Top 5 Non-Superhero Movies To See This Summer

By: Julia Ricci

Superhero-action-monster movies tend to dominate the summer box office every year. If you’re anything like me, sometimes you need an alternative to the usual popcorn pics filled with explosions and mass destruction. So, give your fried brain a chance to simmer down with these five alternatives to the summer blockbuster:

5. Magic in the Moonlight (July 25)

     Set in 1920s France, this romantic comedy from Woody Allen stars Colin Firth as a magician who is determined to expose a medium (Emma Stone) as a fraud. As they spend more time together, he begins to wonder whether she truly does have psychic powers, and in true Woody Allen fashion, a quirky love story ensues.

The film seems to have an enchanting quality similar to Allen’s previous summer hit Midnight in Paris (2011). It’s also exciting to see Firth and Stone back in the rom-com genre; the two appear to have good chemistry that makes you question why they haven’t been co-stars before.

    Magic in the Moonlight also stars Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater, and Jacki Weaver. It opens in theaters July 25.

4. Begin Again (June 27)

     Originally titled Can A Song Save Your Life? when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall, Begin Again stars Keira Knightley as Gretta, who moves to Manhattan with her long-time boyfriend and songwriting partner Dave (Maroon 5’s Adam Levine) when he lands a deal with a major label. Gretta is left on her own after Dave’s new-found fame causes him to stray, but then she meets and forms a bond with Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a dejected record label-exec who is captivated by her raw talent.

The film looks like a quintessential New York movie, with the city serving not only as a setting, but also as an additional character. Since Begin Again is written and directed by John Carney, who also helmed Once (2006), we can also expect a great deal ofwonderful music.

    Begin Again also stars Hailee Steinfeld, James Corden, CeeLo Green and Catherine Keener. It opens in select theaters June 27 and everywhere July 2.

3. Jersey Boys (June 20)

     One of Broadway’s biggest hits of the last decade is coming to the big screenDirected by Clint Eastwood (yes, that Clint Eastwood), Jersey Boys tells the story of the iconic 1960s rock group The Four Seasons and their triumphs and challenges along the way to superstardom, with popular hits from the group’s songbook integrated throughout the plot.

Unlike other recent movie musicals, the film isn’t relying on star power to bring in audiences: three of the four actors who play the members of The Four Seasons are making their big-screen debuts after starring in various stage productions of the show. This might turn off many moviegoers, but fans of the Broadway production will be pleased that the trailer suggests the movie will stay as true as possible to the original, right down to the narration by each band member. Will Jersey Boys be the film that will put the big-screen Broadway musical back on track? It won’t be long until we find out.

    Jersey Boys stars John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Mike Doyle, Erich Bergen, and Christopher Walken. It hits theaters June 20.

2. The Giver (August 15)

     Based on Lois Lowry’s bestselling, Newberry Award-winning novel, The Giver is set in a seemingly utopian community where pain, conflict, and even the concept of color do not exist. Every member has a specific role, and 16-year-old Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is chosen to be the Receiver of Memory–the only person who can experience the emotions wiped out of society. As Jonas trains under the guidance of the Giver (Jeff Bridges), he discovers the dark secrets his community is hiding and decides to take action.

The Giver is the latest film in the current trend of screen adaptations of dystopian novels (e.g. The Hunger GamesDivergent). Lowry’s 1993 novel has waited a lot longer to hit the big screen, so it will be interesting to see how it will stack up against these more recent and extremely popular franchises. If the last time you read this book was in middle school a decade ago, now might be a good time to revisit it.

    The Giver also stars Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, and Taylor Swift. It hits theaters August 15.

1. Chef (Now playing)

     If you want to see a feel-good movie that defines the summer season, look no further than Chef. It’s about creatively-stunted chef Carl Casper (writer-director Jon Favreau) who quits his restaurant job, opens a food truck to allow himself culinary freedom, and reconnects with his estranged family.

With a heartwarming story and the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, and Robert Downey Jr. in the cast, this film is an absolute joy from start to finish. The abundance of mouth-watering food also might have something to do with it; I’ve never seen a grilled cheese sandwich as beautiful as the one Casper makes for his son Percy (Emjay Anthony). Heck, I’m craving every dish that’s made in this movie at this very moment.

Chef
 is in theaters now.