Nicholas Stoller

Seth Rogen in Superbad

Way back in the dark ages of 2012, Paramount snatched up a little untitled comedy pitch from a guy named Rodney Rothman. A little comedy pitch … with Seth Rogen and Kevin Hart attached to star and Rogen and Evan Goldberg attached to produced. So, more like a really, really huge pitch, I guess. Oh, also Rothman did a bunch of work on Undeclared and executive produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which is probably worth something. Well, the dark ages are over, and now word has gotten out about this untitled pitch (now a mostly-titled screenplay), from the guy who’s planning on directing it: Nicholas Stoller. Him, you might remember from the time he directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek and The Five-Year Engagement, as well as from when he shared writing duties on the last two Muppets movies. Also, his Neighbors is poised to hit in a big way this summer –so he’s got that going for him, which is nice. Now Stoller is taking to the streets (the streets of the Internet, anyway) to pump up this film that he might be directing but hasn’t yet signed on to. First, he went to Slashfilm, where he reaffirmed what the movie was about: the first (fictional) time a black and white cop were partnered up. And he mentioned that this new picture’s got marijuana and hip jazz music and that he really, really wants to direct it. Also, he mentioned that it’s “kind of a Baz Luhrman world mixed with Tarantino […]

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Zac Efron and Seth Rogen in NEIGHBORS

You might expect an R-rated comedy starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron, directed by the guy who made Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Five-Year Engagement, to be loose and sloppy, like Rogen’s torso. But Neighbors turns out to be tight and lean and eminently watchable, like Efron’s torso. It’s boisterously funny, yet also focused and perceptive. Who knew a Rogen movie could be all of those things at once? Rogen and the suddenly indispensable Rose Byrne play Mac and Kelly, new parents working through the mixed emotions of loving their adorable baby girl while missing their old, fun lives. After a few lukewarm gags along the usual lines (they want to go to a late-night party but fall asleep instead!), we get to the crux of the matter as a fraternity moves in to the house next door. Under the guidance of dude-bros Teddy (Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco), the frat behaves exactly the way Mac and Kelly were afraid they would, with raucous nightly parties. (For some reason they’re the only neighbors bothered by the noise.) The new situation intensifies Mac and Kelly’s insecurity about becoming grown-ups. They want to be cool, and even more than that, they want to be cool in the eyes of hot college kids (Mac unhesitatingly calls Teddy “the sexiest man I’ve ever seen”). With a joint as a peace offering, the couple gets on the frat’s good side and they all promise to be considerate neighbors.

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burrellmuppets

Pretty much from the first moment the movie that eventually became The Muppets was rumored, fans were on board with the idea, and the reason everyone had so much faith in the project was simple: Jason Segel. Not only did he prove to the world that he could hit that right Muppet mix of heartfelt and hilarious by writing Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but he also showed some indication in that film that he had a rare talent for creating the goofy sort of puppet humor that makes you grin just as much as you groan. And after every interview he did while promoting the film made mention of the fact that said penchant for goofy puppet humor came from his lifelong love of the Muppets, and that his absolute dream project was to write a Muppet movie of his own—well, it was enough to create a perfect storm of good will. Ever since it was announced that the Segel and Nicholas Stoller-written and James Bobin-directed The Muppets would be getting a sequel set in Europe, the reaction to the project has conversely been met with a little bit of skepticism though, and that skepticism can basically be traced back to one root cause: the film’s decided lack of Jason Segel. This time around Bobin would be back in the director’s chair, Stoller would be back to help him put together a script, and  Bret McKenzie would even be back to do the music, but the man whose passion and sensibilities […]

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Neighbors

“Welcome to the darkness, bitches.” Imagine you’re a young professional enjoying life in your picturesque neighborhood with your happy little family. Life’s good – you’re not terribly unhip yet, you’ve got a smoking hot wife, and a newborn baby. But things get upended when the new neighbors you’ve been so anxious to meet and probably make be your news best friends turn out to be the world’s rowdiest fraternity, as is the case in Neighbors (formerly known as Townies), the comedy from Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek, The Muppets) about ruining Seth Rogen‘s suburban dreams. Now, if you’re Rogen and wife Rose Byrne, you’re going to do the yuppie thing, which is politely reason with frat leader Zac Efron to stop. And when that doesn’t work, you’re going to start fighting back against all the public sex, raucous parties, literal cannonballs and debauchery with your own shenanigans. Check out the NSFW trailer for yourself:

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Bret McKenzie and Kermit

James Bobin’s relaunch of Jim Henson’s fuzzy felt creations, The Muppets, was one of the big success stories of 2011. It proved that The Muppets could still be box office draws, it won over fans who had loved The Muppets for years and were initially skeptical of whether it could be good, and it made a whole new crop of Muppets fans out of kids meeting the characters for the first time. A big reason for the film’s success was that it featured great songs like “Life’s a Happy Song” and “Man Or Muppet,” which were not only good enough to be put up in the pantheon of best Muppets songs ever written, but were also good enough to win their composer, Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie, an Oscar for Best Original Song (and they were also catchy enough that you’ll probably be humming them for the rest of the day now that you’ve been reminded of them).

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Christoph Waltz

What is Casting Couch? It’s a daily roundup of all the casting news you care about, and maybe (probably) one or two items you don’t. Some info has finally leaked about James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller’s upcoming sequel to The Muppets. Turns out it’s going to be a caper movie, somewhat along the lines of The Great Muppet Caper, but with more of an international flair. How international? So international that THR is reporting they’re closing in on signing Christoph Waltz to play one of the main, non-Muppet roles—that of an Interpol inspector. Other important parts for humans are said to include a Russian femme fatale and a male lead with mysterious intentions. Actors looking to land the part should start sending in their shifty-eyed head shots now.

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While we’ve yet to see Akiva Schaffer‘s The Watch, it sounds as if at least element of the comedy works – the pairing of stars Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill. Let’s at least hope so for the sake of Shawn Levy and Nicholas Stoller, as THR reports that Levy (who is also a producer on The Watch) has signed on to direct a script from Stoller that would star Stiller and Hill. Not much is known about the project beyond its title – Aloha – and a vague description of being an “island-set comedy.” The outlet also reports that Stiller, Hill, and Levy cooked up the pitch for the project while filming The Watch, and that Stoller is currently in negotiations to write the screenplay. Stoller has, of course, already directed a film that features both Hill and Hawaii (a little ditty by the name of Forgetting Sarah Marshall), and the pair also worked together on its pseudo-follow-up, Get Him to the Greek. Will Aloha center on Matthew the Waiter? Perhaps harassing his favorite comedian – played by Stiller? Your guess is as good as mine.

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Compared to Nicholas Stoller‘s two previous films, The Five-Year Engagement has a lot going on. While his prior efforts only covered a few days, Engagement‘s timeline, if you couldn’t guess, goes well over… five years. Fitting all that time in one movie mustn’t be easy, as well as all the drama and comedy that takes place in that same period. As Stoller described the long writing process, it wasn’t easy, but life saves such as When Harry Met Sally helped him get through it, along with the help of co-writer Jason Segel.  With their dramatic comedy, the frequent collaborators took on an idea not discussed enough in love stories: that no one is ever going to be 100% perfect for you. As you’d expect from Stoller and Segel, said idea is milked for every comedic turn possible. Here’s what co-writer/director Nicholas Stoller had to say about the long writing process, why he never screams, and how the world almost got the Eminem animated show it deserved:

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The idea of beginning a romantic comedy at the moment where most others end is a potentially intriguing and promising one. What happens after the meet-cute, the courtship, the third-act conflict and ultimate reunion that leaves our happy couple smiling and in love? If The Five Year Engagement is any indication, what happens next is a slow slog peppered with rom-com conventions, supporting characters who often outshine the leads, and enough laughs to sustain a far shorter movie. When we first meet Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) they themselves have already met, fallen in love and decided to spend the rest of their lives together. He has a great job as a chef in San Francisco, she’s awaiting an offer from UC Berkeley, and their future together looks bright. Until it doesn’t. Berkeley passes, but a school in Michigan offers her a two-year position so Tom gives up his job and the loving couple move east where she blossoms and he begins to fall apart. The wedding day gets pushed back again and again as Tom and Violet struggle to rediscover what brought them together in the first place. Hilarity ensues?

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Dynamic duo Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel continue their tangled professional careers together in The Five-Year Engagement, unlike the last film in which the pair split writing, with Stoller directing and Segel starring, Get Him to the Greek, their new film tackles some tough stuff in name of the comedy – marriage. The film centers on Segel’s Tom and Emily Blunt‘s Violet and their stumble to the altar. From the film’s first scenes, it’s obvious that Tom and Violet are very much in love, but a series of big life events that have nothing to do with their nuptials steadily pile up until it looks as if their five-year engagement will be just that, an engagement, with no wedding at the end. In the style of Stoller and Segel’s previous works, the film is both funny and true, and the addition of Judd Apatow as producer and a cast that includes Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Mindy Kaling, Rhys Ifans, Kevin Hart, Chris Parnell, and Brian Posehn only pumps up the film’s improv-influenced laughs. The press junket for The Five-Year Engagement was a laidback affair, and one that drove home the point that the film was a collaborative effort between people who actually like each other. Comprised of four roundtables of paired talent, your faithful Reject and a group of other online journalist spent time talking to Segel and Blunt, Nicholas Stoller and Judd Apatow, Brie and Kaling, and Parnell and Posehn. Revelations from the junket were not just confined to […]

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Jason Segel

When the script for Sex Tape was first acquired by Sony in a deal that reportedly reached seven figures, there was talk that it already had three names attached. The story of a bored, suburban couple who make and then misplace a sex tape was said to be starring Jason Segel and Reese Witherspoon, and it was going to be directed by Nick Stoller. Well, various aspects of that report either didn’t work out or were never true in the first place, because people are talking about Sex Tape again, and only one of those names is still attached. THR reports that while Jason Segel is still on board to play the male lead, a deal with Stoller was never reached, and now Jake Kasdan has signed on to be the director. Witherspoon isn’t mentioned at all in this new report, and, as a matter of fact, they go as far as to say that the female lead hasn’t yet been cast, and Cameron Diaz is thought to be a front-runner for the role.

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The Sound of The Muppets

There’s some good news and some bad news for fans of last year’s return of the Muppets to the big screen. Much of the thematic heft of Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller’s The Muppets script came from the question of whether or not the Muppets were still a viable entertainment entity in today’s cynical world, whether anybody remembered them, and if they could still be stars. The answer to that question now seems to be a definitive yes, because The Muppets did so well that Disney is starting work on a sequel.

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The trailer for The Five-Year Engagement doesn’t make it look like a movie I’m too excited to see. Which is strange, because it’s not just the latest film from director Nicholas Stoller, it’s also his latest writing collaboration with Jason Segel, and I love pretty much everything that these guys do. I think the problem is that this one looks like it’s going to be a romantic comedy that’s a little bit heavier on the relationship drama than it will be on the comedy. I like my Jason Segel more silly and whimsical than the one I’m seeing here, dealing with the trials and tribulations of loving a woman who’s career path is taking his life in a different direction than he saw it going. On the flip side of the coin, this little two-and-a-half minute trailer is pretty much the most comedy I’ve ever seen Segel’s co-star Emily Blunt do, and she seems to be rather good at it. Not every actor can do comedy, so you’re never sure what you’re going to get until they try. The image of Kate Hudson getting shot in the leg with an arrow really doesn’t do much for me, but when it happens to Blunt here I got my one solid laugh from the trailer. Emily Blunt certainly isn’t my issue. Check out the first trailer for The Five-Year Engagement after the break.

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Walter the Muppet

When penning their very own Muppet movie, The Muppets, writers Jason Segel (who co-stars in the film) and Nicholas Stoller had one essential code to crack – how exactly were they going to break into the fractured Muppet gang to get them back together for one more show? It turns out, it wasn’t how, it was who. The Muppets centers on Walter the Muppet (played by Walter the Muppet), the world’s biggest Muppet fan. Though Walter has taken great joy in the Muppets (particularly Kermit the Frog, his personal hero) as he’s grown up in Smalltown, USA, his favorite characters are treated as a relics by everyone else in town (save his brother, Segel as Gary). When Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) set out on a trip to Los Angeles, home of Muppet Studios, Walter comes along for the ride and to meet his idolts. What he finds at the Studios is unexpected – but the journey it ultimately leads him (and Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, and the whole rest of the crew) on is far more unexpected (and wonderful). Walter is voiced and operated (muppeted?) by veteran puppeteer Peter Linz, whose extensive resume includes stints on The Puzzle Place, Bear in the Big Blue House, and Lomax: Hound of Music (where he voiced Lomax himself), Linz also has a long relationship with the Muppets. The puppeteer spent fourteen years on Sesame Street, and he’s contributed work to a number of smaller Muppet productions, while also […]

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James Bobin and Jason Segel on the set of The Muppets

When picking a director for the first feature film starring The Muppets since 1999′s Muppets from Space, it’s essential that the chosen helmer has not only the skill to pull off the production, but an affection and respect for the material that fans of the felted ones will be able to see and feel. The Muppets hit the jackpot with director James Bobin, a Muppets super-fan who also has a background in song, dance, comedy, and all that jazz. Who else would understand the essential element of The Muppets – believing that it’s all real? The Muppets is Bobin’s first feature film, but the British director has earned his stripes with some seminal television series – writing and directing Da Ali G Show and creating (along with writing, directing, and producing) Flight of the Conchords. He’s also been nominated for a BAFTA and a Writers Guild of America Award, along with notching no less than eleven Emmy nominations for his work. I sat down with the very excited and very genuine director to talk about The Muppets, starring an all-new Muppet (Walter) and centering on his journey to something close to Bobin’s heart – becoming a part of the, ahem, fabric that is the Muppets. After the break, Bobin discusses how his television background helped him launch a full-scale Muppet movie, his favorite Muppets to work with, treating the material with the utmost respect, and how to build that believable world from five feet off the ground.

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I was already pretty pumped just at the announcement that Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel were going to be working together again. Their first film collaboration Forgetting Sarah Marshall is one of my favorite comedies of the last decade and the idea of them reteaming for Five Year Engagement had me at hello. But since then they’ve just kept making this movie sound cooler and cooler. From the very beginning Emily Blunt was cast as Segel’s love interest in the film. I defy you to find someone who doesn’t like them some Emily Blunt. Score one point. movie. But it didn’t stop there. The wonderful people behind this film then went on to cast the funny and adorable Alison Brie to play Blunt’s younger sister. After that they filled things out by adding the ridiculously charismatic Rhys Ifans and the next big thing in comedy Chris Pratt for supporting roles. Could things get any better? Well, yes, and they have.

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Nicholas Stoller directed both Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek. I liked both of those movies to varying degrees. I found Get Him to the Greek to be an enjoyable enough romp, but I thought Forgetting Sarah Marshall was one of the top few comedies of the decade. I would be interested enough in his next project no matter what it was. So when I look over the cast that has been announced for this one so far, I start to feel myself go from interested to fanboy meltdown. Stoller and Jason Segel, the same team that wrote both of the previously mentioned films, wrote the script. Personally, I’ll see anything that Jason Segel has a creative credit on. I find the man to be completely charming and his upcoming film The Muppets is something that I’m just giddy over. Segel is set to star in this one alongside my current crush Emily Blunt (who I’m watching flashing leg on Conan the very moment I type this). It tells the tale of the high and low points of a relationship, hopefully less depressingly than Blue Valentine did. But whichever way they go, I have faith that they’ll find a way to tell the story with humor and heart. Community’s Allison Brie has already signed on to play Blunt’s younger sister, and that’s great because she’s funny and pretty. Tell me all of this and I’m already on board. Adding in the new news is some delicious icing […]

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Nicholas Stoller knocked it out of the park with Jason Segal in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. He then seemed to save the best bits for P. Diddy in Get Him to the Greek. That second attempt was a mixed bag, but that scientifically proves that Segal is the key to success. Thus, the forthcoming Five-Year Engagement will be comedy gold. The movie shows the highs and lows of a couple, played by Emily Blunt and Segal, and according to Variety, Community‘s Alison Brie is joining the cast as Blunt’s younger sister. She’ll, of course, have to rock a British accent. No word yet on whether she’ll call in Geoffrey Rush to help with it. It’s undoubtedly a great addition to a project that already sounds fantastic. With any luck, it’ll have the right blend of drama and comedy that made Sarah Marshall work and will leave out any awkward threesomes that made Get Him to the Greek fail. Speaking of awkward Eiffel Towers, this marks the second time Stoller will work with a leading lady from Mad Men as Elizabeth Moss was in Greek. If that trend continues, we’ll be hearing about January Jones and Christina Hendricks joining his next. If that’s the case, there’s a ton of internet fanfic to choose from for the adaptation.

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kevin-reportcard-header

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr grades four new films: Get Him to the Greek, Splice, Marmaduke and Killers.

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Get Him to the Greek

Thinking about seeing Get Him to the Greek this weekend? Allow the first five minutes to show you what you might be in for, including a little appearance by an African white space Christ.

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