David Spade

grownups2-05

I haven’t seen the first Grown Ups. I never had the desire to. But I took the bullet for the team and saw Grown Ups 2 anyway. Nobody else had the desire to. I understand the stigma here. If you know you don’t like Adam Sandler and Co., you probably won’t like this one. You likely didn’t see the original either. But many did. At $271m, it’s the highest grossing movie worldwide for both Sandler and his production company, Happy Madison. That doesn’t mean people liked it (gross doesn’t actually account for taste), but they made a sequel regardless. And I know at least some people liked this one. At the screening I attended, mostly including non-press, there was a fairly continuous roar of laughter. As for me, all I can say is I didn’t dislike it. It astounded me too much with its nonsense, and it’s not nearly as offensive as I’d anticipated. So I have no real issue with it. I might have even smiled once or twice at something ridiculous. This is a movie that opens with Sandler’s character, Lenny, waking up to the sight of a big buck deer staring back at him in his bedroom. His wife (Salma Hayek) sees it, screams and the animal rears and then pisses in Sandler’s face. They chase it around the house, it eats the dog’s food, pisses again on Lenny’s showering/masturbating teen son and then finally exits through the front door, which had been left open all night. […]

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Grown Ups 2

Great horned beasts loosing their urine on Adam Sandler‘s face, middle-aged male nudity, cheap jokes being ritualistically sacrificed. This is the trailer for Grown Ups 2. At least they got to use Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” in a not-at-all-cliche way. Check it out for yourself and get ready to eke out your best Colonel Kurtz impression:

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Genndy Tartakovsky

Hotel Transylvania marks the feature debut of a renowned figure from the world of TV animation, Genndy Tartakovsky, whose work ranges from Samurai Jack to The Powerpuff Girls. Tartakovsky, for those of you who understandably don’t remember this lil gem of a movie, also did the opening prologue for Priest, by far the most ambitious part of that movie. Ambition is certainly something that shows through in a lot of Tartakovsky’s work. There’s an artistry to Samurai Jack work we don’t see in theaters, but Tartakovsky is hoping to change that. To start, he’s made Hotel Transylvania, which the director describes as the “ultimate issue of MAD Magazine.” With all the film’s monsters bolstering with small, playful details, a MAD Magazine reference is surprisingly apt for Hotel Transylvania. Here’s what the film’s director Genndy Tartakovsky had to say about that style of the film, the ups and downs of comedy, and why he isn’t preparing for Popeye by watching Robert Altman’s “classic” over and over again:

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Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania is an unrestrained, unabashed kids movie. Even with all the classic monsters involved, director Genndy Tartakovsky has no interest in joining this year’s ParaNorman in being unafraid to scare a few kids. Surprisingly, that happens to be Hotel Transylvania‘s most charming trait. As the classic mythology goes, Dracula (Adam Sandler) runs a high-end, invisible hotel for all his fellow monster buddies, from “Frankenstein” to the invisible man. It’s not exactly a business venture, though, as it was mainly created to keep his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), safe from the world of humans. Now, turning 118 years old, Mavis is coming of age and wants to explore the world, and Dracula will do everything he can to make sure that doesn’t happen. With all the talk of humans, it’s no surprise one of them, Jonathan (Andy Samberg), actually turns up to both drive Dracula mad and fall in love with his daughter.

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You would think that having your film sweep every single category of a highly visible awards show would be a once in a lifetime honor that would be a career capping moment. But that’s not really the case when the awards show we’re talking about is the annual Razzie Awards for worst in filmmaking. No, in this case, winning every award is a pretty clear indication that you’re a shame to the entire human race, and should probably stop making movies. In accordance with the new schedule that the Razzies are working under this year, they announced their winners yesterday, on April Fool’s Day. When the nominations were first announced, it looked like Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production, Jack and Jill, was set to take home a record-breaking amount of awards; and boy, did it. For the first time in the history of the Razzies, one movie swept the show, winning (relatively speaking) in every single category.

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Seeing as he’s largely built his entire career on doing stupid voices, it’s kind of strange that Adam Sandler hasn’t done more voice work. It seems like working in animation would work well with his approach to acting, which basically consists of showing up on set wearing shorts and a hoodie, and then looking into the camera and yelling something like “gobbledy-goo!” Give the man something more appealing to work with than 8 Crazy Nights, and animated movies could be the perfect way to utilize his talents. It’s probably too early to go jumping to conclusions, but the new trailer for Hotel Transylvania shows some indication that this might be that material. The big thing that Hotel Transylvania has going for it is that it was directed by the great Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars), and if this new ad is any indication, that’s going to translate into a lot of impressive visuals and attention to detail. The Gothic scenery here is certainly more pleasant to look at than the wall-to-wall product placement that we get in most Sandler movies, so that’s going to put this head and shoulders above something like Just Go With It right out of the gate. And somehow, hearing Sandler do a goofy Dracula voice alongside animated visuals is so much easier to digest than hearing him do a goofy lady voice while dressed in drag was in Jack & Jill.

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Over Under: A New Perspective on Films New and Old

College kids are very much focused on and engaged with the present. They know the hippest music that came out this month, they’re passionate as hell about whatever social issue was being talked about on the cable news channels this morning. Talk about something new, and a nineteen-year-old’s eyes light up. But talk about their dad’s favorite music or the social issues the world was going through twenty years ago, and they glaze over. So why can you go in any dorm in the country today and still find someone watching John Landis’s 1978 comedy Animal House? This film is an everlasting staple of college life. The Deer Hunter won Best Picture in 1978, but good luck walking into a college party and trying to get anybody to watch that. But if you tell them you’re popping in a copy of Animal House, they’d be totally cool with it. To a college kid 1994 seems like ancient history. Yet, comparatively, the stuff that was made in 1994 feels much more contemporary than stuff from 1978. So why is it that if you asked a college kid what his favorite line from Animal House is he would probably have an answer, but if you asked him what his favorite line from the 1994 college comedy PCU is, he would look back at you with a blank stare (trust me, I manage college-aged employees at my day job, I do these tests)? PCU resembles current comedies much more than Animal House does […]

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Culture Warrior

Last week, we explored the concept of shoving products into movies, but there’s an equal and opposite marketing method where movies are shoved into product commercials – especially if the character is an iconic one. There’s a distinction to be made here about the difference between celebrities endorsing colognes and fictional characters doing it, although the line can definitely be blurred. Movie star endorsements are as old as the medium, whether it’s Buster Keaton slugging out the chalk for Simon Pure Beer, Charles Bronson going overboard with his self-sprinkling of Mandom, Arnold Schwarzenegger scream-laughing for a Japanese energy drink, or Abraham Lincoln selling us churros. And that doesn’t include all the normal, run-of-the-mill advertising where an actress loves a brand of make-up or a wrestler loves beef jerky. A human being selling out is one thing, but there’s something especially heinous about a character being used to market a product because it’s an element of art forced into a square hole of commercialism. Oftentimes its done without the creator’s consent (or consent is contractually taken away from the starting block). In most cases, the original actor doesn’t even have to be involved (for better or worse), especially if there’s a costume involved. In its rawest form, it’s the uglification of something we love. This list is light-years away from being complete, but it hopefully shows a well-rounded view of different types of movie characters in commercials throughout a few different time periods.

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Normally, when I hear that either Adam Sandler or Kevin James has a new movie coming out, I wince in anticipation of it. Kind of like when you know you’re about to get hit by a baseball. I didn’t quite have this reaction to the news that they’ve signed on to Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania, however, and there are a couple reasons for that. The first reason is that the new film is set to be directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, who has done some great TV work with Samurai Jack, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Dexter’s Laboratory. Everything I’ve seen from Tartakovsky has been slick, stylish, and interesting. I’m excited at the prospect of what he might come up with when jumping from small screen to big, and Sandler and James’ recent track records aren’t enough to deter me from seeing this one.

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Coach Buzzer (Blake Clark), an influential Junior High Basketball coach, has died. His championship team of 1978 gets together for the first time in a long time to reconnect and celebrate the life of a great man at the same lake house where they celebrated victory 30 years before. Lenny Feder (Adam Sandler) is an important Hollywood agent whose wife Roxanne (Salma Hayek Pinault) is a clothing designer. Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James) is a furniture store manager with a wife (Maria Bello) who still breast feeds their 4-year old son. Kurt McKenzie (Chris Rock) is a house husband who loves cooking shows and getting generally shit on by his wife Deanne (Maya Rudolph). Marcus Higgins (David Spade) is still single and still obsessed with sex. Rob Hilliard (Rob Schneider) is a new age mess who’s married to a woman twice his age named Gloria (Joyce Van Patten).

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Kevin and Neil meet up again in the Magical Studio in the Sky to talk about their lackluster thoughts on this week’s new movies… and boobs. They also contemplate why movies aren’t making as much money this summer and what are the best sandwiches they have ever had.

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I find myself shaking my head and wondering how the titans of my youth (and Kevin James) could end up here. I have to assume that, in some small or large degree, they’re asking themselves the same question. Sandler got his start making funny noises, Rock was a cultural icon with a lot of funny things to say about racial relations, Schneider annoyed everyone by the copy machine, and Spade annoyed everyone while they got off a plane, but all of these men created phrases that were repeated ad nauseam around the water cooler. Kevin James has always based his comedy around being large (like a non-threatening Chris Farley), so his trajectory to this point seems less confusing, but for the others, it’s almost like seeing the neutering of sharp comedic minds come to fruition. And they’re all doing it in one convenient movie.

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grownups-header

As is the case with most stock studio comedies, it takes more than just big names to make a comedy worth watching. Except for the fact that your trailer should also be funny. Which this is not.

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Happy Madison Banner

Adam Sandler. Chris Rock. Kevin James. Rob Schneider. David Spade. After not making a movie for fourteen years, these comedy kings are back and joining forces for the first time.

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David Spade parodies Daniel Day Lewis for Funny or Die.

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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
D+
published: 12.05.2014
C+


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