Ben Stiller

Zoolander

We’ve been hearing rumors about a second Zoolander feature for what seems like years now — hey, it has actually been whole years! — and while we never exactly gave up hope that we would (one day!) suck back another hot batch of orange mocha Frappuccinos with the gang again, we haven’t been holding our breath on the feature. Turns out, that’s a good thing! We, like, totally would have died! But Zoolander 2 does apparently live, and it’s started casting to prove it. Deadline reports that Zoolander 2, set to be directed by star Ben Stiller and with a script by Justin Theroux (remember, he penned Tropic Thunder for Stiller), will feature a part for Penelope Cruz of all starlets, with Stiller back as the Blue Steel-faced model moron, and rumors that we can expect to see both Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell back for more vigorously persisting. There’s no word on what we can expect to see from the film beyond this particular line-up of talents, but we’ve got some ideas. Here’s what we need — nay, require — from Zoolander 2:

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While We

Adulthood is not the answer. Director Noah Baumbach has long played with characters who exhibit little interest or ability to just plain grow up, from the arrested development of the college grads in Kicking and Screaming, to the unrestrained emotion of Roger Greenberg in his Greenberg, to the charming immaturity of Frances Ha, but that doesn’t mean that taking on the trappings of adulthood will suddenly solve the issues of Baumbach’s characters. Being a grown up is just as impossible as refusing to do so, there are just better apartments to act out your angst in. Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia don’t really fit in with their friends anymore – even their best friends Marina (Maria Dizzia) and Fletcher (Adam Horowitz, yes, Ad-Rock) – because everyone around them has gone baby-mad and the pair remains childless. It’s not for lack of trying, however, and it soon becomes apparent that Josh and Cornelia attempted to expand their family before, and it didn’t work out (like, really didn’t work out). Distraught from that portion of their lives, and more than a bit flummoxed by the baby brains all their friends seem to exhibit, the couple decides babies aren’t for them. So where do they fit?

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Ben Stiller in a still from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

*Editor’s note: Our review of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty originally ran during this year’s NYFF, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens wide on Christmas Day.* The joke of Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is an old one – far older than both the James Thurber short story that inspired it and the 1947 Danny Kaye-starring film of the same name – centering on a man so prone to daydreaming that he has ceased to live his life inside the “real world.” It’s hard to blame Walter (Stiller), however, because the real world hasn’t been especially kind to him for a long time. It hasn’t been particularly cruel, either, but Walter has long suppressed his dreams of something more (and of being someone more), and his more creative and individual instincts come out to play in the vivid (and overly effects-laden) daydreams that Walter periodically lapses into (so frequently, in fact, that those closest to him just refer to it as Walter “zoning out” and that’s all there is to it). The regular life issues that Walter faces are hard enough – a dead dad, an aging mother (Shirley MacLaine), a wacky sister (Kathryn Hahn), a job in a changing industry, a hopeless crush on a clueless co-worker (Kristen Wiig, who isn’t given nearly enough to work with to make the romantic element of the film stick) – so it’s understandable that he would slip into fantasy when things get rough. But Walter’s […]

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

With the first trailer for Ben Stiller‘s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, we were treated to something fairly magical, as Walter’s (Stiller) daydreams and mundane realities meshed together while he embarked on beautiful but unexplained journey around the world. And now, with the second trailer Walter’s actions are finally given some explanation and substance (pretty as the score in the first trailer might have been): it’s about a girl and ambition and getting a life. And from the trailer, it looks like it tackles several genres at once: romantic comedy, fantasy, adventure, drama, and maybe even a little bit of action. It’s hard to tell what parts are real, and what exists in Walter’s head as soon as he leaves the office. Flock of birds forming the shape of Kristen Wiig‘s head: not real. Getting attacked by a shark: maybe real? Check out the trailer here:

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Reality Bites

In news you didn’t know you wanted to hear until just now, Deadline Hollywood reports that Ben Stiller and Helen Childress, the respective director and writer of ’90s cult hit Reality Bites, are bringing the film to NBC as a single-camera comedy. The film, which starred Stiller, Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Janeane Garofalo, and Steve Zahn centered on the lives of a group of “slacker” Gen-X college graduates as they struggled to keep themselves afloat in the real world. Sound familiar for a lot of people today? Lelaina (Ryder), an aspiring filmmaker, chronicled her friends’ every triumph and tribulation in the apartment they all shared on camera; she compiles this footage into a documentary-style program (remember, this is the ’90s, we’re pre-reality TV, kids) called Reality Bites that airs on an MTV-like network, which doesn’t really vibe with her roommates. So by taking Reality Bites to NBC, isn’t Stiller kind of bringing the show that he mocked in film to life? I know it’s not Reality Bites the reality show, it’s Lelaina filming the reality show, but…is anyone still following me?

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Ben Stiller in a still from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Remember the days when movie trailers simply teased what might happen in a film? Trailers have been getting longer and longer lately and this increase in length has caused many trailers to give away too much, too soon. With so many movies to choose from these days, they also seem eager to tell you almost everything upfront, an idea that seems predicated on the false hope that more information is more persuasive than mystery. But the opposite affect is happening as more and more people have begun loudly complaining that trailers are turning into mini-movies that leave viewers with little reason to go see the entire film. That’s why it was surprising last week when the trailer for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty debuted and did something too many recent trailers have not: it shut up. Coming across like a mini music video, the trailer let Of Monsters and Men’s “Dirty Paws” play over images from the film and allowed the subjective lyrics and catchy rhythm to speak to viewer’s own imaginations as they tried to piece together what may happen n the film.

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acdc

Those of us who have grown up having electricity our entire lives generally don’t think too much about the particulars of how the lights go on. There was a time, before everything was standardized and the limits of what electricity could do for us was known, where the world watched as the specifics of how best to harness electrical energy was bitterly debated, however. The basic argument was between direct current, where energy always flows in one direction between positive and negative terminals, and alternating current, where the direction of an electrical current reverses 50 or 60 times a second, depending on whether you’re in Europe or the United States. Sounds boring, right? Maybe not. The Weinstein Company seems to think that there’s a way to present the electricity debates of the late 1800s as a dramatic feature that would keep even modern, celebrity gossip-obsessed audiences engaged, because they’ve just put some money behind a Black List script by Michael Mitnick called The Current War that covers this very topic, and it looks like this is a project that they want to put on the fast track to production. Before you scoff at the idea of throwing a bunch of money and resources at a movie about scientific debates, know that this was the issue that eventually led to Thomas Edison publicly electrocuting an elephant to death. Yeah, things escalated quickly.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller‘s no stranger to the dramatic role. His career has been dotted with films like The Royal Tenenbaums and Greenberg, projects that demonstrate his abilities in a role not played for yuks (although it’s probably fair to say that the former makes a much stronger case than the latter). Now Stiller’s at it again with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which will see the actor/director as, not surprisingly, both actor and director. Walter Mitty may show off Stiller’s dramatic side, but that doesn’t make it a tearjerker – the trailer has its fair share of that same slightly dry, slightly funny indie-film quirk present in both Tenenbaums and Greenberg. It’s especially apparent towards the end, as Stiller sports a wry look while a branch thwacks him in the face and he makes his choice of red or blue car. I’m not sure whether a soft chuckle or a sigh is more appropriate. The quirkiness on display here does seem a little played out. But everything that comes beforehand is much more refreshing. With no dialogue (up until the end), little hints at some stellar supporting players (Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, and Adam Scott), and an inviting look at Stiller’s daydreams, the trailer has far more positive than it does negative. ake a look at that trailer down below.

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Dodgeball Movie

If there’s anything better at creating mixed feelings than the recent return to the comedy well, it doesn’t exist in the movie universe. Is it great to see Anchorman 2 coming our way? Definitely. Would it have been better without the middling years in between for Will Ferrell? Absolutely. Is it sort of cool to see Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson pair up Wedding Crashers-style at Google? Yeah, sort of. But a feature commercial for Google? Ersh. Even the sequel for Zoolander seemed promising despite the hope/urge that we’d also get to see something new and just as exciting as earlier hits from these world-class comedians. And now a Dodgeball sequel? It’s a great universe to return to, and this time around I won’t be surrounded by frat guys endlessly quoting it, but it’s just, you know, really? Is this where we’re at? Is this what the biggest players in comedy are having to do? We get Hangover on repeat, Tyler Perry and rehashes of stuff from a decade ago? According to The Hollywood Reporter, Stiller’s production company Red Hour has hired Clay Tarver (the writer/director of Joy Ride and director of a few Upright Citizens Brigade episodes) to write a script where Stiller’s and Vaughn’s character team up to conquer a bigger enemy. Theoretically on the dodgeball court. Fox is on board, and although they’ve just hired a writer, it’s unclear whether director Rawson Thurber will return. Or whether the fanbase — now inundated by decades-later comedy sequels — will be able to build anything more than mild enthusiasm […]

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It can be difficult making friends once you’re past a certain age because the older people get the more set in their ways they become. Youth offers any number of bonding experiences that bring people together from grade school up through college, but once you enter the real world those opportunities start to dwindle. Husbands and wives, children, jobs, existing friends…these things tend to limit the time you have for meeting new people, becoming familiar with them and building new relationships. Past the age of thirty a catalyst of some kind is required to draw people together on short notice. Something big is good. Something of planetary importance is even better. Evan (Ben Stiller) is constantly on the lookout for friends and has formed more clubs than Tracy Flick ever dared to dream. He keeps busy with running club and Spanish for Senior Citizens, but when one of his Costco employees is viciously murdered Evan decides to form a Neighborhood Watch. Franklin (Jonah Hill) failed every test the police department threw at him, so the opportunity to join a “vigilante squad” appeals to him greatly. Bob (Vince Vaughn) is a recent transplant to town with his wife and teen daughter, and he jumps at the chance to hang out with the guys. And Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) is simply a responsible newcomer to our American shores. Together they form a local neighborhood watch. Together they will decide Earth’s fate as they discover and attempt to stop an alien invasion. Together, if […]

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Dodgeball DVD Commentary

Sometimes you just want to cover a classic, you know? The Frat Pack has been around making movies for about 16 years. That is if you count The Cable Guy, which you totally should. Films with comedians like Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, and Jack Black (to name only a few) have become go-to hits for people looking for movies that are simply story. There’s little drama to be found in these film and even less sincere conflict, but if they don’t split your side from all the nonstop laughter, you might need to check yourself for signs that you are a robot. With that, we’re cracking into one of these bad boys, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story to be precise. In this commentary, we’ll hear Ben Stiller make jokey jokes every five minutes, Vince Vaughn will likely throw out sarcastic jabs and the occasional, goofy giggle, and writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber will hopefully be talking about the movie at hand. Regardless of their roles here, there’s little doubt this commentary track will bring us loads of laughs, so let’s get started shall we?

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While we’ve yet to see Akiva Schaffer‘s The Watch, it sounds as if at least element of the comedy works – the pairing of stars Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill. Let’s at least hope so for the sake of Shawn Levy and Nicholas Stoller, as THR reports that Levy (who is also a producer on The Watch) has signed on to direct a script from Stoller that would star Stiller and Hill. Not much is known about the project beyond its title – Aloha – and a vague description of being an “island-set comedy.” The outlet also reports that Stiller, Hill, and Levy cooked up the pitch for the project while filming The Watch, and that Stoller is currently in negotiations to write the screenplay. Stoller has, of course, already directed a film that features both Hill and Hawaii (a little ditty by the name of Forgetting Sarah Marshall), and the pair also worked together on its pseudo-follow-up, Get Him to the Greek. Will Aloha center on Matthew the Waiter? Perhaps harassing his favorite comedian – played by Stiller? Your guess is as good as mine.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s for fun. Really, just for fun. We begin this evening’s rundown with a picture of Michael Bay riding Transformers: The Ride alongside the lovely Jenna Wolfe from The Today Show and some nameless youths who probably won a contest. Or they’re someone’s nephew. Either way, they are there. With Bayhem. Riding through 3D Transformer mayhem. Now that we’ve had a rhyme, here’s the rundown of today’s best reads…

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The Royal Tenenbaums Wes Anderson Commentary Track

Wes Anderson loves family dramas dressed as fantasies, and this notion is no less palpable with The Royal Tenenbaums, the film that essentially set him on the map. A lot of us remember finding Bottle Rocket in video stores or trekking out with friends to see Rushmore, but that was mostly because of Bill Murray. The Royal Tenenbaums was the movie that made people realize this voice in the world of independent film making had arrived. 11 years later, and Anderson’s latest, Moonrise Kingdom, another light-hearted drama made to look like a fable, is upon us. However, we felt it was time to go back and see exactly what the writer/director had to say about his pinnacle film, The Royal Tenenbaums. There’s sure to be references of French movies and anecdotes about writing with Owen Wilson, but that’s the obvious stuff. We’ve got 28 more items beyond that. So help yourselves with what we learned from the commentary for The Royal Tenenbaums. Cue the Elliott Smith.

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After five long years of waiting for Akiva Schaffer to direct a big screen follow-up to his ludicrous 2007 comedy, Hot Rod, the teaser trailer for his new film, Neighborhood Watch, finally hit the Internet back in February, promising more hilarity to come. But before excitement could really build for the film, its marketing efforts hit a pretty huge snag. A Florida teen named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a member of his local neighborhood watch, the story became national news, and suddenly Neighborhood Watch’s teaser – which featured its protagonists suspiciously eying and threatening neighborhood children – looked to be in really poor taste. In response to the incident, the trailer was pulled from theaters. Though the aftermath of the Martin shooting is ongoing and is still fresh in everyone’s minds, Schaffer and company still have a movie to promote, so Neighborhood Watch is back with a new title and a new red band trailer. From this point forward the film seems to be going by the name The Watch, and its new marketing has shifted its focus away from a group of overzealous men terrorizing their neighborhood and turned the spotlight more toward its alien invasion elements.

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Neighborhood Watch

The tragic killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin is such a widely reported and consistently commented-upon national news item that it was bound to have impact beyond the family of the victim and the community in which it took place. The details of the shooting have yet to be poured over in a courtroom setting, which will probably entail another long stretch of media attention, and already the effects of the story have started to hit Hollywood. More specifically, they’ve affected the marketing of Akiva Schaffer’s upcoming comedy, Neighborhood Watch, which stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade as a quartet of overzealous members of their local neighborhood watch program. The story and the movie are being connected because Martin’s shooting came at the hands of a man who was both a member of a similar program, and also thought to be by many overzealous in his pulling of the trigger. The real big problem is that the film’s teaser trailer features a moment in which Hill’s character makes a gun with his finger and pulls the trigger while it’s pointed at a group of neighborhood kids. As you can imagine, that plays as being fairly offensive in light of recent events, so Fox has pulled the ad and the film’s first poster from Florida markets.

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Neighborhood Watch

The first glimpse we’re getting of Akiva Schaffer’s star-studded new comedy Neighborhood Watch certainly isn’t giving us much of a look at what the plot is going to be—and I guess that’s why they call it a teaser—but there still seems to be something a little off with the way they’re introducing this one to the world. The slow motion footage of lame suburban guys trying to look hard while driving, the slightly out of date rap song that makes up the soundtrack, somehow it all adds up to make something that feels a little less like a wide-release comedy that’s about to hit theaters and a little more like the funny new show that’s about to debut after Weeds on Showtime.

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Drinking Games

Have you ever wanted to stick it to those smarmy white-collar crooks who raid pension funds and embezzle money from hard-working citizens? Well, you may never get this chance, but you can do it vicariously through the characters in Brett Ratner’s blue-collar revenge film Tower Heist, out on DVD and Blu-ray this week. Though, since no one is going to try to rob a fat cat’s penthouse apartment (because if you’ve got the time, ingenuity and energy to do that, you’d be rich by now), why not relax a bit when you watch the film. And what better way to relax than with some of your favorite adult beverage to keep you company?

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After a good number of years chugging along as a “that guy” actor and doing small parts in films and a handful of episodes of a TV show here and there, things finally seem to be working out for Adam Scott. Over the past five years or so he’s really been able to develop a persona, an on-screen character that casting people know how to use, and it’s led to him being knee deep in work. Not only is he a regular on the outstanding NBC series Parks and Recreation, but he’s also starring opposite names like Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, and Maya Rudolph in Friends With Kids, he’s got a movie with Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Kaplan, and Isla Fisher called Bachelorette that just debuted at Sundance, and in the next year he’s going to be in Dan Fogelman’s movie My Mother’s Curse, he’s co-starring in a romance called See Girl Run, and he’s going to be in a movie called A.D.O.C. with titans of the screen Jane Lynch and Richard Jenkins. The guy looks to be on top of the world. But, the new role that he’s negotiating for may be the biggest thing he’s been involved with yet.

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Once Ben Stiller got his claws into the Secret Life of Walter Mitty remake it pretty quickly went from being a long-floundering project that was maybe going to happen and maybe not going to happen, to becoming a hot comedy prospect on the fast track to getting made. I guess it didn’t hurt that Stiller is pulling double duty by both starring in the film and serving as the director; that’s one less person they had to hire. Still, barring some pretty amazing prosthesis, Stiller won’t be able to play every role that this story requires, so it looks like it’s time to begin the casting process. And Stiller and company seem to be starting by going big. According to THR none other than Ms. Bridesmaids herself, Kristen Wiig, is currently in negotiations to play the role of Mitty’s co-worker, a lady who often becomes the damsel subject of his ridiculous pulp-inspired daydreams. If the deal gets done, this would be the first mainstream role that Wiig takes following her breakout turn in last summer’s wildly successful women-can-be-gross-too comedy, so that should put a lot of heat on this one as far as media attention goes. Sounds like a win-win for Stiller: he gets both a hilarious comedic actress to play opposite and some free publicity for his film. I’d say that now’s the time to back up the money truck and dump out whatever Wiig wants.

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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