Tag Archives: Zach Galifianakis

Review: The Hangover Part III

The-Hangover-Part-III-PosterWho hasn’t woken up with a hangover and said you’re never drinking again only to hit the bar a few days later? That’s fine for us, but Todd Phillips better keep his word. “The Hangover Part III” absolutely must be the end.

The Wolf Pack is back together again, but not for more wedding shenanigans, rather a funeral and a trip to a rehab facility. After Alan (Zach Galifianakis) literally gives his father (Jeffrey Tambor) a fatal heart attack, his mother, sister, and Doug (Justin Bartha) decide that it’s time for Alan to get some serious help. With Phil and Stu’s (Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms) support, they stage an intervention and head out to bring Alan to New Horizons. However, while en route, the Wolfpack is ambushed by Marshall (John Goodman) and his thugs. Marshall takes Doug as collateral while Phil, Stu, and Alan meet his demands – bring him Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong).

Part of the appeal of the original film was the fact that it focused on four real guys in the middle of a very relatable situation. It’s highly unlikely many have had an encounter with Mike Tyson’s tiger or made a quick $80,000 counting cards to pay off a gangster, but the idea of four guys getting so wasted during a bachelor party that they can’t even remember the crazy time they had is charming. But fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Back in 2009, the idea of one friend accidently roofie-ing his buddies was a novel scenario, but the sequel proved the concept didn’t have the appeal and flexibility for another go-around. It seems as though Phillips and co. recognized that issue because we get a different narrative here, but now we’re left with the problem that these characters just aren’t appealing or engaging enough to sustain any feature length scenario.

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Review: The Hangover Part II

The second the trailer hit, we knew The Hangover Part II was basically The Hangover, but in Thailand. While simply recycling a storyline is generally a cause for concern, that’s really the point of this film, otherwise we’d be getting some sort of odd spinoff or no sequel at all. The Hangover Part II could have failed on just about every cinematic front as long as the boys experienced a drug-induced night of debauchery followed by a hilarious attempt at recovery. Unfortunately, just like the memory of the wolf pack’s big night out in Thailand, funny jokes seemed to have simply slipped the filmmakers’ minds.

With Doug (Justin Bartha) happily married and sunburn-free, it’s Stu’s (Ed Helms) turn to tie the knot, albeit not to a Las Vegas stripper. This time around Stu’s keeping it classy and marrying a beautiful, family oriented woman named Lauren (Jamie Chung). The ceremony is to be held in Thailand where Lauren’s entire family, including her disapproving father and genius of a younger brother, Teddy (Mason Lee), will be on hand. Naturally, coming out to support the groom is none other than his buddies Doug, Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis).

Determined to keep things simple and problem-free, Stu opts out of sharing a beer beside a bon fire with his buddies and Teddy. However, at his fiancée’s urging, Stu heads out to the beach for just one drink. Phil proudly presents a six-pack of sealed beers, but, sure enough, something isn’t quite right and that one beer turns into yet another night Phil, Stu and Alan can’t remember. However, this time around, Doug makes it home safe and sound; it’s Teddy the trio manages to lose in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand.

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Interview: It’s Kind of a Funny Story Writer-Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

We all go a little mad sometimes, right? Okay, maybe not in the Billy Loomis sense, but I’ve certainly had moments when I’ve let my thoughts get to me. Pressure in school, pressure at work and pressure at home all collide to create this whirlwind of emotion. However, regardless of how out of control those times might make me feel, I’ve never gotten the urge to do what Craig (Keir Gilchrist) does in It’s Kind of a Funny Story.

Based on Ned Vizzini’s novel, the film focuses on Craig, a typical teen who’s drowning trying to manage the pressure of the expectations or his prestigious high school as well as his parents, which are so intense they make him fear he’s suicidal. Hoping he can get a quick fix, Craig opts to head over to Argenon Hospital for psychiatric help. The doctor makes due on Craig’s wish and admits him, but not for the day as Craig thought. It turns out, the hospital has a strict five-day minimum. During his stay Craig meets a handful of interesting characters like his self-proclaimed mentor, Bobby (Zach Galifianakis), and another teen patient, Noelle (Emma Roberts).

Even with the gloomy subject matter, It’s Kind of a Funny Story is packed with laughs and that’s exactly what made an impression on Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. They had so much fun reading Vizzini’s book, they knew making the movie would be a blast, as would the resulting experience for audiences. Still, making the movie was no easy task. Boden and Fleck opted to include flashback scenes as well as animation to further make the viewer feel as though he or she is in Craig’s head. Find out all of the details on that and more in the video interview below.

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On the Red Carpet with Jay Roach and His Schmucks

Let’s say you were invited to a dinner, but not just any dinner. This is a dinner for idiots and at the conclusion of the meal, you’d have to stand up in front of the entire party and give a presentation to prove the superiority of your idiocy. What would you do?

Stephanie Szostak would resort to her ability to magically raise the corner of her lip with an invisible string. Lucy Punch would take it up a notch and do a little something that would involve her whole body. “I might demonstrate how extremely flexible I am and do some weird contortionist body shapes,” she revealed. “Eating with my feet, through my arms, over my head.” Larry Wilmore would take his show in a completely different direction, “I am going to anti-schmuck it. That’s how I become the schmuckiest cleverest schmuck. They think I’m going to do something schmucky, but then I fool them and I don’t do anything.”

It’s a good thing none of them play a schmuck in Dinner for Schmucks because none of that could compare to a woman who has a conversation with a lobster, a blind swordsman, a ventriloquist with a flirty puppet or a guy who spends his time with a live vulture.

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Review: Dinner for Schmucks

When studios are delivering buddy comedy after buddy comedy, each one better bring a little something new to the table on top of pouring on the humor. Dinner for Schmucks serves up big time when it comes to novelty; it’s the humor that’s on the sour side.

Tim Conrad (Paul Rudd) is doing pretty well for himself. He drives a Porsche and lives in a gorgeous apartment with his loving girlfriend, but being a sixth floor analyst for Fender Financial just isn’t good enough. He wants to be on the seventh floor with the big boys. Tim actually gets his chance after a gutsy play for a vacant spot, but before the seventh floor office can officially be his, he must participate in a company tradition, a dinner for idiots. Each analyst must bring a guest and at the end of the night, the one whose lunacy is the most entertaining, wins.

That’s where Barry Speck (Steve Carell) comes in. Just when Tim’s conscience is about to compel him to ditch the dinner thing completely, Tim literally runs into Barry. It doesn’t take long for Tim to determine Barry, an IRS employee and mouse taxidermist, is certifiably insane and the perfect candidate for dinner. The problem is, Barry’s also a leech and attaches himself to Tim for the days leading up to the dinner. During that time Barry manages to chase away Tim’s girlfriend, trash his apartment, invite his crazy ex back into his life and have Tim audited.

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Review: Youth in Revolt

Need to spice up your life a bit? Just create a supplementary persona to do it for you; it works for Michael Cera in Youth in Revolt. Join helplessly awkward Cera, suave and deviant Cera and a slew of other odd characters on a senseless, yet amusing ride to achieving sexual bliss. The movie doesn’t pack the same punch as the book, but still manages to create a wildly entertaining blend of teen love, awkwardness and vulgarity.

Nick Twisp (Cera) is a sexually frustrated teen from Oakland, California. His desperation to vanquish his virginity takes a back seat to other issues including his detestation for his mother’s live-in boyfriend Jerry (Zach Galifianakis) until he meets the girl of his dreams on a vacation to a trailer park in Ukiah. Of course, the trip eventually comes to an end and his budding romance with Sheeni (Portia Doubleday) must come to an end. Well, not if there’s anything Nick can do about it. Or should I say Francois Dillinger? Through his dashing and deviant alter ego, Nick does everything bad and unruly to be reunited with his love.

In just 90 minutes screenwriter Gustin Nash manages to squeeze in a significant amount of C.D. Payne’s 499-page book. Not in great detail of course, but Nash honors just about all of the key points any fan of the book would hope to see in the film version. At some point, the detail-heavy story sinks, yet, at other times, it keeps it firmly afloat. The highs and lows balance out making the overall experience mildly pleasant.

First, let’s get the bad out of the way. The plot is very thin. A number people, incidents and emotions are visited, but only vaguely. Even Nick’s relationship with Sheeni isn’t quite justified. His infatuation with her is blatant, but you’re never convinced that it’s true love and not merely a teen crush. Sheeni is in a similar situation. Her boyfriend Trent (Jonathan B. Wright) is MIA over the summer, so Nick fills the void. That part works but when the relationship transitions into something more serious you’re too busy wondering why Sheeni ditched her all-American man for meek and meager Nick.

Underdeveloped plot points plague the secondary characters as well. In the most critical condition is Sheeni’s brother, Paul (Justin Long). His sole purpose in the film is to initiate an especially humorous segment involving a mouthful of mushrooms. The scene certainly garners the biggest laugh, but doesn’t validate Paul’s inclusion in the film. Rather than throw in more characters, Nash should have paid more attention to the ones more necessary to include, like Lefty and Vijay (Erik Knudsen and Adhir Kalyan).

Even with the little attention they’re given, both of Nick’s buddies make an impact. The same goes for Nick’s father and his Oakland neighbor Mr. Ferguson (Steve Buscemi and Fred Willard). Cera is 110% the focus of the film, but even when secluded to milling around the background, both Buscemi and Willard get the job done. Sheeni’s parents contribute to some of the movie’s most memorable moments as well, particularly seeing M. Emmet Walsh with a face full of mashed potatoes. Sheeni, on the other hand, isn’t very memorable herself and it’s not Doubleday’s fault. In fact, she’s an absolutely natural on screen. She’s one of those actresses that could just stand there and smile and you’ll still find her character endearing.

Sheeni falls victim to the Michael Cera one-man show. Nick is meant to be the film’s main character, but that doesn’t mean every minute has to be about him. Scenes that should have been purporting other character’s feelings wind up being twisted and turned so Cera can squeeze in a few extra one-liners. Again, this is the fault of Nash. The role of Nick Twisp belonged to Michael Cera from the instant C.D. Payne penned the book. No, this isn’t Cera’s shinning moment that will show the world he’s capable of playing someone other than geeky and awkward, but that’s exactly what this role calls for. He does get the chance to stretch his legs a little when in Francois’ shoes, but it really only requires a deeper smug and a pair of aviators.

Youth in Revolt has a lot to pick on, but even with its faults, manages to come together for an immensely enjoyable experience. The dialogue is quick, monotone and, at times, will go over your head, but when a line hits, it hits hard. No life lessons to be learned here, but that’s no the point. C.D. Payne’s book is an utterly absurd love story and so is the movie. It’s colorful, lighthearted and pretty damn funny.

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It’s Time To Grow Up: Books To Read Before Seeing The Movies

I hated reading in high school. In fact, I don’t think I ever read a book assigned in its entirety. It wasn’t that I was rebelling against being forced to read a particular book; I was a good student and almost always did what I was told. I could have picked up a book in my spare time, but I had better things to do. It wasn’t until I had nothing better to do with my free time, that I gave reading a chance.

My first job after graduating from college was a News Assistant at NY1 News. Being a News Assistant is an extremely physically demand job – I’m a small girl who was carrying 60 lbs. in camera equipment ten hours a day – but there’s also a ton of down time. One day, I waited over four hours for a perpetrator to be escorted from a prison to a waiting car. (Yes, capturing a perp walk is that important in local news.) I was desperate for entertainment and that desperation was sated by the medium I despised most, books.

I didn’t do a complete turnaround and become an avid reader. There’s one rule to my book selection process: the book must be in the process of being adapted to film or optioned for adaption. Clearly my passion is film. Combine the entertainment of reading a book with a passion and you get the ultimate source of pleasure. Even beyond the immediacy of the entertainment derived from reading, having read a book before seeing the film adaption is one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever experienced.

The whole process is fascinating; to see who’s cast, what they look like in full costume, seeing the story unfold on screen, even assessing what portions of the book are translated and what parts are removed. When you read a book without accompanied imagery, you’re creating a world using your imagination. Yes, a good author will provide a detailed narrative so the reader can properly assemble the environment the writer strives to convey, but every reader’s world differs to a point. Then, when you see that world come to life on film, the wheels in your mind spin nearly out of control. You’re not just a spectator; you’re part of the film. It’s not just the author’s story being brought to life, it’s yours too.

Most of you will get this experience when you check out Where the Wild Things Are on October 16th, but there’s a whole bunch of movies coming out soon that find their origins in fantastic books. Here are a few you might want to read before seeing the movie.

ShutterIslandCoverShutter Island
I currently have a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to Shutter Island. Not that I don’t expect the film to be any good, I’m just bitter that I have to wait so long to see it. The film adaption of Dennis Lehane’s novel was due to hit theaters this month, but recently was pushed back to a February 2010 release. Maybe I’ll just have to read the book again. It’s about two U.S. Deputy Marshals, Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule, who are sent to Shutter Island to investigate a missing persons case. This isn’t just any missing person; Rachel Solando is a patient at Shutter Island’s Ashecliffe Psychiatric Hospital, home of the criminally insane. This book makes your head spin so much you’ll feel like an Ashecliffe patient yourself.
(In Theaters February 19th, 2010)

Derby Girl
You’re probably more familiar with the name of the feature film version of this book, Whip It. The book is about a young girl named Bliss Cavendar who’d rather get rowdy on the roller derby track than participate in beauty pageants. Knowing her parents will not approve of her new hobby, Bliss sneaks off to the Doll House to kick some ass as Babe Ruthless of the Hurl Scouts. The character Bliss screams Ellen Page. Think a non-pregnant Juno with athleticism. A fun side note, the author of Derby Girl, Shauna Cross, is a member of the Los Angeles Derby Dolls roller derby league. She also wrote the screenplay for Whip It. The movie already hit theaters, but Derby Girl is a quick read and still worth checking out post-film.
(In Theaters October 2nd, 2009)

UpInTheAirCoverUp In The Air
With all of the Oscar buzz surrounding Up In The Air, reading the Walter Kim novel the film is based on is a must. George Clooney plays the lead character, Ryan Bingham, a guy who travels the country working as a career transition counselor. Simply put, he flies around the country firing people. Ryan’s somber line of work and lack of a social life are of no concern to him. He has something much more important to worry about, earning one million frequent flyer miles. After reading the book it was very hard to imagine it being successfully translated to film. It has a plot, but it doesn’t seem strong enough to drive a feature length film. I guess when you have Jason Reitman behind the lens and George Clooney in front of it, anything is possible.
(Limited Release on December 4th, 2009. Opens Wide on December 25th, 2009)

TheLovelyBonesCoverThe Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones is one of the most moving pieces of literature I’ve ever read. By the time you finish it, you’ll have gone through an incredible range of emotions. It’s about a young girl named Susie Salmon who’s brutally murdered on her way home from school. From there we see her watch over her family from heaven and how her passing changes their lives. While the book may be perfect for film, it’s also a very temperamental piece. Depicting heaven on the big screen can go one of two ways; it can be completely rejected or wholeheartedly embraced. Based on the trailer and early buzz about the film, Peter Jackson will not disappoint. On the other hand, I can’t say the same for Mark Wahlbeg. Thanks to his performance in The Happening and Andy Samberg’s portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live, it’ll be difficult to take his performance seriously.
(Limited Release on December 11th, 2009. Opens Wide on January 15th, 2010)

Now this is a film that deserves much more attention than it’s been getting. Not only does Twelve have a fantastic cast, but the book that it’s based on is phenomenal. It was written by Nick McDonell when he was just 17-years-old. It’s about a bunch of kids, mostly wealthy, living in Manhattan and the impact drugs, sex and violence have on their lives. Chace Crawford will play the main character, White Mike, an extremely bright student known for selling the best marijuana money can buy but never indulging in any alcohol or drugs himself. I certainly wasn’t picturing White Mike to be as pretty as Crawford, but I’ll sacrifice my imagination to be able to look at Crawford for a couple of hours. Another unusual casting choice is Rory Culkin. I think he’s a fantastic actor, but for obvious reasons, I just don’t see him playing a tall basketball player. Anyway, the best part of the book is the climax. You become so absorbed with the characters that when that grand ending comes you’ll be in a serious state of shock. Seriously.
(In Theaters 2010)

YouthInRevoltCoverYouth In Revolt
If you read any of these books before seeing their film counterparts, Youth In Revolt by C.D. Payne should be the one. A movie with a cast including Michael Cera, Justin Long, Zach Galifianakis, Ray Liotta and Steve Buscemi sounds like a guaranteed success, but it can also turn the tale from a humorous yet meaningful coming-of-age story into a comedic absurdity. Cera plays Nick Twisp, a kid who takes teenage rebellion to the extreme. He starts out as a guy who isn’t thrilled with the parents he’s been given and turns into a wrecking crew when his love for a girl he meets on a family trip drives him insane. With the help of his alter ego, Francois Dillinger, Nick is willing to do just about anything to win Sheeni’s heart. Removing portions of a lengthy book to turn it into a movie is necessary but can be detrimental. Taking out particular parts of Youth in Revolt can easily strip the story of its warmth and turn it into any old teen comedy.
(In Theaters January 15th, 2010)

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