Rose Byrne

Neighbors 10

There’s a great jab at Kevin James movies in Neighbors. Seth Rogen‘s character is arguing with his wife, played by Rose Byrne, because he thinks she needs to be the responsible part of their marriage, and he cites the actor’s work comparatively. He’s watched too many movies and TV shows, apparently, in which an idiot male needs to be reigned in by his more rational female partner, and he thinks that’s reality. I’m sure a lot of husbands out there will identify. But Byrne’s character wants to have fun and be a little immature, too. She can be just as foul-mouthed and get just as down and dirty as the boys, and man does she. This break from expectations is one of the reasons Neighbors succeeds as a great work of comedy. It aims to be more realistic and relatable than your average dumb gross-out movie. In particular, there is one recent comedy starring James that relates very much to Neighbors: Grown Ups 2. I didn’t include it on my list of movies to watch after seeing the newer movie, because I don’t want to recommend it (I got enough flack for giving it a non-negative review last year), but it’s probably the movie I thought about most while watching Rogen and Byrne battle a fraternity led by Zac Efron and Dave Franco. Both movies deal with adults in arrested development clashing with young attractive college students. Either one could go by the original title of Neighbors, which was “Townies.” But only one […]

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Zac Efron and Seth Rogen in NEIGHBORS

Editor’s note: Our review of Neighbors originally ran during this year’s SXSW film festival, but we’re re-running it now as the film opens in theaters. 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 […]

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Neighbors

Wholesomeness does not last forever, especially the kind seemingly cooked up in a Disney or Nickelodeon lab somewhere. Plenty of child stars – squeaky clean in their tween years – have fallen from grace in some way or another. Naked pictures! Rehab! Drugs! (Maybe that last one before rehab! Maybe also after, though!) Indie movies! It’s a rough world out there, and it’s hard to stay on the straight and narrow (or the at least overly family-friendly) path for too long. Such is the case with young Zac Efron. The three-time star of the Disney Channel’s hugely popular High School Musical series (a gem of modern kiddie fare, and don’t you ever forget it) has had some, well, troubles. There’s been some drugs. Some rehab. Some getting peed on by Nicole Kidman on screen. There’s been some oat-sowing, okay? But although Efron has made some missteps and mistakes in both his personal and professional lives, but it looks like he might have finally found a way to marry his panache for the bad boy stuff with something that might actually make some damn money. It’s called Neighbors, and you’re not going to be able escape it this time next month. 

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rose byrne heaven

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. For the past few weeks I haven’t been able to drive around Los Angeles without seeing Rose Byrne‘s face on every street corner. She’s always screaming, with her eyes and mouth widening by the second. It’s disorienting. And also great marketing from the people behind Insidious: Chapter 2, because that billboard of Byrne holding onto her children for dear life is eye-catching. A part of the credit, of course, must go to Byrne. With both Insidious films she’s been consistently terrorized, and somehow, she manages to keep each horrifying reaction less comical than it should be. Her character can never catch a break in these films. Byrne herself caught a big break in 2007 with FX’s Damages, an undervalued show which rightfully earned her two Golden Globe nominations. Before her work on Damages, Byrne had been acting steadily in supporting roles, including appearances in quality films like Danny Boyle’s sci-fi masterpiece Sunshine, 28 Weeks Later, Adam, Marie Antoinette and the underrated sci-fi thriller Knowing. Not too shabby of a filmography to make a living off of. Then, in 2011 she had a highly successful year when a broad American audience discovered her on the big screen, with both Insidious and Bridesmaids. This year she has been seen in The Place Beyond the Pines, the very funny I Give It a Year and the significantly less funny The Internship. But if you want to see Byrne at the start of her career than look no further than the 1999 short film The Date.

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review insidious chapter 2

Some sequels continue unfinished stories from where their predecessor left off, but others just use the name as a launching pad towards something completely different and usually far inferior. I’m looking at you Meatballs Part II. Happily, director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell have gone the former route with the follow-up to their 2010 horror hit, Insidious. Unfortunately, that’s one of only a few things to be happy about here. Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) have just survived a ghostly ordeal, but when Josh returned from the other side where he found and rescued their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins), he brought something evil back with him. Chapter 2 picks up in the minutes and days that follow as the Lamberts move to Josh’s mother’s (Barbara Hershey) house only to discover the horror is ongoing. Ghosts roam the halls, threats of violence hang in the air, and Josh is no longer the man he once was. Insidious: Chapter 2 is for the people who actually liked the final minute of Insidious as opposed to seeing it as the only low-point in an otherwise fantastic horror film. There are fun moments to be had here, but they’re front-loaded and minimal when compared to the sloppy, cluttered, and frequently ineffective rest.

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insidious-chapter-2-03

If you’ve already seen the first trailer released for James Wan’s upcoming horror sequel, Insidious: Chapter 2, then you’ve got the basic gist of what’s in its new international trailer as well. It’s starts with the same heart-warming footage of a family enjoying each other’s company, takes the same turn when it starts to look like their troubles might not be over after all, and then ends with the same stinger of that creepy dude yelling in Patrick Wilson’s face about having his baby. If, like many, you’re a huge fan of the first Insidious and are anticipating the hell out of this sequel, you’re still probably going to want to take a look at the second trailer though. Not only does it include even more spooky-looking ghosts than the first did, and a few more of those tense moments that Wan is getting so good at creating (Have you seen The Conjuring yet? It’s terrifying), but it also provides some hints regarding the further world-building that this next installment in what now seems likely to become the Insidious saga is going to be doing. To be more specific, it starts to dig a little bit into the Wilson character’s past.

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carano

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news roundup that hopes everyone had a great weekend thinking about Supermans and X-Mens, and are now ready to dig into some news about movies where nobody has lasers coming out of their eyes. Read on for news concerning Adrian Brody, Rose Byrne, Pacific Rim’s Charlie Hunnam, and Community’s Gillian Jacobs. Okay, so maybe let’s cover one extra bit of comic book movie news before we put that world to rest for a few days. It looks like Rob Liefeld’s old Image character Avengelyne is getting ready to come to the big screen. Heat Vision is reporting that the comic creator best known for his spot-on portrayal of human anatomy is teaming up with MMA fighter turned actress Gina Carano to make the deal happen. Liefeld will produce and Carano will star in this tale of a sword-wielding, thong-wearing fallen angel who comes to Earth in order to find and protect a new messiah. The timing seems to be right for this one, because that’s basically the same synopsis as every single genre movie the big studios have in production at the moment.

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Insidious 2

Since they killed Darth Maul in the first one (I think), the Insidious: Chapter 2 production has gotten a few scarier villains — ones that absolutely hate wire hangers — to take his place. With James Wan at the helm, Leigh Whannel behind the screenplay, and Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson returning to star, the entire creative team that made the first film such a hit is back in full force for the sequel. This time around the story finds The Lambert family discovering a deadly childhood secret that explains why they can’t seem to sever their connection to terrorizing ghosts who want to steal their babies. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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The Internship

It starts promisingly enough. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are in a convertible, cruising to a highly important business dinner, chattering away incessantly, and alternating between their brand of fast-talking bullshit and slightly outdated cultural references. It feels familiar (because it is), but it also feels funny and zippy and like a very fine start to the long-desired follow-up to the duo’s wildly popular Wedding Crashers. It goes downhill quite quickly. The boys may be back at their old confidence game – but whereas they spent the vast majority of Wedding Crashers pulling off gags they were well suited for, Shawn Levy’s The Internship is about what happens when your confidence doesn’t match your skill set (in the least). Of course, the highly important business dinner doesn’t pan out – Vaughn’s Billy and Wilson’s Nick are a working team who have long squeezed direct sales for John Goodman’s old school joint, and such organizations just aren’t cutting it anymore – and the two are tossed out on their collective asses. Jobless, penniless, and skill-less, the two come up with a harebrained scheme to enter the modern market in a big way – by lying about their qualifications to land a pair of highly competitive internships at Google. Unbelievably enough, they get the gigs and soon ship out for sunny California and the veritable paradise that is Google (sick of hearing about Google yet? Imagine how you’ll feel after two hours of Google chatter).

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trailer insidious 2

Insidious is one of the best horror films of the past few years, and while some viewers feel the comedic elements in the second half mess with the tone too much the film’s only real failure comes in the final minute. If you’ve seen it you know exactly what I’m talking about. The events of those last 60 seconds seemed to preclude the possibility of a sequel, but director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell apparently think otherwise. The follow-up sees the Lambert family moving on only to discover their nightmare isn’t over. Most of the cast is back along with a new medium who they hope can identify and eliminate the source of their haunting. Turn off the lights, wrap yourself tight in a warm blanket, and take a peek at the trailer for Insidious: Chapter 2.

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DeLabeouf

What is Casting Couch? Your daily dose of casting news. Today we’ve got a new job for Viola Davis as well as word on who the next actor to mutate for Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past will be. According to Heat Vision, Robert De Niro and Shia LaBeouf are both in negotiations to take the starring roles in an upcoming espionage thriller called Spy’s Kid. That’s, Spy’s Kid, not Spy Kids, which is something totally different. What’s this one about? It’s based on the true story of a CIA operative named Jim Nicholson who was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 23 years in prison, but who kept the family business alive by teaching his son how to ply his trade from jail. Shady deals with Russian operatives followed. Alongside De Niro and LaBeouf negotiating to star, LaBeouf’s Disturbia director DJ Caruso is also negotiating to direct, and whether the whole package comes together or not is said to hinge largely on if the script that eventually gets written is any good. No writer has yet been hired.

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PLACE BEYOND THE PINES

Note: Andrew Robinson’s review originally ran during TIFF 2012, but we’re re-running it now as the film opens in limited theatrical release. Derek Cianfrance‘s The Place Beyond the Pines is broken up into three chapters. We open with Luke (Ryan Gosling) coming back into town with the circus and finding out that he has a son. He decides to stick around, but since he’s unable to make a living to support his family, he begins robbing banks using his skills as a professional motor bike rider. The narrative is then handed over to Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), a police officer heading into politics and struggling with family matters. The film takes its time in making sure that we get a good grasp on each character as there’s very little overlap in screen time between each. The reckless rise of Gosling’s bank robbing spree and the troubled rise of Cooper’s political/social standing in the world parallel one another beautifully. What the film truly discusses is what someone is willing to do selflessly for others. While, morally, Cooper and Gosling’s acts are complete opposites of each other, their motivations start out in the same place, the intention to provide for their family. Luke’s robbing banks was never about himself; he never wants to take credit for them, reflecting his clear shame. Cross’s actions are one of motivations head-butting his own desires, even at the expense of his son’s affection.

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Dave

What is Casting Couch? A bunch of casting news, all in one place. Today we’ve got more news about that YA adaptation, Divergent, as well as a possibility for what the king of YA adaptations, Robert Pattinson, may be doing next. And there’s other stuff too. You don’t have to be a young adult to keep reading. There’s been a lot of casting talk regarding Guardians of the Galaxy lately, but strangely enough, it’s all been about the same character—Drax the Destroyer. First Jason Momoa was said to have been offered the role, then there was said to be quibbles over money, then someone got wind that Dave Bautista was being looked at as a backup, and now THR is reporting that Bautista has officially signed. All of the hullabaloo kind of makes you wonder if they’ve even started to think about casting any of the other roles. But, anyway, Bautista is a huge ex-pro wrestler, he’s something of a charmer, and while he’s not as cool as Jason Momoa, surely he’ll make a fine Destroyer of Thanos.

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Michael Shannon

What is Casting Couch? It’s the roundup of casting news that knows what Gillian Jacobs is going to be doing with her upcoming break from Community. All that time in the bushes finally paid off. Most people probably thought Wild Things director John McNaughton’s career hit its zenith when he directed Wild Things. That movie was basically the most ’90s thing ever, and it practically introduced the concept of the three-way to the square community through the communicative power of Denise Richards’ boobs. He may yet top that work though, because Deadline reports that he’s just recruited the best actor in the world, Michael Shannon, to star in his upcoming thriller The Harvest. The film will star Samantha Morton as a successful heart surgeon and Shannon as her co-dependent husband. Its conflict comes in when their sick son meets a new friend, and suddenly the very controlled routine that Morton’s character has created starts to break down. Sounds like a creepy mom.

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I Give It A Year Trailer

It’s been awhile since we got a truly funny, delectably biting British rom-com shipped over America way. Where is this generation’s Four Weddings and A Funeral? Wither a new Bridget Jones’s Diary? We’d even accept the merry tears of Love, Actually at this point. And, apparently, the team over at Working Title Films is well aware of that, as the first trailer for their I Give It A Year proudly announces that it’s from the same team as both Bridget Jones and Love, Actually within its first ten seconds. Giving the people what they want! From writer and director (and Ali G alum) Dan Mazer, I Give It A Year follows the hilariously rocky trials and travails of Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall during their characters’ first year of marriage. They have…a lot of problems. Give the trailer for I Give It A Year a look after the break, and start placing your bets on just how long this marriage will last.

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Insidious

Despite producer Jason Blum’s initial comments that he wouldn’t get behind a sequel to 2010’s possession horror, Insidious, unless he was presented with a story that really made sense, it always seemed like a sequel was going to be inevitable anyway. Not only is Insidious one of the mostly widely well-reviewed horror movies of the last decade, but it also managed to make a whole bunch of money without having a very big budget. That’s too good of a formula for the Hollywood money-making machine to abandon. So, sure enough, last February we got word that director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell were both coming back, and Insidious 2 was officially in the works. The press release issued for the film today [via ComingSoon] brings a couple of more surprises with it as well, though. Despite the fact that the original Insidious ended with a situation that looked pretty grim for the family that it featured, and you might have imagined that a sequel would introduce us to a whole new cast of characters battling a similar evil spirit, the money men behind this sequel say that Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, and Ty Simpkins will all be back for this new film, reprising their roles from the original. Is it likely that Wan and Whannell have come up with a great story that will bring these characters back for more hauntings and manage to make sense in the process, or can we take the returns of the […]

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The odds don’t seem so great that The Internship is going to end up being a funny movie. First off, it’s being directed by Shawn Levy, a man who’s known for putting together safe, boring studio stuff like Cheaper by the Dozen and Night and the Museum, and who even managed to disappoint when working with hilarious comedic leads Steve Carell and Tina Fey on Date Night. Secondly, it’s coming from a script that was penned by Vince Vaughn, and when Vince Vaughn is the one doing the writing, he gives us films like The Break-Up and Couples Retreat – not exactly titles that would make anyone’s top ten list of recent comedies. That’s not to say that the upcoming film is doomed to failure, however. It’s got a premise that’s relatable to modern times and an impressive-on-paper cast working in its favor, and that may be enough to help it beat the odds. The Internship stars Vaughn and Owen Wilson as a couple of old school salespeople who find that their jobs are being made obsolete due to the rise of online marketing and shopping. Not taking their newfound lack of employment lying down, the duo decide to reinvent themselves and become the two most aged interns at a major tech company. Bumbling presumably ensues.

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They always say that the first year of being married is the hardest. So hard, in fact, that watching newlyweds suffer through things can be pretty fertile grounds for comedy. Or at least that’s the bet writer/director Dan Mazer (Dog Bites Man) is making with his new romantic comedy I Give It A Year. This one tells the story of a horribly mismatched couple trying to survive their first year together, and from the title and the cast announced so far, it would seem that it also heavily involves the couple’s skeptical friends. Prometheus actor Rafe Spall is already set to play the husband, and according to a report from Variety, Anna Faris has agreed to join the film as his wife. That isn’t the end of things as far as casting news goes, though. Margin Call’s Simon Baker and Bridesmaids’ Rose Byrne are also signed up to play what are described as “strong supporting characters.” Whether that term is to be taken figuratively or literally, it presumably points to the fact that they will be the principal actors’ naysaying friends.

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There’s not a single mean-spirited bone in Paul Feig‘s Bridesmaids. This is a rare comedy, in the sense of how sweet and clearly in love the director and cast are with its characters. This is a film about genuinely good people who make terrible, but understandable, mistakes. Whenever the tone skirts towards taking a mean turn, Feig reverts back to honesty and realism. The writer-director is no stranger to that type of grounded comedy; just look at his cult classic show Freaks and Geeks. The only character that many will find despicable is one: Ted (played by Jon Hamm). Ted is that moronic jock who thinks he can take and have whatever he wants. Nearly every other line he says reeks of an idiot, and yet he’s still oddly likable. Someone so narcissistic should never be this charming. Here’s what the friendly and talkative Paul Feig had to say about mean-spirited comedy, shooting comedic sex, and having characters talk like real people:

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Gwen is on a bit of a vacation this week, so I’m taking over writing duties for the one column on the site that forces us to ogle and think deeply at the same time. Hopefully I do it justice. Hopping into a cinematic time machine to set a film in a different decade is always a precarious occupation, but for X-Men: First Class (a movie that doesn’t seem exactly topical despite coming out two months ago), the danger of portraying the men and women of 1962 was even more difficult. Sure, Mad Men had come along and made the sleek chauvinism of the 60s chic again, but Matthew Vaughn and company had to juggle the suspension of disbelief inherent in spotlighting mutants alongside the possible cartoon that forms whenever a guy in a tight cummerbund slaps a woman on the ass and goes back to enjoying being white and male in America. So is X-Men: First Class anti-feminist or a sexy love note to the powerful women of our world? That’s a tough call. And since it’s a tough call, here’s an attempt at giving both arguments equal weight.

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