Leslie Mann

Leslie Mann

The golden age of female-driven comedy that the 2011 release of Bridesmaids apparently seemed to maybe, possibly, I dunno, it’s just something we all wanted hail hasn’t exactly panned out. Yes, since Bridesmaids, we’ve gotten hits like The Heat, Pitch Perfect, and Bachelorette (a film I have personally softened on over the years). We’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the further comedic stylings of Bridesmaids stars like Rebel Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Melissa McCarthy. Maya Rudolph has her own variety show! Kristen Wiig has attempted to move into more dramatic territory (with limited returns), before course correcting into darker comedies (like the Sundance hit The Skeleton Twins, which is a winner, through and through). Still, despite the proven appeal of female-led comedies – Bridesmaids made over $288m; The Heat pulled in over $229m; and even The Other Woman is currently “overperforming at the box office,” after making almost $100m in just two weeks in release – we’re still not getting a massive glut of the films we all seem to want. But that just means that we need to keep mining the films we are getting and raising them up. And we just might have found the next big winner.

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20th Century Fox

Carly (Cameron Diaz) is a successful corporate lawyer who may have finally found “the one.” After eight weeks of dating she’s putting all of her eggs in Mark’s (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) kind, romantic and handsome basket, but a surprise visit to his home reveals a disturbing surprise. There’s a woman in a bathrobe there. Worse, it’s Mark’s wife, Kate (Leslie Mann). The two become unlikely friends, and when they discover a third woman (Kate Upton) who’s been spending time in Mark’s pants the three join forces to teach him a lesson about hell, fury and scorned women. Unfortunately, it’s an embarrassing lesson for almost everyone involved. The Other Woman will be perceived by some as empowering towards the fairer sex in its message of women sticking together against a common enemy, but anything more than a cursory glance at the film reveals that to be a load of wishful b.s. Paper-thin characters, a simplistic script and sloppy attempts at physical comedy weigh the already weak film down, and instead it’s Mann who single-handedly struggles to keep the film afloat with her humorous and heartfelt performance.

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commentary-thisis40

Judd Apatow‘s latest film is a sideways sequel of sorts in that it focuses on two of the supporting characters from his highest grossing movie, Knocked Up. Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) are married parents approaching their 40th birthdays, but instead of getting easier, their relationship and the lives have grown even more difficult. Well, they’re still living in a big, beautiful home and driving expensive cars, but material things don’t guarantee happiness. Theoretically. This Is 40 hits Blu-ray/DVD last week, and the hefty selection of special features includes deleted scenes, featurettes and some very funny outtakes along with a commentary featuring the writer/director riffing on the film’s production, cast and various musical cues. He also mentions his wife’s and daughters’ incredible acting talents. Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary track for This Is 40.

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This is 40

Self-indulgent. Nevel-gazing. Structureless. Plotless. These are some of the shared criticisms that have been leveled at Judd Apatow’s This Is 40, but many of these denunciations have been articulated in tandem with complaints about the film’s length. “This is 40 hours long” became a common joke on Twitter after press screenings leading to the theatrical release, and descriptions of critics’ experience of the film’s length were often provided in great detail alongside some of the above criticisms. Dana Stevens of Slate even mistakenly referred to the 133-minute film as “nearly three hours long.” It’s strange that, in the same month that saw the high-profile releases of several two-and-a-half-plus-hour films including Django Unchained, Les Miserables, and Zero Dark Thirty, it’s Apatow’s film that has received the bulk of holiday season duration-related criticism. Sure, there have been complaints about The Hobbit’s 170-minute running time, but that’s also a film that is 1/3 of an adaptation of a relatively short novel and has been projected on some screens at an eye-fucking frame rate. In short, the length of The Hobbit seems to be only one of several problems, whereas the flaws of This is 40 have often been summarized, and inferred, as revolving around its length.

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This is 40

This is 40 is not funny. Or, at least, it’s not the “funny ha ha” outing movie-goers have come to expect from Judd Apatow, purveyor of stoned Seth Rogens and manically birthing Katherine Heigls and screaming Steve Carells. It’s not gut-busting or laugh-out-loud or stitch-inducing, but what it actually is may be something far better than all of that – it’s funny because it’s true. Picking up a few years after Apatow’s Knocked Up, the filmmaker turns to the previously-perilous marriage of Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) for his “sort-of sequel.” Pete and Debbie have already been through some minor marital squabbles (remember when Pete would sneak off to the movies, or when Debbie busted in on Pete’s fantasy baseball league?), but their fortieth birthdays (taking place within the same week) bring with them more challenges than they’ve faced before, and more serious ones to boot. All their normal stresses are exacerbated by turning the big 4-0 (Debbie even refuses to let anyone know her actual age), and the addition of financial strains, professional disasters, daddy issues, and a major dust-up at their eldest daughter’s school make it seem like they (and their marriage) might nor survive the week. See? Funny!

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This is 40 Megan Fox

It’s less than two weeks now until Judd Apatow’s latest riff-filled look at the life of the married human, This is 40, hits theaters, so that means it’s starting to be time for the film’s marketing team to go for the hard sell. You know what that means… it means they’ve now released a raunch-filled red band trailer meant to lure in all of the teenagers and young at heart people who love to hear people say naughty things, but are still on the fence when it comes to seeing a movie about wrinkled up old people in their 40s (yuck) doing whatever old people do. So what kind of new stuff does this new, more restricted trailer have in it that the ones playing on TV just aren’t going to get you? You’ve got Paul Rudd inspecting the inside of his butt while doing a contortionist routine, a frank discussion about what Megan Fox is hiding under her skirt, Apatow and Leslie Mann’s teenage daughter screaming about dicks, boner talk, mustache talk, and a partridge in a pear tree. Is all of this stuff funny? Yes, indeed it is. Is it funny enough to convince you to see another Apatow movie that clocks in at over two hours? Well, that’s something everybody is going to have to decide for themselves. The newer, naughtier ad is courtesy of Funny or Die, and the film itself is due to hit theaters on December 21. The time to decide whether this one […]

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Drinking Games

Even though October passed us by almost a month ago, Focus Features has decided to drop its brilliant stop-motion animated film ParaNornman during the Christmas season. Consider it a gift to all of us scary movie fans who can adore this sweet-yet-spooky film in the comfort of our own homes without kids in costumes ringing the doorbell, constantly interrupting to demand candy. Of course, since you’ll be enjoying this film at home, possibly eating the last reserves of your plastic jack-o’-lantern bucket, you can knock back a couple drinks in the process. But go easy on the spirits, considering this movie is good enough to remember without a hangover.

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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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“An episode of Scooby-Doo directed by Sam Raimi” is how directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell describe ParaNorman. Their horror-comedy wears its influences proudly. From the John Hughes-esque ensemble to Jon Brion‘s whimsical take on a John Carpenter score, it’s all obvious. Tonally, ParaNorman doesn’t share much in common with LAIKA Studio’s Coraline, a far darker movie. And not only is ParaNorman different from Henry Selick’s film in content, but also in terms of production. Butler and Fell didn’t want to approach ParaNorman as a stop-motion picture, as they saw the technical restrictions in going that route. Instead, they approached the film as if it was live-action, and it shows in the film’s scope and playful camerawork. According to Butler and Fell, they didn’t want to play by the rules of stop-motion. Here’s what ParaNorman directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell had to say about the film’s epic production, how The French Connection and Ronin influenced their zombie car chase, and the future of stop-motion:

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The only way you can describe the new trailer for This Is 40 is to say that it looks, unmistakably, like a Judd Apatow film. Not only are his wife and kids front and center, but so are a ton of other actors that he’s known for collaborating with, they’re all engaging in that stoner-shenanigans-that-still-tug-on-the-heartstrings humor that Apatow perfected if not invented, and it’s all set to a George Harrison song that feels like it was written precisely so it could accompany the sentimental hard sell of a trailer for a Judd Apatow movie.

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Author Jonathan Tropper’s 2009 novel, “This is Where I Leave You,” is all set to become a feature film over at Warner Bros., and the production is getting the cast to prove it. The book, which details a down-on-his-luck man’s week of insanity as he’s forced to live in the same house with his estranged mother and siblings for seven days, has been adapted into a screenplay by Tropper himself, and is set to be directed by Rock of Ages director Adam Shankman. The main character, Judd, has a wife who has just cheated on him with his boss, a boss who has just slept with his wife, a mother who has just lost a husband, and three neurotic siblings that he must spend a week with, due to his dying father’s last request. Needless to say, this one is going to be an ensemble piece, and Shankman has just kicked the casting process off with a bang. Deadline New Rochelle reports that Jason Bateman has signed on to play the lead role, Zac Efron and Leslie Mann have come on as two of his siblings, and Goldie Hawn is set to act for the first time since 2002’s girl power dramedy The Banger Sisters as the family’s matriarch. If you’re keeping track, that means that there’s still one sibling, a wife, and a boss that’s left to be cast, so before everything is all said and done this movie could become even more star-studded.

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Here comes This Is 40, Judd Apatow‘s self-confessed “sort-of sequel” to Knocked Up, and while it looks like Paul Rudd‘s Pete and Leslie Mann‘s Debbie have sufficiently ironed out their relationship issues, pretty much everything else seems to be falling apart around them. Mortified by their imminent aging (Debbie, in particular, refuses to accept that she’s now turning the big 4-0), the pair embark on a new way of life, thanks to Debbie’s “do better” list. As the film’s first trailer shows us, they have plenty to do when it comes to doing better. They’ll work out! They’ll stand up to bullies! They will make their kids spend more time outside! They’ll probably totally muck up everything! While the trailer’s use of fun.’s “We Are Young” is both too spot-on and too grating, this first look at This Is 40 shows that the film should be packed with that Apatowian mix of heart, humor, and honesty that mark his finest films. Also of note, we should all be so lucky to look like Mann in our fourth decade.

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Casting on Sofia Coppola’s new celebrity-obsessed crime movie The Bling Ring seems to be coming together quite quickly. It was just about a week ago we learned that Emma Watson had signed on to become the first actor confirmed for the film, and now THR has news that she’s being joined by a gaggle more. The biggest name added to the cast is Leslie Mann (Knocked Up), who is set to play the mother of two of the female members of this teenage crime ring – but she’s not alone. This movie tells the based-on-a-true story of a bunch of teenagers who break into celebrity homes, and Coppola reportedly wants to use it as an opportunity to break in a bunch of young new actors. Perhaps the biggest break is going to come to Israel Broussard (The Chaperone), who gets to play the male lead. But, in addition to him, young actresses named Katie Chang, Claire Pfister, and Georgia Rock are all set to make their feature debuts here, and American Horror Story actress Taissa Farmiga is on board as well (in just her second feature appearance). With the members of the crime ring coming together so nicely, will it be long before we start to get word on which celebrities will be making cameos as the people whose houses get broken into? Call me crazy, but it seems like there’s some potential for hilarity there.

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It’s time to crank up the Ol’ Dirty Bastard, imbibe in your favorite – LEGAL – activity, and start the baby making. In this week’s Commentary Commentary, we’re hitting up one of the best comedies of the past 10 years, Knocked Up. Aside from being one of the dozen films that have made Judd Apatow a vigintillionaire, apart from being the film that landed Seth Rogen on the A-list, the movie is just damned funny. Heart-warming, of course. What would an Apatow movie be without heart? Well, it would probably be You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, but we’re not even going to mention that abomination here. Just ignore that previous utterance of the title. Anyway, back to Knocked Up, Apatow has amassed a solid line-up for his commentary track. Rogen and co-star Bill Hader are on board to deliver their own stories and insight into the making of the film. Something tells me the commenting under the influence didn’t stop with last week’s movie. That Rogen sure likes to partake. He’s always stoned. And funny. Mostly funny. But one might have a hand in the other. So here’s what we learned from the commentary track to Knocked Up. Cue the ODB!

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Judd Apatow’s fourth feature film is set to be a sort-of sequel to his 2007 effort Knocked Up. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with the main protagonists that Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen played in that film, but instead it’s supposed to focus on the married couple that was brought to life by Apatow’s real life wife Leslie Mann and that delightful Paul Rudd. Once he got his story down and his principle couple locked in, Apatow then needed to dig into his deep bag of comedic actors to fill out the supporting roles. We’ve already reported that he’s signed on Bridesmaids breakout Melissa McCarthy to join the cast, and apparently he picked up Megan Fox somewhere along the way as well because today comes some Fox related news that I’m super stoked about. When it comes to my current man crushes, Paul Rudd is up there pretty high at the top of the list, but even closer to the tippy top is Jason Segel; and according to a picture that Fox uploaded to her Facebook account, it’s looking like Segel is on set to reprise his so-into-Leslie-Mann-it’s-ridiculous role from the first film. This is good news to me, as Segel pretty much automatically becomes the best part of any movie that casts him without exception. Dude was even lovable in Bad Teacher. While I wouldn’t really want to see another story that focused heavily on Rogen’s slacker buddies from the first film, especially in a movie that’s […]

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Press conferences can be many things – informative, entertaining, boring, long, short, disastrous, fluffy, bullshit, and sometimes even honest. Happily, sitting in on the junket for The Change-Up, I found this press conference to be three of my favorites: entertaining, brief, and honest. With a movie like The Change-Up, you’re really going to come across any ground breaking information – after all, it’s just a comedy. Not to belittle comedies or anything, but it’s not a gigantic science fiction beast, a gigantic budgeted translation of a famed comic-book, nor is it a gigantic spectacle of shit blowing up. If you’re looking for brilliant insight into the film-making process, you’re barking up the wrong tree. However, if you want to hear me talk about who the most attractive men in the room where, Leslie Mann’s breasts, and David Dobkin’s color pallete, well keep on readin’ on.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr heads into a lab to liberate some apes, but they rise up, beat him down and fling their poo all over him. He washes up and heads home to his family, secretly longing for the swinging lifestyle of fellow FSR staffers like Neil Miller, Robert Fure and Rob Hunter. But since he doesn’t get a chance to pee in a fountain with any of them, he doesn’t get a chance to switch bodies with them, a la The Change-Up. This is probably a good thing because few people can take the awesomessness of his body.

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It’s a tale as old as time and as stale as those left-over everything bagels you brought home from the office two Fridays ago. Two humans living organisms, as different as night and day, cats and dogs, pee pee and poo poo, by some magical occurence swap bodies. Or minds. Or something. With literally dozens of iterations over the years, one would correctly wonder what was left to explore in the body swap comedy. As it turns out, there is, or was, at least one viable and comedic avenue left unexplored: the R-Rating. Make no mistake, The Change-Up strives to be R-Rated. Perhaps falling short of the hard R of The Hangover (John Lucas & Scott Moore wrote both), director David Dobkin peppers the screen with breasts (more on those later), urination scenes, two instances of diarrhea, a thumb in the asshole, and plenty of other inappropriate gags and the endangerment of children.

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Fresh off of her head turning performance in this year’s breakout comedy hit Bridesmaids Melissa McCarthy is riding her momentum right into the next Judd Apatow movie. The new film is a revisiting of Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s married couple from Knocked Up that was once and may still be titled This is Forty. McCarthy is said to be playing the mother of a child that attends the same school Rudd and Mann’s children do, and her kid is going to be played by Super 8’s Ryan Lee. There aren’t any more details than that, but I’m guessing that her character will also be loud and mouthy. Gotta dance with the one who brought you. Despite the fact that she was the big revelation of Bridesmaids, and she’s got a bunch of film offers coming her way, McCarthy is still one of the stars of the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly. Probably she’s going to need to get out of that deal, because while I haven’t actually seen it, I hear that show is pretty atrocious. We can’t be having a big network anchor tied around our neck when that Apatow money starts rolling in, know what I mean? I say we start a free Melissa McCarthy petition. [THR]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in a fabulous blue feather outfit and takes a trip to Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. There, he runs into a couple blue macaws trying to escape exotic bird smuggles, but he’s too busy getting his freak on to help out. Later, he comes back to the states to visit the quaint town of Woodsboro, only this time he’s traded in his fabulous blue feather outfit for a long, black cloak and a “ghost face” mask. After making some calls to random twentysomething girls who are supposed to be teenagers and asking them what their favorite scary movies are, he spent a night in the hospital from a stab wound to the face. Oh, the humanity!

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