When I was child growing up, Mondays were “leftover night” at dinnertime. Whatever we didn’t scarf down over the weekend magically reappeared on the table, sometimes recognizable — like my dad’s smoky barbecued chicken — but most likely disguised in a mysterious saucy casserole.
That metaphor pretty much sums up the summer movie season as Hollywood serves up more sequels and spin-offs. Comic books and safe commercial bets pepper the releases. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was a surprisingly tasty amuse-bouche, kicking off the season a few weeks early with lots of special effects and a well-thought plot, but was quickly followed by rubbery fried lizard, “Godzilla,” and Marc Webb’s recognizable reboot, “The Amazing Spider Man 2.”
Bryan Singer’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (May 23) reunites our favorite mutants and will likely be another box office smash this weekend. Mark Wahlberg returns to the silver screen to helm the latest edition in the “Transformers” franchise, “Age of Extinction” (June 27) followed by “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (Aug. 8), both big ‘80s cartoons turned big-budget blockbusters. Marvel is taking a chance on “Guardians of the Galaxy” (Aug. 1), a cheeky hero movie that could go either way with audiences.
DreamWorks and Disney offer “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (June 13) and “Planes: Fire and Rescue” (July 18). These animated sequels will appeal to kids, but promise grown-up lessons, too. And the darker subtexts of fairy tales come to life in Disney’s “Maleficent” (May 30), starring Angelina Jolie as the evil queen from “Sleeping Beauty.” But don’t expect any deep thoughts or morality tales from Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in their “22 Jump Street” (June 13).
A few new films provide both sweet and savory sides to the summer mix: Melissa McCarthy (“Mike & Molly”) is one of the freshest comedians in years and she returns to the big screen with “Tammy” (July 2) with Susan Sarandon in tow as her grandmother. John Carney (“Once”) hopes to hit high notes again with “Begin Again” (July 4), starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo.
For musical fans, the movie adaptation of the Broadway smash, “Jersey Boys” (June 20), is one of the few films this summer in this category. Definitely don’t skip a serving of Ira Sachs’s new film “Love is Strange” (Aug. 29), starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as longtime lovers whose decision to wed leads to unexpected complications.
For Fort Lauderdale filmgoers, dessert is served up, courtesy of the Gateway Theatre, 1820 E. Sunrise Blvd. The ‘50s retro movie palace was the site for the premiere of “Where the Boys Are,” but fell on hard times in the decades to follow. An office building was built above and the large theaters subdivided. Still, LGBT audiences remained loyal to the theater, longtime host to the Fort Lauderdale Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.
Once again under new management, the Gateway is undergoing long-needed repairs and updates. Just this month, all the seating was replaced with leatherette rocking chairs. The lobby has received a facelift and concessions have even been expanded to offer sliders and pizza. Upgrades to the projection and sound systems were also undertaken, making the theater a great place to escape the heat of summer and enjoy the latest independent, foreign and studio releases.