5 movies you need to watch in August 2023

Last year, the movie industry was on shaky ground. The COVID recovery was still in its earliest stages, and while there were hits like Top Gun: Maverick, there were fewer movies actually showing in theaters. Worst of all was the month of August, when only one big Hollywood movie, the mediocre action comedy Bullet Train, was released.

What a difference a year makes. In August 2023, Hollywood has packed the slate with a diverse selection of movies ranging from a comic book movie (the sure-to-fail DC Comics movie Blue Beetle), a video game adaptation (Gran Turismo), and the usual mixture of action movies, thrillers, and comedies. Here are the five best movies you should check out in August, and why they are worth going to the movies to see.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (August 2)

The Turtles and April play a video game in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.
Paramount Pictures

It’s been only a relatively brief time since the last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, which means it’s time for another reboot. Seven years after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Paramount has gone back to the drawing board and switched to the format that served the characters best in the first place: animation.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem will be the second theatrical animated Turtles movie, but unlike the generic CGI look of the 2007 film TMNT, Mutant Mayhem sports unique visuals that are clearly inspired by Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. That’s not a bad thing, as long as Mutant Mayhem remembers why the Turtles worked in the first place. Judging by its two trailers, which emphasize the characters’ youthfulness, quippy humor, and copious pizza eating, as well as the bizarre villains, it looks like Mutant Mayhem will be another successful revival in the Turtles’ long pop culture history.

Passages (August 4)

A man and a woman dance in Passages.

Summer movies are more than just big explosions and fights with aliens; they can also be about watching extremely attractive people getting it on. Ira Sachs’ NC-17 rated drama Passages promises to fill that quota with a sexy tale of a love triangle gone terribly wrong. The film stars German actor Franz Rogowski as Tomas, a filmmaker in a happy and stable marriage to Martin (No Time to Die‘s Ben Whishaw). One night in a crowded dance club, he meets Agathe (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a young schoolteacher who ignites a lust in Tomas that surprises even him. Soon, Tomas and Agathe begin an affair, which jeopardizes Tomas’ marriage to Martin, who begins his own affair.

Erotic dramas used to be a staple of summertime moviegoing; remember Unfaithful, the Adrian Lyne movie that came out in May 2002 and nabbed star Diane Lane an Oscar nomination for Best Actress? Passages may not have as much of a mainstream appeal as that movie, but early reviews indicate it’s as thought-provoking and sensual as its intriguing trailer suggests. If nothing else, Passages understands the universal appeal of beautiful people suffering melodramatically over love, something which you just can’t get in an MCU movie or the latest Mission: Impossible entry.

The Last Voyage of the Demeter (August 11)

A creature stalks a man in the rain in The Last Voyage of the Demeter.
Universal Pictures

Does the world need another Dracula adaptation? Probably not, especially after April’s disappointing comedic take on the legendary vampire, Renfield. But Bram Stoker’s creation is endlessly adaptable, and Universal’s new take on the classic monster, The Last Voyage of the Demeter, isn’t your ordinary tale of the eternal bloodsucker from Transylvania.

For starters, there’s no Renfield, Jonathan Harker, Mina, Lucy, or Van Helsing; instead, the movie, which adapts “The Captain’s Log” chapter in Dracula, takes place almost entirely on a ship with a motley crew of sailors, prisoners, and other assorted vagabonds. It’s here where Dracula strikes, not as a debonair human-looking man, but as a grotesque, winged creature desperate to feed. The Last Voyage of the Demeter leans into the horror, with the trailer promising all kinds of gore and bloodshed, and it may be the first Dracula adaptation in a long while to actually be truly terrifying.

Strays (August 18)

Strays | Official Trailer [HD]

Remember Homeward Bound, that innocent Disney movie from 1993 that featured live-action footage of animals voiced by well-known stars like Sally Field? It wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but Homeward Bound was a good movie for kids not yet touched by cynicism and parents who wanted to relive their youth. Well, Strays promises to take a piss on all those sweet memories with its foul-mouthed canines.

The movie, a live-action film featuring four talking poochies voiced by an all-star cast that includes Barbie’s Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx, is a hard R-rated take on a normally G-rated premise: a group of animals go out on a adventure and must rely on each other to overcome obstacles in the big, bad world. Strays is far more filthier and funnier, with these anamorphic dogs cursing, getting into fights, and tripping on mushrooms. Strays is a movie for anyone who wonders what their dog really thinks of them and suspects they really don’t much like their owner or humans at all.

Bottoms (August 25)

BOTTOMS | Official Red Band Trailer

After No Hard Feelings in June and Joyride in July, Raunchy Girl Summer concludes with Emma Seligman’s Bottoms, a delightfully filthy comedy that won over audiences at South by Southwest earlier this year. The movie features rising stars Rachel Sennott (who also co-wrote the film) and The Bear‘s Ayo Edebiri as PJ and Josie, two queer teenagers who are too dorky and socially awkward to get dates with the high school cheerleaders they lust after. They decide to form an all-girls fight club to gain the attention of their objects of affection. Naturally, things don’t go quite as planned, and hijinks ensue.

Described by Seligman as “a campy queer high school comedy in the vein of Wet Hot American Summer, but more for a Gen-Z queer audience,” Bottoms dials up the awkward humor and doesn’t flinch from portraying its central female protagonists as desperate, horny, and funny as hell. The movie’s rapturous reception at SXSW, combined with its hilarious trailers, promises to close out the summer of 2023 with a few well-earned laughs … and maybe a life lesson or two as well.

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