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A preview of this summer's biggest movies

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In Hollywood, Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the start of summer blockbuster season, or at least it was before the pandemic. Last summer, despite the best efforts of the "Fast & Furious" crew and Marvel's "Black Widow," no blocks were busted. But this year, "Doctor Strange" and "Top Gun: Maverick" have primed the pump. And critic Bob Mondello says there are more where those came from.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Somewhere in the Rockies, snow falling gently as we hear the pitter-pat of raptors in the woods.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION")

ISABELLA SERMON: (As Maisie Lockwood) Blue had a baby. That's impossible.

MONDELLO: In "Jurassic World: Dominion"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION")

CHRIS PRATT: (As Owen Grady) Hey, girl.

SERMON: (As Maisie Lockwood) You look just like your mother.

MONDELLO: ...Jurassic Park is long gone, and we share the whole planet with dinosaurs. As always, bad folks have designs on them - in this case, on the baby. It's good that Chris Pratt still has a relationship with its mom.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION")

PRATT: (As Owen Grady) I promise you, I am going to get her back.

MONDELLO: That's a pledge Pratt takes seriously. And if Pratt is Jurassic World's raptor whisperer...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION")

PRATT: (As Owen Grady) I made a promise we would bring her home.

JEFF GOLDBLUM: (As Dr. Ian Malcom) You made a promise to a dinosaur?

PRATT: (As Owen Grady) Yeah. Why?

MONDELLO: ...In the Marvel Universe, he's become a Thor whisperer to a superhero who's suddenly all about peace and love.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER")

PRATT: (As Star-Lord) Remember what I told you - you ever feel lost, just look into the eyes of the people that you love - not me.

CHRIS HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) What? I was just listening.

MONDELLO: You can forgive the Viking god for being a bit distracted in "Thor: Love And Thunder."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER")

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) Jane?

MONDELLO: Turns out he's not the only one who can hurl a hammer.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER")

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) The old ex-girlfriend.

NATALIE PORTMAN: (As Jane Foster) What's it been, like, three, four years?

HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) Eight years, seven months and six days - give or take.

MONDELLO: There are also two films in which adolescents suspect a superhero may be hiding in plain sight - "Secret Headquarters" and "Samaritan." And the directors of the last two "Avengers" movies, the Russo brothers, are apparently hoping to start a different kind of franchise with their CIA thriller. In "The Gray Man," Chris Evans is an assassin...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE GRAY MAN")

CHRIS EVANS: (As Lloyd Hansen) Want to make an omelet? You've got to kill some people.

MONDELLO: ...Who goes after assassin Ryan Gosling.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE GRAY MAN")

ANA DE ARMAS: (As Dani Miranda) You hurt?

RYAN GOSLING: (As Court Gentry) I mean, my ego's a little bruised.

MONDELLO: Gosling is the title's gray man, so I'm guessing his ego will recover. Another assassin-on-assassin movie, "Bullet Train," finds Brad Pitt determined to play nice, even though he's the only one of five hired killers on the super-fast train who isn't armed.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BULLET TRAIN")

BRAD PITT: (As Ladybug) You stabbed me?

BAD BUNNY: (As Wolf) I will ruin your life the way you ruined mine.

PITT: (As Ladybug) Dude, I don't even know you.

MONDELLO: If all this sounds a little frantic, rest assured there are gentler summer films. In the comedy "Brian And Charles," Brian may occasionally want to kill the mechanical man he's constructed.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BRIAN AND CHARLES")

DAVID EARL: (As Brian) A very, very cheeky robot.

CHRIS HAYWARD: (As Charles) Cheeky.

MONDELLO: But you can tell he and Charles have a bond.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BRIAN AND CHARLES")

HAYWARD: (As Charles) Cheeky bot.

EARL: (As Brian) Cheeky bot?

HAYWARD: (As Charles) Cheeky bot sit in the front, Brian.

EARL: (As Brian) Stop saying front.

HAYWARD: (As Charles) Front. Front. Front. Front. Front.

MONDELLO: Other comedies include "Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul," set in a Black Atlanta megachurch, and "Easter Sunday," in which comedian Jo Koy shows how his Filipino family fuels his standup act.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "EASTER SUNDAY")

LYDIA GASTON: (As Susan Valencia) Joseph, are you coming for Easter?

JO KOY: (As Joe Valencia) I don't know, Mom. I'm really busy. I just tested for this pilot.

GASTON: (As Susan Valencia) You're going to be a pilot?

KOY: (As Joe Valencia) A network pilot for, like, a TV show.

GASTON: (As Susan Valencia) Ah, you're playing a pilot on the TV show.

KOY: (As Joe Valencia) No, a lawyer.

GASTON: (As Susan Valencia) You could have been a lawyer if you only applied yourself.

MONDELLO: Also based on real life, "The Phantom Of The Open" - the story of an ordinary guy who heard someone say on TV that you can do anything you set your mind to and resolved right then and there.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE PHANTOM OF THE OPEN")

MARK RYLANCE: (As Maurice Flitcroft) I'm going to have a crack at the British Open.

MARK LEWIS JONES AND JOHANN MYERS: (As Cliff and Willie) Golf?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) You've never even played bloody golf before, Dad.

RYLANCE: (As Maurice Flitcroft) Mind your language on the course. Flippin' heck (ph).

MONDELLO: Also pursuing a seemingly unattainable dream, a widowed 1960s cleaning lady in "Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris" - her dream's a Christian Dior gown.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS")

LUCAS BRAVO: (As Andre Fauvel) Please, let me escort you out.

LESLEY MANVILLE: (As Ada Harris) No, no, no. Hang on a minute. I saved every penny scrubbing floors so I can by this frock.

LAMBERT WILSON: (As Marquis de Chassagne) Excuse me, but it would be my honor to have you view the collection as my guest.

MONDELLO: Enter the boss.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS")

MANVILLE: (As Ada Harris) Who's that bloke?

WILSON: (As Marquis de Chassagne) That's the master himself, Mr. Dior.

MANVILLE: (As Ada Harris) He looks like my milkman.

MONDELLO: And another British widow decides to make up for a lifetime of sexual boredom in "Good Luck To You, Leo Grande" by hiring a male escort. Being an ex-teacher, Nancy comes prepared.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE")

EMMA THOMPSON: (As Nancy Stokes) So I've made a list of things that I'd like to get through.

DARYL MCCORMACK: (As Leo Grande) Oh, I think we'll certainly make a significant dent in it.

THOMPSON: (As Nancy Stokes) Good. That's good. Good.

MONDELLO: Nancy is played by Emma Thompson, Leo by Daryl McCormack.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE")

THOMPSON: (As Nancy Stokes) You will only be the second man I have ever had sex with. Oh, God.

MCCORMACK: (As Leo Grande) Now, Nancy...

THOMPSON: (As Nancy Stokes) This is crazy.

MCCORMACK: (As Leo Grande) Nancy.

THOMPSON: (As Nancy Stokes) It's terrible. It's wrong.

MCCORMACK: (As Leo Grande) Nancy.

THOMPSON: (As Nancy Stokes) Yes?

MCCORMACK: (As Leo Grande) Let's go to bed.

THOMPSON: (As Nancy Stokes) OK.

MONDELLO: "Good Luck To You, Leo Grande" was a hit at the Sundance Film Fest this year, as was the charmer, "Cha Cha Real Smooth," about a 22-year-old whose life changes when his mom makes him take his little brother to a bat mitzvah.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH")

COOPER RAIFF: (As Andrew) I can't believe college is over.

ODEYA RUSH: (As Macy) You have a job now, or...

RAIFF: (As Andrew) We're not allowed to talk about jobs at the bat mitzvah party.

RUSH: (As Macy) So you either don't have a job, or you have a bad job.

BRAD GARRETT: (As Stepdad Greg) How much does a party starter get paid, I wonder.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAR HORN HONKING)

RAIFF: (As Andrew) I have a bad job, yeah.

MONDELLO: For those eagerly awaiting the third season of "Bridgerton," there will be a Regency costume comedy at the multiplex that's every bit as diverse. It's called "Mr. Malcolm's List."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MR. MALCOLM'S LIST")

ZAWE ASHTON: (As Julia) If we were to allow him to discover that you have a list and he does not meet the requirements on your list, that would be a perfect sort of poetic justice.

MONDELLO: Hollywood isn't all bright and upbeat in hot weather. In "Crimes Of The Future," David Cronenberg will visit a surgery-obsessed society where evolution's in a kind of overdrive.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CRIMES OF THE FUTURE")

VIGGO MORTENSEN: (As Saul Tenser) They don't like what's happening with the body, in particular what's happening with my body, which is why I keep cutting it up.

MONDELLO: While Cronenberg peers inward, Jordan Peele looks to present-day Hollywood...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "NOPE")

DANIEL KALUUYA: (As James Haywood) What's a bad miracle?

MONDELLO: ...And to the skies in his latest sci-fi horror epic. It's called "Nope."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "NOPE")

KEKE PALMER: (As Jill Haywood) Yeah. Nah, nah, nah.

MONDELLO: Nope would also work as a title for two culture-clash dramas - "The Forgiven," in which Ralph Fiennes wrongly thinks wealth and privilege can protect him after he accidentally kills a local teen in Morocco, and "Where The Crawdads Sing," in which a girl who's grown up isolated in a North Carolina marsh finds herself on the other side of the economic divide. Even the genie-in-a-bottle fantasy "Three Thousand Years Of Longing" has its dark side.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING")

TILDA SWINTON: (As Alithea Binnie) There's no story about wishing that is not a cautionary tale.

MONDELLO: But happily, there are also fantasies designed for families.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LIGHTYEAR")

EVANS: (As Buzz Lightyear) Buzz Lightyear mission long, stardate 3901 - after a full year of being marooned, our first hyperspeed test flight is a go.

UZO ADUBA: (As Commander Alisha Hawthorne) Who are you talking to?

EVANS: (As Buzz Lightyear) Uh, no one.

ADUBA: (As Commander Alisha Hawthorne) You were narrating again.

EVANS: (As Buzz Lightyear) I was not.

MONDELLO: Pixar's "Lightyear" is sort of "Toy Story 5," and the "Minions" prequel, "Rise Of Gru," amounts to "Despicable Me 5."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU")

TARAJI P HENSON: (As Belle Bottom) This puny, little child thinks he can be a villain.

STEVE CARELL: (As Gru) I am pretty despicable.

MONDELLO: And the animated "DC League Of Super-Pets" belongs to the Superman-Batman world. All of which makes the snail hero of "Marcel The Shell With Shoes On" feel disarmingly fresh.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON")

JENNY SLATE: (As Marcel) My cousin fell asleep in a pocket, and that's why I don't like the saying everything comes out in the wash because sometimes it doesn't - or sometimes it does, and they're just, like, a completely different person.

MONDELLO: "Marcel The Shell With Shoes On" is what you might call an arthouse family film aimed at discerning audiences that might also appreciate, say, the documentary "Bitterbrush" about two Midwest cattlewomen...

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "BITTERBRUSH")

COLIE MOLINE: Maybe I'll just be so good at it, I'll become a millionaire and can buy my own ranch.

MONDELLO: ..."Official Competition" about a pair of Spanish actors who have very different styles...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "OFFICIAL COMPETITION")

ANTONIO BANDERAS: (As Felix Rivero, speaking Spanish).

OSCAR MARTINEZ: (As Ivan Torres, speaking Spanish).

MONDELLO: ..."Neptune Frost," an Afro-futurist musical from Rwanda...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "NEPTUNE FROST")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Singing) Once upon a time, (non-English language spoken)...

MONDELLO: ...Or the biopic "Eiffel" about the guy who built that famous tower.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "EIFFEL")

ROMAIN DURIS: (As Gustave Eiffel, speaking French).

MONDELLO: But it's a biopic from Baz Luhrmann that has the industry abuzz this summer.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ELVIS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) He's a young singer from Memphis, Tenn. Give a warm Hayride welcome to Mr. Elvis Presley.

MONDELLO: The once-and-future king will be played by Austin Butler, with Tom Hanks as his manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ELVIS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Get a haircut, buttercup.

(LAUGHTER)

TOM HANKS: (As Colonel Tom Parker) In that moment, I watched that skinny boy transform into a superhero.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BABY LET'S PLAY HOUSE")

AUSTIN BUTLER: (As Elvis Presley, singing) Well, you may go to college. You may go to school.

MONDELLO: Worth looking forward to, right?

I'm Bob Mondello. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.