Where I live, when June sinks into July, it’s hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. On days where the temperature and the humidity are both over 90, there’s nothing I like better than to sit in a cool place and watch a movie. I love all kinds of cinema, but my favorites are romantic comedies, coming of age stories, and movies full of music.In the past two weeks I’ve seen three films, all of which meet at least one of those criteria. One I saw on a plane–Patti Cake$–, one I saw on TV–Set It Up–, and one I saw in the theater–Hearts Beat Loud. I thoroughly enjoyed all three.
Patti Cake$ is sort of a female version of Eight Mile featuring an overweight white twenty-something girl from New Jersey who longs to be a rapper. Its star, the phenomenal Danielle Macdonald, is riveting–you feel her every emotion. Patti and her friend Hareesh–his moniker is Jheri–are strivers both in their musical aspirations and in their insistence that they are worthy of greatness. The world doesn’t see their value but we do. (The music they create is excellent.) The acting is across the board strong–Cathy Moriarty (of Raging Bull fame) as Patti’s chain smoking grandmother and Bridget Everett as her self-destructive mom are superb. But it’s really Danielle Macdonald’s movie and that’s gritty gift.
I watched Netflix’s Set It Up with my 22-year-old daughter and her friend. They loved it as did I. At first glance, this film about two overworked millennials whose insanely demanding bosses are ruining their lives doesn’t look like much. The plot even sounds a bit silly. Writer hopeful Harper (Zoey Deutch) works for a sports ezine run by Wintour-esque Lucy Liu. Harper meets cute Charlie (Glen Powell) who wants to be an analyst at a VC firm run by Gordon Gekko wanna-be Taye Diggs. The two decide to set their bosses up with the hope that if they’re boning, their minions will finally get some free time. This plan requires lots of coordination between Harper and Charlie and… I’m sure you can see where this is going.
But even if it’s predictable, it’s a very good time. Powell and Deutch (who looks distractingly like a younger version of her mother Lea Thompson) have the kind chemistry that Hanks and Ryan had back in the day. The script manages to be both funny and wise–there’s a whole thing about how we like people for their strengths but we love them despite their flaws that’s spot on–and New York, especially Brooklyn, is lovingly portrayed. It’s the best rom-com I’ve seen in some time–and I think we’ll see a lot of its young stars in the future.
I saw Hearts Beat Loud by default. I wanted to see the Mr. Rogers movie but my friend had seen it and she wanted to see Oceans Eight but I’d already seen it. The only other movie that looked appealing was Hearts Beat Loud which had an 89% rating at Rotten Tomatoes so we chanced it and bought tickets. At the end of the film, Mary looked at me and said, with a sigh, “I loved it.” Me too.
It’s a coming of age love story starring two queer women of color, Sam (Kiersey Clemons) and Rose (Sasha Lane), set in Brooklyn’s Red Hook. Clemons plays a wildly talented musician about to head off to UCLA to study medicine. She’s smart and driven–she really wants to be a doctor–which somewhat frustrates her dad, subtly played by Nick Offerman of Parks and Recreation, because he wants her to make music with him. He’s going through his own “my life is changing” crisis because his only child (the mom died in a bike accident years ago) is headed for the other side of the country and he’s selling the record store he’s run for the past 17 years. The two have jammed together for fun for years but now, in part because of a song Frank (Offerman) posts on Spotify, Frank thinks maybe Sam (Cemons) should take a year off and be in their band. Sam thinks that’s nuts. But…. well, you’ll need to see the film.
Everything about this movie is a win. The music is fab–you can listen to it on Spotify–and the cast, which includes the always excellent Ted Danson as well as a winning Toni Collette, is great. Clemons is a knock-out here and it’s a joy to see her in every single scene she’s in. (She and Lane are dynamite together too.) This is a feel-good movie you can feel good about.
How ’bout you? Seen any wonderful movies this summer?
Impenitent social media enthusiast. Relational trend spotter. Enjoys both carpe diem and the fish of the day.
A Fish Called Wanda was pretty hilarious when I saw it in the theater, I’m not sure how well it’s held up. But I remember hurting from laughter when it was over. The Philadelphia Story with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn always makes me laugh, On the Town with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra is very funny and I think one of the top 2 of 3 musicals ever made. Chicago is another funny musical, but a bit darker.
A Fish Called Wanda holds up for us. It is a gleeful romp. It and Galaxy Quest are movies we rewatch every year or so.
Second vote for both Wanda and Galaxy Quest. And Baby Driver above! We just watched Cookie’s Fortune by Robert Altman and thoroughly enjoyed it. An oldie but a goodie with a stellar cast.
Ooops . . . Cookie isn’t a romance. As are many Altman films, it’s kind of about everybody. Lots of family dynamics.
Resurrecting this to see if anyone has updated movie recs. I’m running out of ideas when we have movie night at home.
We recently enjoyed Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. What have you been watching?
We just rewatched The Fabulous Baker Boys–I think there’s never been a sexier performance than Michelle Pfeiffer on that grand piano! If you’ve never seen Midnight Run, it’s a hoot. DeNiro and Grodin are masters of understated comedy. The Japanese anime Your Name is gorgeous and life-affirming. Have you ever seen Baby Driver? It’s excellent too.
Thanks for the rec for Set It Up. I finally watched it last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s one of the better rom coms I’ve watched in recent years. I also watched Netflix’s adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and enjoyed it as well (Glen Powell, the hero in Set It Up, also has a role in this).
I didn’t know that had been made into a movie. Thanks!
AARJenna, two people snowed in sounds especially good these days of unrelenting heat!
Some oldies but very romantic goodies (all available on DVD) are “Funny Girl” (if you like musicals), Hitchock’s ” North by Northwest” and “Notorious,” Bette Davis’s “Now, Voyager,” “,M y Big Fat Greek Wedding,” and Hugh Grant’s “Music and Lyrics.”.
I watched Funny Girl a few years ago and was shocked it was so racy. I hadn’t remembered that from my childhood.
Thank you so much for these recommendations – I’m always looking for great rom/com and coming of age movies, so I’m going to put these on my must-must watch immediately!
I can also recommend a really cute, quirky, odd couple movie that I just discovered. I may have been late to the game (this came out in 2014), but I just loved “Two Night Stand” with Miles Teller and the adorable Analeigh Tipton. It’s about this twenty-something girl who hits rock bottom and decides to have an on-line hookup which turns into something crazy when she and her one- night-stand get snowed in together. Loved it! https://youtu.be/I36I0ho3SME
I will check that out. Summer is the best time to watch rom-coms in my opinion!
I watched Set it Up last week and enjoyed it. I liked the humor and Lucy Lui, who played one of the bosses, was especially fun to watch. Sandylynn, I bought the book Crazy Rich Asians after watching the fun movie trailer. I set the book down after a few chapters but might have to give it another go.
I only recently heard about Set It Up and will look forward to seeing it. I don’t have Netflix streaming, so no immediate, original Netflix content for me. Have to wait till the DVD.
Two summer movies I’m interested in are both coming out in August.
The first is based on a book which I talked about on this site some time ago, Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians. The movie features an all asian cast, which is unusual for a big Hollywood film, and stars Constance Wu from the sitcom, Fresh Off the Boat. The book was a fun summer read (and has at least two sequels), so I’m hoping the movie is just as good.
The second is The Spy Who Dumped Me, which stars Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, and our favorite, dreamboat Scotsman, Sam “Jamie” Heughan. From the trailers, it looks like it’s going to be a hoot. (Hope they didn’t show us all the best parts.)
I saw the previews for The Spy Who Dumped Me. It was one of about five films that all featured pissed off women getting the best of men. #MeToo has clearly come to the movies. TSWDM looked like a lot of fun. I could watch Kate McKinnon all day long.
I really liked The Spy who Dumped Me. It was funny and refreshing, and Sam was delightful to look at. It was a nice way to waste a couple of hours!
I haven’t heard of two of them, but I’ve heard really good things about Set It Up from a few people now!
It was a pleasant surprise. The leads have such great chemistry and they don’t fall into any TSTL behaviour!