How Do You Know is the story of a love triangle between three very different people, wrapped in a bunch of morality questions (stupid ones, a lot of the time, but we'll get to that in a minute) that deserves some leniency for actually trying to do something different than the standard rom-com by numbers. So I'll try not to be too mean to it. It's a bad movie, but in watching this I felt like I was watching something at least attempting to have more of an identity than all the Heigl and Aniston movies I have to see for my job, and considering how criminally rare that is, I respect it. I mean, I also felt like I was watching a real failure of a movie, but thank God it was something "romantic" that actually sort of tried. That counts for something.
Do you ever get sick of films that obviously have a large amount of improv? I'm fine with a few riffs here or there, but sometimes I long for tighter editing and, you know, actual writing. A line that I loved in The AV Club's excellent "Michael Schur walks us through Parks And Recreation" article series was when showrunner Schur was discussing the use of improvisation on his series and noted, "[W]e have many, many times thrown away jokes that we thought were way funnier than the stuff we wrote because, completely unintentionally, in the moment, they alter the scene. They change the motivation of the character or they indicate that the character doesn't care about something that he or she cares about or something. And I will always cut those jokes out because it's never worth sacrificing the scene or the story or the character for one joke."
After Evan Almighty, Get Smart and Date Night, I was ready to write Steve Carell off as far as his movies go, but now I'm not so sure. Carell's character in Dinner for Schmucks is like Michael Scott from the office turned up to 11, if 11 is the point at which people start creating dioramas using dead mice. All of the elements we love about Michael -- awkward closeness and overfamiliarity, mispronunciation and lack of vocabulary, odd habits and personal misery -- have been inflated in the character of Barry, and it makes Schmucks immensely entertaining to watch. The amazing supporting cast doesn't hurt, either.
Will Ferrell, did you read my review of your latest moviefilm and feel that you needed to redeem yourself in my eyes? That is so considerate of you, you big lug! Why else would you and Adam McKay announce you were in the midst of creating a follow-up to the dumb-larious Anchorman just after I made the assertion that of all your various cinematic man-child incarnations, Ron Burgundy was the bestest?
You could say that Judd Apatow and his cadre of actor/writer/producer/director friends have raised the bar for testosterone-fueled juvenilia. To some degree, we've come a long way from the Farrelly brothers and even the Kevin Smiths of the world, inasmuch as you can elevate dick jokes and nerd references to a slightly higher level. Perhaps because of his ubiquity, Apatow's particular breed of humor has been the Status quo for that specific genre for the last several years, and therefore most of us have learned to expect that much, but no more.
Man, today started off crappy. Humidity, rain, and an early morning trip to the wilds of the Upper East Side to get one's ass X-rayed is not a recipe for an awesome Wednesday. But after a grilled cheese sammich and some much-needed rocking out to M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes," things started looking up. And then I saw a trailer for the upcoming David Wain/Paul Rudd chucklefest Role Models and presto change-o: Best Day Ever! What's that you say? Ken "Wait For Me Abby Bernstein!" Marino shares writing credits? Sign me the bleep up!
When you go to the Fandango page for Jack Black and Michael Cera's Year One there's a small box where they list "Similar Movies You Might Like." Now, this box assumes that you like the movie whose page you're on. Considering that most people who go to Fandango haven't even seen the movie they're looking up yet, it's a strange feature. In this context, they're more like recommendations for movies you should stay home and watch instead of the movie you're about to buy tickets for. Dear God, how I wish I'd taken that little box's advice.
Everywhere I go lately, no one will shut up about I Love You, Man. And while the trailer looked delightful enough, particularly cast-wise, I decided to look up the rest of cast to see exactly why the internet (the only place I go, to be honest) is foaming at the mouth over it, and I think it might have something to do with the fact that every funny person with the use of their arms and legs is in this thing. Seriously, this cast is insane. It's like if Role Models, Wet Hot American Summer and Judd Apatow's Top 8 (vintage 2006 social networking reference!) exploded all over each other, and then someone came along and put the fire out with some Broken Lizard. It's a hipster comedy P'zone! Besides the Paul Rudd, Rashida Jones and Jason Segel you've seen prominently in the trailer, they also paid these people to be in it (disclaimer: this list is a big waste of time for non-comedy nerds, just FYI):