Summer blockbuster season is officially here, which means audiences can expect a slew of exciting new films to choose from in the coming months. This week is no exception, with several notable movies — from a compelling new true crime documentary to a comedy from the hilarious The Lonely Island — set to hit the big screen. Can’t decide which option to buy tickets for first? Here are our staff’s picks for the three best movies in theaters now.
1. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Everything you’ve come to expect from The Lonely Island — made up by Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone — comes to life in this musical mockumentary that pokes fun at modern pop stardom. The comedy goes behind the scenes as singer/rapper Conner4Real (Samberg) faces a crisis of popularity after his sophomore album flops, leaving his fans, sycophants, and rivals all wondering what to do when he’s no longer the dopest star of all. Produced by Judd Apatow and co-directed by Shaffer and Taccone, the movie co-stars Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph, and many of the biggest names in comedy and music in cameo performances.
The satirical flick has earned largely positive reviews, currently holding an 80% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. Though critics acknowledge that the movie often feels like a series of Lonely Island’s famous digital shorts (instead of one cohesive movie), most agree it still works as a good-humored, but effective “takedown of modern pop music, social media and celebrity crash-and-burns.” This isn’t your average shiny, high-budget summer blockbuster, but it’ll appeal to anyone looking for a solid laugh.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael are back in this sequel, this time taking on ever bigger, badder villains alongside April O’Neil (Megan Fox), Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett), and a newcomer: the hockey-masked vigilante Casey Jones (Stephen Amell). After supervillain Shredder (Brian Tee) escapes custody, he joins forces with mad scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) and two dimwitted henchmen, Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams), and Rocksteady (Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly), to unleash a diabolical plan to take over the world. As the Turtles prepare to take on Shredder and his new crew, they find themselves facing an even greater evil with similar intentions: the notorious Krang.
The Dave Green-directed movie has earned mostly negative reviews, scoring a low 32% on Rotten Tomatoes. Though the critical consensus acknowledges that the sequel is a slight improvement over its predecessor, most still label it a “noisy” and “lowbrow” affair that doesn’t stray far from the blockbuster formula. Regardless, Out of the Shadows will likely satisfy younger kids and some nostalgic adults.
3. The Witness
The true crime documentary follows the efforts of Bill Genovese as he looks to uncover the truth behind the murder of his sister, Kitty Genovese. Kitty was repeatedly attacked on a street in Kew Gardens, Queens on March 13, 1964. Soon after, The New York Times published a front-page story asserting that 38 witnesses watched her being murdered from their apartment windows — and did nothing to help. Her death quickly became a symbol of urban apathy. The Witness follows as Bill makes startling discoveries about the crime that transformed his life and condemned a city.
The documentary has earned largely positive reviews, with an 87% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics have praised the compelling film for shedding new light on Kitty’s life and providing an emotional, impactful portrait of her brother.