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New in Theaters Aug. 03: Darkest Minds, Spy Who Dumped Me, Christopher Robin, Death of a Nation

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By Chris Kavan - 08/02/18 at 06:46 AM CT

It's going to be a very busy weekend with four films premiering and one going wide after a successful limited release. And there's plenty for everyone to enjoy from comedies, to tween action, family fun, drama and even a documentary. But I have a sneaking suspicion that quantity is not going to triumph over quality and the box office isn't going to be too shaken up by all these newcomers. So Tom Cruise, the ball is in your park now.

THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon team up for an action/comedy that actually looks like a lot of fun. It turns out that Audrey's (Kunis) former boyfriend, Sebastian (Sam Heughan) is a dangerous spy and she and her best friend Morgan (McKinnon) soon find themselves caught up in huge, international conspiracy. The film also stars Justin Theroux, Gillian Anderson, Hasan Minhaj, Ivanna Sakhno, Paul Reiser and Jane Curtin. Based on the trailers I've seen, it looks like Kunis and McKinnion have some good chemistry and neither are strangers to comedy. While I'm sure the film is going to draw a mostly female audience, that may not be such a bad thing as it looks better than Mamma Mia! and guys should have a better time if they go along. It remains to be seen how these fake spies stack up against a real one, but Mission:Impossible should remain on top.

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN Disney's success doesn't just end with Marvel and Star Wars, they also have a huge catalog of beloved animated films and they have be re-imagining them as live-action films for a few years, to great success. And while it's easy to say Disney is just going for an easy cash-grab, the truth is most of these live action films are really good - from Maleficent to The Jungle Book - it's been a fun ride. Christopher Robin, much like the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns, imagines a future for our characters, in this case Christopher Robin himself, played as an adult by the versatile Ewan McGregor. Robin is now a husband to Evelyn Robin (Hayley Atwell) with a daughter, Madeline Robin (Bronte Carmichael) as well as a soul-crushing job (well, maybe that's harsh - but he's fully a working-class man). In any case, he has fallen into the typical pattern of adulthood, leaving little time for anything fun. But an old friend is about to change all that. That's right, Pooh (voiced once again by Jim Cummings) is back, and he's looking for all his old friends in the 100 Acre Wood. This included Eeyore (Brad Garrett), Tigger (also voiced by Cummings), Rabbit (Peter Capaldi), Piglet (Nick Mohammed), Owl (Toby Jones), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo) and Roo (Sara Sheen). It looks like a lot of family fun, though I don't know how it will hold up against the competition. If the past is any indication, however, it should turn out just fine.

THE DARKEST MINDS While the overall craze about finding the next, big tween franchise is dying down (you can't just luck into Harry Potter or Hunger Games no matter how hard you try), studios haven't given up on it just yet. It's tough to get right with a lot more films winding up like The 5th Wave or The Host or, at best, you get Divergent or Maze Runner. Darkest Minds takes place in a world where the vast majority of children under the age of 18 have died. Those that are left find themselves with various powers - telepathy, telekinesis, pyrokinesis, super intelligence - and the adult world deals with this like everything that scares them - by locking them up in camps and studying them and probably killing a lot of them. Ruby (Amandla Stenberg) hides her real ability - a rare and powerful gift to control fire, and passes herself off as one of the super-smart kids instead. But she finds herself as part of a resistance movement when her camp is liberated. She finds herself growing close to Liam (Harris Dickinson) and other new friends even as they are hunted. Mandy Moore, Gwendoline Christie, Bradley Whitford, Miya Cech, Skylan Brooks and Mark O'Brien help round out the cast. This is the kind of movie I will stream, but nothing more. It's tough to say whether the younger crowd is going to embrace this, but at least it's coming out before school begins (for most anyway) so it has that going for it. I suspect it's going to wind up in the low teens at best.

EIGHT GRADE Bo Burnham may be best known as a comedian, but apparently he has surprising insight into what it's like to be an awkward teenage girl. Kayla (Elsie Fisher) is a typical modern-day teen with typical modern-day teen problems. And she is having the worst experience in eight grade - on the cusp of high school - and we get to follow her through every embarrassing and uplifting moment. The film has been a hit in limited release, already accumulating over $3 million before it goes wide this weekend. Also, while the film does seem to capture the spirit of what it means to be a teen, it doesn't make things too dark (what with cyberbullying and the like) while still earning its R rating. It's tough to say whether this is going to draw a big crowd, but a film like this doesn't need to make a lot of money to be successful and I think Burnham can already say his first feature film is a win.

DEATH OF A NATION I was really hoping this film would remain under the wide release number, but, alas, 1000 theaters is enough that I am forced to take about this. I am not a fan of Dinesh D'Souza, whose "documentaries" to me are thinly-veiled propaganda at best, outright lies at worst. Death of a Nation continues in the proud footsteps of Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party and 2016: Obama's America, in that it a dream for ultra-conservative America and a laughable trainwreck for anyone else. With so meany great documentaries in theaters recently (RBG, Won't You Be My Neighbor?) it pains me to think this is going to be thrown in the running for top documentary of the year. Hopefully it fails miserably I will never have to mention it again.

There's going to be plenty to choose from this weekend, but I have a funny feeling that Mission:Impossible it going to wind up on top once again. I'll be back on Sunday with the full rundown.


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