Every season is movie season. But summer is the most fun movie season. It’s a time when the industry eschews attempts at very important art and just gives us the dumbest, loudest, and most bombastic crap it can produce. School’s out; no thinking to be had here.
The following highlights some of the best screenings in town this summer, including the blockbusters, the classics that time is starting to forget, and the oddities that somehow persevere. Whether you choose to sit outside with a glass of wine and a layer of bug spray or head indoors for some sweet A/C and respite from the heat, you have lots of (often free!) options.
The Heights Theater
Built in 1926 by Gluek Brewery heir Arthur Gluek, The Heights is an ancient venue that’s delightfully charming. There’s a motorized velvet drape that opens and closes the stage, there’s an orchestra pit that houses a Mighty Wurlitzer Organ, and there are antique chandeliers sparkling with thousands of Egyptian lead crystals. Oh, and there are always movies. This summer’s lineup features a variety of series and standalone flicks. The Judy Garland fest celebrates the Minnesota icon around what would have been her 100th birthday (The Clock, Summer Stock, A Child is Waiting, A Star is Born, The Wizard of Oz), a David Lynch retrospective should be good for a mindfuck (Dune, Lost Highway, Inland Empire, Blue Velvet), and the Heights’ “Celebration of Cinema” collection features a little bit of everything: The Shining, Fantasia, La La Land, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, and much more. Tickets to most shows cost you a mere $12. 3951 Central Ave. NE, Columbia Heights; 763-789-4992; heightstheater.com.
This venue has it all: Old-school signage outside, $5-$7 movie tickets, real butter on the popcorn, and a mix of movies both current and retro. This summer they have lots of new stuff (Thor: Love and Thunder, Elvis, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Jurassic World Dominion), as well as $1 kid-movie matinees on Thursday mornings (Babe: Pig in the City, The Muppet Movie, Kung Fu Panda, The Croods). 3800 42nd Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-729-7369; riverviewtheater.com.
Movies at the Commons
Enjoy free movies on the lawn every Wednesday evening at dusk through August 31. The schedule includes Twilight, Edward Scissorhands, Hidden Figures, Black Panther, and more. U.S. Bank Stadium. 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis; mplsdowntown.com.
Movies in the Parks Minneapolis
Once again, the Minneapolis Park Board is bringing over 70 free film screenings to neighborhoods across the city. This year’s lineup features recent hits (Spider-Man:No Way Home, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Black Widow), critical darlings (Isle of Dogs, Harold and Maude, Cruella), kid-friendly fare (Luca, Encanto, Soul), and delightfully cheesy flicks from yesteryear (Addams Family 2, The Wedding Singer, School of Rock). Oh yeah, and they also have some awful-looking stuff that might be fun to watch after a few beers (Jungle Cruise, Clifford the Big Red Dog). All of these shows start at dusk. Bring a blanket, snacks, and, most importantly, bug spray. For more info, check out Park and Rec’s handy website: mplsmusicandmovies.com. Movies are screening now through September 3.
Movies in the Parks St. Paul
St. Paul is also hosting a variety of film screenings at parks and gardens this summer. The selections here include Up, Major League, Happy Gilmore, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Napoleon Dynamite, and more. Find the complete schedule at stpaul.gov. July 21 through September 23.
Sound for Silents: Film + Music
A selection of silent films from the museum’s Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection will screen, all set to a newly commissioned score performed live by Iowa indie-songwriter Pieta Brown and her ensemble. Food trucks and drink vendors will be on hand, and DJs will spin tunes. Best of all, the event is free. 8:30 p.m. Find more details at walkerart.org. Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-375-7600. August 18.
Every Wednesday evening this summer Surly Brewing is screening a classic blockbuster on the lawn. Hits include Purple Rain, War Games, Mean Girls, Weekend at Bernie’s, and Memento. Lawn chairs and blankets will be welcome, and there will be plenty of beer and eats to enjoy each week. Free. 7:30 p.m. Surly Brewing Co., 520 Malcolm Ave. SE, Minneapolis; 763-999-4040; surlybrewing.com/events/category/movies. June 8 through August 31.
Trash Film Debauchery
This group finds amazing crap that time forgot. Each month, they show us new levels of garbage with their deep dives into the past. This summer’s series kicks off June 15 with Cool Cat Saves the Kids, an anti-gun/bullying educational film starring Vivica A. Fox, Erik Estrada, and former Playgirl model Derek Savage. It’s followed by Love on a Leash on July 20, a movie about a woman who falls for a stray dog that turns into a man at night and Hawk Jones on August 17, an ‘80s movie made by a bunch of bad-ass kids. $5. 7 p.m. Trylon Cinema, 3258 Minnehaha Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-424-5468.
Throughout the year, Trylon microcinema brings in a wide variety of flicks. That includes silver-screen classics, obscure films, world premieres, and cult movies. Series this summer include tributes to Nic Cage (Con Air, Snake Eyes, Raising Arizona), Eddie Murphy (Beverly Hills Cop, 48 Hours), and Gene Tierney (Where the Sidewalk Ends). Other oddities include screenings of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre, a collection of grindhouse sci-fi shorts on 16mm film, The Triplets of Belleville, and David Byrne’s True Stories. The monthly Tape Freaks invites audiences to take in a surprise movie that time forgot for $5, and Trash Film Debauchery will also be screening awesome crap (see above). Check out their lineup at trylon.org. Trylon Cinema, 3258 Minnehaha Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-424-5468.