This Is the End

2013review_comedies

If there’s one movie that speaks most to the sad state of comedy in 2013, it’s The Hangover Part III. It managed to copy the chemistry that made the Wolfpack a household name while evolving into a different animal altogether. The gags were angrier, more aggressive, and they shifted the tone from absurdity to despair. It’s a comedy that isn’t funny (much like The Comedy, which isn’t funny) and it offers some insight into the frustrations offered by modern movie humor. In our obligatory year-end retrospective, we’ve covered horror, documentaries, sci-fi/fantasy, and other categories, but even thinking of 13 movies meant for laughter (let alone the best baker’s dozen) is a difficult task this year because a general pall of mediocrity fogs the genre. The cinema is dominated by comedies that aren’t funny. There were studio efforts (Grown Ups 2, We’re The Millers, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone) that fell completely flat, indie standouts (Frances Ha, Computer Chess) that were funny without busting guts, and experimental tinkering (Movie 43) that was just plain terrible. That’s not to say that there were no triumphs, but the amount of whiffs was truly disheartening, and one formula is causing the lion’s share of the problems.

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discs 100 bloody acres

Welcome back! This week the pitches come straight from the actual marketing for each release. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of them sound just as ridiculous as the ones I make up every week. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. 100 Bloody Acres When the going gets tough the tough get grinding, and in the Morgan Brothers’ case what they’re grinding are human bodies. They’re not murderers per se as they rely almost exclusively on accident victims, but what else are small business owners to do when they discover that humans are the secret ingredient that makes their fertilizer more popular than ever? When Reg (Damon Herriman) passes three twenty-somethings on a back road and offers to give them a lift the trio learn the lengths he and his brother Lindsay (Angus Sampson) will go to secure the necessary ingredients to satisfy their customers. Writers/directors/probably brothers Cameron and Colin Cairnes deliver an incredibly fun and bloody romp for their feature debut that manages to shake up character conventions in regard to the protagonist/antagonist distinctions. As familiar as the setup feels it’s actually Reg and Lindsay who become the most interesting characters here as the trio of potential victims drown in their own bickering. It’s a damn funny film, but that doesn’t mean they shy away from the red stuff. Just the opposite in fact leading to a bloody good time for all. (Except the folks who get ground up into fertilizer of course.) [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Behind […]

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Clue the Movie

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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the-blues-brothers

Movies that are able to effectively blend action and comedy tend to be real crowd pleasers. Large segments of the moviegoing public go to the cinema specifically to escape, and, really, what’s more escapist than laughing and being thrilled at the same time? From The General to Big Trouble in Little China to Shaun of the Dead, the best action comedies tend to become cult favorites that stand the test of time and get re-watched constantly. There’s one action comedy that has a giant cult following I’ve never found an inroad to appreciate though—John Landis’ 1980 hit, The Blues Brothers. It’s not hard to see why many find it memorable. It’s set in an exaggerated version of lower class Chicago that’s easy to romanticize, it gets to ride the coattails of John Belushi’s gone-too-soon legacy, and it features so many legendary musicians that you almost feel like you have to respect it by proxy. Putting all that aside though, the movie is really long and slow, it doesn’t contain many big laughs, and quite frankly I have a hard time finishing it without falling asleep. One recent action comedy that doesn’t get any respect is 2011’s The Green Hornet, and seeing as its writers, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, released the impressive and seemingly well-liked This is the End over the weekend, it feels like an appropriate time to revisit it and ask why that is. The Green Hornet made a decent amount of coin, and was successful enough on […]

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Will Smith After Earth

We are living in a post-movie star era, but Will Smith was the last one to find out. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air-turned-21st-century box office king has enjoyed his time as perhaps the sole exception to the many articles that have discussed at length the death of the traditional movie star (including ones written here). Smith’s magnetic charm, family-friendly aura, and conventional good looks (coupled, more importantly, with an incredibly calculated, decidedly un-risky series of career decisions) made him a star with mass audience appeal – an increasingly rare commodity as studio films geared more and more toward dedicated niche audiences. But Smith’s anachronistic career (even with two Academy Award nominations and 11 blockbusters under his belt in almost as many years) was growing ever more conspicuous even before his four-year absence from the silver screen. He came back with the serviceable (read: unremarkable) MIB3. However, it was this summer’s After Earth (whose opening weekend gross was $100K shy of, erm, Wild Wild West) that solidified the fact that even Hollywood’s “biggest star” no longer provided a guarantee that anybody would show up. Six months ago, Scott Beggs and I argued that 2012 signaled, with certainty, the death of the movie star. If the movie star died in 2012, then 2013 is most certainly its wake.

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This-Is-The-End-Rogen-Franco-Hill

For their inaugural directing outing, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen haven’t strayed to far from what (and who) they know. The screenwriting duo (Rogen, as we assume you know, has starred in a number of their scripted films, including Superbad, Pineapple Express, and The Green Hornet) have teamed up behind the camera to write and direct their apocalyptic comedy This Is the End, with Rogen again assuming the mantle of leading man (even if it’s among a large field of funny guy leading men). With a supporting cast that includes just about every comedian of a certain age working today in Hollywood (including Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill, and Craig Robinson as the core group, along with a bevy of supporting turns from a mess of other talent), the film could certainly be far more glitzy and self-important, but it’s a relatively simple story about a group of friends who get trapped together during the Rapture. Hijinks ensue, cannibalism happens, the Devil shows up, a sequel to Pineapple Express is filmed, and all anybody wants is a damn Milky Way bar. It really doesn’t matter that everyone we’re watching is a celebrity, because this really is the end of the world (and they know it, and we know it, this Rapture stuff isn’t a trick). Turns out, MTV Movie Awards or whatever it is the kids dole out these days don’t matter much when a fire-breathing dragon thing is blowing down your door as Los Angeles smolders […]

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Man of Steel

Last month was all over the map in terms of reactions. Almost every major, and a few of the minor, releases were met with raves and naysayers: Iron Man 3 made up for the second Tony Stark film, but wasn’t without its own issues; The Great Gatsby, which yours truly ate up, saw some critical venom; Star Trek Into Darkness has its feverishly passionate fans, despite a clunky villain and plenty of leaps in character and dramatic logic; Now You See Me was good fun, but didn’t fare well with critics; and some took Noah Baumbach‘s charming Frances Ha to task for following a character who can go to Paris for two days. There’s a handful of releases this month which are destined for heated discussion, at least during their opening weekend. A few of those movies make up the must-see releases of June 2013.

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This-Is-The-End-Rogen-Franco-Hill

A lot of people make fun of Adam Sandler for choosing his projects based on whether or not their filming would make for a good vacation for him and his friends. He picks a story set in an exotic local, shoehorns a bunch of product placement into the script to make sure everything gets paid for, casts his buddies in all of the supporting roles, and then they go hang out. It’s not a bad scam. And if the trailers we’ve been getting for This is the End are any indication, it’s a scam that the next generation of comedic actors have finally gotten hip to.

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Pineapple Express

Yes, April Fools jokes are, by and large, just kinda silly and essentially pointless in movie-land (except for this one!), but every now and then, a good one comes along. Such is the case with this fake trailer for Pineapple Express 2, a little slice of movie trickery that actually functions as trailer for this year’s Seth Rogen and James Franco team-up, their apocalyptic comedy This is the End. With Pineapple Express co-star Danny McBride also starring in This is the End, no wonder the team felt the need to cook up a couple minutes of laughs that make us jones for such a sequel. Very clever. Check out the special April Fools trailer for Pineapple Express 2 (aka This is the End) after the break, and relive the glory of McBride saying “thug life,” Franco and Rogen professing their love for each other, and the sweet sounds of music that relies on gunshots for nearly one-half of its runtime.

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This Is the End

Just in time for (insert tons of played out end of the world jokes here), the first teaser trailer for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg‘s This Is the End (formerly known as The End of the World) has arrived. And, guess what? It’s a film about Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, and Jonah Hill living through an apocalypse in Los Angeles, getting trapped in a house together, and trying to survive – of course it’s funny. If the world doesn’t end tomorrow, the prospect of seeing this movie next summer is more than enough reason to keep living. Check it out for yourself:

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