Had the musical been released last June as originally scheduled, and had there been no pandemic, director Jon M. Chu's film version of In the Heights would no doubt have felt like what it feels like today: a sweet, touching, frequently thrilling bash in which the guest list simply reads “Everybody.” Arriving now, however – and for we Illinoisans, debuting on the very same day the state's COVID-19 restrictions were lifted – Chu's big-screen opus feels like more than a party; it feels like liberation.

There are two absolutely excellent moments in the new horror film The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. Both moments are scary as all get out and boast images that even this longtime genre fan had never seen before, and Julian Hilliard appears to be a remarkable young actor. If director Michael Chaves' fright flick were actually about that kid and his supernatural turmoil, this second sequel might've really been something.

One of the millennium's most successful and beloved film comedies enjoys a 10th-anniversary return to the big screen when Fathom Events and Rave Cinemas Davenport 53rd 18 + IMAX host June 6 through 10 screenings of Bridesmaids, the 2011 smash that earned rave reviews and Academy Award nominations for screenwriters Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo and breakout co-star Melissa McCarthy.

Like me, you may have been missing the sounds of large movie-going crowds laughing together, or sniffling together, or screaming together. Yet it wasn't until my weekend screening of A Quiet Place Part II that I realized what I've really missed at the cineplex over the past 15 months is the sound – or rather, lack thereof – of a sizable audience making no noise at all.

Lauded by the New York Times as “an upsetting and believable study of the disruptive power of unleashed desire,” Free Fall serves as the latest presentation in the Kinogarten series of German works screened on the first Friday of every month, with Rock Island's Rozz-Tox and Davenport's German American Heritage Center, on June 4, co-hosting this award-winning tale that Front Row Reviews called “one of the sexiest and most enthralling gay dramas of all time.”

One of the few professional perks to the pandemic hitting when it did was that I had an excellent excuse to avoid reviewing several spring-of-2020 titles I was quietly dreading, among them the computer-animated Scoob!, an update on the numerous Scooby-Doo series I didn't enjoy even as a kid. As if to punish me for my relief, however, director Tony Cervone's movie opened this past weekend at both local cineplexes and both area drive-ins, all but forcing me to finally cave and watch the damn thing. So I did. It was actually pretty good. I suppose I had that coming.

On May 23 and 26, the joys of youth, friendship, and cherry-favored Pez will be revived on the big screen when Fathom Events and Rave Cinemas Davenport 53rd + IMAX present 35th-anniversary screenings of Stand by Me, director Rob Reiner's Oscar-nominated Stephen King adaptation that Rolling Stone called “timeless” and “a staple of youthful nostalgia for its deft straddling of the line between childhood and adulthood.”

So I was watching the new horror flick Spiral, a continuation of the lucrative/ludicrous Saw franchise, and after the first 15 minutes had passed, I realized that the strangest thing was happening: I was laughing. Out loud. Frequently. And not derisively.

While there are certainly more noxious performance traits than an obvious, incessant need to be loved, Billy Crystal expends so much energy strong-arming us for adoration and sympathy in this sentimental dramedy that I occasionally found it hard to even look at him. At least Tiffany Haddish is on hand to occasionally make the guy look good – and by “good,” I really mean “less insufferable.”

Hailed by the New York Times as an “engrossing” entertainment with “evocative Southern charm,” the Oscar-nominated dramatic comedy Fried Green Tomatoes enjoys a quartet of 30th-anniversary screenings as the fifth presentation in Fathom Events' seventh-annual TCM Big Screen Classics series, its May 9 through 13 run at Rave Cinemas Davenport 53rd 18 + IMAX treating audiences to a beloved favorite that Rotten Tomatoes describes as “powerfully effective.”