Weekender

‘Money Monster’ joins the pack of summer blockbusters

Frank Ready
Frank Ready Centre Daily Times, file

It’s not often that you get to spend the summer with George Clooney and Julia Roberts — unless, of course, you’re Jodie Foster.

In this case it’s not so much a perk of stardom as it is just another day at the office. Foster is back in the director’s chair for “Money Monster” — a financial thriller (who would have thought that was a thing?) that stars Clooney as the host of a popular television program a la “Mad Money” with Roberts as his unflappable producer.

After the studio is taken hostage by a disgruntled investor feeling the sting of a bad investment, things head south fast in a plot that involves a loaded gun and some kind of a conspiracy.

That sounds ... well, not exactly summery. Maybe late spring or early fall at best.

Last weekend, “Captain America: Civil War” officially kicked off the summer blockbuster season, with all of the traditional vestments of the period — sky-high concepts, intricately choreographed fist fights and pyrotechnics galore.

The bulk of the weekends between now and next September look more or less the same. “X-Men: Apocalypse.” “The Legend of Tarzan.” “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising.”

“Money Monster” feels oddly incongruous here, like the guy who shows up to a pizza party in a tuxedo.

It has all the packaging of a prestige picture — a pair of Oscar-winning, honest-to-goodness movie stars, a director with name recognition and a topical subject matter that trends toward the serious.

I would have expected it to drop sometime in the fall, probably in mid- to late-October, well within short-term memory range for awards season in January.

Instead, here it is, smack dab in the middle of the big-budget escapism that “Jaws” helped to cement as the summer’s main course back in 1975.

I’ve had to stop myself several times in the past few paragraphs from referring to “Money Monster” as one for the adults. It feels reductive to certain audience segments — and besides, I think we’d all like to believe that quality (if this movie does, in fact, have any) has a universal appeal.

Hollywood tends to follow a fairly rigid calendar template when it comes to its releases. Summer is for escapists. Fall belongs to the adults.

The best-case scenario that I can think of for this weekend is that “Money Monster” is a box office smash that proves that it’s OK to shake up the routine every once and while.

I wouldn’t mind seeing George and Julia more regularly throughout the summer.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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