Archive for the 'comedy' Category

Genius dialogue of the day #2

Kronk: one of the greatest comic creations of this generation. Teaching us all a lesson about which little voices to listen to, or not.

The Emperor’s New Groove, 2000. Directed by Mark Dindal. Story by Chris Williams & Mark Dindal. Screenplay by David Reynolds.

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Genius dialogue of the day

In which a valid linguistic point is made, to no avail.

Big Night, 1996. Directed by Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott. Written by Stanley Tucci and Joseph Tropiano.

Tony Curtis, 1925-2010

There are a lot of beautiful Tony Curtis performances to appreciate, and he was quite a knockout personality. But what is most indisputable is that he turned in the flat-out funniest impression of another celebrity that has ever been, or will ever be.

“I heard a very sad story about a girl who went to Bryn Mawr…she squealed on her roommate, and they found her strangled with her own brassiere!”

Nothing better.

No, seriously.

I was home sick from work with a wicked cold for the past few days. (Not to brag about how pathetic I was, but: after staying home Monday, on Tuesday I tried to go to work, and my boss’s reaction upon seeing/hearing me was to insist on driving me home and to pointedly say he would see me on Thursday, maybe. Right?) It’s been a lot of couch time, and when I’m sick, I’m not exactly looking to watch the collected works of Akira Kurosawa (though I recorded some of that off of TCM for later). In this situation, I need some true nonsense movies. The lamer, the better.

View From the Top? Just as horrid as you might imagine, but in my out-of-it state I just tuned out and thought vague thoughts about how adorable Mark Ruffalo is. Diane English’s 2008 remake of The Women? Ah, those silly bitches were great company for two hours! Junior? Arnold, re-visiting that earnest adventure with you after all these years was just a joy.

Anyway, as happens sometimes, one of those films I so hoped would be crap just did not live up to my anti-expectations. Believe me or don’t, but the point of this post is to tell you this: 17 Again, starring Zac Efron, is delightful and you should watch it.

Yes yes, the story has basically been done before. I am here to tell you that you just won’t care. The cast is fantastic (Leslie Mann! Thomas Lennon! Melora Hardin! Jim Gaffigan!), the dialogue is sharp, the characters endear themselves quickly, and their situational reactions feel fresh. That last one is huge: this film’s bullied-in-the-cafeteria scene does not go the way you think it will, nor do half a dozen other such staples. Almost every individual scene managed to both appeal to my desire for teen-movie-comfortable-familiarity and subvert my expectations enough to be genuinely, cleverly funny.

Zac Efron’s comic timing and physical embodiment of the role pull the (very few) loose ends together. Whatever you think of the pretty-boy-Zac image, or of High School Musical (honesty: guilty pleasure for me, the first one at least), the man has a true film career ahead of him.

The next time you’re looking for a fun, funny, easy movie to watch: 17 Again. Do it. Oh! Hidden identity double feature with She’s the Man! Oh my god, have I written about how hilarious She’s the Man is and how much Amanda Bynes kicks ass in it?

My next sleepover is planned.

Funny schlubby white guys

Ok, just had to get that out of my system with the title. And there is at least one female comedian and one minority comedian in Funny People. They each have like two scenes, it’s amazing. Okay, I’m done. Okay, probably not.

Funny People, like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up before it, asks a serious question in the way that many comedies do not. We see now the pattern of Judd Apatow’s films, and no it’s not just “chick flicks for stoner dudes.” His films all center around a main character who has been, if not content with, at least accepting of, the stagnant path of their life. Then something happens to push them off that path. Friends figure out you’re a virgin and decide to help you grow up; you get a girl pregnant; you find out that you’re sick and probably dying. We’re moving on to bigger and bigger problems, and I like that. We can always use more comedies that are real movies, that are about something.

I love it when watching Adam Sandler is enjoyable. It’s very enjoyable here. As George Simmons, the comedian and movie star who has an 8% chance of beating a rare blood disorder, Sandler constantly works on two levels. Inner George and Outer George, for lack of more eloquent terms. We can see the persona he puts forth, a lot of which is real, honest to god misanthropy, just masked as the curmudgeonly sarcasm of a certain type of comic. We can also see the regret underneath all that.

It takes a little longer for Ira Wright (Seth Rogen), George’s new assistant, to catch up with the audience about how much pain George is going through. Even then, Ira doesn’t really want to put up with George’s shit, and we can’t really blame him. As an aspiring comedian, Ira idolizes George and wants to be like him. He’s also perplexed by him, and unable to modify his own behavior to what George claims to need. This is a complex relationship, one I was genuinely interested in, and I was genuinely not sure how it would turn out. It’s just good writing, and acting.

We’re also treated to a whole lot of those trademark uproarious one-liners. It adds a new level to that Apatow-Gang humor to have the characters themselves be in a position to talk about whether or not what they just said was funny. Maybe there are a diproportionate number of films made in Hollywood that have to do with Hollywood things, but I won’t complain as long as they use that conceit to be this clever. It should also come as no surprise that the supporting cast is a joy: Leslie Mann, Jason Schwartzman, and Aubrey Plaza in particular for me. We should also watch out for Maude Apatow: she’s got the family talent.

The movie is too long. That is my main complaint. 140 minutes is too long for a comedy, even one like this that is almost a drama. But, it must be hard to cut scenes from your own movie when everyone in it is your friend or relation. In particular the “domestic” sequence at the end of the film, with Leslie Mann as the showcase, drags noticeably. But what’s a guy to do, cut all his wife’s scenes? I have a solution, Judd: write a movie where she gets to be the star. Ah, there I go again.

See Funny People, laugh and think.

Muppetlicious

I recently came across the following video, unfortunately too late to post for St. Patrick’s Day:

After sharing this gloriousness with Becca, she and I had an interesting conversation about why it is so funny. Conveniently for me, since Becca has recently started her own blog that is dedicated to the discussion, dissection, and celebration of humor, she did the work of translating our thoughts into a blog-worthy piece. I am left with the fun part: finding more videos to honor the greatness of our fair Muppet trio.

First, more musical stylings from the one and only Beaker:

Keep chasing that dream, buddy!

Now, the Swedish Chef teaches us to make a donut:

Yum!

And finally, a moment with Animal:

“BAD PUN!” Too funny!

The greatness of the Muppets cannot be understated, and I’m excited over the recent news that Jason Segel is writing a script for another theatrical Muppet movie. I thought the last one, Muppets From Space, was hilarious and very underrated. Here’s hoping this next effort restores the gang to their deserved level of glory.

If you like funny things

Last night was the second episode of ABC’s new sitcom Samantha Who?, and I don’t think it’s too early to put this one in the win column. Think of it as the girl version of My Name is Earl: someone who used to be bad now desperately wants to change their life, only the twist this time is that Sam doesn’t actually remember being bad. Oh, I love a good amnesia story when it’s done right. And this is done very right. Christina Applegate is a great comedic actor, and she absolutely nails both the new Sam and the bad Sam that we see in flashbacks. So far, each moment of horror as she realizes what sort of person she used to be has been classic, and much of the comedy comes from the fact that she is equally horrified at discovering the major things, like how she was cheating on her boyfriend, as she is to realize she made her secretary “start her apple” for her every morning.

The rest of the cast is also sharp. Fellow sitcom vet Jean Smart vamps it up as the crazy, vapid mother, and watching her and Applegate play off of each other is just fun. Jennifer Espisito (who I just realized could be funny in her nympho turn on Rescue Me this season) and Melissa McCarthy (pathetically underused on the final seasons of Gilmore Girls) clash gleefully as two very different sorts of friends from Sam’s past.

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more, and not just because I finally get to have a Barry Watson fix without watching a really crappy show. (Alright, alright, I did enjoy What About Brian for a while–but I didn’t like myself afterwards.)

Other thoughts on how the season’s shaping up:

–I never got around to watching another episode of Chuck, but I have been continuing to enjoy Reaper. Bonus: apparently it’s set in Seattle. Last week they had a great time at our Apple Festival down on the pier, with our majestic suspension bridge in the background. Uh, yeah. It’s okay, I’m not watching for geography.

–I haven’t totally given up on Private Practice, though it’s in danger of entering late-second-season-Desperate-Housewives territory (loss of DVR privileges, though I’ll catch it if I’m home when it’s on). I did, however, abandon Bionic Woman. Terrible second episode.

–Everyone who gave up on Grey’s Anatomy when things got a little murky last season should come on back. After the third episode of this season ended, I actually yelled out “Stellar!” and started clapping. Seriously. Okay, I was a little buzzed. But the point stands.

Friday Night Lights continues to be a remarkable example of everything you can possibly get right on a TV show. I’m not even that bothered by the over-the-top Tyra and Landry murder storyline, because really what it’s all about is the way that experience reverberates through their relationship. I truly hope this show at least gets to have a full second season.

–Finally, I didn’t tune in to the apparent Space-Shuttle-explosion-level disaster of Viva Laughlin, which was dead after two episodes, but I was happy to hear the news that the cancellation means the early return of the best reality show on TV, The Amazing Race. November 4th! Can’t wait to see you, Phil!


Other projects:


Downton Gabby: podcasting about Downton Abbey from a funny, foul-mouthed, feminist perspective

Quick Lit: reading one short story a day in 2015

Grand Dames: collecting sundry achievements of admirable women

The MacGuffin: archive of my days as a film critic

I love Twitter.

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