CHICAGO - The big screen is alive and well – even if audiences aren’t totally ready to return to the movies.
For those ready to (safely) head back to their friendly neighborhood multiplex, August offers enticements aplenty, from the unadulterated chaos of DC’s "The Suicide Squad" to the legendary Aretha Franklin. TV’s PAW Patrol trots into theaters this month, as do Ryan Reynolds and the Candyman. It’s a full house.
Yet the Delta variant-fueled surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, primarily among the unvaccinated, is likely to keep some movie-lovers from returning to theaters. Luckily, streaming options also abound.
Want to see a shark chase a ‘90s heartthrob through a flooded vacation home? Tubi has you covered. Was your appetite for kissing booth-related content not sated by "The Kissing Booth" and "The Kissing Booth 2"? Netflix is on it.
Read on for more on the month’s biggest movies.
August 6: Send in "The Suicide Squad"
This not-quite sequel to 2016’s "Suicide Squad" comes from "Guardians of the Galaxy" writer-director James Gunn, who brings over several characters from the first film but leaves the preceding story mostly behind. Never fear, "Birds of Prey" fans: Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn made the leap. Expect big laughs and bigger action, a combo that earned the film an R-rating, and prepare yourselves for the Sylvester Stallone-voiced King Shark. Viola Davis, Idris Elba, John Cena, Michael Rooker, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman and Nathan Fillion also star. R. In theaters everywhere and on HBO Max August 6.
See it first: "Slither"
James Gunn’s 2006 dark horror comedy has become a cult classic in the years since its premiere — not bad for a guy making his directorial debut. As you might expect from a movie about sentient alien larvae, it gets pretty gross, but that’s all part of the fun. "The Suicide Squad" cast members Michael Rooker and Nathan Fillion star alongside Elizabeth Banks. Now streaming on Tubi.
More new movies opening the week of August 6
Michael C. Hall as "Brad," Taissa Farmiga as "Laurie," and Jennifer Ehle as "Anna" in Pascual Sisto’s JOHN AND THE HOLE.
"John and the Hole": It’s impossible to say much about director Pascual Sisto‘s creepy Sundance drama without giving something away; then again, it’s pretty much all there in the title. John is a teenager, he has parents, there’s a hole. You do the math. Charlie Shotwell, Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Ehle and Taissa Farmiga star. Not rated. In select theaters and digital platforms August 6.
"Annette": Adam Driver and Marion Cottilard star in this buzzed-about Cannes Film Festival selection, the English-language debut of French director Leos Carax ("Holy Motors"). It’s also a musical — both the story and the music were written by the genre-bending pop duo Sparks. Those unfamiliar with Carax might want to watch the trailer first. Simon Helberg also stars. R. In select theaters August 6; arrives on Amazon Prime August 20.
- "Swan Song": A retired hairdresser returns to town to style the coiffure of a recently-deceased client in this off-kilter comedy. Udo Kier stars. Not rated. In select theaters August 6; On Demand August 13.
- "Whirlybird": A documentary about the couple who changed news reporting as their helicopter hovered over Los Angeles. Not rated. Select theaters and digital rental platforms August 6.
- Lin-Manuel Miranda lends his voice (and a bunch of songs) to Netflix’s animated musical "Vivo" (PG, streaming August 6); the Ryan Murphy-produced documentary "Pray Away" (PG-13, streaming August 3 on Netflix) takes a sobering look at the origins of so-called "conversion therapy."
August 13: "Respect" socks it to theaters
Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson certainly has the pipes to play the Queen of Soul, and she gets a lot of use out of them in this Aretha Franklin biopic. Beginning with the legendary singer’s childhood, the film follows her growth as an artist and the complicated, sometimes damaging relationships she has with the people — especially the men — in her life. Franklin herself picked Hudson to play the starring role in her life story before her death three years ago. Audra McDonald, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Marc Maron and Tituss Burgess also star. PG-13. In theaters everywhere August 13.
More new movies opening the week of August 13
Ryan Reynolds as Guy in 20th Century Studios' FREE GUY. Photo by Alan Markfield. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
"Free Guy": Movie star Ryan Reynolds plays a guy who’s about as far as it’s possible to get from stardom within his own world: he’s a non-player character in a huge (and very violent) video game. Shawn Levy ("Night at the Museum") directs a cast that includes Lil Rel Howery, Taika Waititi, Joe Keery, and "Killing Eve" star Jodie Comer. PG-13. In theaters everywhere August 13.
"CODA": Emilia Jones ("Locke & Key") plays a teenaged child of deaf adults (or "CODA") who is the only hearing person in her family. She’s an essential part of the family fishing business, a role at odds with her deeply-felt dream of becoming a musician. Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin also stars in this Sundance hit, which was snapped up by Apple. PG-13. In select theaters and on Apple TV+ August 13.
- "The Kissing Booth 3": The Netflix trilogy comes to an end, and not because kissing booths seem a little foolish now, what with the pandemic and all. Not rated. On Netflix August 11.
- "Don’t Breathe 2": In this follow-up to 2016’s twisted home-invasion horror movie, it’s still best if one keeps the inhaling and exhaling to a minimum, lest Stephen Lang’s Norman comes to find you. R. In theaters everywhere August 13.
- It’s a great week for documentaries, be they online (Netflix’s gripping "Misha and the Wolves," PG-13, August 11), in theaters (art documentary "The Lost Leonardo," PG-13, select theaters August 13) or both (Hulu’s timely "Homeroom," not rated, arriving in theaters and on the streamer August 11).
- Also: Pablo Larráin’s "Ema" (R, select theaters August 13), "Days" from Taiwan’s Tsai Ming-liang (not rated, select theaters August 13), and the John David Washington-starring Netflix thriller "Beckett" (not rated, streaming August 13).
August 20: Hugh Jackman reflects in the sci-fi romance "Reminiscence"
Writer-director Lisa Joy (co-creator of "Westworld") makes her feature-film debut with this mind-melting futuristic drama, which looks to be a little bit "Inception" and a little "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" with just a dash of "Minority Report." But if we’re lucky, "Reminiscence" will be every bit as original as the films its trailer brings to mind. Hugh Jackman plays a "private investigator of the mind" who uses technology to help his patients explore lost memories. When he’s got some loss of his own to explore, things go sideways. Rebecca Ferguson and Thandiwe Newton also star. PG-13. In theaters everywhere and HBO Max on August 20.
More new movies opening the week of August 20
"PAW Patrol: The Movie" -- L-R: Zuma (voiced by Shayle Simons), Rocky (voiced by Callum Shoniker), Skye (voiced by Lilly Bartlam), Chase (voiced by Iain Armitage), Marshall (voiced by Kingsley Marshall), and Rubble (voiced by Keegan Hedley) in PAW PA
"PAW Patrol: The Movie": Nick Jr.‘s long-running animated canine law enforcement series finally gets its gritty big-screen adaptation. (We kid, we kid.) Marsai Martin ("Black-ish") joins the cast as the Patrol’s newest ally, a "savvy dachshund" named Liberty. The voice cast also includes Iain Armitage, Yara Shahidi, Kim Kardashian, Randall Park, and Dax Shepard. G. In select theaters and on Paramount+ August 20.
"The Protégé": Martin Campbell, an alumnus of the James Bond franchise, directs Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, and Samuel L. Jackson in the story of an assassin trained since childhood (Q) who, after an enormous personal loss, sets out on a quest for vengeance. Robert Patrick also stars. R. In theaters everywhere August 20.
- In "Demonic," the latest from "District 9" writer-director Neill Blomkamp, a young woman inadvertently releases demonic forces on the world by dealing with childhood trauma, so be careful in therapy this week! R. Select theaters and digital platforms August 20.
- "Cryptozoo" picked up an award for innovation at the Sundance Film Festival this year, and one look at its surreal, distinctive style of animation should explain why. The voice cast includes Michael Cera and Lake Bell. Not rated. Select theaters and digital platforms August 20.
- Also: Netflix’s animated Scottish romp "The Loud House Movie" (not rated, on Netflix August 20), the Jason Momoa-starring "Sweet Girl" (R, on Netflix August 20), Sean Penn’s "Flag Day" (R, in select theaters August 20), and the ghostly "The Night House" (R, in select theaters August 20).
August 27: The "Candyman" serves up some sweet, sweet horror
Up-and-coming filmmaker Nia DaCosta ("Little Woods") helms this reboot of the 1992 horror staple, which also counts Jordan Peele among its executive producers. Buzz for "Candyman" began to build as soon as its chilling first trailer dropped, and despite several COVID-related delays, that buzz hasn’t abated. (It was a really good trailer.) "Watchmen" star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays an artist who finds himself captivated by the urban legend after he moves to Chicago’s Cabrini-Green neighborhood; turns out, that’s a bad choice of hobby. Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, and Colman Domingo also star, alongside Vanessa Estelle Williams and Tony Todd, who reprise their roles from the original. R. In theaters everywhere August 27.
More new movies opening August 27
(L to R) Madison Pettis as Alden, Myra Malloy as Quinn and Addison Rae as Padgett Sawyer in "He's All That." Cr. Kevin Estrada/Netflix © 2021
"He’s All That": Netflix retools the ‘90s teen comedy "She’s All That," and not just by dropping that first S. TikTok star Addison Rae plays an influencer who accepts a questionable challenge: to turn a "loser" (Tanner Buchanan) into the most popular dude in school. Rachael Leigh Cook, the star of the original film, also appears. Not rated. On Netflix August 27.
"Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed": Director Joshua Rofé ("Lorena") helms this documentary about the ruthless fight for control of the famously soothing art instructor’s empire. Not rated. On Netflix August 25.
"Swim": What’s worse than your vacation home suffering a catastrophic flood? The shark that swims into the kitchen, that’s what. Joey Lawrence stars in this Tubi Original from the producers of "Sharknado," in which a family has to flee upward floor by floor. You know, because of the shark. It’s only one of the 70 shark films that make up Tubi’s Shark Month: Bitefest, a roster that includes all four "Jaws" films. On Tubi this month. Tubi is owned by the FOX Corporation.
Next month: "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," "Dear Evan Hansen" and "The Eyes of Tammy Faye."
About Tubi: Tubi is available on Android and iOS mobile devices, Amazon Echo Show, Google Nest Hub, and on OTT devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Vizio TVs, Sony TVs, Samsung TVs, Hisense TVs, Comcast X1, Cox Contour, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X | S. Consumers can also watch Tubi content on the web at http://www.tubi.tv/
With total view time surpassing 200 million hours of content streamed each month since April, Tubi has over 30,000 movies and television shows from over 250 content partners, including every major studio. The service gives fans of films and television programs an easy way to discover new content that is available completely free.
Tubi is owned by the FOX Corporation.
About the writer: Allison Shoemaker is a Chicago-based pop-culture critic and journalist. She is the author of "How TV Can Make You Smarter," and a member of the Television Critics Association and the Chicago Film Critics Association. She is also a producer and co-host for the Podlander Presents network of podcasts. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @allisonshoe.