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Gary Oldman in Apple TV Plus’ ‘Slow Horses,’ Christopher Walken in Amazon's ‘The Outlaws,’ Judd Apatow’s ‘The Bubble’ - What's Upstream for March 31-April 6

Netflix film 'The Bubble'
Judd Apatow directed Netflix's 'The Bubble.' (Image credit: Netflix)

Even before The New York Times declared both the Oscars and theatrical distribution DOA, the early spring was traditionally the dead zone -- the period after the crush of awards-contending "arthouse" films and before the summer blockbusters was, for the most part, the domain of lower budget horror and genre movies. But the Streaming Wars trump all traditional entertainment cycles. This week, if you have Apple TV Plus, you can stream British spy-themed Slow Horses, led by bonafide Oscar winner Gary Oldman. You can see Christopher Walken settling into the kind of role he does best late career, comedic, in Amazon Prime Video's The Outlaws. Oh, and Netflix has a  Judd Apatow comedy and a Richard Linklater animated film. Here's what's upstream:

Moonshot (HBO, March 31)

This romantic comedy is set in a future somewhat near enough for travel to Mars. Lara Condor plays Sophie, a college student who wants to go visit her boyfriend, a Mars colonist. Cole Sprouse plays Walt, a barista who, alongside Sophie, sneaks into a ship headed to the Red Planet. Condor broke out in 2018 after starring in Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Condor, and a cast that also includes Zack Braff and Lukas Gage, make the film worthy of at the very least a peak. 

Slow Horses (Apple TV Plus, April 1)

Based on Mick Herron’s eponymous novel, Slow Horses is a six-part series that follows a team of British intelligence agents who have been banished to Slough House, an administrative purgatory for spies who have made career ending mistakes. Gary Oldman stars as Jackson Lamb, the man who runs Slough House. Slow Horses marks Goldman’s first regular role on a television series. The Oscar-winning actor is joined by an impressive cast including Jack Lowden (Small Axe) Kristin Scott Thomas (Rebecca), Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) and Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One).  If that weren’t enough, Mick Jagger wrote his first television theme song for the spy series. Perhaps appropriately, TV critic Alan Sepinwall wrote in Rolling Stone, "Slow Horses gets to have its cake and eat it too, combining a genuinely tense thriller plot with the unexpected comedy of the people trying to solve it being outcasts of whom nothing is expected."

Better Nate Than Never (Disney Plus, April 1) 

This coming-of-age film is an adaptation of Tim Federle’s celebrated 2013 eponymous novel. It is the first movie Federle, creator High School Musical: The Musical - The Series, has directed. The story, which was inspired by Federle’s experience growing up gay in Pennsylvania and revolves around an unpopular 13-year-old kid named Nate (Rueby Wood) who dreams of being in a Broadway musical star. When Nate can’t land a role in his school play, he runs away to New York City to pursue his Broadway aspirations. The movie is being released after Disney’s quiet response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The legislation prohibits discussions about sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade and gives parents the right to sue school districts for violations. “The movie is a love letter to the theater and to the people who love it, and even if thats not you, its difficult to not fall in love with the story and the characters," wrote CinemaBlend critic Dirk Libbey.

The Outlaws (Amazon Prime, April 1) 

This British comedy series stars Stephen Merchant (Jojo Rabbit) and Christopher Walken as small-time convicts forced to do community service with fellow lawbreakers in Bristol, U.K.  Merchant, who co-created The Office and Extras alongside Ricky Gervais, created The Outlaws with Elgin James (Mayans M.C.). The second season of the series, which was greenlit in 2021, has already wrapped and is due to air next year. Rotten Tomatoes' limited aggregation of mostly U.K. critics did find the six-episode first stanza lacking, however, collectively scoring The Outlaws at 56%. "I kept waiting for Merchant to pull the rug from under my feet in some way, and subvert all this nonsense, but, in this first episode at least, the rug stayed put," wrote Deborah Moss for The Mail on Sunday

The Bubble (Netflix, April 1)

Inspired by the real-life production of Jurassic World: Dominion, which had pandemic-related delays during filming, Judd Apatow’s The Bubble is about a cast and crew attempting to make a tentpole film during COVID-19. Karen Gillan, Pedro Pascal, Leslie Mann and David Duchovny star as actors in the fictional Cliff Beasts 6. Ultimately, the cast are forced to quarantine together at a posh hotel where “shit gets real.” Reviews at this point are limited, but The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw wasn't impressed: "There just aren’t enough funny lines to carry this film through its punishing 126-minute running time," he wrote.

Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood (Netflix, April 1)

This Richard Linklater animated film tells the story of the first moon landing in the summer of 1969 from two different perspectives: the astronauts and mission control, and through the eyes of a fourth-grader. The film marks Linklater’s first animated feature since A Scanner Darkly (2006). The film debuted at the South by Southwest film festival and scored an aggregate 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. “Richard Linklater makes his best movie since Boyhood with Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood, a charming animated dramedy that combines the rotoscoped look of the director’s Waking Life with the “remember when” reveries of his Dazed and Confused,” wrote the Los Angeles Times’ Noel Murray.

Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off (HBO Max, April 5) 

This feature documentary about Tony Hawk examines the skater’s legendary career as well as his personal life. Featuring never-before-seen footage and interviews with Hawk, his family members and other skateboarding stars including like Stacy Peralta, Rodney Mullen, Mike McGill, Lance Mountain, Steve Caballero, Neil Blender and Andy MacDonald, the docu covers not just Hawk’s career but also his internal struggles both on and off the skateboard. The film, executive produced by Mark and Jay Duplass, premiered at the South by Southwest film festival where it was acquired by HBO. 

Ronny Chieng: Speakeasy (Netflix, April 5) 

Known for his work as senior correspondent on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, his role in Crazy Rich Asians, and for his sitcom Ronny Chieng: International Student, Chieng’s latest Netflix stand-up special addresses the pandemic, race relations and cancel culture. Chieng’s first Netflix comedy-special, Asian Comedian Destroys America!, debuted back in December 2019. Paste Magazine’s Clare Martin wrote “(Chieng) holds up a mirror to American society, we recoil in disgust, but then he makes us laugh so that the medicine goes down a little easier.”

Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story (Netflix, April 6)

Popular 1960s British television personality Jimmy Savile hosted BBC shows including Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix It. Turns out the underneath Savile’s charming façade was a predator who has been accused of over 450 acts of sexual abuse, mainly against children. Via archival footage and talking heads, the documentary examines how the TV star, who died in 2011, managed to fool an entire nation for four decades.

The Hardy Boys – Season 2 (Hulu, April 6)

Author Franklin W. Dixon created the fictional teenage brothers/amateur detectives for his eponymous book series first published in 1927. The books have been updated over subsequent decades for new readers and the novels have been adapted for television five times. In the second season of Hulu’s rendition of The Hardy Boys, Frank (Rohan Campbell) and Joe (Alexander Elliot) investigate the possible kidnapping of a classmate and the appearance of a supernatural being. This series has been enough of a hit for Disney that they recently garnered the series’ international rights.