Summer Blockbusted 2020: Now Playing…June 19 (FILM FUN/VIDEO)

There’s a whole lotta Disney in mid-June of Summer Movie Season.

Welcome to Week 8 of Summer Blockbusted 2020.

Through the end of August, I am curating a weekly slate of movies from summers past, ranging from big blockbusters to small counter-programming indies, and dramas and comedies in-between. With most multiplexes still closed, these are classics you can enjoy again or discover for the very first time in the safety of your home theater.

Every single Friday. All summer long.

(To read more about how each week’s slate is determined, click here.)

This week: films that were released during mid-June through its third weekend. My REC OF THE WEEK is a double-feature that includes the 30th Anniversary of visionary work from a legendary Hollywood icon that won multiple Academy Awards…but didn’t fare so well at the box office.

When possible, I’ve included archived video reviews from Siskel & Ebert, whether I agree with them or not.

Also included when possible: links to streaming services where these movies can be seen. (If a link isn’t provided, you can rent the film on most VOD platforms.)

(Find links to other weeks from Summer Blockbusted 2020 at the end of this article.)


  • REC OF THE WEEK: Disney “1930s Comics” Double-Feature: Dick Tracy / The Rocketeer
    • Dick Tracy (June 15, 1990) 107 min; Rated PG (30th Anniversary)
      Streaming on HBO Max
    • The Rocketeer (June 21, 1991) 108 min Rated PG
      Streaming on Disney+
    • For 30 years, Dick Tracy has been one of those “personal favorites” that no one else seems to share. Though taking several creative cues from Tim Burton’s Batman the year before (including the music, from Danny Elfman‘s score that went from Gothic to Gershwin, or Madonna doing a concept album just as Prince did), Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy (he directed and starred) not only remains a singular vision but, for my money, even better than Burton’s. With its bold primary colors, panel-style photography framing, stylized cityscape and cartoonish-makeup, Dick Tracy is as much a “comic strip come to life” as any movie ever made.
      The ensemble is amazing (Al Pacino especially, who was Oscar-nominated), and even the over-sexualized Madonna (several of her scenes get too racy for a PG rated movie) ends up bringing effective layers to a well-conceived femme fatale arc. The only weak link, oddly enough, is Beatty as Tracy. Serviceable but not phenomenal, his flat (and at times forced) charisma can’t quite match the perfection of everything and everyone else around him.
      Dick Tracy would go on to win 3 Academy Awards (including for one of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway-level songs), second only to Dances With Wolves that year. It was also second in most nominations with 7 total, despite being denied a Best Picture nod. Or to put it another way, Beatty’s movie was the most awarded gangster picture of 1990, a year that included Goodfellas and The Godfather Part III. It deserved every one, too.
      As far as The Rocketeer goes (also released by Disney, almost exactly one year after Tracy), it’s the best over-the-top 1930s Raiders wannabe you could hope for. In some respects it feels like leftovers from other franchises (even one of the big bad goons looks like something from Dick Tracy’s scraps), but wow what a fun time this family-friendly serialized adventure is.
      I think the main reason it didn’t, er, take off with audiences is due to its one glaring problem: not nearly enough Rocketeering. The first instance of it doesn’t occur until about 40 minutes in, and then after that the few other instances don’t maximize the concept nearly enough. Even so, as a piece of comic pulp period style, The Rocketeer is an absolute blast – and a very polished one at that.
    • Dick Tracy (Final numbers: $103.7 million domestic; $162.7 million worldwide.)
    • The Rocketeer (Final numbers: $46.7 million domestic and worldwide.)
  • Jaws (June 20, 1975) 124 min Rated PG (45th Anniversary) Streaming on HBO Max
    • Jaws is why we have a Summer Movie season. The first film to ever receive an instantaneous nationwide release on more than 1000 screens (backed by a major marketing push), Steven Spielberg’s Jaws went on to become the first movie to earn over $100 million in its initial theatrical run. The movie industry would never be the same. Bonus: the actual movie was great, too, and nothing short of a genre masterpiece. You can read my full review of it here. (Final numbers: $260 million domestic; $470.7 million worldwide.)
  • Batman Triple-Feature: Batman / Batman Returns / Batman Begins
    • Batman (June 23, 1989) 115 min; Rated PG*13
      Streaming on HBO Max
    • Batman Returns (June 19, 1992) 126 min; Rated PG-13
      Streaming on HBO Max
    • Batman Begins (June 15, 2005) 140 min; Rated PG-13 (15th Anniversary)
    • DC’s most iconic superhero got a couple of major makeovers in mid-June. First was Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989, perhaps the biggest industry gamechanger since Jaws, followed three years later by the less successful Batman Returns. One villain was so grotesque and perverse (Danny DeVito’s Penguin) that the strengths of Michelle’s Pfieffer’s Catwoman (the best Bat-baddie this side of Heath Ledger’s Joker) couldn’t overcome them.
      Still, Burton’s gothic vision was revolutionary, even with its off-putting excesses the second time around (which led to the gaudy Joel Schumacher sequels), but and pairing both with Christopher Nolan’s 2005 Batman Begins reboot – which kept the darkness but traded gothic for crime drama realism – makes for a fascinating compare-and-contrast viewing experience between two singular visionaries.
    • Batman (Final numbers: $251.2 million domestic; $411.3 million worldwide.)
    • Batman Returns (Final numbers: $162.8 million domestic; $266.8 million worldwide.)
    • Batman Begins (Final numbers: $206.8 million domestic; $360.6 million worldwide.)
  • 90s Disney Renaissance Marathon: The Lion King 1994 / Pocahontas 1995 (25th Anniversary) / The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1996 / Mulan 1998 / Tarzan 1999
    • All films Rated G
    • All films available on Disney+ (click on each title above to go to Disney+ streaming link)
    • After igniting their brand renaissance during the holiday season with The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, Disney shifted their animated musicals to the summer for the rest of the 1990s – specifically, mid-June.
      None were bigger than The Lion King, the studio’s first to not be based on a pre-existing property. The films that followed maintained an air of prestige if not the same blockbuster level of box office, and eventually the studio would branch out beyond composer Alan Menken to embrace other musical artists (like Phil Collins for Tarzan).
      It’s an impressive run, no matter how you slice it, with each entry defining itself in specific ways: the watercolor aesthetics of Pocahontas, the dark operatic undertones of Hunchback, the epic sweep of Mulan and its blue/pink/purple, and the pop sensibilities that invigorated Tarzan. Only one June 90s Disney movie is missing here, but it’ll pop up next week.
      Also, if you really want to lean into the renaissance, the mid-June Disney entries continued into the early 2000s with non-musicals Fantasia 2000 (2000), Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001), and Lilo & Stitch (2002)
    • The Lion King (Final numbers: $421.7 million domestic; $986.2 million worldwide.)
    • Pocahontas (Final numbers: $141.5 million domestic; $347.1 million worldwide.)
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Final numbers: $100.1 million domestic; $325.5 million worldwide.)
    • Mulan (Final numbers: $120.6 million domestic; $304.3 million worldwide.)
    • Tarzan (Final numbers: $171.1 million domestic; $448.2 million worldwide.)
  • Inside Out (June 19, 2015) 95 min Rated PG Streaming on Disney+
    • A movie with All The Feels – literally.
      Populating the mind with different characters representing key emotions wasn’t an original idea (there was at least one 90s TV series that tried something similar), but what director Pete Docter did with it is absolutely genius.
      The key here is how he incorporates memory into the equation, from memory’s influence on the emotions we feel in the present, to how it causes us to interpret and process what we’re going through, and how memories contextualize our emotional reactions without us recognizing that that’s what’s actually going on. I don’t know if that’s “scientifically” correct but it sure resonates as being true, and leads to some very insightful results about who we are as humans.
      Place all of that into the mind of a tween girl and what she’s going through following a move from Minnesota to San Francisco and you have one of the best Coming-of-Age stories ever made.Then, to take it even deeper, it really nails how Helicopter Parenting and excessive protective sheltering of kids has led to emotional dysfunction, building to a powerful crescendo that portrays the healing power of sadness, and how vital sadness is to our mental health. It’s as vital as joy, and both should be embraced.
      Easily Top 3 Pixar, and arguably their best ever. Docter is the director of Pixar’s upcoming Soul (which would’ve opened this weekend had COVID not happened), and for that reason it remains one of my most highly anticipated titles of 2020. (Final numbers: $356.4 million domestic; $857.5 million worldwide.)
  • My Best Friend’s Wedding (June 20, 1997) 105 min; Rated PG-13 Streaming on Showtime Now
    • Few Rom Coms have been this contrived (which is saying something), but the genius of My Best Friend’s Wedding is how it completely subverted the very tenets of the genre. If this had been conventional, the premise of a woman trying to sabotage the marriage of her male best friend so that he’ll marry her instead would’ve had us rooting for that woman all along the way, and her competition would’ve  been some deceitful gold-digging hussy that would eventually get her comeuppance, ending in the best friends getting married.
      But this is far from conventional.
      Indeed, the film’s protagonist – played by Julia Roberts — is also its antagonist. And her competition? None other than Cameron Diaz who, fittingly, was the new It Girl of Hollywood that was competing for Roberts “Girl Next Door” crown, and her bubbly, radiant, endearing performance here is proof why she was.
      It was a perfect idea at the perfect time (the late 90s, at the peak of the Rom Com Golden Age), and it still works perfectly – including Rupert Everett’s editor-friend to Roberts who is the film’s charming and moral voice of reason. Our rooting sympathies are always where they should be, despite all genre expectations having been flipped completely on their heads. (Final numbers: $126.8 million domestic; $299 million worldwide.)
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (June 14, 1991) 143 min; Rated PG-13
    • Hot off of Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves Oscar sweep, his Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (directed by Kevin Reynolds) was second only to Terminator 2 in the summer of 1991. It’s an interesting watch now, mostly in how poorly it holds up, which is to say it doesn’t so much. There’s a kinetic if undisciplined energy to it (and downright sloppy at times) with a Michael Kamen score that’s much better than the film deserves. Those two elements alone, plus it being a peak moment for Costner goodwill, may have left audiences feeling that it was more rousing than it actually was.
      Costner’s British accent is as flat as his acting (Christian Slater‘s isn’t much better) and, worse yet, his whole persona is way too modern and anachronistic, but at least Morgan Freeman‘s gravitas gives it some credibility; plus, Alan Rickman spices things up with maniacal gonzo as the Sheriff of Nottingham. Beyond that, though, this is just a bunch of people doing glorified Hollywood play-acting.
      The success of Robin Hood empowered Costner and Reynolds to make Waterworld, but that success is also what crippled them, giving them a license they shouldn’t have had, resulting in one of the biggest budget-bloated bombs of the blockbuster era. (Final numbers: $165.5 million domestic; $390.5 million worldwide.)
    • The official Siskel & Ebert review isn’t online, but this clip from an episode the week after (the same Rocketeer episode from above) includes commentary on why audiences were showing up for a movie that most critics hated.
  • The X-Files: Fight the Future (June 19, 1998) 121 min; Rated PG-13
    • The X-Files: Fight the Future crystalizes everything that made the TV series a cult classic. Coming five years into the show’s run, the movie marks a creative peak for creator/writer Chris Carter and stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovney. So perfectly conceived, the movie works as a near-flawless distillation of the show at its absolute best.
      Watching it so many years removed, it’s amazing how much it works as its own piece, especially for the uninitiated, even as it largely avoids exposition dumps from the series (or when it has one, it’s humorously done by Duchoveny’s drunken Mulder spilling his crazy history to a bartender).
      It’s impressively made, too, with series director Rob Bowman taking full advantage of a movie-size budget, not just in terms of production quality but in actual top-tier genre filmmaking and storytelling – including key roles played by Martin Landau (as a Deep Throat whistleblower) and Armin Mueller-Stahl.
      If you’ve always been intrigued by The X-Files but found committing to 9-plus seasons as a bit too daunting, dip your toe into this. In two hours, Fight the Future is the most satisfying nutshell of the entire X-Files phenomenon. (Final numbers: $83.9 million domestic; $189.1 million worldwide.)
  • Minority Report (June 21, 2002) 145 min; Rated PG-13 Streaming on Netflix
    • A parable for the Bush Doctrine of Preemption in the wake of 9/11, Minority Report is one of Steven Spielberg’s darkest, most cynical films. It’s also a thrilling genre machine, mashing up sci-fi with noir to explore moral debates that are legitimately murky.
      On his year-end Top 10 list, Roger Ebert named Minority Report the best film of 2002 (you can see his original TV review below), and you can read my review here from my Spielberg Marathon. (Final numbers: $132 million domestic; $358.8 million worldwide.)

If you’d like to suggest summer movie titles for future weeks, you can email your requests to:

Other weeks from Summer Blockbusted 2020:

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