Movies and Shows to Watch This Summer

Cooper Raiff in “Cha Cha Real Smooth” on Apple TV+. (Courtesy of Apple TV+)

The flow of movie and TV-watching has changed over the past decade or so. No longer do we know exactly when and where to find something new and potentially interesting.

We used to follow the title release schedule, then hit the theater or flip to the appropriate channel at a specific time. Now, when the watching mood hits us, we ask if there’s anything interesting on one of the perhaps four or five streaming services to which we subscribe. Occasionally, with that being the key word, there is something worth seeing in the theater as well.

But as a viewer, you shouldn’t have to spend so much time just trying to figure what’s out and where. That is why, for the summer of 2022, the Jewish Exponent is here to make this easier for you.

These are the movies and shows that you should find this summer. Many of them have at least a tenuous Jewish connection.


Firestarter (May 13, theaters)

You can’t make a list of movies with tenuous Jewish connections without including one that features noted Jewish everyman Zac Efron. In “Firestarter,” Efron maintains his attainable status for us Jewish boys by playing a dad.

The movie has not gotten good reviews, but it is a Stephen King adaptation, so the story is probably good.

The Bob’s Burgers Movie (May 27, theaters)

The guy who voices Bob in this critically-acclaimed animated comedy series-turned movie, H. Jon Benjamin, is Jewish. You probably also need a good laugh these days.

Hustle (June 8, Netflix)

Adam Sandler plays a basketball scout for the Philadelphia 76ers. I don’t believe this is a satire of former General Manager Sam Hinkie’s drafting record, though it sounds like one.

“Cha Cha Real Smooth” comes out on June 17 on Apple TV+. (Courtesy of Apple TV+)

Cha Cha Real Smooth (June 17, Apple TV+)

The main character in this movie, played by Cooper Raiff, works as “a bar mitzvah party host.” The film, which also stars Dakota Johnson, is getting rave early reviews as well.

Elvis (June 24, theaters)

Director Baz Luhrmann brings his flashy, hit-or-miss directorial style to a story about the “King of Rock and Roll.” The Luhrmann treatment works well with a glitzy subject matter, like the 2013 smash hit movie version of “The Great Gatsby.” The story of Elvis Presley could be another example.

Nope (July 22, Theaters)

This summer is being hyped from Hollywood to Wall Street as the possible return of the movie theater. If the “Top Gun” sequel on Memorial Day weekend started that narrative, the latest Jordan Peele production may culminate it. Anticipation for “Nope” started all the way back in February with a chilling Super Bowl commercial.

Peele is in a class with Quentin Tarantino as one of the only directors left who can still create a theater event with each release.

The Musical (August 12, Netflix)

This adaptation of an actual musical — about a boy struggling with his parents’ divorce and a move to a new town — appears to build up to a climactic bar mitzvah. Now what’s a better metaphor for the Jewish coming-of-age than that?

TV Shows

The Staircase (May 5, HBO Max)

I am not normally a true crime person. My wife actually just threw this limited series on while I happened to be sitting on the couch. But then a funny thing happened: I got hooked.

Colin Firth offers up an Emmy-worthy portrayal of Michael Peterson, the North Carolina novelist convicted of killing his wife in the early 2000s. Jewish actor Michael Stuhlbarg, best known for always playing Jewish roles, including gangster Arnold Rothstein in “Boardwalk Empire,” turns in another stellar, and very Jewish, performance of his own as Peterson’s defense attorney David Rudolf.

Did Peterson throw his wife, Kathleen Peterson, played by Toni Collette, down “The Staircase”? That turns out to be a very loaded question.

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem (May 20, Netflix)

This Israeli series explores some very deep themes in Jewish life, from our relationship with God to our responsibility to honor our elders to the presence of fate in our lives. It also stars Michael Aloni of “Shtisel” fame.

God’s Favorite Idiot (June 15, Netflix)

A regular, insignificant man, played by Ben Falcone, falls in love, finds God and then realizes that it’s his duty to fight Satan and save the world. I am not sure if this comedy series is a metaphor for surviving your 20s. But I am now interested enough to watch and find out.

A League of Their Own (Amazon Prime)

It is hard to see how a show based on the classic 1992 movie starring Tom Hanks and Geena Davis could possibly measure up. But while the movie only focused on one season in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a show could draw out the story of the league’s very real existence from 1943-1954. Either way, there should still be no crying in baseball. JE

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