9 top new movies to watch on Netflix, Hulu, Paramount Plus and more this week (July 25-31)

Caption (L-R): Scuttle (voiced by Awkwafina), Flounder (voiced by Jacob Tremblay), and Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney's live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID.
(Image credit: Disney)

Barbie and Oppenheimer may have all the oxygen, but we've got seven new movies to watch at home debuting this week. And the most prominent of them is Disney's latest live-action remake, The Little Mermaid. And we just got two more movies below, each a critics darling.

But for everyone who wants something in between auteur cinema and reheated Disney nostalgia, we've got plenty of other great options. My personal pick this week is a raunchy comedy that feels like a spiritual sibling to The Hangover, which is fresh out of the theaters.

Also, Apple TV Plus has the latest movie-about-a-product, with The Beanie Bubble. This flick follows the current trend of movies such as Tetris, Air, Blackberry and Flamin' Hot — with a strong pair of leads in Zach Galifianakis and Elizabeth Banks. 

On top of those movies, we've got a big-budget action movie, a personal drama and a farcical comedy you're going to have to see to believe.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (Paramount Plus)

If you only followed Transformers through the movies or the oldest cartoons, you might only be aware of two factions, the noble Autobots and violent Decepticons. But as any 1990's kid would tell you, the Maximals and Terrorcons are also out there. And this prequel of sorts — it follows prequel Bumblebee in the and comes before 2007's Transformers — is all about introducing these two factions.

The Maximals are a force of good, led by Optimus Primal (voiced by Ron Perlman), whose name is still too-cheekily similar to that of Autobots general Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen). And the Autobots and Maximals must work together to stop their evil counterparts — and Unicron, a planet-eating foe.

Does that sound like too much lore? Well, what if I told you that this Transformers movie also includes voice-acting from industry legend John DiMaggio (Futurama, Adventure Time), as well as Peter Dinklage, Michelle Yeoh, Pete Davidson and Cristo Fernández (Ted Lasso's Dani Rojas).

Watch on Paramount Plus right now (released Tuesday, July 25)

The Little Mermaid (Digital)

Mermaid Ariel (Halle Bailey) just wants to be one of the humans, and (like any kid) lets a crush send her into a bad idea. All thanks to the underwater sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) who makes a deal to let her walk — with real legs — on land. 

While this live-action remake is one of the least-necessary Disney's made to date, especially when its animals are nowhere near as cute as the animated originals, it's still won praise. Bailey, in particular, livens up the timeless adventure, and McCarthy earned solid applause as well.

Buy digitally online at Amazon and other retailers right now (released Tuesday, July 25)

My Happy Ending Tuesday (Hulu)

Famous actor Julia (Andie MacDowell) may be successful, but she discovers that there's no special treatment when it comes to fighting cancer. Fortunately, she makes friends with three of her fellow patients, who help her manage the pain. 

My Happy Ending even features a glimmer of a romance as Julia fights through. Critics are mixed, but most agree that MacDowell deserves kudos for her performance.

Watch on Hulu right now (released Monday, June 24)

Smoking Causes Coughing (Hulu)

And now for something truly bonkers. Smoking Causes Coughing is a Power Rangers-esque farces about a group of "heroes" known as The Tobacco Force. With names like Nicotine (Anaïse Demoustier) and Methanol (Vincent Lacoste), you can tell something severely screwy is taking place, and that's before they beat a giant turtle with blasts of what appear to be cigarette smoke. 

That said, this is definitely not for everyone, something you'll learn watching the above trailer and seeing the weird rat-person that leads them. Critically acclaimed for its perfectly absurd comedy, Smoking Causes Coughing is likely one of the best movies of the year that nobody's seen.

Watch on Hulu right now (released today, Thursday, July 27)

Happiness For Beginners (Netflix)

The big Netflix movie of the week stars The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's Ellie Kemper as Helen, who's been risk-averse for her entire life. Unfortunately, we meet her at the dawn of uncertainty, freshly divorced and confused about where life is going to take her. So, she goes against her own norms and signs up for an Appalachian Trail hike with a peculiar group of strangers.

Reviews aren't out yet, and this one will probably satisfy everyone excited from the trailer with its story of personal growth and its dash of romance.

Watch on Netflix right now (released today, July 27)

The Beanie Bubble (Apple TV Plus)

Ty Warner (Zach Galifianakis), CEO of Ty Inc., may not be a man whose name is in the front of your mind. But if you're above a certain age, you certainly remember the madness he created with the Beanie Baby phenomenon. The Beanie Bubble, however, posits that Warner wasn't alone, and adds fictionalized versions of the women in his life, including collaborator Robbie (Elizabeth Banks). 

The Beanie Bubble looks to be one of the better movies that explains a product's history, or at least better than the Flamin' Hot Cheetos movie that crumbled upon opening. Sarah Snook (Succession) and Geraldine Viswanathan (Blockers) co-star.

Watch on Apple TV Plus starting Friday (July 28)

Joy Ride (Digital)

21 short days after its theatrical release, the latest film from director Adele Lim (Crazy Rich Asians) is seemingly getting rushed to its digital release. Which is somewhat unfortunate, as yours truly loved this movie, which is best described as a female-led Hangover. 

Ashley Park (Emily in Paris, Beef) and Sherry Cola (Good Trouble, Claws) star as Chinese-American friends Ashley and Lolo (respectively), who are on a road trip that goes off the rails quite quickly. A story about female friendship, heritage and family, Joy Ride kinda hides all of those topics under a sheen of raunch and adventure.

Buy digitally online at Amazon and other retailers starting Friday (July 28)

Earth Mama (Digital)

Gia (Tia Nomore) is struggling in the Bay Area. She has her two children in foster care, and a third on the way. Of course, she's fighting to reunite her family, with the help of those in her community. 

Lauded for its evenhandedness, director and writer Savanah Leaf's Earth Mama doesn't push its audience to feel for anyone, as nobody is perfect and neither are their likely outcomes. You simply meet them, and start to root for them in this poetically and naturally told story.

Buy digitally on Amazon and other retailers starting tomorrow (July 28)

R.M.N. (AMC Plus) 

Director Cristian Mungiu's R.M.N. is a critic's darling that debuted last May at the Cannes Film Festival, and focuses on Matthias (Marin Grigore), who returns home to Transylvania, Romania from Germany. Through this lens, Mungiu tackles a set of resentments and anxieties going on in Europe around migration and related topics.

R.M.N. — Romanian for M.R.I. — is essentially a deep look at the current and unfortunate state of affairs. Critics praise it for strong performances and its intentional ambiguity.

Watch on AMC Plus (via Prime Video channels) starting Friday (July 28)

More from Tom's Guide

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.