Thomas Lennon

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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A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is the world’s first interracial stoner buddy holiday comedy to be presented in the third dimension. It’s sure to be the last, too. A twin celebration of the joys of yuletide and bong rips, the flick is an appropriately manic and thoroughly nonsensical entrant in the popular trilogy that’s celebrated the joys of White Castle in one movie and condemned Guantanamo Bay in the next. This Christmas takedown is a one-time only feat, a symphony of pristine ridiculousness. You go into a Harold & Kumar flick expecting a heavy dose of weed-tinged surrealism, and director Todd Strauss-Schulson, working with the familiar team of writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, doesn’t disappoint. This is a madcap farce that sends the now estranged heroes (John Cho and Kal Penn) on a frantic Christmas Eve journey into New York City to find a replacement tree.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr is inspired by Larry the Cable Guy and his character of Mater in the Cars movies. After all, if a buck-toothed rusty redneck pick-up truck can travel the world, why can’t a bald-yet-hairy fat guy from Ohio can do so as well. Kevin lurked in the streets of Tokyo, hoping to stumble onto some classy British spies and uncover a plot to undermine green energy sources. Then he brushed off his teaching degree and got a job at a middle school where he drank profusely, slept through the day and threw dodge balls at the kids. When he tried to explain to the cops that he was just following in the way of Cameron Diaz’s character from Bad Teacher, they just laughed at him and hauled him away.

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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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Rapturepalooza – a movie where Anna Kendrick and John Francis Daley (Freak and Geeks) team up to go fight the antichrist (who is, of course, played by Craig Robinson) – already sounds brilliant. High concept comedy, especially where the end of the world is in the mix, never fails to excite. Fortunately, Variety is reporting that the movie now has Rob Corddry, Rob Huebel and Thomas Lennon on board for the possible destruction of all reality as well. It’s great news, but it’s hardly surprising. Comedies like this tend to draw in names from the same extended group of comedy veterans that continue banding together to take smaller roles or cameos in each other’s projects. Still, here’s hoping that Thomas Lennon plays an old fashioned guy. Could other State members be far behind from signing on?

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LA Comedy Shorts Film Festival

A few months ago while covering the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Carol Marshall of Carol Marshall PR invited me to attend the LA Comedy Shorts Film Festival at the Independent Theater in downtown Los Angeles. I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to be able to swing it, and was uncertain as to my ability to attend almost until the last day.

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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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Wouldn’t you like to be cool like Zac Efron? Wouldn’t you like to attend his pool party with a bunch of famous people? Well, the folks at Funny or Die are here to oblige your every desire.

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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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