Jonah Hill

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr hunkers down and braces for award season. He also prepares for an onslaught of celebrity guest stars in New Year’s Eve, which features a poster that looks like a “Friends available to chat” sidebar on Facebook. In order to watch all the movies for the week, Kevin hires the only babysitter available… Jonah Hill. What could possibly go wrong with that? Fortunately this frees him up to see some of the smaller releases, like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, W.E. and I Melt with You. And he wraps up the week wondering why everyone needs to talk about him.

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The Reject Report

Like a mic. Drop the ball. Walk off the stage. Oh, I guess you have to say something witty or snarky before that, don’t you? Well how about some box office analysis? We’ve got two big hitters opening up this weekend, both of them reaching for different audiences, and both of them likely to have decent openings here. The star-studded girlie night is probably going to beat the R-rated Adventures in Babysitting remake, though. Okay, it’s not really a remake, but, I mean, come on. Just look at that trailer. That film, by the way, is The Sitter starring Jonah Hill. He’s found moderate success in his newly acquired leading man status. A $17.5m opening for Get Him to the Greek was impressive enough in the summer of 2010 despite the film not having much of a branding behind it. The Sitter is also the new film by David Gordon Green, who had good numbers with Pineapple Express ($23.2m opening weekend), not so much with Your Highness ($9.3m opening weekend). The Sitter has a good chance of coming in somewhere between those two, a little less than what Jonah Hill pulled for Get Him to the Greek. Expect The Sitter to make somewhere between $15-16m, a good showing but not enough to topple the other new release here.

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Filmmaker David Gordon Green continues his strange journey through ’80s cinematic iterations with The Sitter, which resurrects the babysitting comedy form most famously portrayed in the minor classic Adventures in Babysitting. And if it’s still not entirely clear why the once-respected indie auteur has devoted such energy to painstakingly mainstream work, at least The Sitter is a tolerably mediocre trifle, not an abomination on par with Your Highness, Green’s other comedy from earlier this year. Jonah Hill, sporting his since-shed heft for the final time, stars as aimless college dropout Noah Griffith. Convoluted circumstances find him at the home of his mom’s friends the Pedullas, babysitting their three nightmare children. Eldest son Slater (Max Records) is a cauldron of anxieties, daughter Blithe (Landry Bender) is an aspiring celebutard, and the recently adopted Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez) loves destroying things. When Noah’s manipulative love interest Marisa (Ari Graynor) promises sex in exchange for a cocaine delivery, he packs the kids in the minivan and a surreal road trip through Brooklyn begins.

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David Gordon Green is one of those rare filmmakers who has the comic power to make fairly despicable or unlikable characters oddly sympathetic, and oddly, likable . While Green believes everyone in the world is likable – and how he thinks that I have no idea – he certainly seems to love his antiheroes. Very few David Gordon Green characters one would want to hang out with in real life, but on the big screen, he makes oblivious, frustrating, and moronic fools highly watchable. Hopefully that’ll remain the case with his latest R-rated comedy, The Sitter. Thanks to David Gordon Green being able to say a 1,000 words a minute, similarly to Danny McBride, in my 15-minute conversation we were able to cover a lot of ground. From the greatness of breakfast tacos, a topic I didn’t foresee being discussed, to Soul Surfer topping Your Highness earlier this year, Green goes in every direction possible with any mentioned topic. Here’s what The Sitter director had to say about why one should live in Austin, going through hell with actors, dealing with ego, and when too much Sam Rockwell crying becomes self-indulgent.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that would like you to know that you should not be afraid, for there is far more news in tonight’s edition than the title above might suggest. The title is just a tease to whet your appetite for destruction. Today marked the first official day of shooting on Skyfall, the new James Bond film. The photo above was tweeted out by @007, the official James Bond twitter account, revealing the board for the first shot. In related news: Roger Deakins is shooting this movie? Awesome.

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If you’re interested in every major plot beat in the forthcoming 21 Jump Street movie, this trailer’s for you. Based on the non-comedy television show that launched Johnny Depp, the comedy film stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as a mismatched pair of cops who join an undercover division that infiltrates a high school to crack down on a new drug. No word on whether Huggy Bear makes an appearance. The three-minute red band trailer definitely has its share of jokes. Here’s hoping they aren’t the only ones:

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Neighborhood Watch has had a pretty dicey past, but under the eye of director Akiva Schaffer it seems to now be coming together nicely. The film has a new script penned by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg ready to go, and a bunch of casting maybes have become casting confirmations. Ben Stiller is set to star as a city guy who moves out to the suburbs and gets roped into joining a nutty neighborhood watch program. Big time comedic talents Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill have signed on to fill out the watch. Rachel Getting Married actress Rosemarie DeWitt has been tapped to play the Stiller character’s wife. And now another big name is in negotiations to hop on boar as well. Almost Famous actor Billy Crudup is the latest addition, and according to Heat Vision, he’s negotiating to play the character of a creepy and weird neighbor who catches the watch’s attention. Seeing as past synopsis of the film’s plot have pointed to the fact that Stiller and his new buddies find themselves stumbling into an alien plot to overthrow the planet, I think it’s probably a good bet that we’ve just found ourselves our first alien. Seems like a good choice to me. Crudup is just too handsome. It’s… suspicious.

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Culture Warrior

The month of September is typically regarded as one of the least exciting and least eventful in the calendar year. It’s something of an interval month, a strange in-between phase sandwiched in the middle of summer Hollywood blockbusters and the “quality” flicks and holiday programming of the fall. In strictly monetary terms, it’s the most underperforming month of the year, and has even been beaten by the desolate burial ground that is January in terms of event-style opening weekends. But this may ultimately be a good thing. In fact, if future Septembers continue to exhibit the same patterns as this month, the time of the year in which schools go back in session and you can no longer wear all-white may prove to be one of the most interesting and exciting months on the wide-release calendar.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr decides he’s going to learn history from Hollywood. After all, why not when three out of the four major releases are based on or inspired by a true story. He learns about the true history of baseball with Moneyball (and was sorely disappointed it wasn’t called Monkeyball because a movie about monkeys playing baseball would have been awesome). Then he learns all he needs to know about marine mammals and depressed children in Dolphin Tale. Finally, he faces the cadres of screaming tweenage girls to see Taylor Lautner in ABduction. That’s based on a true story, right?

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Towards the beginning of the second act of Bennett Miller’s Moneyball, Jonah Hill’s mathlete Peter Brand explains to Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane that the team he dreams of creating for the Oakland A’s is essentially “an island of misfit toys.” Peter makes this admission without irony or snark – to him, those misfits are the ones with the true potential, and Peter understands that the potential to be a winner is much more important than the (very distinct) possibly of being a loser. And yet, Moneyball is a film about being a loser, even if the losers we come to know are losers in a very particular context. Can you be a professional athlete that makes a solid six-figure paycheck and still be a loser? Can you be a popular professional sports organization with millions of dollars to spend, your own stadium, and an accomplished legacy and still be a loser? Can you be Brad Pitt and still be a loser? Yes, yes, and yes (sort of) – and not just a loser in the most literal sense (you know, someone who loses), but in the larger sense of someone who just doesn’t win. As general manager of the Oakland A’s, Billy is tasked with crafting a professional baseball team with significantly less funding than the other heavy-hitting teams in their league. It’s that lack of cash that leads to a worst-case scenario play for Beane and the A’s – losing out on the American League West championship, the team […]

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It’s been six long years since director Bennett Miller‘s Capote, and he’s finally returned with a very commercial, very accessible, and very good film, Moneyball. On the surface, the awards contender looks like a simple star vehicle for Brad Pitt. On a deeper level, it’s a film about ambition, being an outsider, and striving for greatness. Clearly, that fits nicely into Miller’s wheelhouse. Although this is only the filmmaker’s third film, the themes that spark Miller’s interest are apparent. Despite Moneyball being a commercial juggernaut and his 2005 critical hit being a breakout indie, they couldn’t be more thematically similar; both films are about men searching for career success, but finding something unexpected at the end. Speaking with Miller, you get a perfect sense of why the director is drawn to these ambitious figures. Here’s what the Moneyball director had to say about ambition, the adaptation challenges of his character drama, and taking advantage of the medium he works in:

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Sports movies have always been one of the tougher genres for audiences to embrace on a mass level. This usually has a lot to do with the sport in question, and in Bennett Miller’s new film Moneyball, baseball (a uniquely American past-time) is front and center. While the film may show limited appeal at first glance, it transcends that incorrect assumption by embracing its underdog true story and successfully juggling hope, love and frustration. The main ingredient that sets apart the good sports films from the bad ones is heart. It may seem painfully obvious and simple but executing that fundamental emotion is anything but easy. It’s a skill that requires a balancing act of love and involving the audience in the sport you’re showcasing. If you get too saccharine it’s not a sports movie anymore, and if you get too technical and inside baseball (pun intended) you alienate a mainstream audience. This is where credited screenwriters Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin come in. They both have an authentic flair for dialogue and Sorkin in particular just won an Oscar this year for The Social Network, another true life story that juggles many different pieces. But instead of the self-destructive Mark Zuckerberg, Moneyball’s protagonist is Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane. In the film he’s played with a suave swagger by the suave Brad Pitt, but this isn’t the kind of cool we’re used to from the superstar. Here he plays his cool as a false confidence that smiles on […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It is a nightly movie news recap column that would like to make it all the way to the end of this thing without getting controversial, political or mentioning how much skinny Jonah Hill looks like President Obama. It’s just not likely. We begin tonight with the story that’s on everyone’s mind — no, not the Obama speech — the fact that Mel Gibson is developing a movie about Jewish hero Judah Maccabee, who led a second-century revolt against Hellenistic overloards in the name of the Jewish people. He’s brought Basic Instinct writer Joe Eszterhas on for the script work. There will be nothing controversial about this project.

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What is Movie News After Dark? Sometimes it likes to think that it is a carefully constructed Rube Goldberg machine constructed by a popular rock band that quickly became on online sensation. It also sometimes thinks that it’s a world famous traveling circus of puppets. Sadly, it’s just a nightly column of movie news and interesting links. Sorry. Have any of you seen a recent picture of actor Jonah Hill? He looks odd, to say the least, having lost a great deal of weight. Is it me, or does he look like a nerdy white version of President Obama? Slightly unrelated is his being cast in Neighborhood Watch alongside Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller.

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Things seem to finally be coming together quite nicely for the long troubled comedy Neighborhood Watch. After a period of uncertainty where it was having trouble getting financed, it now has two big name comedic actors signed on to star in Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. Sure, they may not be the freshest faces in Hollywood, and they might have been even bigger names a few years ago, but they’ve got a couple of in-the-now screenwriters, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, to take a pass at and freshen up the long gestating script they’re working with. Plus, they’ve got an up and coming voice in The Lonely Island’s Akiva Schaffer to direct. After failing as a Will Ferrell vehicle, Neighborhood Watch might be set up to be the most relevant things that Stiller and Vaughn have done in a while. One sign that a film is really going full steam ahead in its production is when it starts filling out its supporting cast, and this one seems to be doing that right now. In the last day or so there have been several stories popping up about new faces being added. The first rumor, and the one that’s most likely, is that according to Heat Vision, Rachel Getting Married actress Rosemarie DeWitt is close to signing on as Stiller’s wife. If you remember the synopsis of this one, Stiller plays a city boy who is forced to move out to the boring suburbs, and DeWitt’s character would be the reason […]

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It may not take brass balls to introduce your film to the world with a woman reaching orgasm, but apparently it takes a tongue. After a brief bit featuring Jonah Hill and some youngin’s, the trailer for The Sitter heats up with a loser (who at least is being used for third base) taking a job as a babysitter despite his heavy use of curse worse and his uncontrollable staring at the feminine form. Does it echo every other R-Rated comedy that Hill has been a part of? Yes. Is that a bad thing?

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What is Movie News After Dark? It hasn’t been around for an entire week, so to be honest it’s not really sure. It knows that its primary function is to collect movie news links, but then what? Is there some sort of witty commentary that must be placed before and after said links, or can it just dump the links below? In the haze following its ruckus celebration of America and the death of colonialism, it seems to have forgotten how to do this. Maybe its like riding a bike… with no hands… while holding sprinklers and drinking from a beer helmet… Lets hope so, because that’s all it knows how to do at the moment. Perhaps one of the most overlooked and delightful animated films of the last decade, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs has earned its place atop my Netflix Instant watch queue. I watch it what feels like weekly. And rightly so, as it’s a vibrant display of Sony Pictures Animation’s ability to carve out own unique place inside the shadows of Pixar and Dreamworks. So the fact that Cloudy is getting a sequel makes me happy. Time to go watch it again.

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Criterion Files

When I write this column, I typically don’t get the opportunity to write about movies from my teen years. I, like many, came into a cinephilic love for art and foreign cinema during college, and in that process grew to appreciate The Criterion Collection. Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused (1993), however, is a movie that’s followed me through various changes in my life for (I’m just now realizing as I write this) about half of my time thus far spent on Earth.

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Jay and Mark Duplass were two of the biggest names at the forefront of the Mumblecore movement in filmmaking that sprung up a half-decade or so ago. What is Mumblecore? Many critics of cinema would lead us to believe that it’s a new genre, one in which realism takes precedence over everything else. It utilizes unknown actors, it shoots in real locations, and the scripts are largely improvised. Personally, I just think young filmmakers like the Duplass brothers were too broke to make movies in any sort of traditional way, so they just started making them in their houses and with their friends. Any sort of genre labels or rumblings of an artistic movement came later when writers were trying to digest what they’d seen in movies like The Puffy Chair or Baghead. And that’s bound to happen. Critics, bloggers, and essay writers need to find things to talk about, so they come up with labels, they put things in categories. Is it a coincidence, then, that the new project being developed by two filmmakers whose careers were launched largely due to online and word of mouth buzz would be about the same writers who created their monster? Maybe, I don’t know.

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Boiling Point

Today is Valentine’s Day for all of those out there who have no reason to recognize such a holiday. You know, that old holiday dating back to 4 B.C. where we celebrate all the different kinds of candy Jesus gave to his secret crushes. Or something like that, I’m not really into all that religion stuff. But since today is the day we’re forced to celebrate love I thought I’d take a mere moment to shit on the idea. No, not on love itself, but just on how the idea is executed in film and television. Hollywood gets a lot of things wrong when it comes to love – like it lasting forever or being so darn cute and awkward. Whatever. If there is one thing Hollywood really get’s wrong is the ladder dynamic of relationships. That is, most of the time, hot people love hot people and not people love not people – because they have to.

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