Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler and a parade of A-List stars in a Netflix Original Series? Yes, it’s true. The gang returns for “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.” How they worked it into their busy schedule is beyond me.
Also on tap: “BoJack Horseman,” “Witches of East End,” and one of the best music documentaries I’ve ever seen, “The Wrecking Crew.” Let’s take a closer look at all the new offerings on Netflix in July.
Available July 1:
Alive (1993). After their plane crashes in the Andes mountains, the surviving members of a Uruguayan rugby team struggle to stay alive on a barren glacier. As you might imagine, they’re forced to eat things way outside their normal diet. Ethan Hawke stars in this Frank Marshall-directed film.
An Honest Liar (2014). This revealing documentary profiles magician and escape artist James Randi, who after retiring set about exposing faith healers, psychics and others as frauds. But all the while, Randi was carrying out a deception of his own.
Bad Hair Day (2015). With the high school prom fast approaching, tech wizard Monica Reeves (Laura Marano), who’s campaigning to be prom queen, prepares her look carefully in advance. But the plan falls apart when her hair goes rogue and her entire ensemble is ruined. As this Disney Channel TV movie notes, the road to prom can be a big hairy mess.
Bionicle: The Legend Reborn (2009). The animated saga continues, following the adventures of the universe’s former ruler who’s been stripped of power and exiled to a desolate planet. Dee Bradley Baker, Jim Cummings and Michael Dorn voice characters.
Bulworth (1998). Warren Beatty directed, wrote and stars in this movie about a disillusioned senator who arranges his own assassination, but reconsiders when his newfound policy of total honesty with voters ignites his will to live.
Dave Attell: Road Work. Veteran NYC comic Dave Attell, who penned episodes of “The Jon Stewart Show” and “Saturday Night Live,” is back with his special “Road Work,” which cuts together multiple performances from his past tour. From NOLA to Philly, it feels more like a concert film than a traditional standup special.
Death in Paradise: Season 3. This BBC show finds Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Richard Poole (Ben Miller) sent to the Caribbean island of Sainte Marie to solve a fellow policeman’s murder.
Grandma’s Boy (2006). When Alex, a 35-year-old video game tester, is kicked out of his apartment, he’s forced to move in with his grandmother. Stars Allen Covert, Linda Cardellini, Shirley Jones and Kevin Nealon. Rated R, this one’s not for kids.
Hostage (2005). Bruce Willis and Kevin Pollak star in this thriller about a former hostage negotiator who finds his newly quiet existence shattered when a family linked to the mob is taken hostage by wayward thieves.
Invizimals: The Alliance Files. Based on the popular video games franchise, Invizimals tells the story of Hiro, Lima, and Sam, three young members of the Alliance of Invizimals Hunters. Together, they must help these fantastic creatures and try to stop the evil XTractor threat.
La Reina del Sur. This compelling show tells the story of the legendary Teresa Mendoza, a courageous woman who is perceived as conquering the world of drug trafficking.
Octonauts: Season 3. A team of brave underwater explorers known as the Octonauts combs the world’s oceans for aquatic creatures in desperate need of assistance. Excellent show for little ones.
Piglet’s Big Movie (2003). Timid little Piglet must overcome his lack of confidence and save his endangered friends of the Hundred Acre Wood by using his “Book of Memories.”
El Señor de los Cielos: Season 12. Only Aurelio Casillas can fill Pablo Escobar’s shoes and become Mexico’s biggest drug trafficker of the ’90s.
Saw V (2008). When Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) learns that his secret connection to Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) will be exposed, he embarks on a hunt to eradicate everything that links him to the killer.
Set Fire to the Stars (2014). When he invites Dylan Thomas (Celyn Jones) to America for a series of poetry readings, academic John M. Brinnin (Elijah Wood) is well aware of the Welshman’s reputation as a hellraiser. But Brinnin is unprepared for the lengths he’ll have to go to keep Thomas sober.
Shooting Fish (1997, PG). American Dylan and Brit Jez, childhood friends from opposite sides of the pond, reconnect in London as young adults to con England’s wealthy into financing a home for deserving orphans: themselves!
The Secret of Roan Inish (1994, PG). When 10-year-old Fiona (Jeni Courtney) learns how her ancestors came to leave the island of the seals, Roan Inish, she finds there may be magic in her family tree. Directed by John Sayles.
Underworld: Evolution (2006). Vampire warrior Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and werewolf hybrid Michael (Scott Speedman) learn the history of the ongoing war between the patrician Death Dealers and the barbarous Lycans.
Velvet: Season 2. In 1950s Spain, the heir to a fashion house romances a beautiful seamstress who works for the company, despite the objections of his family.
Available July 3:
Knights of Sidonia: Season 2. Based on the popular Japanese manga comic, this anime series follows Nagate, a lowborn youth in a society of genetically engineered humans, refugees that escaped the destruction of Earth one thousand years earlier and now occupy the massive ship Sidonia. When Nagate’s talent as a pilot is revealed, he becomes one of Sidonia’s elite defenders against the Gauna, shapeshifting aliens bent on eliminating humans from existence.
Available July 4:
Faults (2014). Desperate to free their daughter Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) from a cult, her parents hire deprogramming expert Ansel Roth (Leland Orser), despite his checkered reputation. Roth kidnaps Claire and holds her captive in a motel room, but his real challenge has barely begun.
Hell on Wheels: Season 4. This AMC TV series follows former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), who sets out on a quest to find his wife’s killer as post Civil War America struggles to rebuild its identity.
White Collar: Season 6. To avoid jail, an ultra-suave con man signs on to help an FBI agent catch other white collar thieves. But he conceals an ulterior motive. Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay star in this USA TV series.
Available July 7:
Monster High: Scaris, City of Frights (2013). When Clawdeen gets a chance to study with a top fashion designer, she and her pals hop on a plane to Scaris, France, the city where screams come true.
Witches of East End: Season 2. Besides being an artist and the mother of two daughters, Joanna Beauchamp (Julia Ormond) harbors an identity she hides from the world: she’s a centuries old witch. Jenna Dewan Tatum and Rachel Boston also star in this Lifetime TV series.
Available July 9:
Monsters: Dark Continent (2014). In a visually gripping sequel set a decade after the events of the original “Monsters” (2010), this doomsday drama records the spread of tentacled creatures across the globe, and their fateful involvement in a raging military conflict in the Middle East.
Serena (2014). As most of America is mired in the Depression, George Pemberton (Bradley Cooper) and his wife, Serena (Jennifer Lawrence), build a booming timber business together. But the family legacy becomes a knotty issue after Serena learns that she’s barren and George has an illegitimate son. Toby Jones and Rhys Ifans also star.
Available July 10:
Chris Tucker Live (2015). In his first ever standup comedy special, Chris Tucker returns to the stage he loves and showcases his comedic chops, from his pitch perfect impersonations to his singular onstage physicality. The special was filmed at the Historic Fox Theatre in Tucker’s hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.
Violetta: Season 12. Violetta (Martina Stoessel) is a teen who returns from her time in Europe to her native Argentina, where she finds love and discovers her musical talents.
Available July 14:
Bad Ink: Season 1. Tattoo artist Dirk Vermin and his sidekick Ruckus search out Sin City’s most cringe-worthy tattoos and the strange stories behind them.
Bible Secrets Revealed: Season 1. For thousands of years, the Bible has been the foundation of Judaism and Christianity. But who wrote it? How old is it? And is it accurate?
Creep (2014). After spotting an online ad for a one day gig in a distant town, a cash-strapped videographer figures he has nothing to lose and takes the job. But as the hours wear on, he learns that the client has some unsettling ideas in mind. Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice star.
Goodbye to All That (2014). Blindsided by his wife’s desire for a divorce, Otto Wall (Paul Schneider) must try to refashion his life in a confusing new world of dating that includes social media. But while the sex comes easily for Otto, meaningful relationships don’t. Also stars Melanie Lynskey, Anna Camp, Heather Graham and Amy Sedaris.
Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (2014). In 1995, visionary writer/director Richard Stanley got the green light for his dream project: An epic adaptation of H.G. Wells’ “The Island Of Doctor Moreau,” starring Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer. But only days into production, an unprecedented storm of natural disasters, monstrous egos and disturbing imagery along with chaos, insanity and witchcraft would trigger perhaps the most infamous behind- the-scenes catastrophe in modern movie history. David Gregory directs this documentary.
Preachers’ Daughters: Season 2. Follow the daughters of three pastors as they struggle to balance their lives, their values and their parents’ strict expectations. This Lifetime reality series offers a glimpse into the challenges of growing up in the church.
Storage Wars: Texas: Season 1. The stakes are high and the drama intense in the Lone Star State as A&E’s top rated nonfiction franchise follows five Dallas storage unit hunters in their quest for auction gold.
The Killer Speaks: Season 2. Actual convicted murderers, including spree killers, serial killers and domestic violence killers, describe their crimes in bone-chilling detail in this A&E TV series.
Available July 15:
Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014). While researching the history of a little known empire, anthropologist Hess Greene (Stephen Tyrone Williams) comes across an ancient dagger that is used to murder him. When he wakes up unharmed, however, Greene discovers that he’s developed an acute appetite for human blood.
H20 Mermaid Adventures (5 new episodes). Taking the worldwide hit “H2O: Just Add Water” to new levels, this animated version follows three high school friends who encounter a powerful spell while exploring Mako Island — it turns them into mermaids whenever they touch water. With their new sea creature friends, they experience undersea adventures while trying to keep their special gift a secret from their classmates.
Penguins of Madagascar (2014). Having shown their mettle in previous “Madagascar” animated epics, dauntless penguins Skipper, Rico, Private and Kowalski team with a covert group, the North Wind, to stage an all or nothing showdown with the fiendish Dr. Octavius Brine.
The Physician (2014). In the 11th century, a talented medical apprentice risks everything to follow his calling. Masquerading as a Jew to enter a medical college that bans Christian students, Rob Cole (Tom Payne) satisfies his thirst for knowledge and pursues his dream of healing. Also stars Stellan Skarsgard.
Available July 16:
Changeling (2008). When her kidnapped son is brought home, Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) suspects that the boy isn’t her child, so the police captain has her committed to an asylum. Directed by Clint Eastwood and written by J. Michael Straczynski.
Available July 17:
BoJack Horseman: Season 2. Meet the most beloved sitcom horse of the ’90s … 20 years later. BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett) was the star of the hit TV show “Horsin’ Around,” but today he’s washed up, living in a Hollywood bachelor pad, complaining about everything, and wearing colorful sweaters. Set in an L.A. where humans and anthropomorphic animal people coexist, “BoJack Horseman” is about one man (well, horseman) who peaked too early and must figure out what to do next. This Netflix series also stars Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul and Stanley Tucci. Rated TV-MA, this one’s not for kids.
The Human Experiment (2013). While activists attempt to raise awareness about the detrimental health effects of untested chemicals in everyday products, their efforts are hampered by industry lobbyists, as chronicled in this eye-opening documentary. Narrated by Sean Penn.
Tig (2015). “Good evening. Hello. I have cancer.” That’s how comedian Tig Notaro opened her now legendary standup set at Largo in Los Angeles in August 2012. Defiantly funny in the face of devastating news that included the loss of her mother and her own breast cancer diagnosis, “Tig” is about how Notaro found herself on stage at that moment and how she put her life together just when it seemed to be falling apart.
Available July 18:
Glee: Season 6. Amid relationship woes and personal attacks from a wicked cheerleading coach (Jane Lynch), a teacher (Matthew Morrison) fights to turn underdog glee club members into winners in this Fox TV show. Chris Colfer, Lea Michele, Amber Riley and Naya Rivera are among the stars.
Java Heat (2013). When a suicide bombing rocks Indonesia, expatriate American cop Jake Wilde (Kellan Lutz) and local detective Hashim (Ario Bayu) team up to find the culprit. Also stars Mickey Rourke.
Available July 23:
Teacher of the Year (2014). Despite being surrounded by an oddball faculty and unruly students at Truman High, Mitch Carter (Matt Letscher) wins California’s Teacher of the Year award, an achievement that inspires a documentary but leaves him in a quandary when he gets a lucrative job offer.
Available July 25:
The Guest (2014). A stranger (Dan Stevens) claiming to be the close friend of a recently deceased soldier invites acceptance and doubt from the dead man’s family.
Available July 28:
Comet (2014). Taking a fluid approach to time, this bittersweet indie tale cohesively interweaves the decisive moments in the tumultuous six-year romance between jaded Kimberly (Emmy Rossum) and abrasive intellectual Dell (Justin Long).
Marvel’s Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.: Season 2. Marvel’s mightiest superheroes Hulk, SheHulk, Red Hulk, ABomb and Skaar team up to tackle threats too enormous for other heroes to handle. Fred Tatasciore, Clancy Brown, Seth Green and Eliza Dushku are among the voice talent in this Disney XD TV series.
Available July 30:
Almost Mercy (2015). Best friends since their troubled childhoods, Jackson (Jesse Dufault) and Emily (Danielle Guldin) are high school classmates now. When Emily comes to realize that Jackson’s behavior is becoming more violent, she’s forced to decide whether to warn others about his dangerous state of mind.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Season 5. Journey to the enchanted land of Equestria, where unicorn Twilight Sparkle and her pals have adventures and learn valuable lessons about friendship.
The Wrecking Crew (2008). Prolific session musicians The Wrecking Crew, who provided backup instrumentals for numerous popular bands in the 1960s, are profiled by filmmaker Denny Tedesco, whose father, Tommy, was a member of the band, in this absorbing documentary. One of the best music documentaries I’ve seen.
Available July 31:
Turbo Fast: Season 2. Join Turbo and his posse on the Turbo Fast Action Stunt Team. Filled with outrageous comedy, action and laugh out loud fun, this Netflix Original amps up everything to the extreme: extreme adventures, extreme challenges, and extreme excitement.
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (2015). Return to the summer of 1981 at Camp Firewood in this hilarious prequel to the 2001 cult classic. Set on the first day of camp, events quickly snowball as rivalries simmer, secrets surface, hearts break, and hormones rage. With the film’s original cast, including Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler, returning as the oldest teenagers ever (yes, really!), this is a nostalgia trip like no other. This Netflix Original also stars Janeane Garofalo, Jason Schwartzman, Paul Rudd, John Slattery and Elizabeth Banks, among others. What a cast!
Jane Boursaw is a well-known film critic and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. All images used with permission of Netflix and the distributors.