Netflix seems to be taking a new direction heading in to summer. The streaming giant was definitely feeling the heat after a disastrous first quarter, but things might be calming down with the arrival of Stranger Things and the finale of Ozark to help reassure stockholders. When looking into what the service is offering up for June, you’ll find a lot of stand-up comedy specials. Pretty much every big name in comedy has a curated Netflix Is A Joke episode which, on paper, seems like a good idea to kickstart those subscriptions. But let’s hope Netflix isn’t getting too far away from its bread and butter—which is movies. What films are dropping on Netflix in June? Glad you asked…
Spiderhead (available June 17)
In a not-so-distant-future, a prison offers inmates the chance to greatly reduce their sentence by volunteering to be guinea pigs in state-run experiments. Such is the basic plotline for the Netflix original feature Spiderhead. Chris Hemsworth leads the cast and he’s got glasses on, so you know he’s playing a smart guy. Human lab rats include Miles Teller and Jurnee Smollett, and the film is based on a short story by George Saunders, which points toward a smart tale. The trailer definitely looks intriguing, mixing genres like sci-fi, horror, and action. There’s also some hallucinatory elements in play, which all come together to feel like a movie that will have some twists and turns, even if the nearly 2½-minute trailer doesn’t tell viewers what to expect. The film is directed by Top Gun: Maverick reboot helmer Joseph Kosinski, who’s having quite a nice summer so far.
Hustle (available June 8)
When Adam Sandler signed a deal with Netflix in 2014, it was for six films—and, you know, some of them were pretty good (Team Sandy Wexler over here!). The Sandman then extended that deal to include four more films and even did an outstanding return to stand-up for the network. Now, hot on the heels of his Oscar snubbed performance in Uncut Gems, Sandler is again showing some range as beleaguered NBA basketball scout Stanley Beren, who discovers “The Next Big Thing” in the Netflix original Hustle. In all honesty, the film looks like a cookie-cutter story about a guy trying to stay relevant in a game he loves by hanging around the fringes and looking for a break. That being said, there’s a reason stories and films like that are constantly made, and it’s because they work when they’re done well. Who doesn’t love a rags to riches story with a little morality play thrown in for warm fuzzies? It also stars real life NBA player Juancho Hernangomez as the, ahem, uncut gem who, if Beren can polish him up, might get them both closer to their dream. Filling out the film’s roster is Queen Latifah, former NBA star and current TV analyst Kenny Smith, Ben Foster, and Robert Duvall.
The Amazing Spider-Man (available June 1)
The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield as your friendly neighborhood web slinger, really got the short end of the stick in between Tobey Maguire’s entries and the Tom Holland films. And, it’s really not the fault of Garfield or director Marc Webb: The issue was that no one wanted or needed to see another take on an already well-known and recently portrayed origin story, and certainly not so soon after the first batch of films. Another issue was the villain in the film was severely lacking, but given how admittedly tepid both films were, it was inevitable that they were going to get slammed. It’s nice to see Garfield’s Spidey get some love due to his (spoiler alert) multiverse appearance in 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home. Maybe that’s good reason to revisit the 2012 Amazing Spider-Man for a reassessment. In his review, The A.V. Club’s Keith Phipps gave the film a C rating, saying it “doesn’t put its own stamp on the material, which feels warmed-over in ways that don’t help.”
Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (available June 1)
Are you ready to stay classy this summer? If so, you’re in luck, because Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy checks in behind the desk on June 1. Will Ferrell’s amazing run of film comedies kind of started in 2004 with Anchorman. Sure, films like Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) Zoolander (2001), and Old School (2003) featured some pretty unforgettable Ferrell characters, but his first truly starring role was Elf (2003) followed soon thereafter by Anchorman. The point is, Will Ferrell is a comedy constant and a pretty reliable source of laughter and his oddball brand went front and center in the first Anchorman. Also, with the current state of heightened sensitivity in entertainment, making a film like Anchorman now would be a pretty tough sell. The satirical nods to aged-out masculinity, workplace harassment and barely functional alcoholism would feel even more cringeworthy in 2022 so, all the better to revisit this comedy classic. In a glowing review of the film Ana Smith of Time Out said it “takes a joke and runs with it—sometimes too far, but usually long enough to wear you down and force you to submit to its craziness.”
We Are Marshall (available June 1)
Fans of Matthew McConaughey have undoubtedly seen him on the sidelines at real-life football and basketball games at the University of Texas, Austin, where he is apparently deemed “Minister of Culture,” giving him free rein to lend his expertise in games. But before he became a “real” coach, McConaughey starred in We Are Marshall (2006) as a football coach who takes over following a tragic plane crash that killed 75 people, including coaches, players and fans of the Marshall University football team. Directed by McG, the film is based on real-life events from 1970, so there’s bound to be some great haircuts and clothing styles. In his review for The A.V. Club, Scott Tobias wasn’t having it, though, calling the film “the umpteenth underdog sports movie of the year” and later adding that he felt it was “uplifting, but shallow.”
Halftime (available June 14)
This year’s opening night film for the Tribeca Film Festival is the Jennifer Lopez documentary Halftime. Dropping on Netflix on June 14, the doc follows a spate of films that focus on musical artists like Taylor Swift (Miss America, 2020), Kanye West (Jeen-Yuhs, 2022) and Olivia Rodriguez (driving home 2u (a SOUR film), 2022) which all received solid reviews. Plus, anyone who’s paid even the slightest bit of attention over the last three decades realizes Lopez has had a pretty intriguing career. A dancer, choreographer, singer, actor, and pop icon, Lopez seems to always stay relevant without totally reinventing herself, which is impressive. The Halftime trailer shows a doc that leans heavily into the many things Lopez has had to overcome in her career—many of which seem to stem from being a woman of color, as well as the way she seems to constantly prove naysayers wrong. And yes, dear gossip stan, Ben Affleck appears in the doc.
Dumb And Dumber (available June 1)
The Farrelly Brothers owned comedy films in the ’90s and it all started with 1994’s Dumb And Dumber. That was followed by the supremely underrated Kingpin in 1996 and was capped off with There’s Something About Mary in 1998. All three of those films are gut busters, but Dumb and Dumber has become the most iconic over time. It’s hard to imagine how the Farrellys pitched such a truly idiotic movie, and the fact that it got made probably had a lot to do with getting Jim Carrey to costar. Thinking back the film, and the Farrellys, really came out of nowhere. And while the brothers shone bright in the ’90s, that flame slowly fizzled as their films got more and more “meh.” Speaking of “meh,” it’s always weird to remember Peter Farrelly directed the Best Picture Oscar winner of 2019, Green Book, for which he also won an Oscar for cowriting the screenplay. Although he only gave Dumb and Dumber two stars, Roger Ebert admitted, “The purpose of a comedy is to make you laugh, and there is a moment in Dumb and Dumber that made me laugh so loudly I embarrassed myself.”
Léon: The Professional (available June 1)
It’s fairly difficult for a foreign film—any kind of foreign film—to break through to American audiences. While their success doing so is improving, in 1994 it was a struggle. Yet Luc Besson’s immaculate Léon: The Professional managed to do pretty well buzz-wise at the box office before getting new life in home video. Léon is played by a stoic yet slightly scary Jean Reno as a loner hitman (aren’t they all?) who somehow catches the eye of his young neighbor Mathilda, played by Natalie Portman in her cinematic debut. When Mathilda’s family is murdered, Léon takes her under his wing and trains her to be an assassin. The film is truly excellent, with Gary Oldman in an off-the-rails performance. In his review for the Austin Chronicle, Marc Savlov said the film is “an altogether interesting take on an old story, one which Besson pulls off with his customary flair and panache.”
Titanic (available June 1)
Following the massive successes of action blockbusters like Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator, Terminator 2 and True Lies, moviegoers were skeptical at the time of an action-romance film where everyone knows what’s going to happen to the ship by the end. To say James Cameron proved the skeptics wrong with Titanic is an understatement, as the film became one of the biggest of all time, still boasts spectacular, nerve-rattling special effects and accelerated the already promising careers of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. In an article detailing the unprecedented (at the time) success of Titanic, The A.V. Club’s Tom Breihan called the film “the biggest cinematic cultural phenomenon that I have ever been alive to witness.”
The Pink Panther Strikes Again (available June 1)
We could all use some laughs these days and few people can assure serious yuks more than Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau in the classic The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Sellers was truly a comedic genius and this gift is on display through all of his Pink Panther films as directed by Blake Edwards. Well, except for The Trial of the Pink Panther back in 1982, in which an already deceased Sellers was edited into the film through various older film clips. But for the uninitiated, Peter Sellers plays Inspector Jacques Clouseau, a dimwit who is always on the trail of wrong-doing and generally wreaking havoc everywhere he goes. However, in The Pink Panther Strikes Again, there’s a slight twist in that Clouseau’s former boss, Chief Inspector Drefus (Herbert Lom) is finally getting out of a mental hospital, having been driven insane by Clouseau’s constant idiocy. Upon his release he brings together the world’s top assassins to take out Clouseau—and hilarity ensues. The film is funny, wildly inappropriate and also a major influence on countless bumbling comic characters to come. So much so that Steve Martin kept trying to reboot the series. For a great list of what order to watch the Pink Panther films in, check out Hrvoje Milakovic’s breakdown at Fiction Horizon.
The House Of D (available June 1)
Back in 2004, David Duchovny was still mostly a TV star. While it’s unclear if Duchovny wanted bigger roles, he definitely wanted to write and direct and he did so with the feature House Of D. Duchovny plays Tom, an expatriate artist in Paris. He has a good life with a wife and kids, but has always kept his past a secret from them. As the film unfolds, we flash back to 1973 where Tom is a kid (played by Anton Yelchin) and he has a peculiar upbringing with a smothering mother, an adult best friend with special needs, and a mentor from the local women’s prison. Oh, Robin Williams is said best friend and his mentor is played by Erykah Badu. In her 2005 review of the film, Tasha Robinson was extremely mixed on it, saying, “Given its artificial, unpromising beginning, it’s amazing how much goodwill David Duchovny’s feature writing and directing debut House Of D manages to earn over the course of its middle section. And it’s equally amazing how quickly it squanders that goodwill at the end.”
Saturday Night Fever (available June 1)
Saturday Night Fever has endured a lot over its four decade life. At first it was simply looked at as a movie that played up the pop culture zeitgeist moment of disco, which provides a major backbeat for the film. But even watching the iconic trailer, where we see John Travolta’s Tony Manero walking down the street in disco attire to the tune of “Stayin’ Alive” by The Bee Gees, we merely have to look at the whole shot and we see Manero carrying a paint can in his hand. He’s a working class, low-middle income wage dude struggling to either get more from his life or give in to the pressures of adulthood. This is the basic plot structure of most Bruce Springsteen songs, yet The Boss never had to overcome a damaging disco past. Saturday Night Fever was famously Gene Siskel’s favorite film and Roger Ebert talks about that in a great 1999 revisit of the film where he also talks about how our favorite films impact us just when we need impacting.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (available June 1)
The A.V. Club and Netflix invite you to come with us on a journey to a distant time (2007) where Johnny Depp was still putting in good performances and wasn’t terrorizing pop culture with a divorce trial. That good performance comes in Tim Burton’s shockingly gory Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, starring Depp as Benjamin Barker, a man falsely imprisoned and now set loose upon Victorian London and seeking revenge. He now goes under the name Sweeney Todd, and with the help of new friend and owner of a meat pie shop, Ms. Lovett (Helena Bonham-Carter), starts a barber business to lure in those who did him wrong. The film is truly great and surprisingly graphic, especially considering Burton’s tendency to merely nod towards gore and violence. Depp is fantastic for one of the last times, and Bonham-Carter shows off a dry, morbid humor that was only hinted at previously. Oh yeah, it’s also a Stephen Sondheim musical. The A.V. Club’s Keith Phipps gave the film an A, and said, “Burton brings his signature visual style, and a pair of stock players for his stars, into this film adaptation, but he wisely follows Sondheim’s lead, letting the music and spirit of the original piece show the way.”
Precious (available June 1)
It’s hard to really explain just how big of a splash Lee Daniels’ Precious made when it hit screens in 2008. Although audiences (much less storytellers) are finally more actively embracing people who aren’t straight, white, and American on screen, Precious was an extremely early adopter of casting a normal human, fantastic actress Gabourey Sidibe, in a starring role. Sidibe deservedly received rave reviews (and an Oscar nom) for her performance as the put upon Precious, living an awful life with her crazy mother Mary, played by Mo’Nique in an Oscar-winning performance for Best Supporting Actress that too few people seem to remember. Frankly, since there’s a lot of hindsight going on here, Precious is a really weird, kind of trashy and over the top film. But the performances remain incredible. While copping to the films issues, The A.V. Club’s Noel Murray gave the film a “B” and said “on its own melodramatic, tear-jerking terms, Precious works.”
Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans (available June 1)
The world is in a bit of a Nic Cage renaissance—a Cageaissance, if you will. While that’s great and much deserved for one of our finest actors, films like Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans were showcasing Cage’s balls-out abilities over a decade ago. If you’ve never watched it, it’s a must-see for numerous reasons. For one, it’s a sequel-but-not to Abel Ferrara’s gritty and problematic film The Bad Lieutenant from 1992 starring Harvey Keitel as a cop who’s clearly lost his mind amid a simmering urban cesspool of sex and violence. Yet Cage’s lieutenant here, Terence McDonagh, while also marinating in sex and violence, is also trying to keep it together. We should also note, it’s completely unclear if these two bad lieutenants are the same character or even related or if this is a reboot or an attempt at an IP. It’s a little confusing. Also worth noting, Werner Herzog directs Cage here with a killer cast that includes Eva Mendez, Val Kilmer, Brad Dourif, Jennifer Coolidge, and Fairuza Balk. It’s just a good, weird time for all. The A.V. Club’s Scott Tobias gave the film a B+, adding “It’s not always easy to sort out the legitimately inspired touches from the merely campy ones, but the film has a deranged, go-for-broke spirit that makes such distinctions irrelevant.”