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Truth be told, I was avoiding the trailer for The Hangover: Part II. The whole movie just seemed like a bad idea. But I caved. And while there are some laughs to be had in the trailer, my fears were generally confirmed for one major reason – it looks like the same movie as The Hangover. Like, exactly the same, pretty much. Even more than I was expecting. Let’s take a look at the similarities:
- It’s the same bachelor party plot. Sure, this time it’s Stu getting married. But they really couldn’t think of a slightly different situation for them to get into? The storyline doesn’t have to be exclusive to weddings. There are SO many other scenarios they could put them in with similar outcomes.
- It’s the same “we lost the _____” plot. It may be the bride’s little brother this time, but it’s way too similar to the first film. Either pick the bachelor party OR the “we lost the _____” storyline. You could go so many different places with either while still keeping the spirit of the first film.
- Ken Jeong’s character is back. I didn’t even love his character in the first movie, and to make him a (seemingly) more major character this time around is overkill/
- Justin Bartha still isn’t in on the fun. Surely after the misadventures last time around, Doug would be allowed to get in on the fun. I get that it’s about the main three guys, but why both putting Doug in the movie if you’re just going to sideline him again?
- Monkey = baby
- Some of the scenes in the trailer look like they’re straight out of the first film (such as them waking up the morning after). Obviously, it’s fine to reference the original (and I did like Alan’s rehearsal speech about the “pact” at the beginning), but it seems pointless to completely recreate it.
- Tyson tattoo. Ugh.
Oh, and setting your movie in a foreign location doesn’t make it funnier or more interesting. If fact,
it’s usually quite the opposite. See: Sex and the City 2 (which this trailer reminded me of) and Couples Retreat.
In today’s second Zach Galifianakis movie trailer premiere, we get a first look at Todd Phillips’ Due Date.
With two naturally hilarious leads, Due Date does looks suitably funny. A few moments in the trailer made me laugh (“Hand me that dog, I will rip it in half”), but overall I was a little underwhelmed. Galifianakis seems to be playing a nearly identical character to Alan in The Hangover (Phillips’ previous directorial effort), and it sort of looks like that film, but with a dog instead of a baby. It looks funny, and I will automatically watch it because Robert Downey Jr. is in it, but it all feels a bit too familiar.
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson, Sugar), It’s Kind of a Funny Story stars Kier Gilchrist, Emma Roberts, and Zach Galifianakis. It’s based on a young adult novel of the same name written by Ned Vizzini, but despite thoroughly enjoying the book and being a huge fan of Half Nelson, my excitement level for the movie adaptation had been surprisingly tepid. But from the looks of this trailer, I’m pretty excited now.
It looks like it keeps the spirit of the book, and Zach Galifianakis looks like he turns in a really solid, surprsingly heartwarming performance. The movie looks like a fun little indie. And I’ve always thought that Broken Social Scene’s “7/4 Shoreline” and Ida Maria’s “Oh My God” would fit really well in the right movie/trailer.
Saturday Night Live gets a lot of heat for its uneven (to put it lightly) writing, but every once in a while, everything comes together, and a sketch just works. It may not be enough to truly justify watching the show every week, but it’s always exciting when something genuinely funny happens. And while this season had a couple of episodes that undeniably bombed entirely (hi, January Jones), and seemed unusually weak over all, there were a few redeeming moments.
1. Stefon on Weekend Update (Gabourey Sidibe/MGMT)
People gave Jimmy Fallon a lot of flack for frequently cracking up mid-sketch, but I almost always enjoy sketches more when the cast members fail to contain their laughter. On this Weekend Update segment, Bill Hader played “Stefon”, a “City Correspondent” recommending New York City hotspots. He reprised the character for the season finale, too, but his giggly, lusty turn here made for one of the most memorable moments SNL has had in years (for me, at least). From the monosyllabic night club names (“Crease”, “Wesh”) to the descriptions of the colourful characters found within (“screaming babies in Mozart wigs”), everything is bizarre. But you’ll have to watch the above clip to answer one burning question – what exactly is a human fire hydrant?
2. What Up With That? (Gerard Butler/Shakira)
SNL sometimes hits a homerun with its bizarre, out-of-left field concepts (though they more commonly bomb), and somehow everything came together with their spoof of BET programming. Keenan Thompson’s nonstop enthusiasm, Bill Hader’s ever-snubbed Lindsay Buckingham, and Jason Sudeikis’ sweet dance moves have propelled this sketch through repeated rehashing. But the bizarreness of it all the first time around (wait, so you got James Franco on the show, but never let him speak?) is what made it work so well.
3. The entire Betty White episode (Betty White/Jay-Z)
This highly anticipated episode may have not featured the “soon-to-be-classic” sketches that many had hoped for, but as a whole, it was very charming (largely thanks to White, of course). The inspired hosting choice and the joy that surrounded the whole thing (including Jay-Z dedicating “Young Forever” to Ms. White) made it a highpoint in the season. And we’ll always have “The Wizard of Ass”.
4. Laser Cats 5 Digital Short (Sigourney Weaver/The Ting Tings)
Taking full advantage of their guest host, The Lonely Island topped their Laser Cats series with an entry “directed by James Cameron”. They got Cameron himself to cameo (trying desperately to prove that he has a sense of humour), and their spot-on low-budget spoofs of Terminator, Titanic, and Avatar were both topical and timeless.
5. Threw it on the Ground Digital Short (Ryan Reynolds/Lady Gaga)
The Lonely Island are at their best when they inject some sly, silly social commentary into their Digital Shorts. And this random riff on self-righteousness gets better each time they repeat the gag. The ending is a bit of a cop-out, but I was too busy laughing at the first three-quarters to care.
6. Zach Drops By the Set (Zach Galifianakis/Vampire Weekend)
In additional to Galifianakis’ glorious non sequitur of a monologue, this sketch – in which he appears in the background of various NBC programs – provided all of the offbeat charm that I’d expected from the host. It’s a simple concept, but it worked far better than most of the purposely “random” sketches (such as the lengthy, unfunny bidet one) that the writers threw at him.
7. Kickspit Underground Rock Festival (Blake Lively/Rihanna)
It should have been a throwaway fake ad, but this send-up of music festivals somehow managed to nail all of the skeevy details of what a heavy metal gathering might consist of (“Everyone gets a pitchfork!”). The follow-up during the Ryan Phillippe episode (a music video honouring the death of “Ass Dan”) was equally hilarious. For once, SNL showcased sharp, succinct writing.
8. Hamm and Buble (Jon Hamm/Michael Buble)
Jon Hamm is one of the best recent hosts the show has seen, and his second time hosting provided a few memorable sketches (though perhaps none as memorable as “Jon Hamm’s John Ham”), such as the Closet Organizer, and the character’s subsequent return a couple of sketches later. But pairing Hamm up with the affable musical guest made for the best sketch of the night. Hamm played the owner of a pork and champagne restaurant (get it? Ham and Bubbly?) who ruled with an iron fist, and both men delivered the laughs.
9. Smash Mouth (Jennifer Lopez)
This is a sketch that had no business working (and for many viewers, it probably didn’t), but I loved the completely unexpected reference point (yes, the 90′s band Smash Mouth). The premise was pretty thin, but the visual humour of the goateed rockers popping up around the set really worked for me.
10. Boombox Digital Short (Jude Law/Pearl Jam)
Featuring The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas (whose strange charisma served the sketch well), this digital short was initially confusing, catchy, and even disturbing. But on subsequent viewings, the whole thing suddenly and inexplicably became hilarious to me.
So far, 2009 is shaping up to be a decent year for movies, I think. There’s already been some great films released, and Oscar season is getting started. I recently watched I Love You, Man and Away We Go, which had been two of my most anticipated movies from earlier in the year. Both we great, and it got me thinking that 2009 seems to have been an exceptionally good year for comedies. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen as many dramas, but so far seven out of my top ten favourite movies of the year are comedies. Of course, not every comedy was good. For every Away We Go there’s a Confessions of a Shopaholic. But I’ve seen some fantastic comedies with some very strong performances. I thought I’d share some of my favourite comedic performances of the year. Since I think comedies are always criminally underrepresented in the awards season, I’ll give my two cents on who I think is deserving of nominations, and who actually has a chance. I might update this list as awards season gets closer, and as I see more movies from 2009.
Oh, and since I only seem to get comments on the posts where I encourage them, be sure to leave comments on which choices you agree/disagree with, and your own opinions on your favourite comedies of 2009!
Meryl Streep – Julie & Julia
Meryl Streep can do no wrong (well, except maybe Mamma Mia…), and she’s given some great comedic performances this decade (Adaptation and The Devil Wears Prada both gave her Oscar nominations). Her performance as legendary chef Julia Child was delightful (though the movie as a whole was just decent). She had the voice, the body language, and the spirit down pat.
Award Season Prospects: This is the only performance on the list that’s guaranteed to get an Oscar nomination, and she just might win the whole thing.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – (500) Days of Summer
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of my favourite young actors, and I was excited to see him return to his comedy roots after all of the heavy movies he’s made this decade. His comedic timing is brilliant, and at times, he’s pretty hilarious here. This is not a typical romantic comedy, and Levitt elevates his performance so far beyond the usual acting in those types of movies. It’s a subtle performance, but the genuine warmth and feeling that he brings to this role is unusual.
Award Season Prospects: Based on what I’ve seen this year, I think he’s worthy of an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. But that category is always overstuffed, so I’d be shocked if he got one. A Golden Globe nomination is possible, but sadly, still a bit of a stretch.
Maya Rudolph – Away We Go
Most people know her from her great comedic work on Saturday Night Live, and I was really surprised by how good Maya Rudolph was in Sam Mendes’ Away We Go. It’s considered a comedy, but there are a lot of scenes (especially in the latter half of the film) that are entirely dramatic. My mom said she found the film depressing, but I disagree. And I think a lot of that has to do with Rudolph’s vibrant performance. Her character is pregnant, and both worried and excited for the future. I thought Rudolph gave a very genuinely likeable and optimistic performance.
Award Season Prospects: I think a Golden Globe nomination is possible.
Amy Adams – Sunshine Cleaning
With two Oscar nominations already under her belt, obviously Amy Adams is a fantastic actress. She’s got a great screen presence in every movie that she’s in, and Sunshine Cleaning is no exception. It’s a comedy, but there isn’t a ton of laugh-out-loud kind of laughs. It’s just not that kind of movie. But Adams does a great job with the subtle humour, and the human drama that the role calls for. She was good in Julie and Julia as well, but this is the more interesting role and performance.
Award Season Prospects: Sunshine Cleaning was under the radar, and got somewhat mixed reviews (though I loved it). I think that Adams is worthy of a Golden Globe nomination, but it may or may not happen.
Emily Blunt – Sunshine Cleaning
Starting off as the more comedic character in Sunshine Cleaning, Emily Blunt played the mix between comedy and drama perfectly. Something about her screen presence is magnetic. Blunt had a few scenes that really showed off her acting skills (everyone talks about the “tressling” scene), as well as a bunch that allowed her to be sarcastic and curmudgeonly, which she does very well. She’s great in those roles that blur the line between humour and drama (The Devil Wears Prada, The Jane Austen Book Club)
Award Season Prospects: I’m not sure if her performance qualifies as lead or supporting, but I’m not sure if her chances are great, either way. I’d love to see her get some kind of nomination for her work here, though.
Zach Galifianakis – The Hangover
Oh, God. I can’t even think of this performance without giggling a little. There were so many hilarious moments in The Hangover courtesy of Mr. Galifianakis. I like Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms a lot, too, but this guy stole the show. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t know much about Galifiankis, I’m sure you’re a bit puzzled by all the fuss. To which I say, go see The Hangover.
Award Season Prospects: Hey, remember when Robert Downey Jr. got an Oscar nomination for wearing blackface last year?
Jesse Eisenberg – Adventureland
Oddly, this is only the second ugliest t-shirt that appears on this list. Anyways, some people call Jesse Eisenberg the poor-man’s Michael Cera. But I think that he’s some alternate version of Michael Cera who is capable of conveying genuine emotion. Don’t get me wrong. I love Michael Cera, but I was really impressed by the earnest, sweet performance that Eisenberg gave here. He’s still funny and awkward, but there was just something very real about his performance, like he wasn’t constantly worried about being clever and funny.
Award Season Prospects: Not great. It’s not the kind of performance that usually gets recognized, sadly.
Paul Rudd – I Love You, Man
I’ve been a fan of Paul Rudd for a while now. I first noticed him on Friends, and then I went back and loved him in Clueless. So after a string of iffy movies and supporting roles, I was glad to see him starting to get the leads in major comedies. Role Models was a lot of fun, and he topped it with this year’s I Love You, Man. He is so incredibly awkward (“Slappa da Beeaaaass!”) as Peter, a man with no male friends, but so charming, too. There’s something about Paul Rudd that you just want to root for.
Award Season Prospects: Hilarious performance, but just not award-worthy.
Chris Messina – Away We Go
Alright, so it’s a really small role and not even an especially comedic performance, but I just wanted to talk about how impressed I was by Chris Messina in Away We Go. The movie is split into different parts, and when Burt and Verona travel to Montreal, they meet up with Messina’s character, who Burt went to college with. He has a great monologue, and Messina delivers it perfectly. His character starts off as seeming like a laid-back guy, but as we learn more about his and his wife’s circumstances, his character takes an unexpected turn. It’s a really understated performance, but that whole section in Montreal was my favourite part of the movie, partly thanks to Messina’s performance.
Award Season Prospects: Not a chance.
Zac Efron – 17 Again
I’m probably not helping my case by choosing a photo from the most shamelessly pandering scene in the whole movie. But whatever, I thought Zac Efron actually did a good job. He proved on SNL that he has comedic talent (I loved the “I AM YOUR MOTHER!!!” sketch. Anyone who can keep a straight face through that earns my respect). I’m not a fan of the whole High School Musical franchise (though there was an unintentionally awesome scene in the third movie where Efron breaks into the school at night and basketballs start raining down upon him. ANYWAYS.), but I thought he made this otherwise iffy movie a lot funnier (well, him and Thomas Lennon).
Award Season Prospects: Ha.
Comedies from 2009 That Look God-awful, and I Vow Never to Watch:
- Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
- Bride Wars
- The Pink Panther 2
- Dance Flick
- Miss March
- I Love You, Beth Cooper
- All About Steve
- My Life in Ruins
- Imagine That
- Post Grad
- The Ugly Truth
Comedies from 2009 of Interest That I Still Need to See:
The Brothers Bloom
It’s Complicated (upcoming)
Pirate Radio (upcoming)
A Serious Man
Up in the Air (upcoming)
World’s Greatest Dad
It was recently announced that Megan Fox will be the host for the premiere of the 35th season of Saturday Night Live, which will air on September 26. At first, I hated this choice, mainly because I can’t stand Megan Fox. Then I began to see that Fox has the potential to succeed as a host. If she actually goes for it, and doesn’t worry about looking stupid and doesn’t mind poking fun at herself, they could probably get some funny material out of her. And (despite her questionable level of skill) she is an actor. Actors almost always do a better hosting job than politicians, musician, or athletes (though there is at least one exception with Peyton Manning, who was probably one of the best hosts of recent SNL history), since that’s what they do. You can’t expect to send Michael Phelps in there and automatically get comedic gold. But even if Fox does a decent job hosting, it’s still a pretty safe, predictable choice on SNL’s part. They know that most people tuning in won’t even care if Fox is funny. Does anyone ever watch anything involving Megan Fox to admire her talent? So I began to think about people who I think would be edgier, funnier hosts. Last season, the show’s more successful hosts were the oddball, unexpected choices, like Jon Hamm, John Malkovich, and Neil Patrick Harris. So here are ten people who have never hosted Saturday Night Live (to the best of my knowledge), and who I think could do a great job with it.
1. Zach Galifianakis
His comedy style is incredibly offbeat, but I think it would be a refreshing change for a show where the biggest problem is stale writing. In my opinion, there are two kinds of hosting styles for SNL. Some hosts try to compliment the comedy of the show, and if they’re successful (think Anne Hathaway or Zach’s Hangover co-star, Bradley Cooper), they almost seem like they could be one of the cast members. But other hosts are larger than life and steal every skit that they’re in, even if they’re the straight-man. Galifianakis could be the next Christopher Walken.
2. Will Arnett
He’s married to the show’s most beloved recent alumnus, and he was on the already-classic Arrested Development. So why hasn’t Will Arnett hosted? He could definitely be another scene-stealer, and I could see him playing off of the rest of the cast really well. After all, he’s already done movies with most of the shows’ cast members (Hot Rod, The Brothers Solomon, The Rocker), so I think his humour would fit in well.
3. Anderson Cooper
So this probably seems like a weird choice for the #3 slot, but if you’ve ever seen CNN’s “Silver Fox” interviewed outside of the newsroom, you know that he’s a pretty quick guy. Brian Williams did quite a respectable hosting job a couple of years ago, and I think that Cooper could follow suit.
4. Zooey Deschannel
Everyone loves Zooey, and I think that her sunny, laid-back charm would do wonders on the show. She’s got a quirky kind of vibe about her, which be a change from the usual starlets that they have on the show.
5. Demetri Martin
Another stand-up comedian turned actor who has a quirky style about him. He’s very youthful, and I think he would work well with the rest of the cast. His oddball humour seems kind of similar to the work that the Lonely Island team is doing, so I think that he would be a great match.
6. Ryan Reynolds
He seems to be more along the lines of the hosts that SNL usually gets, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him hosting the show (though we might have to wait until The Green Lantern movie comes out). He’s really funny, and even in some of the so-so movies he’s been in, his charisma still shines. I think he would be a lively choice.
7. Joel McHale
The hilarious host of The Soup already incorporates some sketch comedy into his show, so I think he would adapt easily to SNL‘s format. He’s got a new series coming this fall (Community), and will be in the new Soderbergh flick (The Informant!) so now we just need him to bring some of his talent and wit to this venue.
8. Jason Segal
Almost every other big name from the Apatow clan has hosted, so I think it’s probably a matter of time until Jason Segal does, too. He’s a very funny guy, and has that “everyman” quality, which can be very funny. I think he’d be willing to do just about anything on the show.
9. BJ Novak
Steve Carell and Rainn Wilson have both successfully hosted the show, and I think that it’s about time that another Office cast member tries their hand. John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer would probably both be fine choices, but my pick is actually for BJ “Ryan the Temp” Novak. He’s seems like a cool guy, and he always has awesome reactions to wacky situations.
10. Amy Ryan
Okay, so she’s also on The Office, but I think that Amy Ryan would be great, too. Of course, she’s primarily a serious actor, but she’s just so charming as Steve Carell’s love interest, Holly. She’s quirky, but I think she’d also fit in with the style of the show.
So there you have it. Disagree with any of my choices? Have any of your own to add? Feel free to leave a comment!