Hollywood’s mega-budget summer movie season is underway with the blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron, in which Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk and company take on a seemingly invincible artificial intelligence (played by the ever-quirky James Spader) out to wipe humankind off the map. It might not be every gay man’s cup of tea but those of us with a fondness for men in leather, latex and/or tights likely lined up this past weekend to check out these superheroes in action.
Studio execs historically skew their summer offerings toward kids and teens out of school but they also know that reaching the widest possible audience, including LGBT viewers, can only make them more money. In light of this, I’ve taken the liberty of classifying a number of promising upcoming releases within several gay sub-genres. Please note release dates are subject to change.
Good Guys vs. Naughty Boys:
Several other heroes will be on screen battling adversaries of various stripes. Dreamy Paul Rudd stars as Ant-Man (July 17), who is able to become more powerful as he shrinks to the size of an insect. Marvel’s Fantastic Four (August 7) return to the big screen with an all new, ethnically diverse cast. The D Train (May 8) caused a stir at Sundance earlier this year with its depiction of a hookup between a bisexual movie star played by James Marsden and the nebbishy former high school classmate (Jack Black) desperate to lure him back for their class’s 20th reunion. And although they are rivals, there are hints of bromance in the big screen version of TV’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (August 14) between hunks Henry Cavill as CIA agent Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer as Russian spy Ilya Kuryakin. Iconic, post-apocalyptic 80’s antihero Mad Max returns in Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15), with Tom Hardy taking over from Mel Gibson against not only freaky mutants but a fierce femme fatale played by Charlize Theron. And George Clooney goes back to the future in Disney's Tomorrowland.
Bears and Other Critters:
The walking, trash-talking teddy bear (voiced by Seth McFarlane) and best bud Mark Wahlberg return for Ted 2 (June 26), in which Ted must fight the legal system in order to have a baby with his human wife. If you prefer your beasts tall and scaly, Jurassic World (June 12) looks to be a spectacular reboot of the dinosaur series starring buff Chris Pratt as their overwhelmed keeper. Max (June 26), meanwhile, is the true, tear-jerking story of a heroic military dog who is adopted by a family grieving the loss of their son in Afghanistan. Aardman Animation returns to the silver screen with Shaun the Sheep Movie (August 7), and those wacky yellow whatsits from Despicable Me get their own movie, appropriately titled Minions (July 10).
Pitch Perfect 2 (May 15) will mark the musical-comedy return of the Barden Bellas, the a cappella singing sensation that includes cast members Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit). Melissa McCarthy headlines the hilarious-looking Spy (June 5) as a dowdy CIA secretary who is tasked with taking down a villain after more experienced agents fail. Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck (July 17) has a lot of buzz from early screenings and stars Amy Schumer as a commitment-averse writer who finds herself falling for the subject of one of her articles, played by SNL vet Bill Hader. Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon and Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara are the odd couple at the center of Hot Pursuit (May 8) in which they play, respectively, an uptight police officer and a drug lord’s wife who find themselves on the run from said drug lord. Last but not least, Lily Tomlin is the title character of Grandma (August 21), who happens to be a lesbian enlisted by her unexpectedly pregnant granddaughter to help raise money for an abortion.
We all know them and this summer’s releases are chock full of ‘em. Inside Out (June 19) is the latest Disney-Pixar production and features the animated embodiments of an 11-year old girl’s rampant emotions in the wake of her family’s move to a new city. The film’s great voice cast includes Amy Poehler, Kyle MacLachlan, Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader (he’s everywhere). The more serious but crowd-pleasing Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (June 12) won both the Grand Jury Award and the Audience Award at January’s Sundance Film Festival for its sensitive yet funny take on the plight of a terminally-ill teenager. Infinitely Polar Bear (June 19) stars cuddly gay fave Mark Ruffalo as a man with bipolar disorder who suddenly gets custody of his two daughters. Ruffalo could well garner another Oscar nomination for his performance in this reality-based drama. Out writer-director François Ozon’s new film The New Girlfriend (August 8) focuses on a woman dealing with the death of her best friend, which takes an unusual turn when she discovers her late friend’s husband is transsexual. And an entire family confronts supernatural drama galore when their young daughter is kidnapped by vengeful spirits in Poltergeist (May 22), a high-tech revisioning of the 1982 hit. They’re baa-aack!
The movie with the greatest gay cred this summer may be Mr. Holmes (July 17), which stars the out and knighted Ian McKellen as 93-year old Sherlock, out to solve one final mystery. It is helmed by gay writer-director Bill Condon, who made the terrific Dreamgirls and previously collaborated with McKellen on 1998’s Gods and Monsters. Right behind it is Saint Laurent (May 8), a biopic about the late, gay fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent during his 1960’s-1970’s heyday. Do I Sound Gay? (July 10) is an acclaimed documentary that explores whether or not there really is a “gay voice” with the help of George Takei and Margaret Cho, among others. And while Blythe Danner isn’t exactly a queen, the veteran actress’s performance as a widow who starts dating again in I’ll See You in My Dreams (May 15) is being talked about as Danner’s potential ticket to her first Oscar nomination.
What’s summer without scantily-clad men? Magic Mike XXL (July 1) will mark the return of Channing Tatum and his stripper pals, who are promising to show even more skin than they did in their 2012 predecessor. Time travel still requires nudity in Terminator Genisys (also July 1), with Jai Courtney the latest hottie to arrive from the future in an effort to stop judgment day. Adam Scott and Jason Schwartzman reportedly go full frontal as they compare their endowments in the marital comedy The Overnight (June 19), while the still toned Tom Cruise gets shirtless and tied up in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (July 31). And though I don’t know if Dwayne Johnson goes topless in the disaster epic San Andreas (May 29), he seems to sport a form-fitting fire department t-shirt throughout.
No matter how you categorize them, this summer’s movies promise to be hot!
Preview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.