Hollywood's Best Hopes To Keep Moviegoers Engaged After 'Endgame' Hollywood's summer blockbuster season got a $2 billion head start this year from Avengers: Endgame. Now, with summer actually getting under way, how will Tinseltown keep the momentum going?
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Hollywood's Best Hopes To Keep Moviegoers Engaged After 'Endgame'

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Hollywood's Best Hopes To Keep Moviegoers Engaged After 'Endgame'

Hollywood's Best Hopes To Keep Moviegoers Engaged After 'Endgame'

Hollywood's Best Hopes To Keep Moviegoers Engaged After 'Endgame'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/727358733/727358734" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Hollywood's summer blockbuster season got a $2 billion head start this year from Avengers: Endgame. Now, with summer actually getting under way, how will Tinseltown keep the momentum going?

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

"Avengers: Endgame" has given Hollywood's summer movie season a very healthy head start, but maybe you're looking for something different. Or maybe you just can't get enough of superheroes and their super-issues. Our critic Bob Mondello has this summer preview.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: What's it been, six weeks since "Endgame"? And already there's another Marvel movie. But in fairness, its teen superhero is angling for a vacation far from home...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME")

HEMKY MADERA: (As Mr. Delmar) Planning a trip?

TOM HOLLAND: (As Peter Parker) Going to Europe.

MONDELLO: ...Until...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME")

JON FAVREAU: (As Happy Hogan) Heads up - Nick Fury is calling you.

HOLLAND: (As Peter Parker) I don't really want to talk to Nick Fury.

FAVREAU: (As Happy Hogan) Answer the phone.

HOLLAND: (As Peter Parker) Why?

FAVREAU: (As Happy Hogan) Because if you don't talk to him, then I have to talk. I don't want to talk to him. You sent Nick Fury to voicemail.

HOLLAND: (As Peter Parker) I got to go.

FAVREAU: (As Happy Hogan) You do not ghost Nick Fury.

SAMUEL L JACKSON: (As Nick Fury) You're a very difficult person to contact, Spider-Man.

MONDELLO: "Far From Home" turns out to be not far enough when you have responsibilities. Marvel will also be unleashing a lot of X-Men to try to help a newbie X-person keep her emotions in check in "Dark Phoenix."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DARK PHOENIX")

SOPHIE TURNER: (As Jean Grey) I'm scared. When I lose control, bad things happen to people I love.

MONDELLO: Actually it's not just people she loves. In "Dark Phoenix," the whole world is at risk, which will also be true in "The Dead Don't Die," an uncommonly corpse-filled movie from hip indie director Jim Jarmusch.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE DEAD DON'T DIE")

BILL MURRAY: (As Cliff Robertson) So what are you thinking?

ADAM DRIVER: (As Ronnie Peterson) I'm thinking zombies.

MURRAY: (As Cliff Robertson) What?

DRIVER: (As Ronnie Peterson) You know, the undead.

MONDELLO: That's Adam Driver talking to Bill Murray. Elsewhere in the world-in-peril division, there will be an old franchise with a new cast...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL")

CHRIS HEMSWORTH: (As Agent H) We are the men in black...

MONDELLO: ...And a new twist on its usual formula.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL")

HEMSWORTH: (As Agent H) The men and women in black.

KUMAIL NANJIANI: (As Pawny) Yeah, perfectly done.

MONDELLO: They'll be battling otherworldly critters in "Men In Black: International," whereas a lethal virus is the threat in a simple tale of a career law man and a loose cannon who work beautifully together...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW")

DWAYNE JOHNSON: (As Luke Hobbs) Pick a door.

JASON STATHAM: (As Deckard Shaw) One right there.

JOHNSON: (As Luke Hobbs) No. That's my door. Pick another door.

STATHAM: (As Deckard Shaw) What is wrong with you?

MONDELLO: ..."Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW")

STATHAM: (As Deckard Shaw) You know what? You were right. This is your door.

JOHNSON: (As Luke Hobbs) What's the matter? You got a lot of bad guys behind that door?

MONDELLO: Yeah, that's pretty much it. And with a little less at stake, another action franchise comes knocking.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SHAFT")

JESSIE T USHER: (As John Shaft Jr.) Hi. I'm just - I'm looking for...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Shaft.

JACKSON: (As John Shaft II) Who's asking?

USHER: (As John Shaft Jr.) John Shaft Jr., your son.

JACKSON: (As John Shaft II) My son - Junior?

MONDELLO: The "Shaft" reboot is a full-fledged family affair with the original, Richard Roundtree, on hand as grandpa. For a look back at the era of the original "Shaft," there's Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" in which Leonardo DiCaprio plays a TV star...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ONCE UPON A TIME ... IN HOLLYWOOD")

LEONARDO DICAPRIO: (As Rick Dalton) Actors are required to do a lot of dangerous stuff.

MONDELLO: ...And Brad Pitt is his significantly less famous double.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ONCE UPON A TIME ... IN HOLLYWOOD")

DICAPRIO: (As Rick Dalton) Cliff here is meant to help carry the load.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Is that how you describe your job, Cliff?

BRAD PITT: (As Cliff Booth) What, carrying his load? Yeah, that's about right.

MONDELLO: A comedy about TV of a more recent vintage called "Late Night" stars Emma Thompson as a popular-but-fading TV host...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LATE NIGHT")

EMMA THOMPSON: (As Katherine Newbury) That's our show, everyone.

MONDELLO: ...Who discovers she's got a problem.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LATE NIGHT")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Do you think women are funny?

THOMPSON: (As Katherine Newbury) Funny is funny.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) As long as you're white, male and from an elite college like your writing staff.

THOMPSON: (As Katherine Newbury) We need to hire a woman.

DENIS O'HARE: (As Brad) Would a gay guy work?

THOMPSON: (As Katherine Newbury) No.

MONDELLO: Who they hire is Mindy Kaling, who just happens to have written this movie's script.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LATE NIGHT")

THOMPSON: (As Katherine Newbury) I need you to help me change this show.

MINDY KALING: (As Molly Patel) No more tantrums and no withering looks like that one.

THOMPSON: (As Katherine Newbury) That's my face.

MONDELLO: "Late Night" leads a parade of films that center on women this summer, including "Where'd You Go, Bernadette" based on the bestselling novel of that title and starring Cate Blanchett.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE")

CATE BLANCHETT: (As Bernadette Fox) I have this one shot to launch my second act, so step aside 'cause I am about to kick the hell out of life.

MONDELLO: Awkwafina plays a woman in the drama "The Farewell" whose family is keeping a secret.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE FAREWELL")

AWKWAFINA: (As Billi) What's wrong, Dad?

DIANA LIN: (As Jian) Your nan is dying.

TZI MA: (As Haiyan) She doesn't know, so you can't say anything. The family thinks it's better not to tell her.

AWKWAFINA: (As Billi) Why is that better?

MONDELLO: There's also a feminist take on "Hamlet" called "Ophelia" and told from her point of view.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "OPHELIA")

DAISY RIDLEY: (As Ophelia) Hamlet, we can escape now. Come.

CLIVE OWEN: (As Claudius) I think Ophelia is dangerous.

MONDELLO: Elsewhere a woman journeys from Scotland to Nashville to become a country singer in "Wild Rose." "The Kitchen" features Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish as mob wives who take over when their gangster husbands go to prison. An all-female nautical team circles the globe in the documentary "Maiden," and the author Toni Morrison waxes irreverent in another documentary, "The Pieces I Am."

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM")

TONI MORRISON: A friend of mine called me up early in the morning and said, Toni, you won the Nobel Prize. And I remember holding phone thinking she must be drunk.

MONDELLO: While we're talking documentaries, let's mention a couple about musicians, another theme of the summer. There's "David Crosby: Remember My Name" about the 77-year-old rock star's often-challenging journey through life and Ron Howard's affectionate operatic portrait "Pavarotti."

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "PAVAROTTI")

LUCIANO PAVAROTTI: I learned to love people.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: You're a trusting person.

PAVAROTTI: Are you joking? I will not exist if I don't trust people.

MONDELLO: There's also a musical biopic that got a four-minute standing ovation last week at the Cannes Film Fest.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ROCKETMAN")

TARON EGERTON: (As Elton John) So how does a fat boy from nowhere get to be a soul man?

MONDELLO: It's called "Rocketman."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ROCKETMAN")

EGERTON: (As Elton John) I'm thinking of changing my name to Elton.

EVAN WALSH: (As Elton Dean) That's my name.

EGERTON: (As Elton John) Yeah, I know.

MONDELLO: Taron Egerton did his own singing as Elton John, and the director is the guy who got called in at the last minute to rescue "Bohemian Rhapsody," a film to which "Rocketman" would very much like to be compared. Two other films take a sideways look at famous musicians. "Blinded By The Light" is the true story of a kid who grew up in Maggie Thatcher's England obsessing over a singer who was not popular with his friends or with his Muslim Pakistani family.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BLINDED BY THE LIGHT")

VIVEIK KALRA: (As Javed) Who's that?

AARON PHAGURA: (As Roops) The boss.

KALRA: (As Javed) Whose boss?

PHAGURA: (As Roops) Springsteen - he's more what your dad listens to.

KALRA: (As Javed) Not my dad.

MONDELLO: And the most eccentric musician movie this summer is "Yesterday" about a band that suddenly disappears from the memory of everyone in the world except one guy who's been doing cover versions of their songs for years.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "YESTERDAY")

HIMESH PATEL: (As Jack Malik, singing) Yesterday...

LILY JAMES: (As Ellie Appleton) When did you write that?

PATEL: (As Jack Malik) I didn't write it. Paul McCartney wrote it - the Beatles.

JAMES: (As Ellie Appleton) Who?

MONDELLO: No one except Jack has ever heard of the Fab Four.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "YESTERDAY")

PATEL: (As Jack Malik) John, Paul, George and Ringo, the Beatles.

MONDELLO: Not a glimmer.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "YESTERDAY")

PATEL: (As Jack Malik) Do you genuinely not know who the Beatles are?

JAMES: (As Ellie Appleton) Genuinely.

PATEL: (As Jack Malik) Then I'm in a really, really, really complicated situation.

MONDELLO: Also a situation where he could get really, really, really rich releasing their songs. Other comedies include the social satire "The Last Black Man In San Francisco" about gentrification and reclaiming your heritage; a wonderfully shaggy, entirely improvised goof involving civil war memorabilia called "Sword Of Trust" and "Stuber" about an extremely mild-mannered guy named Stu who drives for Uber. He's played by Kumail Nanjiani. And one night...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STUBER")

DAVE BAUTISTA: (As Vic) Compton.

MONDELLO: ...He picks up Dave Bautista.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STUBER")

BAUTISTA: (As Vic) I'm LAPD. Let's go.

NANJIANI: (As Stu) Well, do you have a more specific address?

BAUTISTA: (As Vic) Compton.

NANJIANI: (As Stu) Stop yelling neighborhoods. That's not how Uber works.

MONDELLO: Also mild-mannered - Jesse Eisenberg determined to become bolder in "The Art Of Self-Defense" by enrolling in a very weird karate class.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE")

ALESSANDRO NIVOLA: (As Sensei) Today's lesson - to kick with your fists and punch with your feet.

JESSE EISENBERG: (As Casey) That makes perfect sense.

MONDELLO: The opposite of mild-mannered are the kids in "Good Boys," an R-rated comedy that's sort of an elementary school "Superbad."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GOOD BOYS")

BRADY NOON: (As Thor) Two weeks into sixth grade, and I'm already a social piranha.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, chanting) Sippy cup, sippy cup.

NOON: (As Thor) Does this look like a sippy cup? No, it's a [expletive] juice box 'cause I'm not a [expletive] child.

MONDELLO: "Good Boys" is clearly not suitable for children. But there are plenty of films that are, many of them with Roman numerals after their titles - "Angry Birds 2" (ph), "Secret Life Of Pets 2," "Toy Story 4"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TOY STORY 4")

TOM HANKS: (As Woody) Bonnie made a friend in class.

(CROSSTALK)

BONNIE HUNT: (As Dolly) Oh, she's already making friends.

HANKS: (As Woody) No, no, she literally made a new friend. I want you to meet Forky.

TONY HALE: (As Forky) Hi.

TIMOTHY DALTON: (As Mr. Pricklepants) He's a spork.

MONDELLO: ...And the digital live-action remake that's been wetting appetites since the vocal cast was first announced.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE LION KING")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Nants ingonyama...

MONDELLO: ..."The Lion King" with Donald Glover as Simba, Beyonce as Nala and, as Mufasa, bringing us full circle in the circle of life, the familiar rumble of James Earl Jones.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE LION KING")

JAMES EARL JONES: (As Mufasa) Remember.

MONDELLO: A summer where everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. I'm Bob Mondello.

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