With fall release schedules still imperiled by the ongoing SAG-AFRA strike at press time, shows already completed before the action should keep viewers entertained through the end of 2023
BY LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI
Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier to play professional baseball in 1947, but did you know Harlem Globetrotter star Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton became the first African American to play in the NBA in 1949 as a New York Knick in the original Madison Square Garden? This fi lm tells the tale of the Hall of Famer, posthumously inducted in 2014, who overcame obstacles and team owners’ doubts about adding “razzle dazzle” to the game. The cast includes Jeremy Piven, Richard Dreyfuss, Cary Elwes, Kevin Pollak, and Eric Roberts. Everett Osbourne (Chicago Fire) plays Sweetwater. Rated PG-13.
SITTING IN BARS WITH CAKE
Bette Midler stars in a fact-based romantic comedy/drama based on the cookbook of the same name by Audrey Shulman. Yara Shahidi is Jane, a talented but shy baker whose vivacious best friend Corinne (Odessa A’zion, Ghosts), convinces her to bring her creations to local bars as a way to meet people and gain confidence. The story takes a serious turn when Corinne falls ill, and Jane must step up and become a caregiver, testing the meaning of friendship and loyalty. Co-starring Ron Livingston. Rated PG-13.
THE WONDERFUL STORY OF HENRY SUGAR NETFLIX
Wealthy gambler Henry Sugar (Ben Kingsley) thinks he’s found a way to beat the casinos when he learns of a circus performer in India called “The Man Who Sees Without Using His Eyes.” Co-starring in this adaptation of the Roald Dahl short story are Rupert Friend, Benedict Cumber batch, Ralph Fiennes, and Dev Patel. Coming in at an abbreviated 37 minutes, this is the second Dahl story brought to film by director Wes Anderson after 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, and his first for a streaming service. Anderson confirmed he will adapt three more Dahl stories into short films: The Swan, Poison, and The Ratcatcher, all of which the director labeled “very strange.” One of our favorite directors, Anderson was honored at the 80th Venice Film Festival in August with the Cartier Glory to the Filmmaker Award, for his “original contribution to the contemporary film industry.”
Actress Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) continues her fantastical roles, this time portraying Princess Elodie, a duped woman who thinks she is marrying a prince, only to discover the real intent is for her to be sacrificed to a dragon to settle the royal family’s debt. She must become a warrior, using her wit and courage to save herself. Brown, engaged to Jon Bon Jovi’s winemaking son Jake in real life, is also executive producer. Filmed in Portugal, the movie co-stars Angela Bassett and Robin Wright.
FOOD NETWORK’S HAPPY HALLOWEEN
The Food Network turns up the mildly spooky heat this year, starting with the Halloween Baking Championship series premiering September 11, followed by Halloween Wars, featuring pumpkin carvers, sugar artists, and bakers. Interested in Outrageous Pumpkins created across the U.S. and hosted by Sunny Anderson? Tune in September 24. The season rounds out with Kids Baking Championship: Bloodcurdling Bakes featuring four fan-favorite young bakers, and Halloween Cookie Challenge with Du‑ Goldman and Maneet Chauhan.
A comedy flick starring Awkwafina as the television game show obsessed younger sister of Sandra Oh and costarring Will Ferrell as a game show host? Yes, please. The wild ride includes a kidnapped overweight dog named Mr. Linguini, gambling debts accumulated by the sisters’ mother, a zany road trip, Jason Schwartzman as an egotistical quiz champ, and Holland Taylor as a nasty neighbor. Tony Hale (Veep) also stars. Directed by Jessica Yu (This is Us, Billions).
Adam Sandler continues his successful collaboration with Netflix following this summer’s hit You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah starring his daughters and wife. The crew is back for the Thanksgiving season with the animated story of Leo the Lizard (Sandler), who lives in a classroom aquarium tank with turtle Ben (Bill Burr). Now 74, Leo is looking at the end of his life, and decides it’s time to make his escape to the wider world beyond elementary school. Celebrity voices include Cecily Strong, Jason Alexander, Rob Schneider, Stephanie Hsu, Heidi Gardner, and Jackie, Sadie, and Sunny Sandler.
THE BUCCANEERS APPLE TV+
The UK’s Bridgerton has apparently spawned another imitator; an 1870s period drama series based on the novel by Edith Wharton released 50 years after the author’s death in 1993. (Readers may recall a BBC Buccaneers miniseries that ran in 1995 starring Carla Gugino and Mira Sorvino.) The story follows a group of wealthy, “spirited” young American women who head to London seeking aristocratic spouses via a debutante ball. Kate Winslet’s daughter Mia Threapleton stars alongside Christina Hendricks.