFERMAN: (As Dick McDonald) Mr. Kroc...

KEATON: (As Ray Kroc) Franchise, franchise, franchise...

MONDELLO: Also entrepreneurs were the inexperienced 20-somethings depicted in "War Dogs" who won a $300 million Defense Department contract and then had to improvise.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WAR DOGS")

MILES TELLER: (As David Packouz) You seriously want to drive to Baghdad.

JONAH HILL: (As Efraim Diveroli) David, we're gun runners. Let's go run some guns.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Character) You drove these through the Triangle of Death.

TELLER: (As David Packouz) The Triangle of Death, Bro.

MONDELLO: "War Dogs" and "The Founder" are success stories. The tale of '30s socialite Florence Foster Jenkins who fancied herself an opera singer and insisted on performing in public - not so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS")

MERYL STREEP: (As Florence Foster Jenkins, singing).

DAVID HAIG: (As Carlo Edwards) Stop that. There's work to be done, but you've never sounded better.

STREEP: (As Florence Foster Jenkins) It is true that a lot of singers my age are on the decline, but I seem to just get better and better.

HAIG: (As Carlo Edwards) There is no one quite like you.

MONDELLO: No one quite like Meryl Streep either. She did her own vocals for "Florence Foster Jenkins." Colin Firth and Jude Law meanwhile will be wrestling a novel into submission in the movie "Genius." Law plays author Thomas Wolfe who tended to write rather long novels, and Firth plays editor Max Perkins, who had to make them publishable.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GENIUS")

COLIN FIRTH: (As Max Perkins) We can do it.

JUDE LAW: (As Thomas Wolfe) How long?

FIRTH: (As Max Perkins) Nine months if you resist the temptation to add more.

LAW: (As Thomas Wolfe) I have to be able to add more.

FIRTH: (As Max Perkins) The book is 5,000 pages long.

LAW: (As Thomas Wolfe) Point taken, all right - cut, cut, cut.

MONDELLO: If all this real-life stuff is what you go to the movies to escape from, there's fantasy, too, ranging from dark and particular in "Swiss Army Man" where a shipwrecked Paul Dano befriends a corpse that washes up on the beach...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SWISS ARMY MAN")

PAUL DANO: (As Hank) I need you to help me get home, OK, Buddy?

MONDELLO: ...A corpse played by a surprisingly talkative Daniel Radcliffe.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SWISS ARMY MAN")

DANIEL RADCLIFFE: (As Manny) OK, Buddy.

DANO: (As Hank, screaming).

MONDELLO: Swiss "Army Man" is an absurdist fantasy. There's also darker fantasy in "Suicide Squad" where imprisoned super villains go on a secret government mission that could win them their freedom, except no one thinks that will happen.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SUICIDE SQUAD")

VIOLA DAVIS: (As Amanda Walker) If they get caught, we throw them under the bus.

MONDELLO: And if that strikes you as just plain dark, how about dark with a ray of sunshine?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE BFG")

RUBY BARNHILL: (As Sophie) Please don't eat me.

MARK RYLANCE: (As The BFG) You think because I'm a giant that I'm a man-gobbling cannibal (laughter)?

MONDELLO: Roald Dahl's fabled "The BFG" concerns a little girl who's kept awake by bad dreams. Steven Spielberg, though, is in a good dream kind of mood with what he calls a passion project.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE BFG")

RYLANCE: (As The BFG) You can call me the big, friendly giant.

MONDELLO: BFG for short.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE BFG")

RYLANCE: (As The BFG) Hold your breath. Cross your fingers. Here we go.

MONDELLO: To the local single cineplex we go, breath held, fingers crossed. I'm Bob Mondello.

SHAPIRO: That's a lot of movies packed into eight minutes. If you want to see the previews, too, Bob and his co-host Andrew Limbong dissect movie trailers on their NPR live show "Trailer Park." To watch it, go to facebook.com/NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.