Summer, with its usual array of superhero films, putative blockbusters, sequels and star vehicles, has never been my favorite movie season, but I sure missed it last year.
Normality is flooding back, maybe too suddenly for some of us. And barring some new disaster or a covid-19 resurgence, we will have a summer movie season in 2021.
It has already started, with "Cruella" and "A Quiet Place Part II" having opened to encouraging crowds in theaters over the Memorial Day weekend.
Hollywood wants us to believe it's back, and hopes pent-up demand for the theatrical experience will overwhelm any residual nervousness about venturing out in public. Most of the coming movies were finished before the pandemic and were delayed from opening in 2020, so any commentary on recent events is likely to be coincidental. They might also look a little weird, at least at first.
Finally, as we always warn consumers, everything is provisional and nothing is guaranteed. As we all know by now, opening dates can change. Some of these films might not open theatrically in your area. Other films we don't know about yet undoubtedly will. And keep in mind that we've not seen any of the movies yet. We looked them up online, the same way any interested party can.
As a concession to the modern world, here's where to find your movies: (T) Theaters, (A) Amazon Prime, (A+) Apple Plus, (D+) Disney Plus, (H) Hulu, (HMax) HBO Max, (N) Netflix, (OD) On-demand.
Aside from "Spirit Untamed" (T) and "The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It" (T, HMax), reviewed elsewhere in this section, German director Christian Petzold's "Undine," a modern reworking of the ancient myth about a water nymph who becomes human when she meets a man who loves her (but will die if he's unfaithful to her) is available On-demand. Think a darker "Splash," done as a suspense film.
"In the Heights": Lin-Manuel Miranda's first hip-hop musical -- the one he wrote before "Hamilton" -- comes to the big screen. It's about a New York City neighborhood, young love and lottery tickets. (T, HMax)
"Queen Bees": Ann-Margret (!), James Caan, Ellen Burstyn and Jane Curtin star in a "Mean Girls"-style comedy set in a retirement home. (T)
"The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard": Sequel to the entertaining 2017 film "The Hitman's Bodyguard" reunites Samuel L. Jackson (the hit man), Salma Hayek (the wife), and Ryan Reynolds (the bodyguard). Also features Morgan Freeman and Antonio Banderas. (T)
"Fatherhood": Kevin Hart goes emotional and heartwarming as a widower raising a child alone in this Netflix drama directed by Paul Weitz. (N)
"Luca": Pixar's PG-take on "Call Me By Your Name"? Probably not. It's about two sea monsters who disguise themselves as kids to enjoy a summer vacation in Italy. (D+)
"Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway": I saw the first one of these and still have no idea what it is about. James Corden returns as the bunster. (T)
"The Sparks Brothers": Edgar Wright's documentary about Ron and Russell Mael, the brothers behind the long-running pop group Sparks. (T)
"Summer of '85": Francois Ozon's film also bears a superficial resemblance to "Call Me by Your Name" but is set in France instead of Italy. (T)
"Blue Bayou": Writer-director Justin Chon stars as a Korean man adopted as a child by a Louisiana family, who, after he marries a local woman (Alicia Vikander) and becomes stepfather to her daughter, discovers he's in danger of being deported to Korea. (T)
"F9": The latest "Fast and Furious" movie. Vroom vroom. (T)
"False Positive": Pierce Brosnan is a creepy fertility doctor in this horror comedy conceived by "Broad City" co-creator Ilana Glazer, who also stars alongside Justin Theroux, Sophia Bush and Gretchen Mol. (H)
"The Ice Road": Liam Neeson plays a ice trucker with a very particular set of skills. (N)
"America: The Motion Picture": An animated comedy built around a superhero George Washington. (N)
"The Forever Purge": In Texas, the purge never ends. With Josh Lucas and Will Patton. (T)
"Summer of Soul": Questlove's documentary examines the 1969 Harlem musical festival that featured Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and Sly and the Family Stone. (T, H)
"The Tomorrow War": Chris Pratt and J.K. Simmons travel through time to fight a battle to save the past. (A)
"Zola": A stripper goes on a road trip to Florida. (T)
"Black Widow": Previews of the latest installment in the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe saga look good, with Scarlett Johansson as the title character, joined by Rachel Weisz, Florence Pugh and David Harbour. (T, D+)
"Space Jam: A New Legacy": LeBron James takes over for Michael Jordan. Highly anticipated in some quarters. (T, HMax)
"Hotel Transylvania: Transformania": Adam Sandler is out as Dracula, replaced by Brian Hull, in what promises to be the last gasp of this animation franchise. (T)
"Old": M. Night Shyamalan's latest is about an island where visitors literally pack a lifetime into a single day. With an interesting cast that includes Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Thomasin McKenzie, Embeth Davidtz. (T)
"Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins": Henry Golding stars in this spinoff. (T)
"The Green Knight": David Lowery ("Pete's Dragon," "A Ghost Story") made this Arthurian spinoff which stars Dev Patel as a relative of the once and future king. (T)
"Jungle Cruise": Based on a Disneyland ride. With Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson. (T, D+)
"Nine Days": Winston Duke ("Us") is a recluse charged with interviewing souls looking for a chance to be reborn. (T)
"Stillwater": Our pick to click. Director Tom McCarthy, who made "Spotlight" and "The Visitor," wrote and directed this fact-based thriller based on the story of an Oklahoma man (Matt Damon) who travels to France to help his daughter (Abigail Breslin) after she's accused of murder. (T)
"The Suicide Squad": DC tries again to make "Suicide Squad" happen, with James Gunn taking the helm. Stars include Margot Robbie and Idris Elba. (T, HMax)
"CODA": Sian Heder's drama about a girl who's the child of deaf adults won the top prize at Sundance and is being touted as a likely Oscar contender. (T, A+)
"Don't Breathe Sequel": An honest title. Stephen Lang returns as the hammer-wielding Blind Man, who tends to get violent when folks break into his house. (T)
"Free Guy": Ryan Reynolds plays a character who is determined to escape the violent video game in which he's trapped. (T)
"The Meaning of Hitler" -- Documentary that explores our cultural fascination with the Nazi leader, and the ramifications of such a fascination on present day politics. (T)
"Respect": Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson stars as Aretha Franklin. (T)
"Demonic": "District 9" writer/director Neill Blomkamp is behind this supernatural thriller about a troubled mother-daughter relationship. (T, OD)
"The Night House": You'd think after "The Awakening," Rebecca Hall would try to avoid haunted houses. (T)
"Paw Patrol: The Movie": Cute animated puppies protect Adventure City. (T)
"The Protege": Martin Campbell directs Samuel L. Jackson, Maggie Q and Michael Keaton in a Vietnam-set assassin revenge movie. (T)
"Reminiscence": In a near-future Miami flooded by rising seas, Hugh Jackman offers clients the opportunity to relive any memory they desire. This one customer, she's been through some bad stuff. Directed by Lisa Joy, who co-created HBO's "Westworld." (T, HMax)
"The Beatles: Get Back": Peter Jackson digs through the Beatles archives and unearths 56 hours of never-seen footage. He's showing us the best of that. Can't wait. (T, D+)
"Candyman": Jordan Peele ("Get Out") returns as co-writer of the horror classic remake that emphasizes a social justice angle. (T)