Best Movies to See in May: ‘Aladdin,’ ‘Rocketman,’ ‘John Wick 3’
From Will Smith feeling kind of blue to an Elton John biopic — what you need to see this month
Because man can not live on Marvel superheroes alone, May is gifting us some strange blockbuster creatures: a wisecracking genie, a lightning-shooting rodent gunshoe, a three-headed dragon monarch fighting everybody’s favorite giant green lizard. Plus: Elton John gets the biopic treatment, John Wick gets even more revenge, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels gets an all-female remake and one of the year’s most glowingly-reviewed fest-circuit dramas efforts gets an official release. Here’s what’s coming to theater near you this month.
Aladdin (May 24th)
Welcome to the Middle Eastern kingdom of Agrabah — the Disney live-action version! The song remains the same: Aladdin (Mena Massoud) is still a petty street thief magicked into a king overnight by his trusty Genie, now played by a big, blue Will Smith. (You’ve kind of had a friend like this before.) But expect this 2.0 take to have a look all its own, with The Greatest Showman team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul contributing some additional new music in addition to the original’s toe-tapping tunes. It’s a whole new-ish world.
Booksmart (May 24th)
On the last day of senior year, strait-laced honor students/goody-two-shoes besties (Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein) realize they’ve made a terrible miscalculation: Apparently the kids who’ve spent the last four years partying are also headed to the Ivy League. So they resolve to make up for lost time with one last night of debauchery, a vow that gives way to a Superbad-ian odyssey involving lots of alcohol, sex, vandalism and possibly even karaoke. Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut presents much more femcentric spin on the rauncy buddy comedy; also, the days of calling Feldstein “Jonah Hill’s sister” instead of “Her Majesty Queen Beanie” are now officially over.
Brightburn (May 24th)
Who ever said that a superhero movie couldn’t also double as a terrifying monster-run-amuck horror film? (Answer: No one, really, but just go with us here.) This mystery-shrouded project produced by Guardians of the Galaxy‘s James Gunn imagines a dark slant on the Superman myth, envisioning a world where the alien prince crash-landing on Earth drifts towards the side of evil instead of good. Gunn and director David Yarovesky have given fair warning that the “hero” of this film, a kid who’s picked on by bullies, has much more in common with Freddy Krueger than Clark Kent. Details are scarce but honestly, you had us at “psychotic teen Superman.”
Pokemon Detective Pikachu (May 10th)
You may think you know him — electric rodent, cute little cheeks, valiant in battle — but there is only oneDetective Pikachu. He’s partial to a strong cup of Joe and fluent in sarcasm, complete with the dulcet tones of Ryan “Deadpool” Reynolds. And along with his new partner (Justice Smith), he’s setting off in search of the kid’s missing father through the bustling Ryme City, where photo-realistically rendered Pokémon coexist peacefully with humanity. Cue the kind of close bond unique to a boy and his pet — or, in this case, a boy and his wisecracking, crimefighting thunder mouse. God bless brand-extension franchises.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (May 31st)
If you’re going by simple dollars and cents, they may be no better bargain than the latest installment in this reboot of the kaiju legend. You don’t just get the ol’ thunder lizard Godzilla — you also the new versions of the mega-insectoid Mothra, the volcanic pterodactyl Rodan and that three-headed dragon from outer space King Ghidorah, Good luck finding a higher monster-per-capita ratio for the price of a single ticket! Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and Stranger Things breakout Millie Bobby Brown are also present and accounted for, but really, you’re coming for the CGI behemoths.
The Hustle (May 10th)
The French Riviera is a vacation hotspot for the some of the wealthiest, most gullible people on the planet — in other words, it’s the ideal hunting ground for an expert con woman (Anne Hathaway) and her amateur, chaos-causing partner-in-crime (Rebel Wilson). Yes, it’s a gender-inverted riff on Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, with a healthy dose of feminine wiles and a healthy dose of slapstick. Remember: There’s no honor among thieves, especially in the world of studio comedies with A-list stars.
John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum (May 17th)
Remember the last time we saw the indestructible assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves)? He’d landed himself in a spot of trouble, violating the sacred code of conduct at gun-for-hire hotel the Continental. Now he’s got a $14 million bounty on his head and an ever-growing enemies list. Luckily, he’s got Halle Berry and a heavily accented Angelica Huston on his side this time out. This gun-fu bonanza will likely be the only film this year that’s you’ll see Keanu Reeves riding a horse through the streets of New York while battle killers on motorcylces (we think).
Long Shot (May 3rd)
It’s been a few years since the last raunchfest that allowed Seth Rogen to be his doofy, lovable self. Thankfully, this odd-couple comedy rectifies the situation by casting him as a hapless journalist who gets hired as a speechwriter for a would-be presidential candidate (Charlize Theron). So he’s a bit of a schlub and she’s the the Secretary of State gunning for the highest political office — of course unexpected sparks start to fly between them. The rom-com is alive and well!
Rocketman (May 31st)
It’s a rock-genius biopic with all the fixin’s: a boyhood spent as a misfit, the revelatory discovery of a latent gift, dazzling success through groundbreaking musicianship, sex, drugs, depression, redemption. Everyone knows the story of Elton John, the smalltown nobody that grew up to be one of the biggest acts in the world and give the gay community a public-facing presence too outrageous to ignore. Supposedly, Dexter Fletcher’s film dips into the surreal to approximate this wild ride; that is indeed Taron Egerton doing all his own singing in the lead role, and only semi-recognizable through the dentures and hairpiece. The bitch is most assuredly back.
The Souvenir (May 17th)
British filmmaker Joanna Hogg’s quasi-autobiographical portrait of an artist drew a rapturous reception out of the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year — and for good reason. Honor Swinton-Byrne (daughter of Tilda, who plays her onscreen mother as well) is Julie, a college student with her eye on a charming, older man (Tom Burke). Their intense relationship slowly curdles as class issues and substance abuse enters the picture; still, Julie can’t extricate herself from their deep connection. We don’t want to say it’s one of the best things you’ll see this year, but … it’s one of the best things you’ll see this year. Really.