Archive for the ‘Seth Rogen’ Category

Review: "Funny People"

August 9, 2009

Funny People, the (relatively) new comedy by Judd Apatow starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen might be the first movie ever to release both the original and its sequel in one feature-length film.

George Simmons (Sandler) is a wildly successful comedy star, who can go nowhere without being recognized but lives alone, with no real companions. Ira (Rogen) is a young, broke, aspiring stand-up comic. When George is diagnosed with a form of Leukemia and given a slim chance of survival, he begins to question how he has lived his life. He sees Ira performing a stand up routine and hires him as an assistant and joke writer.

That’s the first movie. It then spins off into a second, tangentially related plot in this rather bloated, often grim comedy. I felt like there was a lot Apatow wanted to do with this film, and he ultimately decided just to throw it all in. It could have been an expose of the vapid lives of the famous who are recognized by everybody and k known by none. It could have been the story of the pain and agony that often lies behind the comic genius (the ‘sad clown’ parable we know all too well). It could have been about a man discovering what mattered in the last months of his life. It could have been about the rekindling of an old flame, or about the male camaraderie of an old veteran and a young novice. Instead, it tries to be all these things and more. While I wouldn’t claim it would be impossible to mix some of these themes into one film, Funny People is laden with multiple unimportant side plots and finds trouble un-jumbling and balancing all it tries to achieve.

I wouldn’t say it wholly fails, it succeeds in part with most of what it attempts. But had it trimmed the edges it could have wholly succeeded with all it attempted. It catches you by surprise, for instance, when Simmons’ old flame (Leslie Mann) appears one-third of the way through the movie and immediately starts crying because she had always loved him.

It’s a rather nihilistic, depressing comedy. Apatow said he was trying to make it “twice as serious, and twice as funny” as any of his other films. He succeeded with the former. But as I stated, it ends up feeling like two movies; one where George copes with death, another where he gets re-entangled with the love of his life. The way I ultimately felt about it was that the first half was a better film, but I laughed more in the second. But truth be told, I was anxious for the thing to end.

Sandler is the star of the show, playing a serious and complex character like he never has (well, at least since Billy Madison). He kind of lampoons himself throughout; his George Simmons is known for stupid comedies and characters that make really weird noises. But he’s lonely and isolated, and faced with his own demise. The first half especially showed me the Sandler with the real acting chops.

Apatow did a decent job of creating very flawed, very real characters. At face value, they are all somewhat despicable. Pretty much every character in the film does something disgusting, but somehow you come off liking them anyway. Eric Bana and Leslie Mann
are both disloyal people who ultimately want to save their family, and even though Bana’s character comes off as a tool for the first half of his time on screen, he is shown to be no more of an ass than Simmons; that it was all a matter of perception.

Laughs weren’t exactly commonplace, and were never fits of hysteria. But the film has strong characters and some good things thrown in, even if it gets a little muddled. You might not want to sit through in a theater, but it’s worth seeing at some point.

7.2/10

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This Week In Blockbusters: "Funny People"

July 29, 2009

We’ve been Hungover, and we’ve seen Bruno using a dustbuster in… innovative ways. This Friday, the third big comedy of the summer hits theaters… It’s the third film that Judd Apatow has been throth (that’s the ‘three’ version of ‘both’) the writer, director, and producer. The first two were The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. The former is one of my favorite comedies ever, while I thought its follower was rather forgettable. Hopefully, Funny People will deliver. Apatow, who has created an entire genre of comedy, is known for making risky comedy with a dramatic heart. For instance, despite the crudities in The Forty Year Old Virgin, Steve Carrel’s character Andy was a genuine, sweet-natured guy who you actually felt for. Apatow has said this new film is him trying to be “Twice as serious, and twice as funny. Wish me luck!”

The film is about an older comedian, played by Adam Sandler, who is diagnosed with cancer and takes under his wing a young up and coming stand up comic (Seth Rogen). Sandler isn’t known for his dramatic talents to the common public, who seem him as making dumb comedies where he talks funny and throws in fart jokes for good measure. But he has impressed my with his serious work, which I first saw in Spanglish, where I realized the guy could act. I’d prefer he’d do more of that, and less of Zohan, and it seems this film might be moving that direction.

I’m sure it will be funny, and maybe a little sad at times. I’m sure Sandler will yell, and Rogen will play the exact same character he always has, but I think this could be a pretty good move for the Apatow team.

"Funny People" Red Band Trailer

July 9, 2009

God bless the internet.

Remember when, for R-rated comedies, we had to watch an edited, super-lame attempt at them showing humor, all the while only hinting at the cursing, nudity, and disgusting antics that were contained in the movie? Well those were the “green band” trailers, those watered-down puny attempts that the MPAA deemed acceptable. God I hated them!

Okay, not really. But the internet has become a valuable tool for movies like these, where they can do the unofficial “Red-band” trailers and release them on the web, and the hippies at the MPAA can’t get their filthy paws on it. I’ve posted a few on this site, and here’s another. It’s the Red-band trailer for the new Judd Apatow comedy, Funny People, starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen.

I laughed, though that trailer didn’t really tell me anything about the movies plot, save that it’s about two comedians. But the ‘cleaner’ version tells me Adam Sandler’s character is diagnosed with a malignant cancer and isn’t given much time left. That makes it sound a little more serious, doesn’t it?

Appatow has redefined comedy in many ways, taking serious situations and putting laughs to them. For this film he called it his attempts to do one that was “twice as serious,” but still “twice as funny. Wish me luck!”

It’s a bold move, and I bet it pays off.

Weekend Fix: Hannah Montana Rules The Easter Roost

April 12, 2009

Sorry about the delay in getting this week’s Weekend Fix posted, but I was at home celebrating my birthday and Easter with my family. It was a great weekend. Anyway, at this point, if you’re a box office follower, you already know that The Hannah Montana Movie crushed the competition with $34 million, Observe And Report underwhelmed with $11.1 million, and Dragonball: Evolution flat out flopped with a very sad $4.6 million. You already know that Fast And Furious dipped a large 59% to $28.7 million, while Monsters Vs. Aliens had a much softer 31% drop to $22.6 million, giving them $118 million and $144 million, respectively. You already know that Knowing and I Love You, Man saw tiny drops of 18% and 17%, further verifying their leggy nature. Thus, because I know that you know these things, because I know that you have other box office websites you visit, because I know that a generic summation of the weekend’s events would be pointless, I’m not going to do a regular write-up. Let me just sum up what I noticed this weekend in a few bullet points:

1. Once again, the fangirls have flexed their box office muscle. With the Twilight DVD already having sold 6 million copies in its first two weeks, and the fantastic $34 million opening of The Hannah Montana Movie, tween girls are proving themselves to be one of the most lucrative audiences in America. Young girls defintely displayed more buying power than the guys Observe And Report was targeting, and certainly more than Dragonball‘s disinterested gamer audience.

2. Miley Cyrus, Tyra Banks, and Taylor Swift are going to take over the world. Honestly, Disney nabbed up all three moguls for The Hannah Montana Movie, and I’m a bit weary of the founding of this triumvirate of power. Seriously, people, we need to be concerned! We live in a country with more women than men, and if these ladies grab enough influence, we might be mandated to sing, dance, make myspace videos, and smile with our eyes until the day we die!

3. Seth Rogen is no Paul Blart. The actor has had a rough run in the recession. Zack And Miri Make A Porno only found $31.4 million last year, and Observe And Report stumbled out of the gate with $11.4 million. It looks like while comedy is in, mean comedy is not. I Love You, Man is just as bawdy, but it’s thriving, probably because it seemed like a whole lot more fun than Observe And Report. We’re in the Era Of Easy Entertainment- audiences don’t want to think too hard, and the Rogen/Faris comedy looked a bit drab and not lighthearted enough.

4. Sunshine Cleaning, after adding 119 theaters, held right where it was last week at $1.8 million dollars. The Amy Adams and Emily Blunt film is becoming a nice, little sleeper hit.

Top 12 For April 10-12
# Movie Title 3-Day Gross % Change AVG. Total
1 Hannah Montana The Movie $34,000,000 New $10,904 $34,000,000
2 Fast And Furious $28,782,880 -59% $8,290 $118,042,070
3 Monsters Vs. Aliens $22,617,000 -31% $5,468 $141,009,000
4 Observe And Report $11,140,000 New $4,085 $11,140,000
5 Knowing $6,670,000 -18% $2,280 $68,006,117
6 I Love You, Man $6,412,000 -17% $2,426 $58,997,000
7 The Haunting In Connecticut $5,710,000 -40% $2,098 $46,300,000
8 Dragonball: Evolution $4,650,000 New $2,132 $4,650,000
9 Adventureland $3,433,000 -40% $1,830 $11,450,000
10 Duplicity $2,996,625 -28% $1,525 $36,848,220
11 Race To Witch Mountain $2,000,000 -38% $921 $62,056,000
12 Sunshine Cleaning $1,804,000 0% $3,017 $7,223,257
All Numbers Provided By Exhibitor Relations Co.

Weekend Preview: Hannah Montana And Seth Rogen Will Try To Topple Fast And Furious Over The Easter Frame

April 10, 2009

Every once in a while, you’ll see a weekend frame that has two debuting films for which it would be absolutely awesome if you could switch their casts. The last time I remember feeling that way was on October 24-26, 2008, when Saw V and High School Musical 3 both premiered, and this weekend I feel the same way, as Disney’s Miley Cyrus vehicle Hannah Montana The Movie and Seth Rogen’s Observe And Report hit theaters. Those two films will take on reigning champion Fast And Furious in the battle for the Easter crown, and I don’t mean the religious kind. Dragonball: Evolution is also debuting, but it’s not looking like it will make much of an impact.

You may have read a certain devilish post by my unfortunately misguided colleague, Reed, about the inevitable apocalypse that will accompany the debut of Disney’s Hannah Montana The Movie. Well, I’m a bit more optimistic about the situation, so allow me to stick up for the tween sensation. I’ve never picked on Disney and their veritable pantheon of singing/dancing/acting stars like Zac Efron, Selena Gomez, or Miley Cyrus. Considering the sexed-up alternatives (Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, etc), I’d rather see my little sisters fawn over the clean-cut kids in High School Musical or Hannah Montana any day of the week. Furthermore, I really do think that Disney finds the best of the best when it comes to talent. Say what you will about the company, but they’ve got a pretty great track record when it comes to finding the most talented children (Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, etc), and despite her occasionally grating public persona, Miley Cyrus is a great entertainer that audiences clearly connect with. She seems to me like a perfectly normal 16 year-old, and I don’t think she’s done anything that any other girl her age hasn’t. Plus, she gets major respect points from me for actually singing live!

Okay, now that I’m done defending Miley Cyrus, let’s focus on her equally (more?) famous alter ego, Hannah Montana, and her chances at the box office this weekend. The Disney Channel has never had a show as successful as Hannah Montana, which has become an industry in its own right. Dolls, video games, soundtracks, concerts, 3-D concert movies- it all just keeps making money! Last year, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best Of Both Worlds Concert Tour opened to $31 million dollars, but that was with $15 tickets, the 3-D gimmick, and the idea that the film would only be running for one week. Hannah Montana The Movie will be lucky to achieve that high of a number, but it should still find a solid debut. In 2003, Disney’s Hilary Duff vehicle, The Lizzie McGuire Movie earned $17 million in its opening weekend, but Hannah Montana is way bigger than Lizzie McGuire ever was. Marketing has been strong, excitement is high among the core fanbase, and reviews are fine, though I can’t think of a more review-proof film than this one. Rolling into 3,111 theaters, parents will be happen to take their daughters to a film that is guaranteed to be sweet and non-controversial. Give it $28 million over the weekend.

On the completely opposite end of the spectrum is Warner Brothers’ Observe And Report, which looks essentially like an edgy, crude, funny version of Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Starring Seth Rogen as a police officer who takes his mall security very seriously, the film also features the wonderful comedienne Anna Faris. Critics are split on the film, which is currently sitting with a 59% rating at RT. Some are praising Observe And Report for its ballsy approach to comedy, while others disapprove of its blatant meanness and lack of a moral. Historically, audiences prefer conventional humor, and this shounds to me like a film that’s tough to love. Still, Rogen has considerable drawing power (I attribute the underwhelming $31 million finish of Zack And Miri Make A Porno mostly to the title of the film), and other male-oriented comedies like Role Models, Pineapple Express, and I Love You, Man have been successful lately. Debuting in 2,727 theaters, Observe And Report might apprehend about $18 million this weekend.

The final new film debuting this weekend is Fox’s Dragonball: Evolution, which actually seemed like a good idea two years ago. I’ve never seen a film lose steam quite the way that Dragonball has, and excitement over its production has steadily decreased in the past year. Based on the popular TV show, which was in turn based on the popular manga series, Evolution tells the story of a group of powerful individuals all vying to control the Universe by possessing mystical objects called “dragonballs.” Sound silly? That’s because it is. While the TV show definitely created a built-in audience for this flick, bad reviews and general disinterest are going to keep this from becoming a fanboy favorite. The lowish 2,181 theater count doesn’t reveal that Fox has a hue amount of cofidence in Dragonball: Evolution, and I think Goku and the gang should probably come in with about $11 million this weekend.

Fast And Furious should race to the top spot (I made a palindrome!) again this weekend. After its record-breaking $70.9 million debut, it has decelerated pretty quickly throughout the week, and a drop of about 60% seems in order for the actionfest. But at this point, it’s all gravy for the studio, and Paul Walker and Vin Diesel have to be thanking their agents for convincing them to come back to the franchise. Give the Universal effort $30 million, with Hannah Montana hot on its heels. Meanwhile, Monsters Vs. Aliens should benefit from the family friendly nature of Easter weekend, and see a drop of about 35-40%, which would give it $20 million over three days and $138 million overall. It should be a great weekend at the box office! Here are my full predictions:

Predicted Top 12 For April 10-12, 2009
1. Fast And Furious – $30 million
2. Hannah Montana The Movie – $27 million
3. Monsters Vs. Aliens – $20 million
4. Observe And Report – $18 million
5. Dragonball: Evolution – $11 million
6. I Love You, Man – $5 million
7. The Haunting In Connecticut – $4.8 million
8. Knowing – $4.7 million
9. Adventureland – $3.5 million
10. Duplicity – $2.3 million
11. Sunshine Cleaning – $1.8 million
12. Race To Witch Mountain – $1.6 million

Am I totally off base or right on the money with my predictions? And am I crazy for defending Hannah Montana? Let me hear your thoughts and predictions in the comments!