Jay Roach

Trumbo Cranston

In 1953, Dalton Trumbo won his first Oscar for writing Roman Holiday, but the man who went up to the podium (and whose name was on the film) was Trumbo’s friend Ian McLellan Hunter. Three years later, Trumbo won a second Oscar for The Brave One, but the name engraved on the statuette was “Robert Rich.” Why did he need a human stand-in and a pen name if he was doing such stellar work? Because he had been blacklisted after serving nearly a year in prison for contempt of Congress. You see, there was a hilarious time in American history that we all look back on and laugh at because it was dominated by members of the government being terrified of ideas that were different from their own. Although it’s difficult to imagine a United States Senator (and a Republican at that!) railing against a leftist agenda in Hollywood today, it’s of paramount importance that we remember Trumbo and his experience as persona non grata. It was his Communist Party affiliation that Joe McCarthy and pals feared, but it was the studio heads who were cowardly enough to bar Trumbo and others from working. There’s already a documentary about him called Trumbo, and according to Deadline Hollywood, that will also be the name of a new movie from Jay Roach — following up on his political interests explored in The Campaign — and screenwriter John McNamara. Bryan Cranston will play Trumbo as the mustachioed artist battles against the blacklist while […]

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The A-Team

Ever since The Hangover became a smash hit, Bradley Cooper has been a busy guy. So much so that he’s often rumored to be starring in far more movies than he’d ever actually be able to fit in his schedule. One rumor seems to keep hanging around though—that’s he’s going to star in a biopic of famed and then shamed cycling legend Lance Armstrong. Originally the rumor was that he could star in a project that JJ Abrams and his people were putting together based on Juliet Macur’s book, “Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong,” but even though that project is still in some stage of development, and even though there’s yet another Armstrong biopic being put together over at Working Title that’s set to star Ben Foster, the new news about Cooper possibly taking on the role comes in the form of a third biopic that’s now said to be in development as well. It’s official: we’re knee deep in Lance Armstrong.

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Drinking Games

By now, you have to be sick of pretty much any political campaign. Just think, in a short week, this will all be over and you’ll either cheer or cry, depending on your candidate of choice. Don’t you love American politics? In this last week of the 2012 election season, you can watch the absurd election comedy The Campaign, and then you can realize that in the context of the races going on around the country, it’s really not all that absurd. That thought alone should drive you to drink, so why not enjoy some structured drinking as you enjoy the movie?

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Culture Warrior

Will Ferrell is a funny man. This seems to be a fact undeniable even to those who don’t otherwise care for his brand of comedy. Even though his schtick has become reliably familiar – he often plays variations of an over-privileged adult child who is hopelessly naïve in certain categories of social life and prone to random bursts of livid anger – its regularity has yet to prevent Ferrell’s comic talents from growing stale. There seems to also be some indescribable aura at the core of Ferrell’s comic talent, something about his appearance and demeanor that can’t be explained through analyses of timing and punchline, as evidenced by his strange appearance on Jimmy Fallon last May. For many, Ferrell’s comic appeal has been this essential, indescribably funny core since his SNL days. Ferrell is funny not exclusively because of his physical comedy or imitable characters; he, as a force of nature, is pure farce (a farce of nature?). But as his film career continues to accumulate titles and as his unique comic sensibilities become better-known with his roles as producer and writer, it’s clear that, beneath his farce, Ferrell has a confrontational political and satirical streak underlying much of his work, which has naturally led to him portraying a politician in Jay Roach’s The Campaign. Ferrell’s roles, however, often exercise a fascinating and occasionally self-defeating tension between satire and farce, with one element substituting, rather than laying the groundwork for, the other. Here’s an overview of the politics of Will […]

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Jay Roach directing Will Ferrell in The Campaign

The Campaign is much edgier than director Jay Roach‘s previous comedies. While many of them features titans going head-to-head — Mike Myers vs. Mike Myers, Stiller vs. De Niro, and Rudd vs. Carrell — he’s never taken it to this extent. From how Roach describes it, that darker side derives from the film’s R-rating, which Roach, Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, & Co. fully embrace. There’s an inherent meanness to the lengths Ferrell and Galifianakis’ characters go. When The Campaign takes a slightly sentimental turn towards the end, it works in part because of their, as Roach describes it, undeniable likability. To make their face-off work, Jay Roach went through his fair share of neurosis, a character trait part of all the comedies he’s made.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This week it’s a series of second stringer fill-ins trying not to run things into the ground while regular columnist Neil Miller disappears for a while due to reasons both glamorous and mysterious (in true Lohan fashion, he’s cited both “exhaustion” and “being dehydrated”). And today it’s a laundry list of Internet people still crushing on Joss Whedon’s superhero extravaganza, The Avengers, because Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows shit the bed this weekend and we haven’t had anything shiny to come along to steal away our fickle attentions yet. Let’s get to it. The above image comes from an artist named Hannah, who has proven that her finger is firmly on the pulse of the Internet by paying tribute both to the death of beloved children’s author Maurice Sendak as well as the work of beloved nerd-God Joss Whedon by mashing up Sendak’s artistic style with the cast of The Avengers. Is cute, no?

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Whether you appreciate his work or not, there’s no arguing that director Jay Roach solidified his place in the world of big screen comedies by launching both the Austin Powers and Meet the Parents franchises. As many tickets as those movies sold, he probably never had to work in the movie business again. Unfortunately, he did, and he made Dinner for Schmucks, a movie that hasn’t had very many nice things said about it by anyone. After a brief break from the comedy world, directing the HBO dramatization of the 2008 presidential campaign, Game Change, Roach finds himself back in the comedic sphere, perhaps utilizing some of his more ridiculous experiences putting together Game Change, to bring us The Campaign. Roach’s new comedy was already introduced to us a few days ago, when the film put a couple of fake political ads for its two main characters, Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) and Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), up on Facebook. But now the marketing team is back and eager to impress with the film’s first full-length trailer; a somewhat reassuring trailer that already contains more laughs than the entirety of Dinner for Schmucks.

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Though Jay Roach’s upcoming political comedy is no longer called Dog Fight, it does still star Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as two Southern political rivals running for the same congressional seat, and it does still have the potential to be pretty hilarious. These days the movie is going by the name The Campaign, and it looks like it’s about to hit us with a pretty big marketing blitz. Facebook pages have been set up not just for the film itself, but also for the two fictional politicians that Ferrell and Galifianakis will be playing, Cam Brady and Marty Huggins. On each of their respective pages you can also find the politicians’ first TV ads, which exist somewhere in a state of limbo between viral ads and traditional trailers. What you’re getting is really just chunks of footage from the film slightly edited to look more like political ads than they do your typical movie trailer; so they’re not going to make even the most unwitting and least discerning advertising target think they’re watching anything other than footage from an upcoming movie.

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Culture Warrior

There are those on the right who have said that Game Change is a partisan smear. At the same time, some on the left may have gone into the program expecting a SNL-style “look-how-dumb-Palin-is” work of predictable affirmation. But while hit jobs and hagiographies might make for effective 30-second political ads, they can’t sustain a two-hour block of television. Game Change, by contrast, is a gripping (though by no means perfect) two-hour block of television. But the term “block of television” does not necessarily carry the same connotations as “TV movie.” The distinction here is important. Game Change’s central thesis is not a political point about either John McCain or Sarah Palin as candidates (what could a TV movie possibly say that’s new or urgent in this respect?), but is instead a lamentation about how our political landscape is determined (on all sides of the ideological spectrum) by the media cycles of Celebrity 2.0. HBO has been preoccupied for quite some time by the major chapters in American history, rolling out expensive and impressive miniseries detailing the canonical moments that Americans learned about during their primary education: whether it be The Revolutionary War and the stories of the Founding Fathers (John Adams (2008)), WWII (Band of Brothers (2001) and The Pacific (2010)), or man’s journey to the moon (From the Earth to the Moon). However, HBO’s original programming has also taken microscopic examinations of recent, not-so-canonized history with smaller-scale projects like Recount (2008), Too Big to Fail (2011), and, of […]

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When HBO wanted to create an adaptation of the best-selling book “Game Change,” about the 2008 presidential race between John McCain and Barack Obama, they picked up the phone and called Jay Roach – the director behind Austin Powers and The Fockers who also delivered them the television movie Recount. Now, Roach has covered, semi-fictionally, politics in 2000 and in 2008. Slog through the dialogue between Woody Harrelson as Steve Schmidt (the Republican strategist) and Ed Harris as McCain, and you’ll be rewarded briefly with who will inevitably be the real star of the show, Julianne Moore slingin’ a down home twang as Sarah Palin. The question is this: with so much going on socially and economically, are we really interested in going back in time to examine a reality television star?

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It feels like Dan Aykroyd hasn’t been around for a while, but that’s only because I refused to see Yogi Bear, barely noticed him as the Vice President in War, Inc. and refused (again) to see  I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. So he hasn’t been retired or anything, but it’s sure felt like it. Nevertheless, he’ll be coming out of that non-retirement for Dog Fight, the political comedy starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as two South Carolinians who have their sights on the presidency. According to Movie Hole, the Oscar nominated actor is on board, but the role isn’t specified. Hopefully this won’t further delay that certain, ghost-bustin’ sequel Aykroyd has been steadily working on. I’m speaking, of course, about My Stepmother is an Alien 2. The capable Jay Roach is directing a script from Chris Henchy (The Other Guys, and producer of many, many other movies) and Shawn Harwell (Eastbound and Down). Smash all that together, and it feels like reason for mild excitement.

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Saturday Night Live star Jason Sudeikis has been trying his damnedest to make the transition from television to movies over the past year. So far, his efforts haven’t been a complete success though. Hall Pass wasn’t well liked by critics, A Good Old Fashioned Orgy came and went without anyone noticing, and Horrible Bosses, while solid enough, wasn’t any sort of big star-making performance for the actor. It might be coming down to the wire on whether or not Sudeikis is going to be able to successfully jump over to the film world, so now he’s doubling down his efforts and teaming up with some of the biggest guns in the comedy world. The next project he’s taking on is called Dog Fight. It’s a political comedy directed by veteran comedy director Jay Roach (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents) and starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. Woah, those are some big names. If I was trying to make some headway in the world of film comedy, that’s probably exactly who I would be piggybacking my efforts off of. Written by Shawn Harwell and Chris Henchy, Dog Fight is about a couple of rival politicians in a South Carolina congressional district. I would have to assume that Ferrell and Galifianakis are playing the two politicians, because a quick bit of fact checking hasn’t told me otherwise, so that leaves what role Sudeikis will be taking on something of a mystery. Hopefully it’s big enough to get him the attention he requires […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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Dinner For Schmucks takes a while to get going, but once the laughs do start coming, they reach all the way back from the land of the absurd and fly out at a brisk pace. It’s as if all of The Funny had been frustratingly bottled up for the first half of the film and is now allowed that sweet, sweet freedom to run rampant all over the theater. Tim (Paul Rudd as Paul Rudd) is inches away from getting that corner office after taking a leap of faith and impressing his boss (Bruce Greenwood). It’s all his, if he can impress the entire executive staff on Saturday night at a dinner party where each colleague brings the biggest idiot they can find. The rest of the group makes fun of them, and someone goes home with a prize. Tim’s girlfriend who won’t say yes to his frequent marriage proposals, Julie (Stephanie Szostak), hates the idea, but Tim sees a sign from God when he crashes his car into dead mouse hobbyist Barry (Steve Carell). He’s destined to go to this party.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr is all giddy because he’s been invited to a “Dinner for Winners” (though no one has the heart to tell him it’s really a Dinner for Schmucks). He also puts on his 3D glasses to take a gander at some furry spies in Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Finally, he squeals with excitement about the new Zefron film, but then weeps uncontrollably because Universal didn’t screen it in advance for him.

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Dinner for Schmucks

Typecasting can be a dangerous thing for an actor. Roles start to blend together, and soon studios will only hire them (and audiences will only accept them) for that single character type. This trend is usually most visible in the careers of character actors, but sometimes it happens with the leads too.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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