8 Movies Like Ambulance (2022)

Staff & contributors

From Drive My Car director Ryusuke Hamaguchi comes another film featuring long drives, thoughtful talks, and unexpected twists. An anthology of three short stories, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy ponders over ideas of love, fate, and the all-too-vexing question, “what if?” 

What if you didn’t run away from the one you love? What if you didn’t give in to lust that fateful day? What if, right then and there, you decide to finally forgive?

Big questions, but without sacrificing depth, Hamaguchi does the incredible task of making every single second feel light and meaningful. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy will leave you with mixed emotions: excited, startled, dejected, hopeful. But one thing you won’t feel is regret over watching this instant classic of a film.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Aoba Kawai, Aoba Kawai 河井清叶, Ayumu Nakajima, Fusako Urabe, Hitoshi Omika, Hyunri, Katsuki Mori, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Kotone Furukawa, Shouma Kai

Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Rating: R-13

What starts out as as a summer camp of teenage boys not taking anything seriously grows into a rousing portrait of their hopes and dreams for the future. You wouldn't expect a documentary like this—shot like a reality TV show—to carry so much weight, but Boys State knows how to unearth the values that drive each of its incredibly well-rounded characters. So by the time these young men have assembled their mock governments and are casting their votes, it feels like the spirit of an entire generation is on the line. This is powerful, entertaining, and ultimately tear-jerking filmmaking that shows us how much work we still have to do and how much hope there still is.

Genre: Documentary, Drama, Family

Director: Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss

In Playground, we follow seven-year-old Nora as she navigates friends and school. Through her eyes (and often on her eye level), we witness her and her brother trying and often failing to fit in.

The film is an unfiltered account of their formative years, and possibly a reflection of our own. Commercials and kid-friendly media would have us believe that childhood is simple and pure, but the truth is it isn’t exempt from the major pitfalls of humanity. Children will mimic whatever they see, reasonable or otherwise, and the resulting order won’t always be ideal. Case in point: in the schoolyard, free of adult supervision, Nora and her peers push and tease and harass one another. 

It’s painful but relatable, a microcosm of our own complicated world, and though the film doesn’t shy away from the cruelties of bullying, it’s also filled with moments of empathy and warmth.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Anne-Pascale Clairembourg, Karim Leklou, Laura Verlinden, Sandrine Blancke, Simon Caudry

Director: Laura Wandel

Featuring real, in-the-moment footage of operations to rescue young queer individuals from the continuing anti-gay purges in the Chechen Republic, Welcome to Chechnya makes for a demanding but essential call to action. There's a genuine sense of fear that pervades the documentary, not just for those being rescued after being forcibly outed, beaten, and trapped by the people around them, but for the filmmakers themselves, whose operations are built on meager resources and desperate, spur-of-the-moment decisions. It's a remarkably courageous film—one that also presents new ways of keeping sensitive subjects safe through the thoughtful use of deepfake technology, keeping their identities hidden while allowing them to freely express themselves.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Ramzan Kadyrov, Vladimir Putin, Zelim Bakaev

Director: David France

The Outfit doesn’t need to do a lot to be as sleek and surprising as it is. In fact, much of the film takes place in a single place while consisting of only a few (albeit memorable) characters. It’s deceptively simple, but the tricks it hides up its sleeves are plentiful and pleasurable. It’s a well-made and even better-performed gangster movie. Led by a quietly powerful Mark Rylance (who plays Leonard, the tailor with hidden depths), the actors are serious enough to lend it gravitas but easygoing enough to make it light on its feet.  

All in all, The Outfit is an agile action film with twists that will keep you at the edge of your seat right till the very end. 

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Dylan O'Brien, Johnathan McClain, Johnny Flynn, Mark Rylance, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Scoop Wasserstein, Simon Russell Beale, Zoey Deutch

Director: Graham Moore

Rating: R

Narrated by the familiar voice of Jack Black, Apollo 10 ½ is a throwback story told with admirable specificity and imagination. Black plays a grown-up Stan, who looks back on his younger years with a mix of fondness and wonder: how did they get away with the things they did then? American suburbia in the 1960s was both loose and conservative, caught between a generation holding on to the reins of the earlier century and one eager to launch into the next. 

Stan, as the youngest child of a big, rowdy family, gives us a charming look into the times, as well as a projection of his own fascination: Apollo 11 and the space age. He inserts himself in this monumental narrative and generously brings us along in his fantasy. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether Stan’s recruitment by NASA is actually fact or fiction, but that’s part of the fun, especially since Stan himself doesn’t seem to mind at all.

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Drama, Family, History, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Science Fiction

Actor: Bill Wise, Brent A. Riggs, Brian Villalobos, Buzz Aldrin, Christian Moran, David DeLao, Glen Powell, Holt Boggs, Jack Black, Janis Joplin, Jennifer Griffin, Jessica Brynn Cohen, John F. Kennedy, John Kaler, Josh Wiggins, Keslee Blalock, Larry Jack Dotson, Lee Eddy, Milo Coy, Mona Lee Fultz, Natalie L'Amoreaux, Neil Armstrong, Nick Stevenson, Richard Nixon, Samuel Davis, Walter Cronkite, Zachary Levi

Director: Richard Linklater

Rating: PG-13

Even if it follows nearly every trick in the playbook, American Underdog positions itself on a big enough scale that makes it work like a charm anyway. Following the story of legendary undrafted NFL quarterback Kurt Warner (Zahcary Levi), the film elevates its familiar beats through stunning, wide-angle football sequences that make the sport feel as thrilling as ever, and a particularly solid performance from Anna Paquin, as Warner's long-suffering partner. But what ultimately becomes American Underdog's real secret weapon is the fact that this isn't a sports movie about skill, strategy, or success; Warner becomes an inspiring figure because of how long he had to persevere with his dream just barely out of reach.

Genre: Drama, Family

Actor: Aaron J. Brooks, Adam Baldwin, Anna Paquin, Beau Hart, Bruce McGill, Chance Kelly, Cindy Hogan, Collin Taylor, Dennis Quaid, Jason Allen Wear, SerDarius Blain, Steven Chester Prince, Trisha Zarate, Zachary Levi

Director: Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin

Seemingly engineered in a lab to appeal strictly to romantic comedy enthusiasts who are familiar with every trope, Make Me Believe is charming and enjoyable in the moment, but ultimately does little with its ingredients. The things that it gets right are pretty foolproof: beautiful Turkish locales, steamy PG-rated romance, and a good dose of humor from supporting characters who can see the spark of love even before the couple does. Unfortunately this is all window dressing for a story built on flimsy foundations. The protagonist's assignment to book an interview doesn't actually carry that much weight, which makes the risk of pursuing and/or seemingly betraying her childhood neighbor feel inconsequential. And when these two characters inevitably meet in the middle, their connection is unconvincing, draining the excitement out of everything that follows.

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Actor: Ayça Ayşin Turan, Çağrı Çıtanak, Ekin Koç, Naz Çağla Irmak, Yıldız Kültür, Zerrin Sümer

Director: Evren Karabıyık Günaydın, Murat Saraçoğlu

Rating: R