Tag Archives: Judd Apatow

[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] – Mansome

7 Jun

Title: Mansome
Year: 2012
Director: Morgan Spurlock
Writer: –
Starring: Morgan Spurlock, Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Adam Carolla, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis, John Waters, Judd Apatow
MPAA Rating: PG-13, language and some crude material
Runtime: 84 min
IMDb Rating: 4.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 25%
Metacritic: 35

I so wanted to like Mansome. Mostly because I’m actually a fan of Morgan Spurlock‘s, having loved Super Size Me, watched his cancelled FX reality show, 30 Days (which ran for three six-episode seasons) and I liked his documentary from last year well enough, POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (I gave it a B). Granted, I missed out on his previous 2012 effort, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, which was far more up my alley, but I still really wanted to like Mansome. Because, like I said, I’m a fan of his work, I like him a good deal as an involved participant in his films, and I liked the people that had assembled to help him out with his latest venture.

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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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Zookeeper

30 Jul

Title: Zookeeper
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Frank Coraci
Writers: Nick Bakay, Rock Reuben, Kevin James, Jay Scherick and David Ronn, based on a story by Mr. Scherick and Mr. Ronn
Starring: 
Kevin James, Rosario Dawson, Leslie Bibb, Donnie Whalberg, Ken Jeong, Nick Nolte, Sylvester Stallone, Adam Sandler, Judd Apatow, Cher, Jon Favreau, Maya Rudolph, Don Rickles
MPAA Rating: 
PG, some rude and suggestive humor, and language
Runtime: 
102 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
3.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 
13%

 

Today I caught a 3 p.m. showing of Zookeeper because I’m on the fourth week of a six-week holiday and I really have nothing better to do with a Friday afternoon. I wasn’t expecting any sort of cinematic masterpiece, of course, because this is after all an $80 million budgeted PG-rated film with talking animals, but I like Kevin James a whole lot so I thought he would at least make it bearable. But, as fate would have, not even Mr. James could make the most out of this whole thing, the script is just seriously bad and it totally squanders whatever latent likability our lead actor here might have in favor of some mildly rude jokes that don’t work even in the simplest of levels.

Mr. James, who was awesome in TV’s The King of Queens and followed that up with a nice transition into movies with some charismatic performances in films like Hitch and even Paul Blart: Mall Cop, plays our titular zookeeper in this film who’s in the middle of two women. One is his icy ex-girlfriend who he still likes and wants to win back with the help of the very cute talking animals he works with, and the other is a co-worker of his who obviously would appreciate him much more for who he is than his ex ever would, but he doesn’t really notice that from the get-go because that’s just how these films go.

But please don’t think that Zookeeper has anything to do with the human story of it all, oh no, c’mon, it’s a high-budget summer movie for kids, of course human emotions aren’t the center of attention here, the talking animals are. And that’s when it fails, because the talking animals are just really poorly done, the mouths are just badly animated and the voices of the famous actors paid to lend their pipes sound as though they were recorded without any sort of footage to time their tone and delivery to which just makes this whole thing seem oddly disconnected and makes you realize that sometime voice-over work should be left to voice-over actors, as appealing as having this A-list roster of stars may sound at first. The whole thing is just bad, it relies too much on jokes to make Mr. James seem clumsy, it has some odd machism undertones and helluva lot of shameless product placement.

I get that this is really a well-meaning comedy about a nice guy who loves what he does and eventually wins the girl. I get it because Kevin James really is a nice guy, a likable everyday man who people usually connect to, and he plays this sweet guy who starts listening to the animals he tends after for love advice but even though on paper making a film like this as a money-grab may seem to make sense, you just have to believe that two separate and better films could have been made with the budget for this one, which with less than $95 million in the three weeks since it has been released hasn’t even been the money-grabbing move it was clearly designed as.

And I just have to take some time to again put forward a theory that regular readers of this blog may be familiar with, and that’s that nine times out of ten, whenever you have a script credited to more than three people it probably means the film will be quite bad. And that theory holds its own here, as a script worked on by five people, including Mr. James, fails to deliver in any way imaginable. And the direction here isn’t much better, as Frank Coraci, a long-time member of the Happy Madison clique formed by Adam Sandler, who here does a horrible job voicing a monkey, apparently had no control over his scenes and players and just had a huge amount of moments take a life of their own and run wild, some of them playing too big for their own and some of them not playing at all, just a bad job overall.

I will however, say one thing for Zookeeper, and this is the only reason why I will give the film a passing grade, and that’s that kids will have a ball with it. We are a time in which so many kiddie movies appeal greatly to adults as well though, so the “it’s a film aimed at kids so it only matters if they like it” excuse won’t fly here. But yeah, kids will love the story about the good guy who loved his job but that after losing the woman of his dreams starts pondering leaving his job unti, voilá, the animals start talking to him and telling him how to win her back. But adults will have issues with the badly-animated and badly-voiced animals, and with Mr. James being given such a bland starring role. So yeah, if it’s a particularly hot summer day and you’re AC system has broken down and you need the cool comfort of a theater then take the kids to see this one. If not, then you’re better off just popping Dr. Doolittle on the DVD and dozing off to that in the comfort of your own home.

Grade: C-

Bridesmaids

25 May

Title: Bridesmaids
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Paul Feig
Writers: Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo
Starring: 
Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Wendy McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Jill Clayburgh, Matt Lucas, Jon Hamm
MPAA Rating: 
R, some strong sexuality and language throughout
Runtime: 
125 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 
89%

Bridesmaids is, without a doubt, the funniest movie I’ve seen all year. A lot is being made about it being the first real R-rated comedy for women, and it just may be, look at the cast and you’ll see some of the funniest women working today, and yes, women will, I’d imagine, definitely dig this on more than they have the most recent R-rated laughfests which have been unashamedly targeted at men, but that’s not to say us men won’t love every second of this film. Because we absolutely will, one that’s produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Paul Feig (who with Mr. Apatow created the classic TV show Freaks and Geeks), but that’s written by the exquisite Kristen Wiig with Annie Mumolo and that puts funny women in the forefront, and boy was that a long time coming.

It’s with good reason that a lot is being made out of Bridesmaids finally giving female comedians a shot, and the success it has had so far, both critically and commercially, will hopefully get this trend to continue, maybe even to the point in which we may get an R-rated comedy that’s also directed by a woman. Because Bridesmaids I already consider to be somewhat of a contemporary comedy classic. I knew I would like it because I’m a huge fan of Ms. Wiig from Saturday Night Live and because the women she recruited to star alongside her in the film are all just as awesome, but that it was this good I just wasn’t expecting, and if this weekend’s The Hangover Part II doesn’t live up to its hype then that’s just fine, because we already have our incredible summer comedy right here.

Ms. Wiig is the MVP of the immensely talented SNL cast, she’s the one getting nominated for Emmy’s for her work there and it’s for a reason, she’s just hugely likable and even more talented, and Bridesmaids shows that she’s an actress that should be getting offered leading roles in comedies by the dozen. Other than Tina Fey she’s probably the funniest woman in showbiz right now, and she has co-written a film so full of her impeccable style of mischievous comedy and crafted for herself a role so perfect for her that you can’t watch Bridesmaids and not be amazed by her talents.

And I love that this is a film about women, because people have long thought and said that R-rated comedies are definitely a males-only sort of thing, but here these women prove that it’s really not. We thought it was because the more racy subjects were definitely things for men, the crass humor or the fart jokes, but we mostly thought that it was because R-rated comedies dealt quite a lot with anxieties men had about women, and obviously women would never really get this point of view as successfully as men could. But then came Bridesmaids, and proved to all of us that women are just as adept about writing and presenting vulgarity, just as good at being openly funny with sex and drinks and, most importantly, every bit has as insecure as men. If Judd Apatow changed how men in comedies are perceived in the last decade, he may just have helped Ms. Wiig to do the same for women with this one.

If you’ve seen the trailer for Bridesmaids or the clips shown by the ladies as they made the promotional rounds then you’ll know the film has a scene in a plane when all the ladies are together. And the time we spend on the plane is what sets the tone for the rest of the movie, not only is everything that happens in the plane sensationally hilarious, but it also serves to show us the dynamic that will develop between these ladies throughout the film, and it helps to really win us over. We have already met the characters prior to the plane ride to Vegas for the bachelorette party, and we know that they all have very different personalities that are bound to be used to create insanely funny situations, and that’s even more true because they don’t know each other, just there because they’re all independently friends with the bride-to-be, Lillian, played by Maya Rudolph, another SNL vet.

But what’s best about Bridesmaids is that Ms. Wiig and Ms. Mumolo haven’t taken the easy way out and given us a collection of fairly predictable but still inherently funny incidents, instead they have devised a screenplay with such a sharp wit that it doesn’t play like that. Yes, the film is packed to the seams with moments that will have you laughing like crazy, but they don’t feel like they have been crafted separately, thought only to make us laugh, but rather they also serve a story, one that’s phenomenal and that will have you connecting to this group of ladies and not only laughing with them.

And this group of ladies, I’ll say it again, is truly a joy to watch. Ms. Wiig plays Annie, Lillian’s best friend and the one chosen to be maid of honor, and she’s perfect at playing this woman who’s suffering from failures both in her professional life, as her small business failed and now has to work at a job she hates, and in her personal life, as her boyfriend left her and now Annie is in a sex-only relationship with Ted who’s an asshole she hates and yet goes to get affection from. Ted, by the way, is played by the incomparable Jon Hamm, who continues to show that when he’s not rocking out the suits in Mad Men he can be extremely funny.

I urge you to see Bridesmaids, I know the posters and the title and the fact that every single character is a female will probably have a part of the male audience thinking that it’s probably more targeted to their girlfriends than to them, but trust me when I say that’s not true. This is just like any other Judd Apatow comedy, and one of the best ones at that, but this one for once gives female characters dimension, and shows us that they can be just as obscene and witty and funny as their male counterparts. I guarantee you that you’ll be laughing hard and often when you go see Bridesmaids, and you’ll enjoy how much heart this film has as well, because this film in the end is about the friendships that form between these women, and they’re portrayed by a terrific cast that have more than proven that women should be leading comedies just as much as men do.

Grade: A-