Here you’ll find links to all of Mike Schulz’s movie reviews from March 2000 to the present.

If there's any rule-of-thumb regarding high-concept movies, it's that their appeal – and, oftentimes, their plots – can be succinctly described on the fingers of one hand: “violent Nanjiani/Bautista action comedy,” for example, or “killer alligators in a hurricane.” In effect, those respective precis tell you everything you need to know about Michael Dowse's Stuber and Alexandre Aja's Crawl – except, perhaps, that both films are even more entertaining than those grabby five-word descriptions might suggest. Not a lot more, mind you … but entertaining enough, during my recent double-feature, to make me not regret the collective three hours spent in their high-concept company.

Midsommar, the new cinematic freakout by Hereditary writer/director Ari Aster, opens with barely withheld sobs and closes on the image of an ear-to-ear grin – and despite the unsettling, emotionally raw 140 minutes in between, you might find yourself exiting the theater smiling just as hard.

I should probably be knocking wood as I type this. But if my heart ever suddenly stops while you're in the vicinity, don't call for a defibrillator – call for Danny Boyle instead.

Is this latest franchise entry enjoyable? Absolutely. Is it frequently clever and touching and sweet? For sure. Is it well-animated? Duh. But does it feel the slightest bit necessary? Nope. Does it enrich the inner lives of beloved characters we've known for decades? Not really. And is it in any way a more satisfying end – or “end” – to the Toy Story series than 2010's seemingly conclusive third chapter? No way.

I read an article this past weekend devoted to our current, collective state of franchise fatigue, with the disappointing domestic box office for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, The Secret Life of Pets 2, and Dark Phoenix cited as proof that audiences are getting tired of seeing the same ol' things in newfangled packaging. What that “Are franchises finally over?!” piece failed to suggest, though, was that maybe these particular sequels weren't making major bank because they're just not good. And the third sequel to 1997's Men in Black might be the not-good-est of them all – an exhaustingly manic and just-plain-exhausting reboot to a series that should have ended with 2012's surprisingly clever Men in Black 3. The only real surprise here is that cleverness is in such depressingly slim supply.

Another summer-movie weekend; another threat of impending global annihilation. Yet even if, like me, you've dutifully and, for the most part, agreeably stuck with the superheroes since the mutants' cinematic start in 2000, it's impossible to imagine anyone shedding even a hint of a tear at Dark Phoenix, the apparently final X-Men entry before the team gets an inevitable makeover in a few years' time.

Given the relatively close proximity of their release dates, to say nothing of their both being about gay rock icons of the '70s, Rocketman is almost inevitably going to be compared to last fall's Oscar-winning Freddie Mercury salute Bohemian Rhapsody. If the latter was a musical bio-pic, though, the former is most definitely a bio-pic musical, and as such, it's sentimental, corny, kind of silly, and frequently campy beyond belief. It is, in other words, exactly what you want from a celebration of the early life and music of Elton John – an explosive pop fantasia of deep tenderness, unapologetic shamelessness, and unbridled love for its subject.

Directed by Olivia Wilde, and boasting a script by four screenwriters who evidently contributed about 50 superb jokes apiece, the high-school comedy Booksmart is like Scorsese's After Hours without the menace; Superbad without the sexual obsession; Dazed & Confused without the hangover. It is, in other words, utterly delightful – a riotous, warmhearted, unexpectedly wise meditation on growing up that's also cheeky and confident enough to score laughs via condom water balloons and a stuffed panda employed as a sex toy.

Coincidence is one thing. Yet what are we to make of the fact that, this past weekend, Hollywood released two sequels to movies released within 15 days of each other in 2017, both of which were about men almost slavishly devoted to their dogs? Last Sunday was Mother's Day, but was this most recent Sunday some kind of canine-centric holiday I was unaware of?

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