This weekend, we get to take a break from the big blockbusters to make room for what seems like the first 2000s-style R-rated comedy in quite a while. Not only that, writer-director Wes Anderson’s movie, “Asteroid City,” hits theaters nationwide after a limited release last weekend. Elsewhere, a new documentary about one of the greatest movies of all time, “Midnight Cowboy,” is making its way to screens while Netflix’s “Nimona” is hoping to please longtime fans of the legendary graphic novel that inspired it. All in all, a pretty great weekend if you’re tired of watching superhero movies.
“No Hard Feelings” (In Theaters June 23rd)
It seems like it’s been forever since the heyday of the raunchy, R-rated studio comedy. From the late 90s to the early 2010s, there was always a place for movies like “Superbad,” “Not Another Teen Movie,” “Step Brothers,” and many, many more. The Apatow era was responsible for the rise of Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill, among others, but once those guys started reaching their mid-30s, it was time for them to grow up a little bit. The release of “No Hard Feelings” starring Jennifer Lawrence feels like a much-needed resurgence for a certain kind of raunchy comedy that doesn’t seem to really exist anymore.
Here, Lawrence plays an unemployed Uber driver who agrees to try and seduce a wealthy couple’s teenage son in exchange for a used car and the chance to save her mother’s house. The problem is, he is just about the most socially inept young man you’ll ever meet. Instead, the two form a unique bond as she tries to get him out of his shell. It may not be reinventing the wheel, but “No Hard Feelings” is one of those goofy movies that lets you turn off your brain and just laugh. When’s the last time we got one of those?
“Asteroid City” (In Theaters June 23rd)
Wes Anderson continues to be one of the most singular directors of our time. If you can recognize one of his movies, you can recognize them all pretty much immediately. Anderson’s unique style is on full display in his latest film, “Asteroid City,” a mid-century period piece about the residents of a small town known for just one thing: a yearly convention for young astronomers and space enthusiasts. Like all of Anderson’s films, the cast is stacked top to bottom with great actors including (but not limited to) Jason Schwartzmann, Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, and Edward Norton.
For a director already well-known for his formalism, “Asteroid City” may be on of Anderson’s most stylish films yet, with a pastel color palette and symmetrical compositions that are far more reminiscent of a picture book than any other movie we can name off the top of our heads. With his usual quirkiness and deadpan humor, Wes Anderson continues to turn cinema into a world of his creation.
“Nimona” (On Netflix June 23rd)
“Nimona,” Netflix’s latest animated offering, is based on a popular graphic novel by ND Stevenson and follows its titular character as she endears herself to a quote-unquote “supervillain” by proving her worthiness as an evil sidekick. Nimona is a skilled shapeshifter who can turn into any animal imaginable, but as she spends more time with her new boss, Ballister Boldheart (voiced by Riz Ahmed), she realizes this story of good vs. evil isn’t so cut and dry. The animation style is reminiscent of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider Verse” with story elements similar to animated anti-hero movies like “Megamind” and “Despicable Me.” “Nimona” looks like a stylish, funny, and entertaining new movie to throw on if you plan on staying home this weekend.
“Clean” (In Theaters and On Demand June 23rd)
When we think about crime scenes, detective stories, and grisly murders, our minds often go straight to the action. We want to find out who’s responsible and who’s going to figure it out. But what about the people who have to clean up the mess? A new documentary, “Clean,” follows the life of Sandra Pankhurst, a trauma cleaning specialist who mops up after just about every horrible event you can think of. Whether it’s murders, suicides, or hoarders, Pankhurst has seen it all. The film digs into what kind of impact her job has had on her life and her view of the world around her as she steps away from her job to search for her real mother. Compared to how often violence is glamorized in movies and TV, it’s interesting to see a movie that asks its viewers to stick around long after the action is done.
“Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy” (In Theaters June 23rd)
1969’s “Midnight Cowboy” is a landmark piece of cinema for quite a few reasons. It’s not only a masterpiece, it was the first X-rated movie to win Best Picture at the Oscars and continues to be regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time. Just two year’s after Glenn Frankel’s 2021 book, “Shooting Midnight Cowboy,” director Nancy Buirski’s new documentary is putting that behind-the-scenes story on the big screen. Through interviews and archival footage, Buirski offers viewers a lot of insight into just how difficult it was to get the movie made, let alone released in theaters and accepted by the public. However, it seems that all of their efforts were worth it because, well, we’re still talking about it, right?
Josef Rodriguez is a writer, filmmaker, and film critic living in New York City.