Writer Joseph J. Airdo // Photo Courtesy of Pixar
It is one of the busiest weekends of the summer on screens as theaters and streaming services introduce six new films and two new series, including everything from an animated adventure featuring one of cinema’s most iconic characters to a remake in which Andy Garcia occupies a role previously played by Spencer Tracy and Steve Martin.
One of the toys in Pixar’s iconic animated film franchise “Toy Story” gets his own feature, albeit with a bit of a twist in “Lightyear.” The sci-fi action-adventure tells the definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear — who, this time, is voiced by Chris Pine. When the legendary Space Ranger is marooned on a hostile planet 4.2 million light-years from Earth, he must try to find a way back home through space and time. Complicating matters and threatening the mission is the arrival of Zurg — an imposing presence with an army of ruthless robots and a mysterious agenda — in the animated adventure, which is playing exclusively in theaters.
Meanwhile, Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Sydney Park play high school seniors — Jim and Ann — experiencing the highs and lows of teenage romance as they navigate their pending departure to college in “First Love.” The romantic drama also features a subplot in which Jim’s parents — played by Diane Kruger and Jeffrey Donovan — deal with the familial fallout of a financial crisis. The film is playing in theaters and available on-demand.
“Father of the Bride” — a remake of the 1950 and 1991 comedy features by the same title — stars Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan as Billy and Ingrid, parents who are surprised when their eldest daughter announces a new fiancé and plans for a quick wedding. Billy’s initial opposition to the wedding cools, so long as his opinions carry the most weight. When Billy’s future son-in-law’s headstrong father arrives with his own traditions, the fathers vie to control the festivities, which suddenly devolve into a game of one-upmanship in the comedy, which is streaming exclusively on HBO Max.
In “Spiderhead,” Chris Hemsworth plays a brilliant visionary who runs a state-of-the-art penitentiary in which inmates wear a surgically attached device that administers dosages of mind-altering drugs in exchange for commuted sentences. When two subjects — played by Miles Teller and Jurnee Smollett — form a connection, their path to redemption takes a twistier turn, as the experiments start to push the limits of free will in the dramatic thriller, which is streaming exclusively on Netflix.
Cooper Raiff plays a new college graduate who, stuck back at home with his family in New Jersey, lands a job of motivational dancing at the bar and bat mitzvahs for his younger brother’s classmates in “Cha Cha Real Smooth.” When he befriends a local mom — played by Dakota Johnson — and her daughter, he finally discovers the future he wants, even if it might not be his own. Raiff also wrote and directed the romantic dramedy, which is streaming exclusively on Apple TV.
In “Jerry and Marge Go Large,” Bryan Cranston plays a retiree who discovers a mathematical loophole in the Massachusetts lottery. The loophole allows him and his wife — played by Annette Bening — to win millions, after which they use the money to revive their small Michigan town. The comedy, which is inspired by a true story, is streaming exclusively on Paramount+.
In “God’s Favorite Idiot,” Ben Falcone plays a mid-level tech support employee who finds love with his co-worker — played by Melissa McCarthy — at exactly the same time he becomes the unwitting messenger of God. The comedy series, which features a subplot of an impending apocalypse, is streaming exclusively on Netflix.
Finally, “The Summer I Turned Pretty” stars Lola Tung as a young woman named Belly who, upon turning 16 years old, experiences her first love as well as her first heartbreak during a summer that she will never forget. The teen drama series, which is based on a bestselling book by the same title, is streaming exclusively on Amazon.
Whether you choose to embark on an adventure light-years from Earth, vicariously experience first love through the eyes of a teenager, witness a clash of marital traditions or get a creepy sneak peek into a possible penitentiary of the future, this weekend’s entertainment offerings have got you more than covered.