(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: The Change-Up

6 08 2011

It’s a stretch to call “The Change-Up” a comedy.  The movie feels like a two-hour gag reel of failed jokes axed from an offensive stand-up comedian’s routine.  It puts you on edge, too, because you are always scared that it’s going to go one step too far and really offend someone like Michael Richards or Tracy Morgan.

Sophomoric and immature humor can be funny at times, but when anything relies solely on it, the act gets old really quickly.  The movie tastelessly hurls pot-shots at mentally challenged people, Down syndrome patients, Japanese people, and Catholics, just to name a few, trying to get a laugh at their expense.  This kind of shock jock technique treads a thin line between making a statement or commentary and exploiting stereotypes for personal gain; “The Change-Up” is so far on the wrong side of that line it really isn’t funny.

Not only that, the movie as a whole just doesn’t produce the laughs that it should.  The writers of “The Hangover,” who penned the stale reimagining of “Freaky Friday” that can barely be called a script, took the wrong lesson from their smash success.  We didn’t respond so overwhelmingly positively to “The Hangover” because of its raunchiness and vulgarity; that’s standard order in Hollywood R-rated comedies nowadays.  We responded because it was outrageously original and a fun ride because we never knew what to expect.

“The Change-Up” represents that lazy and misplaced mentality that  doubling the crudeness and gutting the inventiveness down to next to nothing will still produce a good comedy.  As evinced by all the jokes that fall terribly flat and the ability to see the wheels of the movie turning the whole time, it doesn’t produce anything except a rollickingly predictable and forgettable time at a movie that should have you rolling on the floor.  And alas, there are probably more body changing movies out there than decent laughs in this movie.

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WTLFT: August 2011

7 07 2011

Hard to believe we can see the light at the end of the tunnel that is summer 2011.  So, here’s what to look forward to – or not – in the month of August.

August 5

“The Change-Up” – it’s “Freaky Friday,” but rated R and starring two dudes.  We’ll see how this goes.

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to figure out why on earth James Franco is doing “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”  Between getting two doctorate degrees and just receiving an Oscar nomination, you would think he would have the smarts and the options to avoid making a movie like this for money or for résumé.  Then again, everyone nowadays has to go to drastic measures to pay for higher education in this country.

I feel like I have to embed the trailer for “Bellflower” rather than just link to it, simply because I can tell it isn’t trying to be like some other movie just to sell tickets.

Being a fan of both the novel and the film “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” I have to see “Magic Trip,” Alex Gibney’s latest documentary which spotlights the book’s author Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters in the 1960s.

August 10/12

Getting a head start on the weekend by opening on Wednesday is “The Help,” which looks to be a late-summer sleeper, hoping to please the oft-neglected female crowd by adapting a best-selling book.  But with this one looking to be less geared towards one gender and even a potential awards play, this could outgross “Green Lantern” or other summer flops.

The premise of “30 Minutes or Less” feels, quite frankly, a little recycled.  But since it boasts the comedic talents of Aziz Ansari (the funniest part of “Parks & Recreation”), Danny McBride (the best part of “Pineapple Express“), and Jesse Eisenberg being reteamed with the director of the hilariously awesome “Zombieland,” it may end up being pretty good.

And because “THE Final Destination” wasn’t final enough, there’s “Final Destination 5,” which is shot in 3D.  Too bad the title “the 3D event of the summer” was already taken – and I don’t think they could stretch it into 5 dimensions quite yet.  There’s also a “Glee” concert movie in 3D in case you haven’t spent enough buying their singles on iTunes.

August 19

Is it just me, or does “Fright Night” = “Disturbia” + zombies?  Also, Anton Yelchin is keeping crazy busy.  He beat unemployment.

As for a last big summer action movie, count me out for “Conan the Barbarian.”  You can even count me out for the inevitable Arnold Schwarzenegger classics marathon that will be running all weekend on Spike.  I think I’ll pass on the latest “Spy Kids” movie as well, which is a TOTAL sell-out of a series that I actually loved when I was 8.  Aroma-scope?  Gross.

August 26

I will see ANY movie with Paul Rudd, so “Our Idiot Brother” is a must-see for me.  It’s only made better by the fact that it played at Sundance to a great deal of acclaim.  Huzzah!

There is no trailer available yet for “Higher Ground” (grr!), but I think this may be my must-see movie of August … because I probably won’t get to see it until December.  Vera Farmiga’s directorial debut, a religious movie, just Vera Farmiga in general – sign me up!

In other indie news, the 2010 TIFF debut “Brighton Rock,” Rowan Joffe’s remake of the old British film, finally sees release in America.  “Chasing Madoff” looks like a sleek documentary, but I’m wondering what will distinguish it from the perfectly good “Frontline” special on PBS that unfurled his whole story.  “Circumstance” brings Iranian youth to the screen, and again I have to wonder what makes this any different than a live action version of “Persepolis” set in the present day.

I wasn’t the biggest “Pan’s Labyrinth” enthusiast, so Guillermo del Toro’s “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” isn’t necessarily high on my list for the weekend.  Nor is “Colombiana,” the Zoe Saldana-starrer which looks like a carbon copy of Luc Besson’s “The Professional.”  Oh, it’s also directed by him … coincidence?  I think NOT!

So, what do you think will please crowds in August?  Are you looking for one last bang from the summer – or for it to just end already?  Sound off in the comments AND take the poll!