Theaters are still closed, but new streaming movies are coming to entertain you and your family during socially distanced times.
While this is not a usual summer-movie season, this weekend is the biggest for new movies since Hollywood was sent into chaos, thanks to coronavirus. Spike Lee releases his follow-up to “BlacKkKlansman” on Netflix, “Saturday Night Live” regular Pete Davidson stars in a Judd Apatow dramedy and Disney+ gets its own kid-hero franchise-starter. Also on the docket: a millennial “Bonnie and Clyde,” a Bill Nighy mystery and – believe it or not – a “Showgirls” documentary.
If that’s not enough to get you online and watching movies, Universal’s musical-centric “The Shows Must Go On!” YouTube channel is streaming “The Wiz” this weekend starting at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on Friday.
Here’s a rundown of new movies hitting streaming this weekend, for every cinematic taste:
The new ‘King’ of Hollywood? Pete Davidson lends jokes – and real depth – to ‘Staten Island’
Need a superhero binge? Here’s the best viewing order of all 23 Marvel movies during quarantine
If you’re ready for the first major Oscar contender of 2020: ‘Da 5 Bloods’
Spike Lee fashions a highly entertaining and thoughtful war movie that focuses on four African American vets (Delroy Lindo, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Norm Lewis and Clarke Peters) who return to Vietnam to dig up buried gold bars worth millions as well as bring home the remains of their fallen squad leader (Chadwick Boseman). Unraveling over past and present timelines, “Bloods” explores black patriotism during the tumultuous civil-rights era, the unbreakable bond between soldiers and the unshakable horrors of war. The cast is stellar – especially Lindo – and Lee’s filmmaking voice once again proves significantly resonant in uncertain times.
Where to watch: Netflix
If you prefer equal laughs and feels: ‘The King of Staten Island’
Davidson co-wrote the quasi-autobiographical film and stars as a 20-something New Yorker who’s been in a state of arrested development since his fireman dad died when he was a kid. When his girlfriend (Bel Powley) breaks up with him, and his mom (Marisa Tomei) starts dating a no-nonsense firefighter (Bill Burr), Davidson’s character is challenged to change his life, from one of doing drugs and hanging with friends to that of a real grown-up. Apatow’s comedy runs a bit long but it nails a nice balance of the funny stuff and more serious material, and Davidson proves he’s got some serious acting chops and a universal appeal.
If you’re holding out for a new hero: ‘Artemis Fowl’
In the Irish-tinged adventure based on the Eoin Colfer’s fantasy book series, Artemis (Ferdia Shaw) is a well-dressed 12-year-old boy genius who’s part of an extended family of criminal masterminds. This little dude, though, is all good guy: When his dad (Colin Farrell) is kidnapped in connection with a powerful magical device, Artemis goes head to head against a fairy police force and a shadowy villain. While not exactly the second coming of “Harry Potter,” the action-packed fantasy gives tweens and teens a fresh new franchise to get behind, plus a spotlight for Disney favorite Josh Gad (as Artemis’ tunnel-happy dwarf ally).
Where to watch: Disney+
If you adore the oeuvre of Wes Anderson: ‘Sometimes Always Never’
Director Carl Hunter’s very British mystery comedy-drama is kooky and peculiar, with mod styling and bizarre whimsy (like two people riding in what looks like a cardboard car). However, there’s a funny and often touching family story underneath the strangeness, with a Scrabble-obsessed tailor and widower (Nighy) desperate to find his missing son – the prodigal child. Dad thinks he might have found him through an online word game, though what he really needs is to reconnect with his estranged youngest son (Sam Riley), who’s also trying to keep sane in his own household. It’s a must-watch for vocabulary junkies and any sucker for a good father-son tale.
Where to watch: Virtual cinemas
If you’re down for a modern spin on a classic: ‘Infamous’
This definitively answers the question of what would happen if MTV did a remake of “Bonnie and Clyde” – and it’s just as bad as it sounds. Party scenes and pop songs pepper the crime drama that teams up Arielle (Bella Thorne), a Florida youngster who wants to find fame in Hollywood, with ex-con teen mechanic Dean (Jake Manley), the more reasoned one of the duo. A violent accident finds them on the lam, and they get hooked on robbing convenience stores and moving to weed dispensaries and then banks – with Arielle livestreaming each job and finding millions of followers. The social-media spin is an intriguing one – if only it was executed with a shred of nuance.
If you’re in the mood for a serial-killer thriller: ‘Darkness Falls’
It’s maybe not exactly the best time for a cop thriller, and this one is as formulaic and unexciting as you can get. Shawn Ashmore stars as an L.A. detective whose wife commits suicide, but of course he’s the only one who actually believes that. Everyone around him, including his recently promoted partner (Daniella Alonso), thinks he’s gone off the deep end yet, lo and behold, he’s actually on to something: It turns out that his spouse is actually the latest in a long line of high-profile women murdered and set up to look like the perfect crime by two serial killers (Gary Cole and Richard Harmon).
If you yearn for a canine-filled schmaltz fest: ‘Think Like a Dog’
Talking animals should have just stopped at the “Babe” franchise. Sadly, we have this cornball extravaganza starring Gabriel Bateman as tween inventor Oliver who, thanks to a middle-school experiment gone kablooey, discovers a gadget that allows him to understand his dog Henry (voiced by Todd Stashwick). Henry, for the record, has been able to understand the kid the whole time, and the pair team up to help Oliver win over his classmate crush, take down a villainous tech mogul (Kunal Nayyar) and help Oliver’s mom (Megan Fox) and dad (Josh Duhamel) rekindle their love.
If you’ve always been weirdly fascinated with ‘Showgirls’: ‘You Don’t Nomi’
The documentary tracks the path of how Elizabeth Berkley’s 1995 erotic drama has gone from reviled star-vehicle misfire to cult favorite akin to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” The campy film is compared to the other works of director Paul Verhoeven and writer Joe Eszterhas (including their other team-up, “Basic Instinct”), plus critics and academics explain their reasoning behind whether it’s subtle masterpiece or cinematic dumpster fire. Your opinion’s not likely to be changed, though it’s always interesting to see how art – yes, even works filled with exotic dancers and comically over-the-top acting – can be both trash and treasure, depending on perspective.