Paul Rudd

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Filmmaker David Gordon Green (thankfully) shied away from his recent spat of studio comedies (like the wonderful Pineapple Express and the dismal The Sitter) for his latest feature, a lo-fi affair starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch that’s based on, of all things, an Icelandic comedy titled Either Way. It does not get more lo-fi than that. The film centers on a pair of highway repairmen who are stuck spending the summer, well, repairing highway and hanging out with each other – so it’s too bad that they don’t like each other so much. Straight-laced Alvin (Rudd) is more concerned with doing his work and relaxing in the woods, while oddball Lance (Hirsch) is interested in…well, slightly different pursuits. It’s a bit more complicated than that, as the two also have a personal link that guarantees that even surviving the summer together doesn’t spell the end of their relationship, but Prince Avalanche certainly looks an unexpectedly amusing slice of life. Let’s do some highway repair with Rudd and Hirsch after the break.

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Almost Christmas, the latest film from Junebug director Phil Morrison, helps to explain the process of how all those Christmas trees get to the street corners of Brooklyn and why they cost so much. It does indeed take a lot to get them there, as we discover from a pair of tree-transporting frenenemies from Québec, played by Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd. Once you get past the fact that these guys are probably the only two Québecois who don’t speak French, the actors win in their roles. However, the film is filled with pacing issues as well as comic situations and characters that just fall completely flat. Giamatti plays Dennis, a guy who has just completed a four-year prison sentence for a botched heist. He heads to the home of ex-wife Therese (Amy Landecker) to see their young daughter (Tatyana Richaud), only to discover that she’s been told he died of cancer. He also finds out that Therese is in love with his best friend, Rene (Rudd). The two men already have a complicated relationship, as Rene bailed on their heist, which caused Dennis to be caught by the police.

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Admission

What if Tina Fey and Paul Rudd finally starred in a movie together – as romantic foils, no less – and it somehow managed to be just barely charming or funny or sweet or real? Too bad, that movie now exists and it’s Paul Weitz‘s Admission. Based on Jean Hanff Korelitz‘s novel of the same name, Admission features Fey as Portia Nathan, a go-getter of the highest order, a Princeton admissions officer who relishes her work (which she is, it must be noted, quite good at), while ignoring a number of hiccups in her personal life. When Portia finds out she’s up for a promotion (against her co-worker Corinne, amusingly and sharply played by Gloria Reuben), it makes the news that her dirtbag boyfriend (Michael Sheen, at his caddish best) has left her for a pregnant Virginia Woolf scholar go down just a bit more smoothly. But how can Portia make her work really stand out in the eyes of her boss (played, of course, by Wallace Shawn)? What can Portia offer that Corinne can’t? Well, Paul Rudd. Sort of. A former college acquaintance of Portia, Rudd’s John Pressman has recently started his own offbeat alternative school and he’s got one hell of a candidate for Princeton. Nat Wolff‘s Jeremiah is a charmer with a wealth of unique talents, a hunger for learning, and an adorable sprit. Oh, and Portia? He might be that kid that you gave up back in college. That you haven’t thought about for years. That you’ve never once mentioned wanting to see. And John knows it.

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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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There is a lot of buzz about the live singing on the set Les Misérables. All of the actors sang as the cameras rolled rather than recording in a studio first, and that’s a great accomplishment since many of the actors have wonderful singing voices and don’t exactly need autotuning. This live singing in combination with the film’s grand scope – finally, a film of the legendary Boublil/Schönberg musical! – is supposed to make this a great film. But, very sadly, it does not. While the film is filled with a lot of great talent and certainly is watchable, it buckles under the often mind-blowingly heavy-handed direction by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) and never becomes the epic piece of cinema that it so clearly set out to be. The story is fairly common knowledge (and quite involved), but Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is finishing up his prison sentence for breaking into a house and stealing a loaf of bread. He thinks he is free, but because of being on a stringent parole at the hand of Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) he cannot get employment after his sentence is over. Valjean vows to make another go of it and when we find him years later, he is living under an assumed identity as the mayor of a small town. Valjean pays his good fortune forward when he helps factory worker-come-prostitute Fantine (Anne Hathaway). After Fantine’s death, he bails her young daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen) out of an abusive boarding house […]

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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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Admission Trailer

How could a modern woman possibly handle becoming a mother when it already takes all of your focus to reach your goals in the professional world? It’s a question that’s been one of the major preoccupations of Tina Fey’s work as an actress, and while there are no easy answers to it, watching Fey struggle is usually fertile grounds for comedy. It will always be true that taking someone who’s generally bumbling and self-centered and forcing a kid upon them—while traumatic for the child—is hilarious for the casual observer. But, by the looks of its new trailer, it seems like Fey’s new starring vehicle, Admission, might be treading on familiar ground one time too many. The deal here is that Fey’s character gave up a kid when she was in college, and now that said kid is teenaged and attending a hippie school run by Paul Rudd, Rudd has taken it upon himself to reunite mother and son. While Fey is generally incredulous about the idea at first, eventually she finds herself becoming attached to her long lost progeny…and she might even be developing some feelings for that charming and handsome guy who brought them back together.

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower Review

In attempting to write a review for Stephen Chbosky‘s cinematic adaptation of his own novel of the same name, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I ran into a problem (a problem big enough that I’d feel the need to use frequent “I” statements in said review, a big no-no in my book). It’s impossible for me to write a review of Perks that would, in any way, be able to masquerade as an objective take on the material (and, of course, no review is ever wholly objective, and you’d do well to remember that straight away), because Chbosky’s book made an indelible mark on me as a teenager, one that I’ve never been quite able to shake. Chbosky’s book was published on February 1, 1999. I got a copy of the book as a gift from my first boyfriend about two weeks later. For those of you not keeping track on my personal biography, I was fifteen in the winter of 1999, a sophomore in high school who, though lucky enough to have a ton of friends and great parents and good grades, still felt a bit awkward (being a bookworm and a movie buff and a modern art freak didn’t help — these weren’t cool things to be, yet). I’ll stop you there — yes, everyone felt awkward in high school, but the experience of being a teenager is a profoundly insular one, so most of us don’t know (often for quite some time) that everyone else felt […]

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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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Culture Warrior

Two nights ago, Aaron Sorkin’s heavily-anticipated and rather polarizing new show The Newsroom aired its debut on HBO. With the pilot’s central focus on the BP oilrig explosion, the premium cable network has established itself (alongside with their recent TV movies) as the primary venue for dramatizing recent political history. However, other contemporary television shows have addressed political issues well beyond the headlines of the past few years. In this election year, it seems that TV comedies and dramas from several networks have a surprising amount to say about the political process in a way that resonates with this uncertain, often frustrating moment. Here’s how The Newsroom stacks up against a triumvirate of other TV shows with overtly political themes…

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We learned not too long ago that David Gordon Green has made a movie that’s so low budget and has so much indie cred, nobody even heard about it until it was already finished shooting. It’s called Prince Avalanche, it stars Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch as a couple of road workers painting the lines on isolated and little used roads, and it’s a remake of a 2011 Icelandic film called Either Way. Since most everyone is in agreement that the David Gordon Green who makes small, experimental films is the best David Gordon Green there is, said news was generally accepted as being good news. But things get even better. Now there’s word that this new film will be bringing back memories of Green’s earlier, indie-r work even more so than we may have imagined. Consequence of Sound is reporting that Austin, Texas band Explosions in the Sky have agreed to make some time to score the film once their current tour wraps up in August. The guys from Explosions in the Sky and Green have all known each other for quite a while, as he’s already used a bunch of their music in his earlier works All the Real Girls and Snow Angels.

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Ed Helms might not be the first person that comes to mind when you think of comedy superstars, but his comedic take on uptight, preppy white people has taken him pretty far in the business up to this point. He’s proved that he can be an important part of an ensemble by enduring as a reoccurring character on TV’s The Office, he’s proved that he can anchor a film as a relatable protagonist in the underrated Cedar Rapids, and he’s proved that he can be a key component in a hugely successful franchise with the Hangover films. If Helms plays his cards right going forward, he could possibly become one of the biggest comedic actors working. So what’s he got on his horizon? Well, in addition to his continued work on The Office and a planned third film in the Hangover series, Deadline Alpharetta is reporting that the sweater-vested one has signed on to two new projects. The first is said to be something of a cameo. He’ll be appearing as Jason Sudeikis’s shady boss in director Rawson Thurber’s (Dodgeball) upcoming comedy We’re the Millers. The film, which Sudeikis stars in, is said to be about a crew of experienced drug smugglers who pose as a fake family and try to get a large amount of marijuana  across the US/Mexico border. The film is also said to have Jennifer Aniston and Nick Offerman on board, which is good news because Offerman is always hilarious and Aniston, well…she always looks pretty?

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While we were all busy lamenting the fact that David Gordon Green has given up making interesting indie films in favor of dumb comedies and arguing about whether or not his remake of Dario Argento’s Suspiria is a good idea or sacrilegious, he went and made a new movie without even telling us about it. The nerve! And turns out, not only does it sound like his new film is going to be a return to smaller, more interesting storytelling, but it’s also going to be a preview of what it looks like when he takes a foreign film and adapts it. Green’s new project is called Prince Avalanche, but it’s a remake of an Icelandic film from 2011 called Either Way. In the original, two men played by Hilmar Guðjónsson and Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson spend their summer painting lines on the roads that stretch into remote parts of northern Iceland and end up meeting danger and experiencing personal growth. In Green’s remake the two men are played by Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, and apparently they’re going to be painting lines on roads that exist somewhere that looks a lot like Austin, Texas; because Twitch confirms that the film was shot there last month.

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After his break-out performance in We Need to Talk About Kevin, it looked as if Ezra Miller would be permanently doomed to creeper status, haunting the edges of our collective cinematic nightmares forever, so I was predictably cagey about his casting as Patrick in Stephen Chbosky‘s The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. Author Chbosky has adapted his own (beloved) novel for the film (which he also directs), and while so much of the film’s other casting – namely Logan Lerman as protagonist Charlie – seemed spot-on, Miller bothered. Patrick is one of the first people who makes Charlie feel accepted in high school – a profound feat once you’re aware of how much young Charlie has already endured and how much Patrick himself is going through – and Miller hasn’t previously seemed to be the type of actor who could pull off such a kind-hearted character. Wrong. In the first trailer for Perks, Miller steals the show as Patrick – he’s hilarious, zingy, vibrant, and about as far removed from his We Need to Talk About Kevin character as humanly possible. Everyone else looks totally radical, too (after all, the book is set in the ’90s), but Miller is the main attraction here. Check out the first trailer for The Perks Of Being A Wallflower after the break!

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This past weekend, a new teaser trailer for Adam McKay’s highly anticipated comedy sequel Anchorman 2 played in theaters, but not many people got to check it out because it was attached to The Dictator and paying movie ticket prices and sitting through over an hour of Sacha Baron Cohen’s stale act just to see a few seconds of Anchorman goodness wasn’t a proposition for the weak at heart. But everybody who missed out can stop crying and start rejoicing, because not only has that teaser trailer now hit the net, but there’s also an alternate version of said trailer being hosted over at Funny or Die. Both trailers have a similar set-up: the guys strike iconic poses, get a chance to riff a funny line, and liberal use is made of that Alan Parsons Project song that Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat used to come out to in the ’80s and the Chicago Bulls used to come out to in the ’90s. But you should give each a look, because the one that appeared in theaters is dirtier and the one that’s exclusive to Funny or Die brings back Anchorman narrator Bill Kurtis. Hurry up and hit play before I keep typing and give away all the gags:

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Director David Wain has been a big name in the alternative comedy scene for a long time due to his work on The State and Stella, but he’s still looked at as something of a neophyte in the world of feature films. He’s directed one cult hit with his weird summer camp spoof Wet Hot American Summer, and one mainstream hit with his criminals-turned-mentors movie Role Models; but his last film, Wanderlust, kind of came and went with only a whimper. Let’s just chalk that up to the fact that it had Jennifer Aniston in the lead, though. Has anyone ever heard of a comedy she was in making any money? Undaunted by the terrors of possible obscurity, Wain is going back to the drawing board and putting together another project. Variety has word that it’s a comedy called They Came Together, and that it comes from a screenplay that has deep roots in Wain’s past. He co-wrote the film with fellow The State and Stella member Michael Showalter right after Wet Hot American Summer came out. It was a simple time, before Wain had to concern himself with things like studio concerns and mainstream relatability. Which begs the question – will this long unproduced script see Wain returning to his more absurdist comedic roots? And, if that’s the case, will a healthy dose of weird be what it takes to re-engage the eyeballs of a public who all but ignored his last project?

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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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When it was finally announced that Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and company would be coming back and making a sequel to their 2004 modern classic Anchorman, the world rejoiced. But, with as many people as there are who love this movie, and with the way it’s continued to remain a relevant part of popular culture, why did it take so long to make a sequel? McKay spills some details on the long road to this highly anticipated sequel in a recent interview with THR. Apparently the delay between Anchorman movies came down to two things: first there was a lack of interest in sequels from the creative end of things, and then there were budget concerns from the accountants. Or, as McKay puts it, “the movie came out and did really good but then got even bigger on DVD and cable. So then, when he (Adam Goodman) was at Paramount, he said to me, ‘Would you ever do a sequel?’ And at first we were like, ‘No, we don’t want to do sequels, we have too many ideas. Why do sequels?’ And then finally, we kept hearing the question so much from fans, and we’re like, ‘Shit, man, there’s almost something original about doing a sequel,’ like, can-we-do-a-sequel suddenly became an interesting challenge to us. We got our heads around on it and said, ‘All right, we’ll do it,’ and Goodman was really excited. But then it went in the numbers machine over there.”

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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