“Age ain’t nothing but a number,” such are the words of one of my personal heroes, Andre 3000 from Outkast. It means not to judge a person by his or her age. A young kid could be acting mature for his age, and some elderly person could be acting like a teen. It’s an argument around the world whether you tend to act your age, or your mind stays young while the rest of you ages. Makes you wonder though, is growing up fun? Is it worth it? Or are our best moments in life our earliest ones? I can tell you that this humble blogger is 28 years old, and I’m loving life just as it is right now. In my own mind, I feel like I’m still 20.
So come on, let’s review the different decades of a lifetime and see which has the upper-hand:
The Youngster Take
You can’t talk about teenage life without talking about Juno. This relatively recent addition to the movie-verse talks about a young girl who becomes pregnant and decides to have the baby and give it up for adoption. It is probably one of the sweetest movies of recent years. It’s clever, it makes you feel good and it lifts your spirits. Directed by Jason Reitman – son of long time director Ivan Reitman. If you never saw this one, do yourself a huge favor and see it.
Most of the people I know (including myself) grew up watching this witty and humorous TV show. Nothing better defines a stereotypical teenager than a teen that’s rebellious. Having said that, you get Will Smith with his portrayal of a teen from Philadelphia, best known as the Fresh Prince. Will is a street kid who was sent to his relatives in California in order to learn some respectable manners; of course Will has different plans in mind. Having a natural social difference creates a large variety of gags and mishaps. Check it out here to feel a surge of nostalgia run through your veins.
The Young Adult Take
One of the most defining sitcoms of the 90s. From Rachel’s haircuts that all women went crazy for, to Chandler’s clever, cynical jokes. The show revolved around six twenty-something close friends living in Manhattan, dealing with life’s trials and tribulations and solving them through the best way they know – sitting at Central Perk and drinking coffee. I believe that one of the elements that made this show so successful was that it felt completely authentic. You weren’t watching actors reading lines out from a script, you saw real friends on the screen, and THAT’s what good television is all about.
This is THE trending show of the current decade. Much like ‘Friends’, this is yet another show about five friends, instead of six, dealing with life’s problems in New York City, the best way they know how – by drinking beer at McLarens Pub below their house. Barney Stinson is basically a role model for awesomeness for any type of single-dating men. The above clip can show you a fine example of what he calls “The Bro Code” on how he and his friends pick up chicks. Moreover, I have to admit that even I have a pub called McLarens next to my house, whose name and menu were inspired by the pub in the show. This show has set the bar on being young, free and experiencing life to it’s fullest.
Being an Adult – The Thirties Take
This critically acclaimed sitcom is the most famous and known TV show of the 90s; the show that really is about nothing, as seen in the above clip. The show is about comedian Jerry Seinfeld as a fictional spin on himself, and how he spends his thirty-something life in New York with his unforgettable quirky and whacky friends – George Costanza, Elaine Benes, and Kramer. One of the things that I found to be so great about this show was the over-analyzing of almost every small detail and situation in life, whether it was dating, job interviews/meetings with certain people or just off-beat habits that people have. Whatever it was, it simply showed the true nature of people and how sometimes you are what you are without any good reason, except for the fact that “you’re just wired that way.”
Rob is a thirty-something record store owner that has everything going on for him except for one thing – you guessed it – romance. Throughout the story, Rob introspects and tries to understand what’s wrong in his relationships and looks for answers. But this is not a movie about just one person. Rob also hires two clerks (one of them is the notoriously funny Jack Black) to work part time in his store, though both of them are at the store 6 days a week, most likely because they have nowhere else to go. This film reflects the all-too-well-known problems of ordinary people that are just “stuck” in life and don’t know how to move forward. It is probably John Cusack’s best performance, known for breaking the fourth wall and talking to the viewer on several occasions.
Middle of the Road – Middle Age Take
If you are up to date on current TV Shows, then you are probably watching ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and you’re familiar with the name Arnold Rothstein. You’ll be surprised to look back a few years and see him starring in this Coen brothers drama about a middle aged man called Larry Gopnik who is completely down on his luck – his wife is divorcing him, his brother is an uninvited guest in his house, his son gets high on his own bar-mitzva, and much more. It is a very different type of movie from what you’re used to seeing. It’s highly cynical and atmospheric, so you must proceed with caution; it requires quite a bit of patience to take in such a movie.
Judd Apatow takes us a few years later in life, to tell the story of Pete and Debby, who appeared in its predecessor ‘Knocked Up’ (also by the same director.) The movie deals with the various conflicts of married life, and the difficulty in balancing relationships, parenthood and self-fulfillment while making it all work out for the best. I really liked Knocked Up, amongst other reasons mainly because I like Judd’s gang, which he uses frequently in his productions, but I believe that Seth and Katherine weren’t as funny as the rest of the cast in the first movie so I am looking forward to the sequel’s release to see those funny familiar faces.
Towards Retirement – The Elderly Take
You can’t address the Golden Age without mentioning Jack Nicholson at least once. In this romantic comedy, Harry avoids dating women his own age, and Erica (Diane Keaton) gave up on finding a fulfilling relationship. Despite them being initially antagonists, as the saying goes “opposites attract” and they become drawn to each other, developing a relationship that neither of them expected could actually happen. My personal take: It’s one of those movies that are so sweet and make you feel so good, it’s really a shame to miss it. Watch it and understand that getting older may not be as bad as it’s made out to be.
Before we “kick the bucket” as the movie says, let’s join Jack once again with Morgan Freeman and take a journey around the world, to see its great wonders and cherish every moment that’s left for us, instead of being grumpy and disgruntled over our inevitable deaths. Both Edward and Carter have to fight terminal illness, but as stated above, the way they deal with their health situation is far from standard.
So in conclusion, what’s the best decade to live in? The answer is none! As it is with everything in life, it is all a matter of perspective, not to mention that everything is in the eye of the beholder. It is my humble opinion that it’s not about being (or acting) a certain age, it’s about the journey itself through all those ages that makes life worth living. It’s the sum of all the experiences and the knowledge you acquire that makes you appreciate everything you have, and everything you did.
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The Emmy Awards winners have been announced and I am absolutely outraged by the results. Jon Cryer wins best comic actor for the lousy Two and a Half Men?! Julia Luis-Dreyfus wins best comic actress for the equally lousy Veep?! Aren’t you supposed to present that award to someone who was actually funny? Here are this year’s picks and our take on them:
Best Drama Series
Breaking Bad – Season 4 brought Breaking Bad to a near status of a modern classic and masterpiece. The conflict between Walt and Gus brought the very best out of both of them. The 4th season had some scenes that will definitely stay with the show’s viewers for a very long time. The first 8 episodes of the 5th season maintained the quality of the 4th season. After getting used to losing to Mad Men every year, this time it was Homeland who defeated them in the Best Drama Series category.
Downton Abbey – This complex and clever period drama, which deals with social classes in early 20th century Britain, is quite different from the rest of its competitors, but still deserved to be here.
Game of Thrones – Adam Scott from the brilliant Parks and Recreation described it best: “Game of Thrones tells human stories in a fantasy world” (and it manages to do it all while using the traditional HBO trademarks of female nudity and bursts of violence.) Unfortunately for them, they competed with Homeland.
Homeland - This excellent paranoid psychological thriller keeps you on the edge of your seat, trying to guess what the next plot twist will be. You can cut the tension with a bomb, and that’s why the Emmy decision makers decided to go with Homeland as this year’s winner.
Mad Men – Apart from solid acting and wonderful set and costume designs, I have to be blasphemous and say that Mad Men is the weakest show between the 6 nominated in this category. I’m pleased it’s unjust reign of wins in this category (4 years in a row) came to an end.
Best Dramatic Actor
Hugh Bonneville – Even among the great cast of Downton Abbey, Bonneville manages to stand out. He doesn’t demonstrate the best acting skills of all these nominees, but his character is definitely the nicest.
Bryan Cranston – After 3 wins over the last 5 years, Bryan Cranston shouldn’t feel too disappointed for returning home empty handed.
Michael C. Hall – Dexter’s last season was probably its worst, so Michael C. Hall didn’t deserve the award this time, he did deserve it a few years back though. Hugh Laurie did 8 seasons of House and didn’t get an Emmy for his terrific acting; I hope they won’t repeat their injustice with Dexter and Michael C. Hall.
Jon Hamm – I know that 90% of the population (all the women and 80% of the men) think Jon Hamm is great, and that the character he portrays, Don Draper, is one of the most fascinating characters ever. I think he’s pompous and boring (at least the character he plays is.)
Damian Lewis – Is Damien Lewis going to be the next Bryan Cranston? Both of them won after only 1 season of their shows, will Lewis also complete 3 consecutive wins? We’ll have to wait two more years to find out…
Glenn Close – I’ll start by saying that Glenn Close is always great; she’s one of the best actresses alive. Damages was intriguing for a season or two but then it really became tiresome; even she can’t save this amazingly confusing series.
Michelle Dockery – Another fantastic Briton from Downton Abbey, who could have won, if she wasn’t running against Claire Danes in her role of a lifetime.
Elisabeth Moss – We saw her character come of age, from a naïve and weak young woman she became a strong woman with principles. It would be interesting to see where the upcoming seasons will take her.
The Big Bang Theory – Sorry, I really don’t get it. Many people love this show, I agree it’s nice and occasionally funny, but why does such a mediocre sitcom earn so many Emmy nominations?! Louie should have been nominated instead (1).
Girls – More similar to Dunham’s film Tiny Furniture (which showcased a bunch of obnoxious and self-involved twentysomethings) than to Judd Apatow’s (who produces this show) previous work; it also borrows a little bit from Sex and the City which is obviously not a positive thing. Louie should have been nominated instead (2).
Veep - We hoped it would be a clever, witty and most importantly hilarious political satire. What we got instead was a silly (stupid would be a more appropriate word) series that doesn’t offer many laughs (if any) and shouldn’t have been nominated. Louie should have been nominated instead (3).
30 Rock – The show keeps being funny, it already has more award trophies on its cabinet than Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan put together, so I guess it’s okay it didn’t win anything this time around.
Modern Family –The winner of this category is a very good show with moments of brilliance, but a bit overrated. The show dominates awards shows, especially the Emmys – it’s good, but not that good…
Curb Your Enthusiasm – After quite a long hiatus, came a great season with some unforgettable episodes (Palestinian Chicken!), which was more deserving to win in this category.
Alec Baldwin – He’s won more than once in the past, but still would have been a much better choice than Jon Cryer (1).
Don Cheadle – I don’t know if Cheadle’s attempt to imitate Hank Moody (David Duchovny’s character from Californication) is worthy of an Emmy nomination, but still would have been a much better choice than Jon Cryer (2).
Louis C.K – The only thing that could have saved the Emmys from the shameful exclusion of the best comedy series today, Louie, was to give the award for Best Comic Actor to Louis C.K. They failed to do even that. Where’s your sense of humor??
Larry David –After 8 seasons of the brilliant show Curb Your Enthusiasm, it should be about time for Larry David to get his Best Comic Actor award… I guess there’s always next year.
Jim Parsons – It’s astonishing that he won 2 consecutive Emmy Awards, when he shouldn’t have been nominated in the first place! Still, he would have been a much better choice than Jon Cryer (3).
Zooey Deschanel – You can love her and you can hate her, but if you hate her, there’s something seriously wrong with you.
Lena Dunham – She’s been called the voice of a generation; they said she’s uncompromising and brutally honest… I say she’s obnoxious and not particularly funny.
Tina Fey – Along with Zooey Deschanel and Amy Poehler she was the most worthy candidate in this category.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – By choosing her as the winner in this category I need no further proof that The Emmys suck! Just to emphasize how bad I think Veep is, I’ll say that even The Old Adventures of New Christine is better than Veep.
Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation is fantastic, and Poehler is great there. The only bad thing I can say about her is that she’s not even among the 3 funniest characters in this show (Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt‘s characters are all funnier.)
TV Movie/Mini Series
Game Change –This HBO TV movie was really good and deserved the win, Julianne Moore did a fantastic job in her portrayal of Sarah Palin (although Palin herself, who was portrayed as an imbecile, would probably disagree.)
Hemingway & Gellhorn - This HBO TV movie was a huge disappointment – it dealt with the fascinating characters in its title, and had an impressive cast that included Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman, but it was too long and poorly done.
Luther –A worthy candidate, this detective series is one of the best shows shown on BBC America, and might have deserved the win a bit more than Game Change.
Sherlock –If Sherlock’s complete 2nd season would have been nominated as a mini-series, it could have been the winner, but since only the 1st episode of the 2nd season received a nomination as a TV movie (once again, the logic of the Emmys baffles me) it’s understandable that it didn’t.
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Nearing the end of the TV spring season and looking forward to the summer season, we have mixed feelings of disappointment and hope. We had high hopes for some of the new series that came out this spring but they were all more or less disappointing. In this bittersweet post we’ll mention the 5 spring TV shows that disappointed us the most and the 6 upcoming summer shows we are most looking forward to (that’s one “hope” more than “disappointments” to show you that we’re positive and optimistic in nature). First the bitter part, the 5 shows that left us demanding a refund on the precious time we lost watching them (although, to my surprise, none of them were cancelled so far):
Missing promised to be just like Taken, only on a smaller screen and with Ashley Judd instead of Liam Neeson (huge difference as we soon discovered). Unfortunately, it lacked the fast and exciting pace of Taken, including its suspenseful action scenes and everything else that made Taken what it was (a very good action film in comparison to the boring Missing.)
4. NYC 22
Produced by Robert De Niro and with a nice ensemble cast that included Leelee Sobieski and Adam Goldberg, NYC 22 is about rookie cops working the streets of New York. It tries to be as realistic as possible and was done in the spirit of Detroit 187, Southland and The Chicago Code, but sadly it’s not nearly as good as either of those shows.
2. Magic City
And now to the sweet part, 6 upcoming new shows we’re looking forward to:
6. Common Law
4. Moone Boy
1. The Newsroom
Other shows that might turn out to be worth something: Hatfields & McCoys (The History Channel’s Western mini-series starring Kevin Costner), Anger Management (based on the Adam Sandler movie and starring Charlie Sheen), Political Animals (Starring Sigourney Weaver) and Dallas. (Dallas?!)
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Technorati Tags: Missing, Taken, Ashley Judd, Liam Neeson, NYC 22, Robert De Niro, Leelee Sobieski, Adam Goldberg, rookie cops, Detroit 187, Southland, The Chicago Code, Veep, political satire, Magic City, female nudity, violence, Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men, Girls, comedy drama, Judd Apatow, Lena Dunham, Sex and the City, Common Law, Warren Kole, Michael Ealy, police detective, partners, couple’s therapist, Longmire, Justified, mystery, novels, Craig Johnson, sheriff, Moone Boy, Chris O’Dowd, Steve Coogan, 80′s Ireland, Sinbad, adventure fantasy series, Elliot Knight, Naveen Andrews, Doctor Who, The Prince of Persia, Copper, BBC America, 1860, New York, Tom Fontana, Oz, Homicide: Life on the Street, The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin, Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Alison Pill, Sam Waterson, Dev Patel, The West Wing, news anchor, Hatfields & McCoys, History Channel, Western mini-series, Kevin Costner, Anger Management, Adam Sandler, Charlie Sheen, Political Animals, Sigourney Weaver, Dallas
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Sports fans rejoice! This is going to be a great month – the Super-Bowl is right around the corner (2/5), and after that we’ve got the NBA All-Star weekend (2/26).
Every fan lives the game in a different manner. There are solid fans who watch the game, get sucked into it for a few hours and then carry on with their lives; and then there are the die-hard fans, who support and cheer for their team in rain, snow or hail, yell at the players (or at their TV), and take everything personally.
Let’s try to make a distinction between the types of die-hard fans out there. Luckily, there are quite a few movies to back-up these fan theories. So let’s kick-off:
The Amorous Fan: Fever Pitch
A man who is in love with his sports team, meets a woman and falls in love with her – creating a strange love triangle that cannot successfully exist. People around him start telling him that he needs to grow up and choose the real-life love; he tries to explain that since childhood his team has always been there for him, and that’s also true love. And why does he even need to choose? Can a romantic relationship overcome the lack of attention given when the game is on?
There are two cinematic versions to the autobiographical book by Nick Hornby – a British film about soccer (an Arsenal fan), and an American movie about Baseball (featuring the Red Sox); both are a touching & humorous look about a man’s conflict between his two loves – his girl and his team.
The Obsessed Fan: Big Fan
What happens when you become obsessed with your team? When your whole life revolves around the players, and your happiness is measured by the team’s success? Paul is a genuine die-hard Giants fan, and Football is the sole comfort and passion in his mundane life. But after an encounter with his most admired player leads to a bad incident, the star gets suspended from the team. Although Paul is hurt, physically and ego-wise, he still decides that he must protect his team’s chances of winning, by any cost necessary, even at his own expense.
The Naïve Fan: Sixty Six
Bernie Rubens is a 12 year-old kid and a huge England team supporter. It’s 1966 and the World Cup tournament is upon us. In every house in Britain, every TV is tuned in to see England’s matches. Bernie is extremely excited, until he realizes something: His Bar-Mitzvah falls on the same date as the World Cup Finals, and if England qualifies – no one would come. Now Bernie faces a dilemma – should he root for his beloved team, or hope they lose so he will have a proper Bar Mitzvah celebration?
Sixty Six is a bittersweet & offbeat film about a boy’s coming of age, his passions and hopes, and his relationship with his complicated family, which has its own share of problems, neurosis and misfortunes.
The Over-Enthusiastic Fan: Celtic Pride
Mike and Jimmy are true Boston Celtics fans. It’s game six in the NBA playoffs, the Celtics are playing against Utah, and the Jazz’s trash-talking big-ego superstar is killing their team. The duo decide to sabotage Utah’s chances in Game seven by compromising their star player; but after they can’t get him drunk enough, they decide to kidnap him and hold him hostage, tied up in their apartment until the end of the game – but they discover this is easier said than done with such a character… This sports comedy was written by the future-reviver of the “buddy” genre, Judd Apatow.
Soccer has always been a universal language. It allows people from different backgrounds to bury the hatchet for a single moment in time, despite their cultural differences or disputes, and bond over a team or the love of the game.
Gmar Gavi’a (Cup Final) shows the connection between an Israeli reserve soldier, who gets kidnapped during the Lebanon war, and his Palestinian captors that hold him hostage. At the same time the 1982 World Cup is played, and despite being enemies, two foes find a mutual ground & understanding while listening to the games and supporting Italy’s team.
Another defrost of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through football can be seen in Strangers, only this time it is illustrated within a love affair during the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
The Psychopath: The Fan
If you just recently started watching movies over the past few years, you might accidentally characterize Bobby De Niro as the caring parent or the goofy/semi-tough in-law/gangster/pirate. But for those who knows his track-record, De Niro has some creepy roles carved onto his belt, and he has been known to portray some true psychopaths. The Fan is a fine example – when a devoted fan’s love for his favorite baseball player crosses all borders and becomes an obsession, and more gravely – becomes personal.
The Diligent Fan: La Gran Final
Being a sports fan with no cables is hard – finding out which pub broadcasts the game, mooching off your friends’ hospitality, being totally reliant upon outside sources and other people’s caprice; So what would’ve happened if you were to live, say, in the Sahara, in the middle of the Amazons or somewhere remote in Mongolia?
La Gran Final (The Great Match) tells the story of three groups of die-hard soccer fans in these far-flung places, who try to connect to civilization so they can watch the highly anticipated 2002 World Cup Finals. A funny take on supporting sports in the age of growing globalization.
The Mentee: Looking for Eric
Cantona was an amazing football player that inspired every Manchester United fan and many soccer fans around the globe. One of them in particular, a working class British bloke who is also named Eric, hallucinates entire conversations with the Frenchman. He confides in him, talks to him about football and about life, and picks up advices from his surreal mentor. Eric’s personal life is in turmoil and the people he cares about find themselves in a predicament; Cantona is there to help him figure things out and try to get everything sorted out. An offbeat dramedy for anyone who has an idol he looks up to until this day.
The Know-It-All Fan: Eddie
Whoopi’s big mouth gets her in trouble again, this time as a dedicated Knicks fan who has an opinion about every play her sucky team executes. When she becomes the team’s coach as part of a publicity stunt, she realizes what every devoted fan refuses to acknowledge – that coaching on the court is a tad harder than yelling advice from the stands. A humorous take on every fan’s opinion that he knows better.
The Heroic Fan: Sudden Death
Jean-Claude Van Damme wants to bond with his kids, so he decides to take them to a hockey game – the NHL Stanley Cup finals, no less. The vice president is going to attend the game; unfortunately, so are some terrorists. They rig the arena, take hostages and hand over an ultimatum that will expire at the end of the game (unless it goes into overtime and sudden death mode…)
Van Damme transforms from a spectator to a hero, as he races against the game clock that’s winding down. Sudden Death is an exciting action flick that holds you in suspense, with an unforgettable scene where JCVD takes the ice and has to join the championship game as the goalie.
Hooliganism is mainly mentioned with British football fans (and do not dare to call it ‘soccer’). The team’s adoration is a good reason to come and hang out with their mates, sing football songs, unify around their team’s goals (literally) and form a sports comradeship; but hooliganism is also about getting pissed, fight the other teams’ fans, and vandalize an occasional facility from time to time.
In Britain the hooligan packs are well-organized and are called “firms”, and every football club that respects itself has one. Londoner director Nick Love’s Football Factory describes Chelsea fans, while his other movie The Firm depicts the life of a West Ham supporter; but the ultimate hooligan film is Green Street, which revolves around the West Ham firm and their hatred towards their nemesis – Milwall (which apparently everyone in these movies hate).
These are all good portrayals of how the inside of a rough hooligan pack works, about their honor and pride, principles, friendship & unlimited love for their team, and mainly for their firm.
Technorati Tags: Sports fans, Fever Pitch, sports team, FeverPitch, Nick Hornby, soccer, Baseball, Big Fan, Football, Sixty Six, World Cup, Celtic Pride, Boston Celtics fans, NBA playoffs, Judd Apatow, Gmar Gavi’a (Cup Final), The Fan, Bobby De Niro, La Gran Final (The Great Match), Looking for Eric, Eric Cantona, Eddie, Sudden Death, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Whoopi Goldberg, NHL Stanley Cup finals, The Football Factory, The Firm, Green Street Hooligans, Nick Love
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2008 ended on a depressing note, with a global financial crisis and more terror. So I’m writing this end-of-year cinematic sum-up on a light note, focusing on the great comedies that 2008 offered us.
Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler all had huge blockbusters; Judd Apatow proved that he has the Midas touch; Seth Rogen has established himself as one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, and both The Coen Brothers and Kevin Smith made their funniest films to date.
Here’s my take on the top ten comedies of the year, plus five less known yet equally great comedies that you might have missed:
10. Be Kind Rewind
From the Movie Genome: It’s a semi-fantastic, offbeat, touching and very funny farce about two buddies. Nothing goes right for them, but they find a way to make things better: filmmaking.
Trouble-making Jerry (Jack Black) and well-meaning Mike (Mos Def) unintentionally erase all the video-cassettes (yes, there was something like that once upon a time) in the video store. They decide the simplest way to set things right is to remake all the library’s films, including Robocop, Ghostbusters and Driving Miss Daisy. Sounds wacky – and it better be, as it’s a Michel Gondry film.
Although Gondry’s three previous films: Human Nature, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, and The Science Of Sleep, were all essentially love stories, Be Kind Rewind captures another kind of romance. Both the writer-director and his characters are in love with the cinematic medium itself, and celebrate the sheer joy of watching and making films.
9. Yes Man
From the Movie Genome: A lonely and unhappy guy lives a dull life until he joins a cult that changes his life drastically. The cult’s one rule: say yes to everything (that’s what Jim Carrey’s character understood anyway…)
This is Jim Carrey’s funniest performance in a very long time, proving himself yet again as a master of facial expressions. Zooey Deschanel, the definition of cuteness, has great comic abilities. And Terence Stamp is absolutely hilarious as the inspirational yet eccentric mentor (if Robert De Niro can make comedies, why not Terence Stamp?). It’s a feel good movie with plenty of laughs.
8. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
From the Movie Genome: It’s a witty romantic comedy about a twenty-something guy who gets dumped by his girlfriend, goes on vacation in Hawaii, and falls in love with one of the hotel’s employees.
The star of the movie is Jason Segal, who also wrote the sharply comic screenplay. He is solid in his first major starring role. Stoller, making his feature-film directorial debut, gets the most out of his diverse cast and beautiful setting. It’s outrageously funny yet touchingly sweet.
From the Movie Genome: It’s a suspenseful, offbeat and exciting action-comedy about two stoner buddies who are on the run after witnessing a crime.
It’s nearly impossible to think of another film that so seamlessly blends pitch-perfect stoner babble with high-octane action sequences.
There are only so many ways to play a stoner, but James Franco puts his own endearing, lovable spin on the type, portraying Saul as a kind-hearted, well-intentioned yet hardcore dope smoker. Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow have proven themselves a nearly unstoppable juggernaut; here’s hoping they bring Franco along on the ride more often.
6. Step Brothers
From the Movie Genome: It’s a silly comedy of gross-out and irreverent humor, about two very immature 40-year-old step siblings, who despite their initial antagonism – and ensuing chaos and mayhem – end up becoming buddies.
Adam McKay co-wrote and directed Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby, two of Ferrell’s most popular and consummately hilarious films. McKay teamed up again not only with Ferrell but also with Ferrell’s co-star in Talladega Nights, John C. Reilly (who has steadily proven himself to be one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors). Though Step Brothers may be the simplest of the three movies on which the duo have collaborated, it’s arguably their best.
From the Movie Genome: An exciting comedy with plenty of gross-out humor, about an ex-secret agent who starts over and moves to New York in order to follow his dream – and work in a beauty saloon.
Comedy superstar Adam Sandler is back – in a Ben Stiller-like character, embarrassingly funny as always. He’s the Zohan, the finest counterterrorist agent the Israeli army has. That is, until he fakes his own death and travels to Manhattan to live out his dream… as a hairdresser. It’s a razor-sharp action-packed comedy from Adam Sandler, Judd Apatow and Robert Smigel who co-wrote. No fines here, but in the movies’ spirit, you’ll be sure to laugh your ass off.
From the Movie Genome: It’s a feel good, offbeat, funny and sexy romantic comedy about filmmaking and two working-class friends who just might be in love with one another.
After the success of Knocked Up, Seth Rogen pairs up with another comely comedienne in Zack & Miri Make a Porno. In this Kevin Smith comedy, two desperate friends (Rogen and Elizabeth Banks) decide to earn a little extra money by creating their own adult film, but they also discover that they may be more than just pals.
From the Movie Genome: It’s a satirical, clever and exciting dark-humored farce about the obsessive quest of two rather stupid misfit partners, who bring disorder into the world of espionage.
This movie also stands as the third entry, after Blood Simple and Fargo, in what could be an unofficial Tragedy of Human Idiocy trilogy, where characters make the most outlandishly moronic moves with devastating consequences simply by adhering to true human behavior.
The movie is a collection of brilliant caricature studies interwoven with veracious, if Coenesque, social interactions, as epitomized by the pathos of the Frances McDormand character’s race for cosmetic surgery.
2. In Bruges
From the Movie Genome: A witty, clever, dark comedy about a hitman haunted by his past. And even worse, he is in Bruges…
Playwright Martin McDonagh makes an impressive feature film debut as the writer and director of this tragicomedy as rich, dark, and complex as Belgian chocolate.
McDonagh’s absurdist black humor asserts itself in hilarious dialogue and dreamlike visuals that shift seamlessly from sweet to grotesque, Colin Farrell uses the great script to give his best acting performance so far.
From the Movie Genome: A critically-acclaimed, clever, offbeat and exciting action comedy with an all-star cast: about showbiz, filmmaking, actors’ lives and their egos.
Ben Stiller has set Tropic Thunder firmly within the realm of sophisticated Hollywood satire. Steve Coogan plays a desperate director named Damien Cockburn who is trying to make a Vietnam War movie. Cockburn’s stars include Stiller as an action hero who’s starting to make bad career choices, Jack Black as an insecure low-brow comedy star going through heroin withdrawal, and Robert Downey Jr. as an Australian Oscar winner so lost in his “craft” he underwent a procedure to become black for his role.
Simply put, this raucous satire knows big-budget filmmaking, the delusional narcissism of actors, and even the good points of those actors – perhaps why they’re celebrated – like the back of its hand.
And five more you should definitely check out:
5. The Grand
From the Movie Genome: An ensemble cast mockumentary about gambling, contests and competitions and very eccentric people.
In the tradition of such improv-driven comedies as Best In Show and A Mighty Wind, director Zak Penn (Incident At Loch Ness) casts an affectionate eye on the world of professional poker in his highly entertaining mockumentary. Penn assembles an impressive ensemble of actors (Cheryl Hines, David Cross, Woody Harrelson, Dennis Farina, Chris Parnell and Werner Herzog) to tell the story of six competitors in a $10 million winner-take-all Las Vegas poker tournament.
From the Movie Genome: It’s a feel good, humorous and sincere story, about friendship, teachers and students, and thirty-something life in urban London, focusing on one specific optimistic woman.
Yes, a feel-good comedy from director Mike Leigh! It chronicles the daily comings and goings of 30-year-old Poppy, whose positive, easy-going outlook epitomizes the title. It’s a fascinating character study and Sally Hawkins is excellent as Poppy, striking just the right chord of cheerful without being shrill or obnoxious. It also offers a refreshingly upbeat and realistic look at a 30-something urban woman’s life. The movie is whip-smart and full of surprises – just when you are certain the story is going in a certain direction, Leigh gently nudges you down a different path. And you are glad.
From the Movie Genome: It’s a clever and offbeat romantic comedy, about a small time journalist who rises to the top, and gets to work for a big magazine in New York, and through his eyes we get an inside look into showbiz and celebrity culture.
Names may have been changed to protect the innocent – and the not-so innocent – but this comedy adapts Toby Young’s biting memoir about his struggles as a Vanity Fair employee. Brilliant Brit Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz) stars as Young’s alter ego, while Jeff Bridges is a Graydon Carter-esque magazine editor.
2. The Hammer
From the Movie Genome: A touching, witty sports comedy, about a middle-aged ex-athlete (boxer) who makes an unexpected comeback and falls in love along the way.
Adam Carolla plays Jerry Ferro, a man who has reached his 40th birthday but still has plenty of fight in him. After getting fired from his construction job, Jerry decides to get back in the game and return to his original love: boxing. This comeback comedy also stars Heather Juergensen. The first movie written by Adam Carolla is funny, witty, surprisingly romantic and touching.
From the Movie Genome: A clever, touching and offbeat tragicomedy, about a goofy, down-on-his-luck hero, who reluctantly watches over two mischievous children (belonging to his sister) and works in a petty, depressing job.
Scott Prendergast makes his feature-film debut as an actor, director, and writer with this quirky black comedy.
Kabluey is a charming, offbeat look at wartime life in America, seen from a unique perspective. Movies presented as tragicomedies are usually tragic with a few laughs in them, if any. This one is actually hilarious and yet so sad at the same time.
May 2009 be a feel-good year, full of optimism, joy and good movies.
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