CJ’s Take on Upcoming Releases

A year with Barbie, Super Mario Bros, coked-up bears, and atomic bombs.

January isn’t much of a year for movies, although as the film critic, I must do my patriotic duty. But the rest of 2023 is sure to have some ambition. I’m not going to talk about any sequels or remakes or reboots or DC or MCU-related material, because those things are divided among us fans and critics, and I refuses to get into the center of them until I see them. But I can talk about some of the original films, or at least we think they’re original or maybe they are. Don’t know. Didn’t see them yet.

“You People” (Streaming on Netflix Jan. 27)

We have another “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” movie with Jonah Hill as the would-be son-in-law of Eddie Murphy. Hill wrote it along with director Kenya Barris (“black-ish,” “Barbershop: The Next Cut”), and the supporting cast also features Lauren London, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David Duchovny, and Nia Long. The teaser trailer( with “What’s the Difference” playing) makes this look promising and funny, especially when Murphy is trying to be the serious one.

“Knock at the Cabin” (Opens Feb. 3)

M. Night Shyamalan’s latest thriller has Dave Bautista leading a group of people who invade a cabin to give Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge and their adoptive daughter a choice: either one of them dies or humanity dies. I just wonder which of my guesses will the filmmaker twist for us. Does it make a difference of one of the three dies or will humanity still perish. Either way, I’m scared AF.

“Cocaine Bear” (Opens Feb. 24)

Elizabeth Bank’s latest directing job features a bear who eats so much cocaine that it goes on a violent rampage. It’s actually based on true events. This has to be wildly original, because how often so we get to see animals on this powder. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller also produce it, and its cast includes Keri Russel, O’Shea Jackson, Jr., and the late great Ray Liotta. Do not OD on us Banks.

“Champions” (Opens March 24)

I’m a bit concerned about this one, because of how it wants to use some disability slurs (if you watch my drift), especially since I’m autistic. Maybe it’ll be offensive or maybe it will be funny. After all, it is the solo debut of Bobby Farrelly (one of the Farrelly brothers), and he does reunite with his “Kingpin” star Woody Harrelson as a struggling coach who has to train some special kids for basketball training.

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” (Opens April 7)

So far, we’re not looking forward to Chris Pratt’s voice of Mario in Illumination’s latest animate feature, but we are looking forward to its video game world and its supporting voice actors like Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach and Jack Black as Bowser. Will it surprise us or disappoint us? Let’s wait and see.

“Elemental” (Opens June 16)

We’ve seen Mila Jovovich and Elsa respectively as the “Fifth Elements,” but never have we seen Earth, Air, Fire, and Water in the form of people. And we don’t often see fire people or water people sparking a romantic chemistry. That’s the set-up for Disney-Pixar’s latest film.

“Asteroid City” (Opens June 16)

Wes Anderson’s latest star-studded entry features some newcomers like Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, and even Steve Carell (replacing the COVID-19 stricken Bill Murray). All I know is it’s set in a fictional American town in 1955, and features students and parents. I can’t wait to see how the trailer plays out.

“Oppenheimer” (Opens July 21)

Christopher Nolan’s next opus (I hope it’s an opus) shows us how J. Robert Oppenheimer’s contributions lead to creation of the atomic bomb. Cillian Murphy portrays him, while the supporting cast also includes Emily Blunt, Robert Downey, Jr., Matt Damon, Rami Malek, Florence Pugh, and Kenneth Branagh. The posters and trailers are given timers, so we better hope we survive this one. Duck and Cover!

“Barbie” (Opens July 21)

Greta Gerwig’s next movie features Margot Robbie as the human doll Barbie, Ryan Gosling (going back to dolls for the first time since “Lars and the Real Girl”) as her dream guy Ken, and Will Ferrell as the CEO of Mattel. Kind of makes sense, since this actor is a dick in real life. But, given her last two films “Ladybird” and “Little Women,” I trust Gerwig’s filmmaking abilities, and I think this might be delightful.

“Maestro” (Date TBA)

Bradley Cooper’s directorial follow-up to “A Star is Born” features him as the famous composer Leonard Bernstein, and so far, the publicity photos make him look unrecognizable. It has to be a love letter to his life and music, especially if it wants to show us his marriage to the actress Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan). Play the music!

The rest of the films we’ll have to wait and see how they play out. Bring it on, 2023!

Categories: List

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