There are lots of choices for grownup moviegoers this season in both the blockbuster "tentpoles" like June's Man of Steel, designed to appeal to a mass market and make lots of money, and in the smaller "tadpoles," like Woody Allen's latest, Blue Jasmine, focused on a more targeted movie fan.
So don't surrender the theater to youngsters for the next three months. If you're selective about which blockbusters you choose and discerning about the small films, you may just have a lot of fun. Here, by release date, a look at those in both categories we think have special appeal to the 50-plus audience.
(When an AARP critic sees any of these releases we'll provide a link to the film's review.)
The 'Tentpoles' (aka: The Big Flicks and Blockbusters)
Now You See Me
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, Jesse Eisenberg
Opened: May 31 Read the review
Do you feel bad when you root for the "crooks" in caper movies? In this one Harrelson and a young crew play Vegas magicians who steal from big, bad banks and shower the proceeds on their audiences. In other words, this time it's hard to tell who the real crooks are. We also get incomparable actors Freeman and Caine in this how-did-they-do-it?
Stars: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, John Goodman
Opened: June 7 Read the review
Downsized by the economy, Vaughn and Wilson are two middle-age guys who have to reimagine themselves. It's an unfortunately resonant theme. But when these two turn up as interns at Google, and with the whole Wedding Crashers team back, the result should be both hilarious and poignant.
Man of Steel
Stars: Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne
Opened: June 14 Read the review
Those of us who remember 1950s Superman George Reeves in tights basically own this franchise. It's up to us to judge whether the next generation is doing Superman justice with this remake. It's a different telling of Clark Kent's story, that's for sure, but from what we've seen, we can say at least they've got the flying stuff right.
Starring: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Bonnie Hunt
Opened: June 21 Read the review
The smartest 'toons come from Disney/Pixar and with a great returning veteran voice cast this third film in the Monsters franchise is a slam-dunk favorite flick to catch with the kids in your life.
Stars: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy
Opened: June 28
Nothing makes us feel better about being in our 50s than knowing that, come next year, Sandra Bullock will be, too. She’s paired in this buddy cop movie with the funniest woman on screen today. (If you don’t believe us, check out McCarthy’s improvised riff during the closing credits of This is 40.)
The Lone Ranger
Stars: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer
Opened: July 3 Read the review
Like Superman, boomers own The Lone Ranger, and no one messes with him without our tacit approval. Frankly, the idea of freshly minted 50-year-old Johnny Depp playing Tonto is pretty irresistible, with apologies to Jay Silverheels, who played him in the long-running TV series.
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker
Opened: July 19
Here's a case of blind trust in a grownup star's choices: The concept of dead cops who staff a police force from the Hereafter (the Rest In Peace Department) sounds infinitely skippable, but the presence of Jeff Bridges has us giving this movie the benefit of the doubt. Don't let us down, dude.
Stars: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren
Opened: July 19 Read the review
The original Red two years ago sparked a Hollywood revolution: Studios discovered that an action flick featuring older stars could kick butt at the box office with both kids and grownups. Willis and his friends are back for another pull of the trigger. Go get 'em, guys.
Stars: Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman
Opens: August 16
Ford and Oldman last tangled onscreen in 1997 in Air Force One ("Get off of my plane!!!"). Now they play rivals in a tale of corporate corruption. It's directed by Robert Luketic, who made two of our favorite films you've never seen, 21 (with Kevin Spacey) and Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!
Next page: Small summer movies with big ideas. »
The 'Tadpoles' (aka: Little Movies With Big Ideas)
Stars: Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough, Gillian Anderson
Opened: May 31
A wonderful cast stars in a story about Belfast and the IRA in the 1990s. Director James Marsh is among our best documentary makers (Man on Wire, Project Nim), and he brings gritty authenticity to his fiction films, as well.
Stars: Terence Stamp
Opened: June 21 Read the review
We loved last year's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Quartet. This story — about a grumpy widower who, out of respect for his wife's memory, joins a community choir she loved — may be the next hit film in that grownup drama/comedy tradition.
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton
Opened: June 28
The cast in this fantasy-thriller about a coastal town with a dark secret is quite young, but director Neil Jordan brought us two all-time great grownup movies: Michael Collins and The Crying Game.
The Way, Way Back
Stars: Steve Carell, Toni Colette, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Allison Janney
Opened: July 5
It's a coming-of-age movie about a young man working at a local pool for the summer — but get a load of the grownups who surround him.
The Hot Flashes
Stars: Brooke Shields, Daryl Hannah, Virginia Madsen, Camryn Manheim, Wanda Sykes
Opened: July 12 Read the review
A terrific cast plays a group of long-ago Texas high school chums who challenge a team of arrogant high school girls to a series of games for charity. You just know these gals are gonna put those upstarts in their place, one way or another.
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K., Peter Sarsgaard, Andrew Dice Clay
Opens: July 26 Read the review
As usual, Woody Allen keeps the details about his latest film close. We do know this one is set in New York and San Francisco and that we can't wait to see what he'll do with some of the surprising actors — Andrew Dice Clay, Louis C.K. — he has working for him this time.
Stars: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, James Franco
Opens: August 16 Read the review
The tragic tale of ’70s porn actress and Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace should be riveting. Amanda Seyfried is Lovelace. Plus, Stone plays her mother and Franco plays Hugh Hefner — who wouldn’t pay to see that?
Stars: Keri Russell, Jennifer Coolidge
Opens: August 16
A modern-day woman (Russell) visits a Jane Austen theme park, where guests live like they're 18th-century landed gentry, with no regard for sense or sensibility. It's written and directed by Jerusha Hess, who gave us Napoleon Dynamite.
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