Inside Pulse » Melissa McCarthy http://insidepulse.com A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Wed, 17 Dec 2014 22:14:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse » Melissa McCarthy http://insidepulse.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://insidepulse.com Monday Morning Critic – On Why Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters Remake Could Be Something Profound In Cinematic History http://insidepulse.com/2014/10/13/monday-morning-critic-on-why-paul-feigs-ghostbusters-remake-could-be-something-profound-in-cinematic-history/ http://insidepulse.com/2014/10/13/monday-morning-critic-on-why-paul-feigs-ghostbusters-remake-could-be-something-profound-in-cinematic-history/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 12:00:10 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=2001500
MMC

The big news of last week was the final nail in the coffin of Dan Aykroyd’s Ghostbusters 3 as a remake of the ‘80s classic is coming instead of the long gestating sequel. Paul Feig’s been tapped and he’ll be doing something very interesting with it. He’s going to scrap any allusions of trying to bring back the original cast and is instead going with an all-female cast of female actresses in fairly iconic roles formerly inhabited by Bill Murray, Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson. While no one is attached to it so far, or at least has been announced as such, it’s a fairly substantial departure as Ackroyd’s dream of getting one more ride into the spotlight has ended.

Over three years ago I wrote on it and with the passing of Harold Ramis it felt like the dream of one more ride at the top for Aykroyd and company was officially dead. Murray wanted no part in it for obvious reasons; he moved on once he left comedy behind. With his good friend gone, Murray probably intimated to Sony that Ramis’s death coupled with Ivan Reitman leaving for good meant he was gone. He wasn’t going to come back to just hang out with Hudson and Aykroyd, even if he was contractually obligated to.

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Throw in the fact that I think Sony didn’t want the hassle of getting Murray on board and you have the perfect setup for a brand new take with a brand new cast. Bill Murray isn’t a big enough star anymore, especially in a franchise that’ll have gone the better part of thirty years since being in theatres, and his desire to not do another Ghostbusters film was the biggest reason why a third film in the franchise never happened. He owns part of the rights and had to sign off for the threequel to happen, hence why it never happened unless it was on his stringent terms. It’s why the closest they got to his blessing was killing him off in the first reel on a script that was never made.

Sony probably said “here’s a bunch of money and you don’t have to be involved” for him to give his blessing to reboot it all, which he did after the check cashed.

With the film starting out new, as well, they can safely walk away from Aykroyd and Hudson needing to be in the franchise in any capacity. Sony has a shot at starting out completely new for a new generation without the baggage of the old Ghostbusters crew. And that’s exactly what Murray, Aykroyd and Hudson being in this film would be: baggage. And don’t kid yourself, either. The further the three are from the film’s production the better off we all will be for it.

They don’t mean much to the current crop of cinemagoers that make up the bulk of ticket sales in North America, just to the older vanguard that grew up with the original franchise, and Sony is allowing Feig the ultimate opportunity to start out fresh. It’s kind of impressive they’re giving him enough leeway to rebrand this as a female-centric franchise and aren’t going to be insulting about it.

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Lionsgate is looking at an all female Expendables type, except kind of insulting as the gals post as high class call girls to save the day. After the colossal failure of Expendables 3 one can imagine that a spin off franchise will be a harder sell, of course, but Sony is topping them in every conceivable manner by developing a franchise for women that isn’t completely insulting to their intelligence. I think it’s an awful idea based on the people involved, if only because none of them were actually stars in the first place, but Feig’s concept intrigues me on every conceivable level.

Feig is no stranger to developing ideas with strong female casts, even if both Bridesmaids and The Heat were both films that were fairly terrible, but Ghostbusters at its heart lends itself to something interesting. In a world where the paranormal is a staple of television series, and Paranormal Activity is a fairly regular Halloween staple, a comedy about ghosts and whatnot seems appropriate. With enough people stupid enough to believe in or pay psychic mediums, among others, a film taking a more comedic aspect to it has a place in modern cinema. In a world where suckers en masse believe in cold reading as “psychic powers,” and the seriousness of the paranormal in cinema as a whole as of late, we need a good comedy to give it a kick in the pants.

So Feig, who has experience in comedy and ensemble films, is arguably the right guy for this particular vision. At its heart both The Heat and Bridesmaids had enough to them to see his vision. I wasn’t a fan of either but one can see the big picture; I’d argue that Bridesmaids would’ve worked as more drama than comedy (and with at least an hour of material taken out) and that The Heatwould’ve worked more effectively with less Melissa McCarthy doing a very bad Danny McBride impression.

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Feig does have that rare ability to connect with a female audience, which is why a female Ghostbusters film is interesting on its face. You have a director who has the ability to understand his audience being tasked with a great concept, of paranormal investigator types who discover that the paranormal is real, and potentially a career maker for a handful of actresses. Now is an interesting moment in time because Feig has the ability to take the film in any number of ways. He has the ability to bring in a group of actresses who he he’s been successful with before. Hollywood loves success and there’s a potential for a franchise seemingly unprecedented in Hollywood right now.

We could be looking at the first ensemble franchise for the summer blockbuster season that isn’t reliant on male stars.

It’s something special that we’re potentially looking at Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne and Maya Rudolph stepping into some fairly legendary shoes for what’s going to be a summer blockbuster. This is going to be a film with $1-200 million behind it in budget alone, as this is an effects laden property, and all the usual rules for Hollywood are being thrown out. That’s something profound in a world where the average summer blockbuster normally features women in secondary roles.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

Mike Noyes goes old school for Godzilla stuffs.

What would Travis Leamons do if he sang out of tune? He’d stand up and turn on this DVD.

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

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This week’s DVD – Team America: World Police

This is one of those films that I had mixed feelings on in theatres, and then on DVD a short while later. It has so much awful and so much good in it that it’s hard to really find a bead on it. I popped it in this weekend, as I’m still conflicted and wanted to see if there’s potentially a resolution (and a firm rating) I can throw onto it.

Simple premise. Team America saves the day and is trying to prevent Kim Jong Il from detonating WMDs across the globe. It’s up to Gary (Trey Parker), an actor recruited to infiltrate terrorists from Chechnya to help save the day.

The thing about the film is that it’s profoundly frustrating to watch. There are so many brilliant moments, and the film captures and ruthlessly parodies everything about the big summer blockbuster rote perfect. It works even more on that level now, with the summer blockbuster season becoming much more homogenized than ever before, as the film is still spot on in so much that it’s incredibly funny. Throw in some great bits, including cinema’s best puppet sex scene ever, and this is always one of those films I think I should love.

But I just can’t.

There are just so much abjectly terrible moments in the film that it feels fairly mediocre by the end. It’s one you can throw and watch … but I find myself skipping huge swathes of it because it’s so awful. It’s bi-polar as a film; some moments are so extraordinarily funny and huge chunks are so profoundly not that I’m still not sure, many years after this was released, on how to properly rate it. I really want to love it … but I can marginally like.

Unsure of a recommendation

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

The Best of Me – A Nicholas Sparks film. Someone gets cancer and/or dies, I think.

Skip It – NEXT.

The Book of Life (2014) – An animated tale about Halloween shenanigans.

Skip It – Fox Animation is usually miss or miss.

Fury (2014) – Brad Pitt is in a tank during World War 2, killing Nazis.

See It – I remember the Israeli film Lebanon and wondered what an American film maker would do with a similar concept about tankers. This could be an American Das Boot … or it could be abjectly terrible. Either way it looks interesting on the surface.

Dear White People – A satirical comedy about race relations in modern day America’s college campuses.

See It – It’s got a brilliant trailer and has that subversively good sort of feel to it.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .
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Disc News: Identity Thief Swipes Onto Blu-ray This June http://insidepulse.com/2013/04/02/disc-news-identity-thief-swipes-onto-blu-ray-this-june/ http://insidepulse.com/2013/04/02/disc-news-identity-thief-swipes-onto-blu-ray-this-june/#comments Wed, 03 Apr 2013 01:15:52 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=329010 No need to debate the point: Melissa McCarthy is now a cinema superstar. She stole the bouquet in Bridesmaids. She’s now stolen Jason Bateman’s personal information in Identity Thief. The movie proved to be a comedy hit in theaters. Now it’s coming to home video on June 4. Here’s the press release from Universal Studios Home Entertainment:

Universal City, California, April 2, 2013 – A mild-mannered businessman and the spend-happy con woman who stole his identity embark on an uproarious, cross-country road trip in the number one comedy blockbuster Identity Thief, available on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, DVD, Digital Download and On Demand June 4, 2013, from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Identity Thief’s fearlessly funny stars – Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses) and Emmy® winner Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) – charmed critics and audiences alike with their off-the-wall outrageous banter. Directed by Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses), Identity Thief also features an all-star ensemble cast including Jon Favreau (Iron Man series), Amanda Peet (2012), Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris (American Gangster), Genesis Rodriguez (What to Expect When You’re Expecting), John Cho (Harold & Kumar series), Robert Patrick (Safe House) and Eric Stonestreet (“Modern Family”).

Both the Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD include an unrated, extended version of the film featuring exclusive footage not shown in theaters, as well as a gag reel and making of the featurette with interviews with the film’s creators and cast. Exclusive to the Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (pre-order today) are bonus features including alternate takes, a behind-the-scenes featurette highlighting the stars’ unique comedic contributions and an insider tour with one of the movie’s most memorable characters.

Bonus Features Exclusive to the Blu-ray:

Scene Stealing: Capturing the Humor of Identity Thief:
Inspired by comedy classics Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Midnight Run, Identity Thief brings comedy geniuses Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy together for an unforgettable cross-country journey.

The Skiptracer’s Van: Robert Patrick, in character as The Skiptracer, details what is important to him, especially his van, which subs as his office, home and perpetrator container. He gives a tour of the exterior, the “deep” interior and the cabin, replete with all of the supplies that he may or may not need.
Alternate Takes

Blu-ray and DVD Bonus Features:

Gag Reel

The Making of Identity Thief: Featuring on-set footage and interviews with the filmmakers and the first-class comedic cast, this featurette brings audiences inside the making of the year’s funniest film.

Unrated and Theatrical Versions of the Film

SYNOPSIS

Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses) and Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) lead an all-star cast in this hilarious blockbuster hit. Unlimited funds have allowed Diana (McCarthy) to live it up on the outskirts of Orlando. There’s only one glitch: she’s financing her shopping sprees with an ID stolen from Sandy Patterson (Bateman), an accounts rep who lives halfway across the U.S. With only one week to hunt down the con artist before his world implodes, the real Sandy Patterson is forced to extreme measures to clear his name. From the director of Horrible Bosses and the producer of Ted, critics are calling Identity Thief “smart, funny and surprisingly touching” – Rafer Guzman, Newsday
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Blu-ray Review: This is 40 http://insidepulse.com/2013/03/14/blu-ray-review-this-is-40/ http://insidepulse.com/2013/03/14/blu-ray-review-this-is-40/#comments Thu, 14 Mar 2013 13:05:48 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=327136 Knocked Up plays like Scenes from a Marriage but with an unfunny Apatow comedy bent.]]> Judd Apatow took the world by storm what seems like a lifetime ago by making two of the funniest films of the first decade of the 21st century in Knocked Up and The Forty Year-Old Virgin. He seemed to have a golden touch, as well, as everything he affiliated himself seemingly got universal praise and box office success. But the comedy gods are fickle and Apatow has seemingly strayed from the formula that made him comedy’s next great director: mesh a great story with high level comedy. His third effort Funny People was an attempt at telling a grander story with a genuine movie star in Adam Sandler that fizzled out with a weak third act. And now comes This is 40, his seeming attempt at a comedic version of the seminal classic Scenes from a Marriage … and about as funny.

The film is a pseudo-sequel to Knocked Up as it follows Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) from that film and places them in 2012. Pete has left Sony and opened up his own fledgling record label which is doing poorly. Debbie runs her own clothing store with a pair of employees (Charlyne Yi, Megan Fox) who despise one another. Apatow’s daughters Maude and Iris return as older versions of themselves, as well, and growing up is difficult for the two. We follow the couple through a difficult time in their marriage as money problems and general difficulties as they struggle to stay married when everything says for them to walk away from one another.

This is semi-autobiographical for Apatow, it seems, as Pete has gone from being another supporting character to being his surrogate. It’s interesting to see how he’s tailored Paul Rudd’s character to mirror his own personal life, from back problems to professional failures after striking out on his own, as Apatow seems to want to use Paul Rudd in the same way Woody Allen uses actors who can do neurosis well. Rudd’s game for the character, who seamlessly adds in this mirror to Apatow to a fairly blank slate of a supporting role from Knocked Up. It’s an opportunity to explore the character further and it makes for an interesting look at the character as he tries to hold his family together when everything seems to be pushing him away.

To best understand the film is to best understand Pete, which is apparently a good way to understand Apatow as well. He’s an auteur trying to transition from good story-teller with R-rated jokes into being more profound which mirrors Pete’s attempt at producing music that matters. The big storyline about his work is an attempt at releasing a new album for Graham Parker and the Rumor, a band that hasn’t been popular in some time despite releasing some profoundly strong music, mirrors what one imagines Apatow feels as his place in the comedy mainstream. Pete wants this album to be a success and when it inevitably fails it points out how almost out of touch his tastes are with the mainstream. When he compares what he thinks of as good music to his wife it’s profoundly different as well. Pete’s in a position in life where his dedication to art has failed, and failed almost spectacularly, and it’s affected everything around him.

One imagines that’s how Apatow views cinema to a large degree; he wants to be profound but sees stuff that’s viewed as “fun” despite its rancid nature becoming significantly more successful than what’s good. When he hears Parker tell Billy Joe Armstrong from Green Day about how Glee paid him a lot of money for a song it’s heart breaking in the same way for Peter that Apatow looks himself. One imagines Apatow sees films involving board games and children’s toys being pushed hard when great cinema is often overlooked because it’s not “mindless fun.”

Unfortunately the film tries to be a comedy and, despite what’s a fairly solid look at a marriage in trouble, it’s just not funny. Apatow relies on a lot of cameo appearances to bolster his ranks and it’s pointed in how unfunny Paul Rudd is in the film when Melissa McCarthy can almost steal the film in her token appearance. Charlyne Yi nearly tanks the film on her own with a spectacularly bad performance, as well, and Jason Segel pops in for a couple of scenes to reprise his character from Knocked Up. It’s almost painful at times as Apatow, who used to provide a lot of good jokes, is now pandering to the same mouth breathing “low information voter” types with fart jokes and visual gags for the unsophisticated.

This is 40 is also excessively long as well as it feels like it should be titled This is Forty Hours instead. There’s easily an hour of material that could be excised from the film and make it leaner and more coherent. Apatow, who hit it out of the park with his first two films, has seemingly almost lost that edge that made his films funny in the first place. If anything This is 40 is further descending upon the same hill Funny People started rolling down.

There’s an “Unrated” version of the film which adds back into the deleted scenes and extended scenes that were initially excluded. Apatow lends a feature commentary as well as an EPK piece about the film as well.

Universal Studios presents This is 40 . Directed and Written by Judd Apatow. Starring Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Megan Fox, Melissa McCarthy, Graham Parker, Charlyne Yi, Jason Segel, Chris O’Dowd. Running time: 138 minutes. Rated R. Released: March 22, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.
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Monday Morning Critic – On Rex Reed, Melissa McCarthy, Identity Thief And Fat Jokes – Flash Gordon Blu-Ray Review http://insidepulse.com/2013/02/11/monday-morning-critic-on-rex-reed-melissa-mccarthy-identity-thief-and-fat-jokes-flash-gordon-blu-ray-review/ http://insidepulse.com/2013/02/11/monday-morning-critic-on-rex-reed-melissa-mccarthy-identity-thief-and-fat-jokes-flash-gordon-blu-ray-review/#comments Mon, 11 Feb 2013 13:00:37 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=325131
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You know what was the most interesting thing about this weekend? The controversy regarding Rex Reed insulting Melissa McCarthy for being a morbidly obese woman and being in a patently unfunny film, that’s what. You can read his original review of course and the big thing was that he kind of lost it. Reed’s an old dude and a bit cranky, I think, because he decided to just let it all hang out and mock Melissa McCarthy’s girth.

Beyonce YARFG

Yeah, kind of like that

And I’m not immune to that charge, as last week I called McCarthy the “fat Bridesmaid” in passing in my weekend film preview. Quick jokes are often the best ones. I don’t feel the urge to apologize and I don’t think Rex Reed should apologize either. Why? Because of one thing no one ever called out the trailer for: it’s direct use of McCarthy’s looks and weight as poor punch-lines to begin with. I would use the phrase “in for a penny, in for a pound” but people would think it’s just another fat joke as opposed to an aphorism about getting in too deep.

So instead I’ll say when you make a film’s entire appeal about a fat, obnoxious woman being annoying one shouldn’t be all that surprised when it’s called to the carpet. Watch the trailer and then I’ll elaborate further.

When a film-maker is willing to dress up someone like McCarthy to look like some sort of clown who works trailer parks it gives you a license to get in one the joke. The entire film is based off of her doing “wacky” things that emphasize her weight as opposed to anything she’s actually saying or doing. It’s hard to not notice her because it’s hard to not see someone who looks like her clothes were made from a ‘70s circus tent being loud and obnoxious. Jason Bateman refers to her as a Hobbit, of course, and the entire film revolves around her being this freakish ogre who has a sad back story. Everyone behind this film essentially thought that dressing up an overweight woman to look like a freak, have her act like one and then casually insert Jason Bateman as the straight man to her antics would make it all ok.

You can’t market a film like that without some backlash.

Travis summed it up best, of course, right here, if you’re looking for a formal review. My thoughts would be more like “The entire film is basically one big Melissa McCarthy is fat, annoying and doesn’t know how to dress herself joke that isn’t funny. In fact it’s kind of insulting as a moviegoer.”

Melissa McCarthy

The problem becomes when you make a film, and in turn dedicate a good chunk of its marketing to, about how “funny” it is to see Melissa McCarthy dressed up like one of those Troll dolls on an acid trip then you should expect guys like Reed to unload the comments about her weight, etc. When a film like Identity Thief stoops to this level it becomes something to discuss. Unfortunately, Reed handled it in the worst possible way but there’s something to be said about discussing it.

“Melissa McCarthy is a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success,” he wrote and there’s a lot to be mined out of it. He’s not right in calling her a hippo, et al, but the fact that her entire shtick in the film is “I’m really fat and really annoying” is a valid concern. If Kevin James let himself get to Paul Blart level territory again and become an antagonist in a similar film it’d be a valid concern, too.

Comedy just focusing on someone’s weight and dress is as a lazy as a fart joke, regardless of gender.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

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This Week’s DVD – Flash Gordon

I’ll be honest; Flash Gordon is one of the worst films ever made of a major character. But let’s also be honest: it was the ‘80s and this was as good as it was going to get. And there was a point when the awfulness of ‘70s sci-fi met the cheesiness of the ‘80s attempts at transforming iconic figures of the pulp serial era into motion pictures. None were finer, for lack of a better word, than the Sam Jones headlined adaptation.

Jones is Flash Gordon, quarterback of the New York Jets, and he and ‘80s hot level travel journalist Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) get kidnapped by a crazy doctor (Chaim Topol) to the planet Mongo. The ruthless Ming (Max Von Sydow) rules all and it’s up to Flash to save every one of us. Why? Because the song says so, damn it, and if Queen says so then it must be true. Queen would never lie: not about the Quarterback of the Jets or about girls with fat bottoms. It’s Queen, for the love of Pete.

This is the peak of cheesy film-making. Back then it was the state of the times but watching it now, on the Blu-Ray, you can tell just how cheaply it was made. What a glorious format to expose this entire era, I have to say. Flash Gordon is such a bad film but it’s just so poignantly enjoyable for the same reasons. Plus it also has the peak hotness of Ornella Muti, too, and Ming’s daughter might be her greatest role ever.

Recommended … but very slightly. It’s a worthwhile purchase but not for anything of note, money wise.

And, as always …. DEATH TO MING!

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Beautiful Creatures – A teenager is waiting to be chosen by good or bad witches and such.

Skip it – This might be the first film featuring character actors completely mailing it in en masse for a big check en masse of the year.

Escape from Planet Earth – Aliens land on Earth and have to escape or something. It’s animated.

Skip it – Worst trailer of 2013, so far, and animated films rarely exceed the expectations their trailers provide.

Safe Haven – The blonde from Rock of Ages and Josh Duhamel have a ridiculous love story. And probably one of them gets cancer.

Skip it – If a woman tells you she loves Nicholas Sparks films and novels, it’s a sign she’s probably not the type to bring home to mom.

A Good Day to Die Hard – John McClane is BACK and blowing shit up in Russia.

See it – A proper Valentine’s Day film if there ever was.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .
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Identity Thief – Review http://insidepulse.com/2013/02/09/identity-thief-review/ http://insidepulse.com/2013/02/09/identity-thief-review/#comments Sat, 09 Feb 2013 13:00:41 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=325203
Identity Thief is a comedy suffering from an identity crisis.

Just as Due Date was a comedy for an audience unfamiliar with Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Identity Thief is a comedy for those who have never seen Midnight Run. It starts out promising with a pair of affable leads, but as the minutes tick by and the jokes falls flat, the movie quickly drops from “bad” to a level on the scale where the viewer starts to think it is the root cause for all their problems in life. Now that’s a debilitatingly level of badness.

Knowing what’s funny and what’s not varies from viewer to viewer. We each have our own definition of humor and what makes us laugh. But in Identity Thief the filmmakers make the miscalculation of needing to include dramatics as a way to make us care about a con artist. By incorporating this bit of seriousness into the proceedings it seems to want to level the playing field in the enormity of sex jokes and pratfall humor that have occurred up until this reveal. At least in the case of John Hughes’ Planes, Trains and Automobiles he served up the dramatics smooth and the comedy is all the better because of it. Here, we take in this forced sentimentality as if someone were dropping a love bomb on a community that sees its citizens embrace each other with wide hugs while chipping their teeth on candy hearts. If I wanted that kind of feeling, I would watch the final moments of a Tyler Perry movie, or any TGIF comedy from the 1990s when the morale of the episode plays out.

One of the ways you can determine if an upcoming release is a critical bomb is when advertisements tout it as being from the producer of Ted and director of Horrible Bosses (as is the case with Identity Thief) and failing to mention either person by name. Surprisingly, the ads fail to mention that Craig Mazin, who penned The Hangover Part II, also wrote this comedy. Why he made the decision to include a sentimental interlude so that the audience can learn the real reason why a woman became a con artist is still a mystery to me. At least we understand why John Candy is lonely as a traveling shower curtain ring salesman.

Rather than give you a blow by blow of the comedy exploits, just know that they are derived from the same type of humor that made Bridesmaids a huge hit. So with cartoon-like violence, profanity-laced jokes and the requisite “puke scene,” the hit-to-miss ratio is less than thirty percent. Throw in the dramatic scene after having witnessed the two protagonists do awful things to one another and you see why Identity Thief fails as a movie; it’s because it is suffering from an identity crisis. Call it the “wanting to have its cake and eat it to” scenario.

In the comedy, Jason Bateman is Sandy Patterson, a family man with the effeminate-sounding name (but it’s really asexual) who plays by the rules. Upon learning that his identity has been stolen by Diana (Melissa McCarthy), he leaves his Colorado home and heads to Florida, where she is located. His mission: to track down the woman that destroyed his credit rating and potentially cost him his job. From the onset the audience is firmly behind Sandy. Nobody likes to get screwed over and we understand his situation. And Diana, well, she’s like a live-action cartoon that can withstand getting rammed by a speeding car and getting hit with acoustic guitars with no lingering effects. She’s clearly a bad person but because she’s Melissa McCarthy she can get away with it, apparently.

Any comic potential Bateman and McCarthy have in their scenes is thwarted with the contrivances that follow (including two low-level mob enforces and a skip tracer) and sees them take a long road trip back to the Mile High City. By turning the situation to a mismatched buddy film we get the sob story about Diana’s youth for sympathy purposes. I’m not sure if the story is supposed to be legit or not, because Diana is a compulsive liar who is also referred to as Julia (another alias I’m assuming).

Director Seth Gordon, the unnamed director responsible for Horrible Bosses and Identity Thief, fails at making a worthwhile comedy. While I may have given Bosses too much praise at the time of its release, it at least had enough clever moments and interesting casting to make the comedy to work. With Identity Thief we get to see Jon Favreau as the type of boss that most 99-percenters would want to punch in the face. Morris Chestnut proves as a Denver cop that we’re better off solving our own problems without police intervening, and John Cho is just there hoping people won’t ask him about Kumar.

The comedy’s cavalier attitude toward identity thievery also leaves a bad taste. It even has the embedded, unintentional morale that we should turn the other cheek when it comes to identity thieves. It’s okay to overlook their crimes because their deprived upbringing is a good enough excuse for their behavior. The fact that most will probably be obtuse to this sermonizing should tell you something about the intended audience.

Identity Thief is a poorly designed comedy with unwarranted artificial sweetener.

Director: Seth Gordon
Writer: Craig Mazin
Notable Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Bateman, Amanda Peet, Jon Favreau, Robert Patrick, John Cho, Morris Chestnut

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This is 40 – Review http://insidepulse.com/2012/12/22/this-is-40-review/ http://insidepulse.com/2012/12/22/this-is-40-review/#comments Sat, 22 Dec 2012 23:00:59 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=320882
Judd Apatow’s “Scenes From a Marriage” … and about as funny

Judd Apatow took the world by storm what seems like a lifetime ago by making two of the funniest films of the first decade of the 21st century in Knocked Up and The Forty Year-Old Virgin. He seemed to have a golden touch, as well, as everything he affiliated himself seemingly got universal praise and box office success. But the comedy gods are fickle and Apatow has seemingly strayed from the formula that made him comedy’s next great director: mesh a great story with high level comedy. His third effort Funny People was an attempt at telling a grander story with a genuine movie star in Adam Sandler that fizzled out with a weak third act. And now comes This is 40, his seeming attempt at a comedic version of the seminal classic Scenes from a Marriage … and about as funny.

The film is a pseudo-sequel to Knocked Up as it follows Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) from that film and places them in 2012. Pete has left Sony and opened up his own fledgling record label which is doing poorly. Debbie runs her own clothing store with a pair of employees (Charlyne Yi, Megan Fox) who despise one another. Apatow’s daughters Maude and Iris return as older versions of themselves, as well, and growing up is difficult for the two. We follow the couple through a difficult time in their marriage as money problems and general difficulties as they struggle to stay married when everything says for them to walk away from one another.

This is semi-autobiographical for Apatow, it seems, as Pete has gone from being another supporting character to being his surrogate. It’s interesting to see how he’s tailored Paul Rudd’s character to mirror his own personal life, from back problems to professional failures after striking out on his own, as Apatow seems to want to use Paul Rudd in the same way Woody Allen uses actors who can do neurosis well. Rudd’s game for the character, who seamlessly adds in this mirror to Apatow to a fairly blank slate of a supporting role from Knocked Up. It’s an opportunity to explore the character further and it makes for an interesting look at the character as he tries to hold his family together when everything seems to be pushing him away.

To best understand the film is to best understand Pete, which is apparently a good way to understand Apatow as well. He’s an auteur trying to transition from good story-teller with R-rated jokes into being more profound which mirrors Pete’s attempt at producing music that matters. The big storyline about his work is an attempt at releasing a new album for Graham Parker and the Rumor, a band that hasn’t been popular in some time despite releasing some profoundly strong music, mirrors what one imagines Apatow feels as his place in the comedy mainstream. Pete wants this album to be a success and when it inevitably fails it points out how almost out of touch his tastes are with the mainstream. When he compares what he thinks of as good music to his wife it’s profoundly different as well. Pete’s in a position in life where his dedication to art has failed, and failed almost spectacularly, and it’s affected everything around him.

One imagines that’s how Apatow views cinema to a large degree; he wants to be profound but sees stuff that’s viewed as “fun” despite its rancid nature becoming significantly more successful than what’s good. When he hears Parker tell Billy Joe Armstrong from Green Day about how Glee paid him a lot of money for a song it’s heart breaking in the same way for Peter that Apatow looks himself. One imagines Apatow sees films involving board games and children’s toys being pushed hard when great cinema is often overlooked because it’s not “mindless fun.”

Unfortunately the film tries to be a comedy and, despite what’s a fairly solid look at a marriage in trouble, it’s just not funny. Apatow relies on a lot of cameo appearances to bolster his ranks and it’s pointed in how unfunny Paul Rudd is in the film when Melissa McCarthy can almost steal the film in her token appearance in the film. Charlyne Yi nearly tanks the film on her own with a spectacularly bad performance, as well, and Jason Segel pops in for a couple of scenes to reprise his character from Knocked Up. It’s almost painful at times as Apatow, who used to provide a lot of good jokes, is now pandering to the same mouth breathing “low information voter” types with fart jokes and visual gags for the unsophisticated.

This is 40 is also excessively long as well as it feels like it should be titled This is Forty Hours instead. There’s easily an hour of material that could be excised from the film and make it leaner and more coherent. Apatow, who hit it out of the park with his first two films, has seemingly almost lost that edge that made his films funny in the first place. If anything This is 40 is further descending upon the same hill Funny People started rolling down.

Writer / Director: Judd Apatow
Notable Cast: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Megan Fox, Melissa McCarthy, Graham Parker, Charlyne Yi, Jason Segel, Chris O’Dowd

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Sandra Bullock And Melissa McCarthy Star In The Heat Trailer http://insidepulse.com/2012/11/19/sandra-bullock-and-melissa-mccarthy-star-in-the-heat-trailer/ http://insidepulse.com/2012/11/19/sandra-bullock-and-melissa-mccarthy-star-in-the-heat-trailer/#comments Mon, 19 Nov 2012 09:00:54 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=318093 Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy apparently are up to hijinks in the trailer for The Heat


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Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy Star In Identity Thief Poster & Trailer http://insidepulse.com/2012/09/27/jason-bateman-melissa-mccarthy-star-in-identity-thief-poster-trailer/ http://insidepulse.com/2012/09/27/jason-bateman-melissa-mccarthy-star-in-identity-thief-poster-trailer/#comments Thu, 27 Sep 2012 04:00:24 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=312639 The first posters and trailer for March 2013 comedy Identity Thief have been released. You can view them below.

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Oscar Nomination Fallout: A Few Surprises, Omissions, Plus Hugo & The Artist’s Domination http://insidepulse.com/2012/01/24/oscar-nomination-fallout-a-few-surprises-omissions-plus-hugo-the-artists-domination/ http://insidepulse.com/2012/01/24/oscar-nomination-fallout-a-few-surprises-omissions-plus-hugo-the-artists-domination/#comments Tue, 24 Jan 2012 19:00:38 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=287150 As you may already know, nominations for the 84th Academy Awards went out today. Hollywood’s Super Bowl, the Oscars, is always something worthy of water cooler chater. Just today I was discussing nominations at work with colleagues, trying the assuage concerns on why certain performers or films were selected versus those that were overlooked.

Listen, sometimes the deciding factor in a person or film being nominated relies on the two P’s: politics and popularity. The Academy Awards is a glorified popularity contest, only instead of deciding the prom queen and king at a high school, they decide on who’s the best actor and actress, which film had the best original and unoriginal (adapted) stories, and technical merit.

Personally, my predictions were pretty good with a few exceptions. I was brave and tried to decide the animated feature films category, only to see two of my three picks make it. The Academy had the field go to five and included two features that have escaped my viewing. Those would be Chico & Rita and A Cat in Paris. I had heard rumblings of Chico & Rita, but the Parisian feline I was at a loss.

In the Best Actor and Actress races it seems that the current Academy members are not keen on recognizing dark, brooding characters. Recent exceptions may be for Forrest Whitaker’s portrayal of Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, who was a flamboyant bad hombre, and Daniel Day-Lewis for drinking milkshakes in There Will Be Blood, but overlooking Michael Fassbender’s seering performance of a sex addict in Shame is, well, a shame. But totally understandable considering the subject matter and Academy members being reluctant to watch. For the Best Actress race, there were a bunch of lay-ups with one exception: Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I may be in the minority in liking Noomi Rapace’s performance from the Swedish original better, but at least I was smart enough to have her playing spoiler should one of the other actress nominees miss the cut. My speculation is that she most likely got the nomination that would have gone to Tilda Swinton for her work in We Need to Talk About Kevin. Her omission was for a lack of Oscar push from distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories. A little more marketing and screenings could have helped it in the Supporting Actor and Adapted Screenplay races, as well.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close‘s appearance in the Best Picture race was a shock. As was the total number of films selected. A total of nine films. Nine! Like Ferris Bueller’s mom finding it a surprise that her son had been absent from school on nine different occasions, I was stunned to see nine films selected. Seven films was my guess – including everything but Extremely Close and War Horse – but the voters must have really liked a lot films in 2011 to give them first-place votes for Best Picture consideration. So a year after people balked at the dilution of the Best Picture field when it was at ten, is nine a perfect – or at least better – number?

In terms of surprises, whoever had J.C. Chandor’s screenplay for Margin Call as one of the scripts picked for the Original Screenplay category, consider yourself blessed. 50/50, which was riding a fave of awards buzz do to Will Reiser’s screenplay, got no love from the Academy, but congratulations should be given to Asghar Farhadi for his A Separation screenplay. Though my knowledge of Iranian cinema is limited, I could go all hyperbole and say that it may be the best to ever come out of the country.

How about Terrence Malick getting some love for The Tree of Life? In a category that sees a recluse (Malick) and a habitual skipper of award proceedings (Woody Allen) getting nominated, you also have Martin Scorsese getting his seventh directing nom for his family feature Hugo, which also doubles as a metaphor for film preservation.

Hugo and The Artist both tied with the most nominations with 11 each. Both are callbacks to the days of early cinema, where stories were told with music and body inflections instead of words. Considering both were featured in my yearly top ten, it’s easy to see why the Academy fell in love with both films and their “new is old again” approach.

George Clooney is a double nominee for his acting in The Descendants and for adapted screenplay (The Ides of March). So if this year’s ceremony turns out anything like the year his film Good Night, and Good Luck were up for a slew of awards, he’ll be rewarded for his acting rather than his writing. Brad Pitt, who was part of Clooney’s crew in Ocean’s Eleven, gets his second leading actor nomination for Moneyball and he’s joined by Jonah Hill, who is up for supporting actor. It just sounds weird to say “and starring Academy Award nominee Jonah Hill.”

Other surprises of note include The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo being recognized for sound editing and mixing, yet Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s score went unacknowledged. The editing category is always confusing to the extent that a majority of the time the films nominated are Best Picture contenders. Martha Marcy May Marlene would have been a definite surprise, as aside from its direction and performance of lead actress Elizabeth Olsen, the editing was also crucial to the film’s brilliance, seemingly moving from present to past to events that we don’t know are real or dreams.

Random thought: How weird would it be to see Dean Pelton from Community (Jim Rash) accept an award for his contribution to the screenplay of The Descendants?

In terms of omissions, Albert Brooks for Drive seems strange. He had been up for a number of critics awards, include the recent Globes, but his name went uncalled. Instead, we heard the names of Nick Nolte (for Warrior) and Max Von Sydow (for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close). Both were the highlights for their respective films, but Brooks playing against type in an adversarial role was just too juicy to ignore. Sadly, it was.

Also ignored, you had the likes of Steven Spielberg – War Horse had quite a few nominations but none for directing. The Adventures of Tintin missed the cut for animation, more likely due to the fact that most found fault with its use of motion-capture (same for Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes). Buck and Project Nim were missing in action in the Documentary race, as was Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

It was a clean sweep for Supporting Actresses. My gut to go with Janet McTeer over The Descendants‘ Shailene Woodley was the key. Because if you are going to nominate Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs, then you have to consider the performance of her much better co-star.

Finally, in what was likely the biggest surprise of the day, we had Demian Bichir getting acknowledged for his performance in A Better Life. Bichir, who also was nominated for a SAG Award, bested the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio (for his showier portrayal of J. Edgar Hoover), Ryan Gosling (a double threat for Drive and The Ides of March), Fassbender as already stated above, and even Michael Shannon (a nom for his performance in Take Shelter would have been too sweet).

Complete list of Oscar nominees.
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Bridesmaids 2 without Kristen Wiig? http://insidepulse.com/2012/01/06/bridesmaids-2-without-kristen-wiig/ http://insidepulse.com/2012/01/06/bridesmaids-2-without-kristen-wiig/#comments Fri, 06 Jan 2012 07:00:29 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=285188 Bridesmaids was produced for $32 million and grossed over $288 million world wide. It’s locked down a couple Golden Globe nominations and maybe looking at Oscar as well. Yes, Bridesmaids was hugely successful comedy. And what does Hollywood do when it has such a big hit? It makes a sequel. But what if said hit’s star isn’t interested?

Wiig said in an interview that she and her writing partner Annie Mumolo “aren’t planning a sequel. We are writing something else.”

Hollywood Reporter is suggesting that one of the reasons behind this is that Universal didn’t give the cast a big enough bonus check when the film blew up. Said checks were $100,000 each.

But the fact is some people just don’t care about sequels. Despite it’s success, Bridesmaids wasn’t set up to have a sequel. My guess is that Wiig has plans for her career and she doesn’t want to waste time with a Hollywood forced sequel.

Wiig is a busy lady without sequels: In addition to a new project she’s working on with Mumolo, she will next appear in Friends With Kids, Imogene with Annette Bening and this summer begins shooting on the Sean Penn directed drama The Comedian with Robert De Niro. As if all that wasn’t enough, she is also adapting the dramatic novel Clown Girl, which she is hoping to direct.

So yeah, perhaps she has bigger aspirations than Bridesmaids 2.

However that isn’t going to stop Universal. Sources say the studio is willing to move forward with a sequel without Wiig. “We are over the moon with the success of Bridesmaids, and if we do a sequel we want to get it right,” said a Universal rep. “We are talking to filmmakers now about concepts, and if the right one emerges, we’ll move forward.”

There has been no word on whether or not the studio would want Paul Feig back in the director’s chair. However it seems one key element would be Melissa McCarthy, maybe in a lead roll. This was certainly a breakout role for her and she hasn’t cemented her career the way Wiig has so it makes sense that she would agree to a sequel.

It seems Producer Judd Apatow is leaning towards the Universal camp in this debate with some hesitation. “The key is we have to come up with an idea that is as good or better than the first one. We don’t want to do it unless it can be great. I don’t think anyone has had the brain space to think about it yet. Hopefully that can begin this year.”

However, a source commented, “I don’t think [Judd] would proceed without Kristen and Annie’s full participation.”

This wouldn’t be the first comedy franchise to struggle with keeping it’s cast. Bill Murray had to basically be begged to do Ghostbusters 2 and the third film has yet to be made because of him.

Sequels are rarely better than the original, feeling forced and lacking the spontaneity of the original. Hopefully Wiig will hold out and only agree to a sequel if a really good idea comes across. And that “good idea” isn’t just a couple extra zeroes at the end of that paycheck.

Source: Hollywood Reporter
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