(Once Again Belated) Weekend Update – August 17, 2011

17 08 2011

“What is comedy? Comedy is the art of making people laugh without making them puke.”

– Steve Martin

“I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.”

– Woody Allen

There’s a MASSIVE analysis of comedy down at the bottom.  Please read and comment or I’ll feel like all my hard work was for nothing.

In case you missed it…

I gave two stellar reviews this week for summer closers “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “The Help” as well as major kudos to Dominic Cooper’s performance in “The Devil’s Double.”  Things were not so rosy for “Final Destination 5,” “Another Earth,” or “30 Minutes or Less.”  Speaking of the latter, this week’s “F.I.L.M.” was “Roger Dodger,” the film debut of Jesse Eisenberg.

Recommended Reading

Here’s some of the good stuff I was reading.  If you don’t like to read, then why are you on my site?

Sunday Funnies

The New York Latino Film Festival’s ad campaign revolved around movie clichés and implausibilities, and they nail some of the stuff we just accept spot on.  (via /Film)

The Inadvertent Activist

On Monday, I noticed a humongous uptick in traffic.  Naturally, I got a little skeptical, especially when a lot of the hits were coming from Facebook.  Then I started getting a lot of redirects from a site called R-Word.org.  I had heard of this site before, but in case you haven’t, here’s a video that succinctly states their mission:

They saw that I had called out the filmmakers of “The Change-Up” in my review for senselessly using these people as the butt of a joke.  Some people are calling for radical action, and they have done a good job of making their voices heard.  But as offensive as it is, the writers have the right to free speech and can say it if they want.  The joke falls flat in the movie, and if you do for some reason decide to see it after my D+ review, use it as a reminder to eradicate the word from your casual vernacular. If you want more information on this campaign, click the picture below.

An R-Rated Renaissance?

In The Los Angeles Times back in July, Steven Zeitchik asked this question, “How deep will the R-rated renaissance run?”  He cites the statistic that 2011 is “the first year ever that at least four R-rated comedies have topped [$75 million].

I’d like to respond back with this question: is this what a Renaissance supposed to look like?  Because all I see is one comedic gem shining amidst a surplus of lackluster and forgettable others.  Just because there has been a great quantity hardly means there has been great quality.  Before I jump into my own analysis, I’d like to review my reviews of the seven R-rated comedies of summer 2011.

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REVIEW: Horrible Bosses

6 07 2011

We are now inhabiting the post-“Hangover” world, and in case you needed any proof that studios are looking to locate the success gene in the hit comedy’s DNA, I submit “Horrible Bosses” as evidence.  It really shouldn’t surprise you; it’s a page straight from the television networks’ playbook.  As soon as Fox premiered “American Idol,” every network wanted a singing competition.  After ABC had a big hit with “Dancing with the Stars,” every network suddenly had a dancing show.  We live in a culture of thinly veiled rip-offs that barely bother to disguise their ever-so-slight variations from the original success story.

The good news for Seth Gordon and the “Horrible Bosses” team is that, at least at this moment, I still find the formula amusing and funny.  The next movie shamelessly pressed from the “Hangover” mold, however, will probably not be in my good graces, so at least they got the timing right on this one.  But the fact that some movie other than the sequel has tried using a similar blueprint for high cash and laugh returns signals a foreboding era in comedy.  (Then again, I said the same thing last summer about “Iron Man 2” being the first of many “The Dark Knight” rip-offs, and nothing seems to have materialized there.)

The film invites these comparisons by using what may be the most recognizable aspect of “The Hangover” for laughs – the Wolfpack.  From now on, any comedy that has a ragtag alliance of three thirtysomething guys will inevitably have to be measured against the ridiculously high standard set by Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis.  Unfair?  Probably.  Justified?  Definitely.

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WTLFT: July 2011

8 06 2011

Yeah, I shortened the name.  It’s a lot more palatable.  This post will tell you What To Look Forward To in the month of July.  We have transformers, captains, teen stars, teen wizards, sex friends, zoo friends, hellish bosses, honey bears, and smurfs – just to name a few.  Here they all are; you can make up your mind if any of these actually appeal to you.

July 1

Cheating- “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” actually comes out on June 29, and, if you want to get really technical, June 28 at 9:00 in IMAX 3D and RealD 3D.  So while you curse me for my horrific crimes against nature, humanity, and blogging, watch the trailer and decide for yourself whether or not you want to subject yourself to Shia LaBeouf and a lot of loud noises orchestrated by Michael Bay.

On the quieter side of things, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts plan to use their star power to fill seats at “Larry Crowne,” which looks like perfectly middle-of-the-road rom-com territory.  On the louder side of things again – and by louder, I mean girlish screams and constantly ringing cell phones – “Monte Carlo” gives young girls what they need during the summer.  A nice helping of Selena Gomez, Katie Cassidy, and Leighton Meester should have the tweeners saying “OMG!” until the next season of “Wizards of Waverly Place” hits the small screen. (There’s also a creepy thriller called “The Perfect Host” starring David Hyde Pierce, which I feel obliged to mention since it’s the only indie offering amidst these studio genre pics.)

July 8

Fingers crossed that “Horrible Bosses” will be funny!  I remember reading a piece on a blog for The Los Angeles Times well before the movie started production that praised it, so hopefully it stuck to the script.  If it’s a hit, I motion for Jennifer Aniston to stop doing horrible rom-com fare and stick to raunchy comedy; I chuckle every time I watch the trailer and hear her say, “Shabbat shalom; someone’s circumcised!”

As for “Zookeeper” … well, I hope the kids enjoy it.

I’ve definitely been going through a documentary phase ever since last year’s “Inside Job” rocked my world, and Michael Rappaport’s “Beats, Rhymes, & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest” could feed my obsession quite well.  It follows the titular hip-hop group (known as A Tribe Called Quest if you are as clueless as I was) from formation to fame.  Best case scenario it provides a fascinating expose of the craft of rapping much like “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” did for standup comedy last summer.  Worst case scenario I get to see some of my favorite artists talking about a group I’ve never heard of before.

Another interesting documentary (that I can only PRAY makes it to Houston sometime before I leave for college) is “Project Nim,” the story of a chimpanzee experiment.  I’ve always been interested in stories where lines and boundaries we once thought clear are exposed and shown to be more porous and relative than we thought, and this looks to deliver on a big scale.

July 15

Some tiny little series ends on screen.  It’s no big deal, it’s not like these movies define my youth.  It’s not like it’s a worldwide phenomenon.  But in all seriousness, I’m not going to cry.  “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” – BRING IT ON!

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