Tag Archives: Jason Segel

[Review] – This Is 40

6 Jan

This Is 40

Title: This Is 40
Year: 2012
Director: Judd Apatow
Writer: Judd Apatow, based on characters by himself
Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, John Lithgow, Megan Fox, Albert Brooks, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Jason Segel, Charlyne Yi, Tim Bagley, Melissa McCarthy, Lena Dunham, Chris O’Dowd, Rob Smigel, Annie Mumolo
MPAA Rating: R, sexual content, crude humor, pervasive language and some drug material
Runtime: 134 min
IMDb Rating: 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Metacritic: 58

I am, like so many others, a devout member of the church of Judd Apatow. What the man has done to change the comedic landscape of our time during the last decade or so really is amazing. From having his hand in some of the most adored cult TV shows in recent memory, from The Ben Stiller Show to The Larry Sanders Show to, of course, the short-lived masterpiece that was Freaks and Geeks, to revolutionizing comedy in the mid 00’s with films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad.

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[Trailer] – This Is 40

7 Aug

A few months ago we got the first trailer for This is 40, the new film directed by Judd Apatow, the “sort-of” sequel to his Knocked Up. Now, a second trailer for the film is out, which you can watch after the cut.

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[Review] – The Five-Year Engagement

8 May

Title: The Five-Year Engagement
Year: 2012
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Writers: Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Rhys Ifans, Jacki Weaver, Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling
MPAA Rating: R, sexual content, and language throughout
Runtime: 124 min
IMDb Rating: 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Metacritic: 61

I’ll go right ahead and say that the problem I have heard most people have regarding The Five-Year Engagement is actually rather accurate; the film is, indeed, about twenty minutes longer than it really should be. That being said, I still thought the film was pretty damn good. That mostly has to do because of the cast, from the undeniably awesome chemistry between the two leads, played by Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, to the fact that the supporting players are all ridiculously talented people as well. But it also has a lot to do with the screenplay, co-written by Mr. Segel with director Nicholas Stoller, which I found to be both hilarious and actually quite romantic (something that’s, ironically, actually quite rare in romantic comedies), and that between all the raunchiness found a great deal of heart and quite a bit of substance, too.

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[Trailer] – This Is 40

27 Apr

Judd Apatow is back in the director’s chair this year for the first time since 2009’s Funny People (which was a bit of a flop, though I personally liked it). But anyway’s, the film he has lined up for this year, This Is 40, is a “sort-of” sequel to his great Knocked Up, and the first trailer for it has just been released, and you can watch it after the cut.

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[Trailer] – The Five-Year Engagement

20 Apr

The Five-Year Engagement hits theaters next week, and to build up some nice buzz to surround the film Universal Pictures has just released a red band trailer for it which you can watch after the cut.

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[Review] – Jeff, Who Lives At Home

11 Apr

Title: Jeff, Who Lives at Home
Year: 2012
Directors: Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass
Writers: Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass
Starring: Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Judy Greer, Susan Sarandon, Rae Dawn Chong
MPAA Rating: R, language including sexual references and some drug use
Runtime: 83 min
IMDb Rating: 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Metacritic: 60

By now you may be somewhat familiar with the mumblecore filmmaking movement. Coined about a decade ago, the term is used to describe independent films with a very much DIY filmmaking style with low budget and production values, and a film that’s driven more by characters than by plot points, and one that counts with a very naturalistic approach to both performances and dialogue, which is many times heavily improvised by the cast. Brothers Jay and Mark Duplass are a big part of the movement, with their first feature, The Puffy Chair, being one of the first movies to come out of it, and their follow-up to that one, Baghead, continuing to fall in line with that overall aesthetic.

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The Muppets

17 Jan

Title: The Muppets
Year: 2011
Director: James Bobin
Writers: Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Jack Black, Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Peter Linz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman, Matt Vogel, Tyler Bunch, Alan Arkin, Emily Blunt, Zach Galifianakis, Donald Glover, Dave Grohl, Neil Patrick Harris, John Krasinski, Jim Parsons, Kristen Schaal, Sarah Silverman
MPAA Rating: PG, some mild rude humor
Runtime: 103 min
IMDb Rating: 8.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Metacritic: 75

 

I was bound to love The Muppets no matter what. I’m a huge fan of everything Muppet related, whether it’s The Muppet Show or The Muppet Movie or Muppet Vision 3D over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or just those cute stuffed animal Muppets toys, I love these little creatures. The fact that Jason Segel was spearheading this reboot of the franchise only made my fanboy swell with excitement because he himself is the hugest Muppet fanboy in Hollywood, displaying such a sincere passion about these characters and showing in Forgetting Sarah Marshall that he knew how to make really awesome music sequences with puppets.

Mr. Segel would be starring in this film, and his regular partner in crime, Nicholas Stoller (who wrote and directed both Forgetting Sarah Marshall and its spin-off Get Him to the Greek) would be co-writing it with him, with directing duties falling to James Bobin, co-creator of Flight of the Conchords (which means he knew how to do awesome stuff with nifty little songs), who brought along the star of that series, and one half of the New Zealand comedy duo, Bret McKenzie, as a musical supervisor for this project. Add all of those insanely exciting names to the cast that included names like those of Amy Adams, Rashida Jones and Chris Cooper, alongside every single one of our favorite Muppets (alongside a new one named Walter), as well as a chockfull of cameos from the likes of Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Schaal and Donald Glover, and you could tell this film was going to be sensationally sublime.

Sublime really would be a good word to describe this film. It’s a truly brilliant film, and it’s really one that will be loved by longtime fans of Jim Henson’s creations as well as manage to win a lot of new ones (and, since I’m seeing it nearly two months after its release, we know that’s the case as it’s already grossed over $100 million worldwide), as it manages to have that nostalgic sort of charm for the heartfelt adventures of Kermit and friends as well as be charming in a fresh sort of way, being really smart and having some incredibly catchy tunes that people will surely leave the theaters humming along to. This is a love letter to the good old days of The Muppets, to the childhoods of more than one generation, and, going by on the innocence and not resorting to silly modern kid-oriented cheap tricks, it proposes the idea that today’s children will also be able to grow up with these characters, and that idea alone is worth smiling about.

That really is something I honestly loved about The Muppets. In today’s world of pop culture we’re so used to seeing quite crass things, even in kiddie fare, to seeing offensive jokes, and when not that then the jokes are mostly about poop or stupid sight gags and title puns. I worried this new take on old, good-hearted characters would be damaged by the world we live in; but instead it’s not, it’s just a super good-intentioned, well-mannered and joyful kind of film, and the fact that stuff like that isn’t associated with the world we live in today is but one of the many reasons why we need this film so damn much. These guys are just so damn likable, and there may be a couple of bits that are off about this film, but I don’t even remember them because of how balanced out they were by the ones that really worked, by the second ‘Man or Muppet’ finishes you’ll be head over heels for this film.

It’s just fun, you know, spending time with these guys again. It’s a film that, whether you want to or not, will have you smiling throughout, and not wanting for that smile to go away. The film is about this new Muppet of ours, Walter, who’s just the world’s biggest fan of The Muppets and who, alongside Gary and Mary (the characters of Mr. Segel and Ms. Adams) leaves for Los Angeles on vacation (they all hail from Smalltown, USA). But then they realize that an evil oil businessman from Texas, played perfectly by Chris Cooper, is planning on tearing down Muppet Theater to get some oil that’s discovered down there. So Walter, Gary and Mary embark on a mission to save the Theater, to raise $10 million with a telethon. The first step of that plan is enlisting all the Muppets to come back together, except they’ve all gone their ways apart, so seeing what they’re up to now, and how they get back together is what The Muppets is all about. And it’s too much fun.

That’s also something I liked about this film, the fact that right off the bat it acknowledges that these characters have somewhat outlived their shelf life, the last time they were on theaters being 1999’s Muppets from Space which, even though was an okay film, did really poorly at the box office, not even managing to get back its budget. I liked that self-awareness, I liked seeing these characters not immediately popping up all cheery like nothing had happened but instead seeing Fozzie bear performing with a tribute band in Reno or Animal in an anger management clinic. This is a film that knows these are charming characters, characters that will always be hugely entertaining and that that will be enough to get their younger target audience to fall in love with them even though they weren’t even born the last time they were in theaters, and their older fans will be happy seeing a kids film made not with computer-generated characters but with actual puppets controlled by actual puppeteers.

I loved that, that the people who made this film, Mr. Segel most of all, were such huge fans of the original film and TV shows that they left alone the innocence and charm of both the storylines and the actual employment of puppets. It doesn’t go for smart-ass jokes like, say, the Shrek movies did, it doesn’t try to be hip, it just tries to be an old fashioned kind of fun, appealing to fans that will be flooded by loving memories. I want more Muppets films, I want them to be done by people with hearts in the right places like it was done here, I want to buy the soundtrack to this film right away, just after I re-watch the awesome parody trailers made to promote this film, and maybe watch this one for a second time.

Grade: A