Robert Ben Garant

Choose Your Own Adventure

If you were eleven years old at some point during the 1980s and had a couple afternoons to kill, a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book was a safe bet for passing the time. The iconic book series was known for the “stacked storytelling” technique, which let readers follow along a general plotline while also making decisions for the main character every few pages. Is our hero Johnny going to get trapped in a snake pit if he goes around that corner or make it to safety? It’s really all up to you and what page you turn to, since you’re God now. While this concept provided hours of entertainment and an economic break for parents since you can come up with endless combinations of adventures, it seemed like it would remain relegated to the pages of the paperback section. But apparently, with the rise in popularity of toy-based films and retrokidtainment (copyright: Samantha Wilson, Film School Rejects), the book series will be adapted for the screen. Though at this point there are no real details on which direction the plot is headed (probably a few directions, right? right??), with Rawson Marshall Thurber (We’re the Millers, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story) directing and a script by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant (Night at the Museum, Reno 911!), the Choose Your Own Adventure adaptation certainly seems to be leaning toward a comedy bent.

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coddry

With In A World…, Pain & Gain, Warm Bodies, Children’s Hospital, The Way Way Back, and now Hell Baby, Rob Corddry has rounded out a nicely eclectic year. That’s five movies along with a show he works both in front of and behind the camera on. If it’s not obvious yet, Rob Corddry is a busy man. In the cases of Pain & Gain and Hell Baby, Corddry plays the straight man in films plotted around ridiculous characters and situations. With one he was getting his ass kicked by Michael Bay, and now he gets to tangle with Leslie Bibb, haunted houses and a demonic fetus. Obviously subject matter has little to do with how he chooses projects. His career focus instead? Don’t work with dicks.

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hellbaby

Haunted house movies and demon possession movies seem to be the latest genres of films that those who make spoof movies have deemed worthy of their attention. But, as movie fans have already discussed ad nauseam over the past decade or so, the people who make our current crop of spoof movies are pretty terrible at telling stories and crafting an effective jokes, so that hasn’t given us much to be excited about. These days the height of spoof humor seems to be recreating scenes from popular movies exactly and then inserting as many visual sex and poop jokes into them as possible, which is stupid and lame. What are we to do, given the seemingly ceaseless onslaught of all this terrible nonsense? Perhaps we can turn to Reno 911 mainstays Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant to scratch that spoof itch that’s been nagging at us for a number of years now, because a trailer for their new film Hell Baby just hit, and it looks like it may be a movie that manages to lampoon familiar genre tropes while still telling its own story, crafting its own characters, and making jokes that don’t need to scrape the bottom of the barrel in order to beg for cheap laughs. Could a couple of sketch comedy veterans looking ridiculous in priest outfits be the answer to all of our prayers?

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Jim Carrey

What is Casting Couch? Today it’s the casting roundup with news about a talking raccoon, a frog puppet, a famous dog, a beautiful woman, and David Hasselhoff’s shorts. So far Marvel’s next big thing, The Guardians of the Galaxy, has been a great source of casting rumors, but not yet a generator of any casting confirmations. We’ve heard about a bevy of actors who might play Star-Lord, a handful who might be Drax the Destroyer, and now the Latino Review is reporting that director James Gunn and company are reaching out to both Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler to inquire about their availability for the film. What roles might they play? Perhaps they could provide the voices for either the big tree guy, Groot, or the little raccoon guy, Rocket Raccoon. I mean, it would just be too weird if either of them actually showed up playing a live action role, wouldn’t it? Definitely. Even hearing Sandler’s one goofy voice he uses coming out of a CG character’s mouth would just be too weird already. Let’s hope that rumor is completely off base.

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Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon

On the surface, the Baywatch movie from Paramount sounded like the usual freezer burnt idea to re-package a piece of recent pop culture with the intent to use name recognition to sell a project that no one in particular asked for in the first place. Since it’s the new operating mode for major studios, this didn’t seem like such a big deal. If it caused a groan, it was forgotten about a few moments later. Then again, the presence of Rescue Me creator Peter Tolan as screenwriter was a curiosity. He’d proven his character sensibilities and ear for dark resonant comedy, so what was he doing with the buoy-stuffed red swimsuits? If that question was enough to keep a bit of faith, the announcement via Vulture that Reno 911! co-creator and Night at the Museum co-writer Robert Ben Garant will direct should be enough to make the project full-on interesting. Granted, he’s got a bizarre directorial resume. His first was the firmly mainstream Herbie Fully Loaded, but he also helmed the Reno movie and Balls of Fury. Under the roof of a large studio, it seems more likely that his more experimental (Stately) ideas might be sanded down, but maybe the personnel involved is reason enough to be hopeful for something this ridiculous. His hiring also means that Thomas Lennon might play Pamela Anderson’s old role, right? Right?

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Good news for a once bankrupt and destitute MGM, their first new production since hitting skid row is on the way. And, perhaps poetically, their new production teams them up with a man who is also on his way back up in the business. The Machine has signed Vin Diesel to star and produce. At the beginning of the 2000s many people saw Diesel as the next king of the action movie genre, but his career never really worked out that way, and Diesel saw his star power fade a bit over the past ten years. With the release and huge success of this year’s Fast Five, Diesel has another chance to make it to the top of the mountain. Could this be the smash hit that will finally anoint him as Hollywood royalty? The Machine sounds like kind of a cross between The Terminator and The Iron Giant. Those are two things that I love, so if they can find a balance in tone, I would say that this project has some real potential. Diesel will play a government weapon that was built to look like a human being, and who has been deactivated for many years. As this film opens, the killer robot is found, reactivated, and befriended by a small child. Presumably a lot of bonding happens after that, then followed up by a big action sequence where the government comes to try and reacquire the machine. Kind of like E.T., only Diesel’s character will love steroids […]

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Last week I attended the LA Comedy Shorts Film Festival at the Independent Theater in downtown Los Angeles. It was a fantastic fantastic four days of entertainment, and had some great panels. On their way out of the venue, I caught up with Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, of The State and Reno 911! fame, and asked them about any upcoming projects, and what it felt like being such a significant part of my generation’s comedy upbringing.

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