John Goodman

goodman

The past few years have been kind to John Goodman: Monsters University was a worthy followup to Monsters Inc.; Inside Llewyn Davis was the best film of 2013; he stole the show in Flight; he was a part of a best picture winner with Argo; and he was in two kids films that will never be forgotten: Speed Racer and ParaNorman. The fact that that list of films doesn’t begin to  cover all of Goodman’s good fortune goes to show how blessed he’s been. Really, how hard he’s worked. Settling into his fifth decade of acting, Goodman is hitting his stride. Yet it’s the actor who accredits this success to pure chance. “It’s just the luck of the draw,” Goodman explained, while discussing The Monuments Men. “It’s total luck. Boy, I’m grateful everyday for it. The last few years have been a great ride. I look forward to going to work everyday. I wouldn’t trade it.” And why would he? He’s appeared in many critical and commercial darlings, and he’s even back on a series with Amazon’s Alpha House, which, from the sound of it, he had a blast making. The same goes for his time spent on The Monuments Men.

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inside llewyn davis 01

Editor’s note: Our review of Inside Llewyn Davis originally ran during this year’s Cannes Film Festival, but we’re re-running it now as the film opens today in limited theatrical release. The eighth In Competition banner for the Coen Brothers at the Cannes Film Festival is their first in six years, since their eventual Best Picture Oscar winner No Country for Old Men. Though there isn’t a chance for the intrepid filmmaking duo to repeat the same success here, the feeling coming out of Inside Llewyn Davis is that the brothers would not have it any other way. Indeed, while terming their latest work the worst thing they’ve put out since The Ladykillers might send alarm bells ringing, when you consider their body of work since – No Country, Burn After Reading, A Serious Man and True Grit – it begins to seem not quite so bitter a pill to swallow. Tackling the New York folk music scene of the 1960s, the Coens’ latest sees the titular character (Oscar Isaac) stumbling through the city by the seat of his pants, trying to make it as a musician in an ostensibly difficult niche. Hopping from sofa to sofa, LLewyn drifts through life, propelled almost singularly by a desire to meet music maestro Bud Grossman (F. Murray Abraham) while his personal life, namely a surprise pregnancy by way of occasional partner Jean (Carey Mulligan), crumbles around him.

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You wouldn’t think that a movie about sad folk musicians living in poverty in the 1960s would have all that much commercial appeal, but the Coen brothers’ new film, Inside Llewyn Davis, is getting a lot of promotional support from the studio while selling that concept anyway. Already we’ve covered the first trailer, which was masterful at establishing setting and mood, the red band trailer, which added some delightful potty-mouth to the mix, and a third trailer, which told us a bit more about the dramatic conflict of the film. That’s kind of a lot of trailers already, and seeing as Llewyn Davis is obviously one of the movies many of us are looking forward to most this year, we might be getting close to hitting the limit of footage we want to see from it before it gets released. Before we go sticking our heads in the sand for fear of spoiling things, it’s probably okay that we watch at least one more ad though. This is a Coen brothers joint after all, so it’s bound to be dense with good stuff we haven’t seen yet. Plus, this new trailer is mostly just a remix of moments that we’ve already seen, with two new big laughs involving suicide and Tang thrown in.

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review monsters university

The friends you make in college are the ones you make for life, right? Monsters University certainly thinks so, using the film as a prequel to Monsters, Inc. to tell the origin story behind how Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley’s (John Goodman) scare-tastic team came to be. After a class field trip to Monsters Inc., Mike sets his eyes (ahem, eye) on going to Monsters University and becoming a Scarer. The problem is – no one thinks Mike is scary. Despite his enthusiasm, things only get worse when he ends up in class with the large, brash Sulley, a monster who has the right look (and the famous Sullivan name to back it up), but who also has it out for “know-it-all” Mike. After a mishap during their final, the rivalry and tension between Mike and Sulley only increases and Mike decides that entering the Scare Games is the only way to get his dream of becoming a Scarer back on track. But because you must be a part of a team to enter the games, Mike decides to join one of the less popular fraternities on campus, OK (Oozma Kappa), made up of the kooky middle-aged Don Carlton (Joel Murray), two-headed monster Terri and Terry Perry (Sean Hayes and Dave Foley), awkward Scott “Squishy” Squibbles (Peter Sohn), and laid-back goof Art (Charlie Day.) This rag tag group must come together to win the games, but before they can even enter, they need a sixth member – and that is where Sulley comes in.

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The sequel to beloved Pixar property Monsters, Inc., Monsters University, is mere weeks away from arriving in a theater near you, and Disney and Pixar have just now released a trailer that pulls on the heartstrings in a decidedly firm fashion. Sure, all our other looks at the film, a prequel reunion of Mike Wazowski (voice of Billy Crystal) and James P. Sullivan (voice of John Goodman), have been varying degrees of cute and funny, but the film’s final trailer is the sweetest one of all. Why so darling? This one focuses on the big dreams of a little Mike, and it’s just the most adorable little personal journey story, and just soooo, just sooo…just awwww! It’s just adorable! We can’t help it (we apologize). And, yes, it’s also funny and filled with hijinks and college fun. What a mix. After the break, get the warm and fuzzies for Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan (again) with the final trailer for Monsters University.

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Hangover Part 3

Summarizing the plot of a movie like Hangover 3 is a little pointless. Let’s face it, the plot is pretty much here just to get us from one joke to the next and to throw in some hijinks along the way. So Alan’s (Zach Galifianakis) been off his meds for six months, which causes typical Alan behavior which leads to the death of his father due to a stress-induced heart attack. The Wolfpack is called in to help stage an intervention, and Alan agrees to go to rehab in Arizona if Doug (Justin Bartha), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms) will drive him there. On the way, they’re kidnapped by a kingpin named Marshall (John Goodman) who’s looking for a fresh-from-escaping-Thai-prison Chow (Ken Jeong). Marshall keeps Doug (of course) and sets Alan, Phil and Stu free to find Chow and bring him back to swap him for Doug. That’s pretty much the gist of it. If it sounds familiar that’s because these films have never made it huge point to stray from the formula. The second entry is nearly a carbon copy of the first, but while this one goes slightly farther off the reservation, poor Doug is still missing for much of the film and they’re chasing Chow yet again. If you loved the first two, don’t worry, you’ll feel right at home with number three.

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A Look Back at the Cinematic Facial Hair of 2012

The movies released in 2012 have been notable for many reasons, impacting or reflecting news events both positively and negatively. It’s also seen new innovations, the most notable being the first release of a film in 48 frames per second. However, cinematic historians will also look back on 2012 as being a banner year for facial hair. The entire crew of Film School Rejects relishes glorious facial hair (and yes, that also includes the ladies on staff). We all wish we could have half the style that characters in the movies this year displayed on their lips, chins and cheeks. Now, as the year draws to a close, we reminisce on the many styles we’ve seen on movie screens in 2012, and maybe give some tips on how to grow your own face so glorious.

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Monsters University - International Poster

While not many films about professional partners doing their jobs together tend to make audiences sit back and wonder, geez, I wonder what these two were like in college?, not many films about professional partners doing their jobs together came with the sort of sweetness and humor that Pete Docter‘s Monsters, Inc. did. Next year’s prequel to the Pixar hit, Dan Scanlon‘s Monsters University, takes us way back into the early years of Sulley (John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski’s (Billy Crystal) friendship and matriculation at, you guessed it, Monsters University. Lucky for us, the project has started to roll out some teaser posters (and they are OMG adorable, squeee), including an international one up top and a domestic one after the break. Who knew college could be so totally charming?

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Paranorman Commentary Track

The commentary tracks on animated films are destined to be different beasts than their live-action cousins if only because there’s little opportunity for onscreen performers to contribute. Sure the voice actors can join in, but they’re a minor element of production most likely severely lacking in anecdotes. So that leaves listeners with filmmakers unused to performing directly to an audience. But that doesn’t mean they’re not entertaining. ParaNorman is the only release I recommended buying in this week’s Blu-ray/DVD column, and it’s not difficult to see why. The makers of Coraline have returned with a funny, Amblin-like tale that finds real heart and drama in a story about a young boy who can see and speak with the dead. Norman is shunned by pretty much everyone, but when an evil witch’s curse threatens to raise the dead and destroy the town he becomes an unlikely and unexpected hero. Please note, there are spoilers below, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet skip this and go read my ParaNorman set visit instead.

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Flight

Flight has without a doubt the best opening scene of any film in Robert Zemeckis‘ career. Granted, that’s due more to the glorious and fully nude form of Nadine Velazquez walking around a motel room while audiences pretend to be watching Denzel Washington than it is to the director’s myriad skills. Eye candy aside though the scene makes a bold and immediate statement that this is not your niece’s typical candy-ass, motion-captured Zemeckis fluff. Instead, this is going to be a return to form for a talented director rediscovering the dramas, moral complexities and adult themes possible with live-action filmmaking. If only someone had shared the plan with the film’s writer. Whip Whitaker (Washington) wakes after an all-nighter with a naked stewardess beside him, finishes off a beer and a line of coke, gets dressed and heads to work. He’s an airline pilot, and his morning flight is full and ready for takeoff. A possible mechanical failure causes a loss of control shortly after they leave the tarmac, but Whitaker’s quick thinking leads to an extraordinary maneuver and a controlled crash landing that results in minimum casualties. He’s immediately hailed as a hero, but when a routine investigation threatens to reveal the condition he was in while flying and send him to jail for life he discovers this is one impending crash he may not be able to control.

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Director George Clooney

What is Casting Couch? Proof that not everyone’s tracking Hurricane Sandy’s path on Twitter. Some are still out there casting movies. The big casting news over the weekend was all of the big names that were announced for George Clooney’s next project as a director, The Monuments Men. Deadline had the scoop that this period drama about a group of art historians and museum curators trying to recover important and historical works from the clutches of the Nazis is going to star names like Bill Murray, Daniel Craig, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, and Bob Balaban. As far as I know none of these people can even speak German, but you’ve still got to look at that list and be impressed. You could cast this crew as an office full of telemarketers and everyone would still watch the movie, making them heroes during the dying days of the Nazi regime is just icing on the cake.

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For anyone who has been clamoring for Robert Zemeckis‘s return to live-action, Flight should appease those fans of the director who haven’t embraced his recent motion-capture adventures. This isn’t exactly a triumphant comeback, but with Flight he mostly knows what buttons to push in order to please. It’s a true testament to Denzel Washington‘s performance that the blunt drama doesn’t fall on its face. Washington has major obstacles to overcome in making the character of Whip Whitaker as empathetic as he is. From frame one, Zemeckis and screenwriter John Gatins unflatteringly show us who this guy is: a bad father, an alcoholic, a coke addict. There is nothing to admire about him, not even his surface level charms, which are best showcased in scenes between Washington and John Goodman.

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Movies based on true stories are rarely — if even ever — 100% accurate. To make it an engaging story for an audience, obviously some dramatic license must be used. And for the time constraints of a feature, there has to be a good deal of condensing and abridging and in many cases exclusion. For the full accounts of real life, we may have nonfiction books or magazine articles or the Internet, and these more extensive and comprehensive tools are easily accessed after seeing the film in order to get at the greater truth. Movies based on true stories are more like teasers of true stories. And like most advertisements they have to stretch reality to pique our interest. Argo is certainly that kind of teaser. But are people giving Ben Affleck‘s latest too much credit in the accuracy department? I keep reading stuff about how the actor/director aimed for realism (see the post from yesterday about the film’s sound design), which may be the case in terms of tone and technical accomplishments such as period costumes and production design. There is quality to the recreation of time and place, if not all facts. Meanwhile, many critics are calling this film “stranger than fiction,” which is very misleading given just how much fictionalizing went into the script in order for it to have themes and a whole lot of suspense (too much, in my opinion, near the point of feeling like self-parody).

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It’s a real surprise how apolitical Argo is. There are parallels one could make from today’s headlines, but as director Ben Affleck sees it, the movie comes down to one key theme: the power of storytelling. Whether it’s from his own industry or the United States intelligence service, stories can make for a powerful weapon. In Argo‘s case, it’s to entertain. In the events the film chronicles, it was to save lives. To make sure Argo the movie did its intended job, Affleck copied some of the all time great filmmakers of the 1970s and went through history’s finest classics to make the era come alive. The inspiration he got didn’t only come from Martin Scorsese or Sidney Lumet, but also from unexpected places, such as John Carpenter’s The Thing and Matt Reeves’s Let Me In. In many ways, Argo is a love letter to 70s filmmaking, and Ben Affleck clearly wore that love on his sleeve during a recent roundtable interview, along with his co-stars John Goodman and Bryan Cranston.

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Argo John Goodman Alan Arkin Ben Affleck

The November 4th, 1979 takeover of the American embassy in Iran by students and other revolutionaries was front page news around the world as 52 American hostages were held captive. Negotiations were attempted and military strikes were considered, but the crisis didn’t end until well over a year later when they were all finally released. Lesser known, and in fact unknown to the public until 1997 when it was declassified, is the story of six Americans who escaped the embassy that November day to risk capture and possible execution as they awaited an unlikely rescue. It turned out to be a very unlikely rescue indeed. Argo is Ben Affleck‘s third film as director, and while it lacks the darkly emotional impact of Gone Baby Gone and the kinetic shoot ‘em up action of The Town it stands tall as his best and most entertaining film yet. Brilliant character actors swirl through the constantly surprising true story alongside wonderful period details, humor, humanity and the most suspenseful thirty minutes of the year.

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Editor’s note: With FSR favorite ParaNorman opening today, we thought it was only appropriate to re-post our very special set visit from the film, originally posted on May 21, 2012. I recently visited a nondescript building outside Portland, Oregon that would feel right at home in any corporate office park in America. Nothing about the bland, uninteresting exterior even hinted at what to expect beyond the front doors. There’s no sign outside to tell you where you are. No iconic sculptures alluding to what they do inside. Nothing at all that even hints at the harmonious blend of magic and technology within. But make no mistake, what LAIKA Studios is hiding inside those four generic-looking walls is nothing short of a revolution in film production…a revolution 115 years in the making. LAIKA is the studio behind 2009′s critical and commercial hit, Coraline, a film that utilized creepy but beautiful stop-motion puppetry to tell Neil Gaiman’s dark childhood fable. Their follow-up feature is an original work called ParaNorman. It’s an Amblin-like tale of a small New England town, a very special boy who can see and talk with the dead, and a zombie uprising that threatens to destroy them all. And yes, it’s a comedy. Keep reading for a peek behind the scenes of LAIKA Studios’ upcoming production, ParaNorman, and their secret, high-tech weapon…Rapid Prototype 3D printers.

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John Goodman in The Hangover Part III?

Though he’s had a long and storied career full of great roles both dramatic and comedic, sometimes it still feels like John Goodman is still an underutilized and under-appreciated actor. No matter what movie you put him in, his presence alone is guaranteed to class the production up and serve as one of its highlights. The guy is just that good, and the fact that he hasn’t had a real starring role since the days of King Ralph and The Babe is kind of a shame. Of course, beggars can’t be choosers, so when it comes to watching John Goodman work, us film fans will take what we can get. And though it is a bit bittersweet, Variety has word that this status quo is looking to continue. The latest development in the man’s career is that he’s negotiating to take a small role in The Hangover Part III, which is said to be a villain role, similar to the one that Paul Giamatti played in the first sequel.

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The odds don’t seem so great that The Internship is going to end up being a funny movie. First off, it’s being directed by Shawn Levy, a man who’s known for putting together safe, boring studio stuff like Cheaper by the Dozen and Night and the Museum, and who even managed to disappoint when working with hilarious comedic leads Steve Carell and Tina Fey on Date Night. Secondly, it’s coming from a script that was penned by Vince Vaughn, and when Vince Vaughn is the one doing the writing, he gives us films like The Break-Up and Couples Retreat – not exactly titles that would make anyone’s top ten list of recent comedies. That’s not to say that the upcoming film is doomed to failure, however. It’s got a premise that’s relatable to modern times and an impressive-on-paper cast working in its favor, and that may be enough to help it beat the odds. The Internship stars Vaughn and Owen Wilson as a couple of old school salespeople who find that their jobs are being made obsolete due to the rise of online marketing and shopping. Not taking their newfound lack of employment lying down, the duo decide to reinvent themselves and become the two most aged interns at a major tech company. Bumbling presumably ensues.

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Monsters University

Pixar and Disney are going back to college (and back into sequel/prequel territory) with Monsters University. The movie, of course, acts as a feeder school into Monsters, Inc., and features John Goodman and Billy Crystal in their old/younger voice roles. The film is being directed by Dan Scanlon (one of the writers on Cars), and while it’s not at all an indicator of quality, this first teaser trailer is pretty dull. It’s not at all imbued with the kind of Pixar magic we’ve come to love – with its generic voice over and obvious gags. The timing doesn’t even seem right. Check it out for yourself:

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Remember when Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Richard Kind, Scoot McNairy, Chris Messina, Michael Parks, Kerry Bishe, Kyle Chandler, Rory Cochrane, and Tate Donovan all got together to make a movie about a fake movie being made in order to rescue hostages being held in Iran? This trailer is one more slice of proof that Affleck knows what the hell he’s doing behind a camera, especially when it comes to the slightly funny world of serious issues. Instead of crime-riddled Boston, this time it’s the Iranian Hostage Crisis, a fake script called Argo and a crazy attempt at rescuing 6 people. It’s Ocean’s Eleven except the stakes are real, and they’re life-or-death. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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