Michael Cera Is The Putz *And* The Poseur

YOUTH IN REVOLT (Dir. Miguel Arteta, 2009)

It’s funny that Michael Cera has reportedly been the lone holdout for the prospects of an Arrested Development movie since he’s never quite left the character of awkward yet lovable George-Michael Bluth behind. Cera has never shown us that he has any versatility, yet his trademark hangdog nervousness coupled with his particular brand of soft spoken sarcasm, has worked nicely in several movie comedies in the last few years – SUPERBAD being the best of those.

As Nick Twisp, that same Cera persona is on display in YOUTH IN REVOLT, but here there is sort of a promise of a twist to that persona in the form of a bad boy alter ego named François Dillinger. Unfortunately apart from a pencil thin mustache and an always present dangling cigarette in his lips, François is still the same Cera. He makes taunting risque comments to Twisp and acts according to the domino-effect accident-prone nature of the script, but it’s still the same Cera. Sigh. Couldn’t he have even just attempted an accent?

Cera affects François for the express reason of wooing the girl of his dreams (Portia Doubleday) – a neighbor in the trailer park his family fled to. Though we are introduced to Cera’s Twisp by way of a masturbation scene, he fancies himself a well read intellectual who loves Frank Sinatra and in Doubleday he feels he’s met his match. He longs to break away from the white trash world of his divorced mother (Jean Smart) who’s shacked up with a scuzzy trucker (Jack Galifinakis), so he plots to get his real father (Steve Buscemi) to get a job and relocate so he can be close to the girl he loves. François appears to be the key to set this in motion.

Mix in reliable character actors Fred Willard, M. Emmet Walsh, Mary Kay Place, and Ray Liotta (as yet again an asshole cop) and this all plays as quirk by the numbers – “Independent Teen Angst Movie” it could be called. To jazz up these stale elements there’s jaunty animation that looks like it was pilfered from Nickolodeon and Justin Long as Doubleday’s laid back hallucinogenic mushroom providing brother.

YOUTH IN REVOLT was filmed a few years ago and possibly shelved because the producers (the Weinstein Brothers) sensed there was a lack of a strong hook to this material. Its release in early January seems to support this. The film has likable people, songs, and story strands but Cera feels severely miscast to the ultimate detriment of the movie. Unless Cera’s got some major character deconstruction surprises coming anytime soon, here’s hoping he reconsiders reprising George-Michael Bluth in the afore mentioned Arrested Development movie. I mean, c’mon! It’s the only role he seems to have really played since.

More later…

Another Round Of Great DVD Commentaries

Several years back I posted about great DVD commentaries with a top ten list of my favorites (“Let Them All Talk” Sept. 29th, 2005). Since then I’ve been collecting notes every time a new (or new to me) commentary was particularly interesting. I’d thought I’d share them in yet another patented Film Babble Blog list. Now, I know a lot of folks don’t listen to commentaries but I thought talking about some really notable ones would encourage folks to give them a try and turn that track on – if only just to sample. So, here goes:

10 More Great DVD Commentaries

1. THE PASSENGER (Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 1975) A rare feature-length solo commentary track by Jack Nicholson puts this at the top of the list especially as he declares: “This picture, ‘The Passenger’, was probably the biggest adventure in filming I ever had in my life.” His involving comments are helpful because without them the film can be a long haul. Most compellingly is Nicholson’s breakdown of how the final sequence was filmed (contains Spoilers!):

Nicholson: “Now, that shot was the reason they built the hotel. The hotel, in order that the camera be able to dolly out through those bars and out the window…why I hope Michelangelo doesn’t mind my revealing of the magic of his work…was that the entire hotel could be mounted on a crane and broken in half so that they could go out into the courtyard, shoot film back towards the hotel, after they exited, with the hotel having been pushed back together again and reconstructed for the remainder of the shot.”

Whew! Hope Jack sees fit to do other commentaries ’cause that one’s a keeper.

2. FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF (Dir. John Hughes, 1986)

This customer review on Amazon says it best:

“Film buffs, DVD collectors, and John Hughes fans beware! The “Bueller…Bueller…” edition DVD does not include the commentary track by writer/producer/director John Hughes which was included on the original 1999/2000 DVD release. It is a great commentary and is sorely missed from this edition.”

That’s right, even the new Blu ray of this 80’s teen classic is sans Hughes commentary and the DVD I was recently sent from Netflix was the “Bueller…Bueller…” edition. The Hughes track on the 1999 edition is well worth seeking out because it truly is one of the most insightful listens all the way through. Some sample quotes:

Hughes: “After the film wrapped, Mr. and Mr. Bueller (Lyman Ward and Cindy Pickett), in real life, got married. At the time we were shooting this, Jennifer Grey and Matthew (Broderick) were dating. It was kind of a strange situation because everybody in
this scene is in love.”

And my favorite bit is the art gallery scene:

Hughes: “And then this picture, which I always thought this painting was sort of like making a movie. A pointillist style, which at very very close to it, you don’t have any idea what you’ve made until you step back from it.

I used it in this context to see that he’s (Alan Ruck) looking at that little girl. Again, it’s a mother and child. The closer he looks at the child, the less he sees. Of course, with this style of painting. Or any style of painting really.

But the more he looks at, there’s nothing there. I think he fears that the more you look at him the less you see. There isn’t anything there. That’s him.” Watch the scene sans commentary here.

Used copies can be found fairly easily of the 1999 version with the commentary as its only special feature (what more do you need?). Just look for the one with the cover pictured to the left.

3. TOUCH OF EVIL: THE 50 ANNIVERSARY EDITION (Dir. Orson Welles, 1958) The packaging is mistaken when it lists the “Preview Version feature commentary” to be Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh and Restoration Producer Rick Schmidlin. It’s the 1998 “Restored Version” that contains their commentaries. The other versions – the theatrical and preview cuts have fine bonus audio tracks with writer/filmmaker F.X. Feenet and historians Jonathan Rosenbaum and James Naremore, but it’s the Heston/Leigh/Schmidlin track on the first disc of the wonderful 50th Anniversary Edition that I strongly recommend.

Wonderful moments abound: Schmidlin pointing out: “When you see Joseph Cotton listen to the voice but it’s not Cotton…” Heston: “It’s not Cotton?” Schmidlin: “It’s, uh, Orson’s voice.” Heston: “For Heaven’s sake.” Leigh: “Orson did Joe’s voice?” Also its amusing to hear Schmidlin call out which shots are Welles’s from which are Harry Keller’s later inserts to the repeated rekindling of Heston’s and Leigh’s memories. “You’ve really done your homework” Heston remarks with a slight chuckle in this charming and essential commentary.

4. BLOOD SIMPLE (Dir. Joe Coen, 1984) This beyond odd track features audio commentary by “Kenneth Loring”, the “artistic director” of “Forever Young Films” (a fictional gig – but whatever). Maybe the most surreal listen on this list.

5. TROPIC THUNDER (Dir. Ben Stiller, 2008)

As 5 time Oscar winner Kirk Lazarus in a tense moment making a Vietnam War movie, in black-face mind you, Robert Downey Jr. declares: “I don’t drop character till I done the DVD commentary!” You know what? Like a real method actor, he keeps his word.

In this free form three way between Downey Jr., Stiller, and Jack Black, the snark level is high which is way apt considering the over the top tangents of said film. One such sample bit during the opening mock trailers – specifically “Satan’s Alley” with Downey Jr. and Tobey Macquire as tortured homosexual monks:

Stiller: “Sort of an alternate universe for Spiderman and Iron Man.”
Downey Jr.: “I was trying to ride Tobey when we was shooting this thing but he wouldn’t have none of it. Talkin’ ’bout happily married.”

6. I’M NOT THERE (Dir. Todd Haynes, 2007) Haynes’ odd yet transfixing meditation on “the many lives of Bob Dylan” (one of my top 5 films of 2007) confused a lot of people, particularly those unfamiliar with the troubled troubadour’s background. Haynes delivers a commentary that should clear up that huge cloud of confusion as he sites references and breaks down various inspirations for every detail in every scene. Some sample quotage:

Haynes: “This is the entrance of Cate Blanchett in the film. The role of Jude was something that I’d always planned, from the very first concept of the film that I gave to Dylan in 2000, that it would be portrayed by an actress. And the reason for this was really for me to try to get to the core of what this next change really looked like and felt like to audiences at the time. How he became this sort of feline character offstage and this sort of bouncing marionette onstage. Full of all these extravagant androgynous gestures that we’d never seen before and we’d never see again after.

The commentary is filled with so many more elaborate descriptions, or justifications, for every aspect of Haynes’ challenging anti-biopic.


Every Judd Apatow production’s DVD commentary is entertaining, from Freaks ‘N Geeks to PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, but this group cast track with director Mottola, screenwriter Evan Goldberg, actors Seth Rogen, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jonah Hill, and producer Apatow is IMHO the best of the bunch. Largely because Apatow brought along his nine-year-old daughter Maude. Apatow tries to get the guys to keep it clean but it doesn’t last long. A sample exchange:

Hill: “This scene is fuckin’ hilarious, man.”
Apatow: “Jonah, Jonah…”
Hill: “Yeah?

Apatow: “Maude’s over there.”
Rogen: “You keep swearing, stop swearing Jonah!”

Hill: “Dude, what is this, bring your daughter to work day? I mean…”
Apatow: “Just be cool man, be cool! This is the only way I could do it…I don’t have a
babysitter, I’m in New York City here to do Conan and Colbert by the way…I don’t have a babysitter so what am I gonna do? Leave her like, uh, with the concierge?”
Hill: “I dunno, dude I’m not…”

Cera: “Like “Home Alone 2!”
Hill: “It’s “Superbad”! I curse the whole movie…the commentary, I mean, it’s like…whatever.”
Apatow: “You know, I’m not trying to ruin it…I’m not trying to ruin it…”
Hill: “Let’s just go back to the movie; let’s just go back to talking about the movie…”
Rogen: “It’s kinda ruining the commentary Judd, if Jonah can’t say
what the fuck he wants to say.
Hill: “Yeah! I can’t curse, why don’t you just…”
Apatow: “You know what? I’m not 15 years old and don’t have a kid – I’m an adult like Greg, I have a child. This is my reality.”
Hill: “If I had a kid I wouldn’t bring it to work with me.”

Whoa – some actual drama there mixed with the laughs. Let’s minus the laughs for this next one:

8. TAXI DRIVER (Dir. Martin Scorsese, 1976)

Writer Paul Schrader sounds a bit hesitant upon first opening up (“whatever comments I have…are really not from inside the director’s vision”) about the film and his screenplay’s seminal 70’s statement about urban alienation but once he gets going it’s quite a cutting companion piece. Sample quotage:

Schrader: “What happens at the end happens at the beginning.”

“When Marty first told me that he cast Albert (Brooks) I was sort of surprised because, you know, it was a nothing character. Well, that’s the secret: cast the comic in a nothing character and you get somebody interesting.”

“I don’t believe the script should have any references to camera angles whatsoever. There’s only one camera angle in the script, and that’s the tracking shot at the very end, and I put that one in there because I thought that it was important we see this crime scene from the eye of God. And the only way we could make that point is if we put the camera on the ceiling and track.”

9. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE FABULOUS STAINS (Dir. Lou Adler, 1982) In the interest of space I’ll refer you back to this post (“Talking ‘Bout A Generation Gap” Oct. 3rd, 2008) in which I first babbled ’bout Diane Lane and Laura Dern’s very funny commentary.

10. NASHVILLE (Dir. Robert Altman, 1975)

Luckily before beloved “New Hollywood” auteur Altman died he recorded a number of worthwhile commentaries but this one is absolutely essential for his magnum opus. As rambunctious as Altman was infamous for being, his gruff ingratiating commentary makes you feel like you’re sitting on the couch with him as he rambles. Some random rambles:

“When this film first came out, they hated the music. They said this wasn’t real country music. But I wasn’t looking for good music, not that they make a lot of it there…”

“We cast these cars as carefully as we did the people who drove them.”

“Since we knew that I had no way I could control the palette of this film, the color of this film, because I knew I was going to be dealing in real situation for we were just invading an event. Even though if we created it, we had to deal with…we weren’t paying these people as extras we just had to go where they were.”

Special TV Series DVD Set Honorable Mention: Spaced (Dir. Edgar Wright, 1999-2001) This short lived but brilliant BBC series is outfitted in a nice 3 DVD set with multiple commentary tracks featuring guests like Kevin Smith, Diablo Cody, Patton Oswalt, Bill Hader, Matt Stone, and Quentin Tarantino sparring with Wright and various cast members including, of course, Simon Pegg and Jessica Haynes. Great stuff.

Okay! I hope that’ll point out some good commentaries out there. I’d love to hear your thoughts on essential bonus audio tracks so please send ’em on. You know where to find me.

More later…

Late 80’s Amusement Park Blues

ADVENTURELAND (Dir. Greg Mottola, 2009)

Greg Mottola’s follow-up to the hilarious and touching SUPERBAD immediately announces its thematic stance with The Replacements anthem of adolescent angst “Bastards Of Young” blaring at the very beginning. In 1987 Pittsburgh, Jesse Eisenberg (THE SQUID AND THE WHALE) is indeed the “mess on the ladder of success” that song wailed on as he finds that his parents have cancelled his dream trip to Europe due to his father being transferred at work. After failing to find anything close to upscale work, Eisenberg gets a summer job working game booths at Adventureland – a garrish amusement park so cheap one risks being fired if they give away prizes such as stuffed giant Pandas simply because they’re running out of them. Eisenberg falls for a co-worker (Kristen Stewart of TWILIGHT) while suffering daily indignities such as ridicule from his former best friend (Matt Bush) who has a penchant for decking him in the crotch and almost being knifed by a redneck father for one of the prized “big ass” Pandas.

Luckily Eisenberg has a few things that help him get through this. He is given a bag of joints by a yuppie friend (Michael Zegen) who actually gets to go on his summer vacation, he befriends Martin Starr (Freaks And Geeks) as a burnt out carnie and confides about his crush on Stewart with a laid back Ryan Reynolds, a handyman who is semi-legendary in the park because he supposedly jammed with Lou Reed. Reed appears in the almost wall-to-wall mix of 70’s and 80’s music that blankets every scene lovingly. Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” seems to never stop playing on the park’s PA system but the likes of well chosen Big Star, Crowded House, Velvet Underground, Hüsker Dü, New York Dolls, and Bowie cuts that fill out the soundtrack more than make up for that.

The appearance of SNL‘s Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as Eisenberg’s bosses made me expect a broader and definitely wackier movie but the wack has been held back in favor of character development over crude jokes – though there are a few. A number of narrative threads aren’t fully fleshed out; there seems to have been stuff cut from the parents’ (Jack Gilpin and Wendy Mallick) story and Reynolds just has the bare bones of an identity yet he still slickly glides through.

Eisenberg is likable in his Michael Cera-like awkwardness even when he performs some cringe worthy actions such as taking the park’s lusted after Lisa P (Margarita Levieva ) for a date on the side. There aren’t big laughs; just a steady stream of snickers but enough to keep me smiling throughout. It’s apt for a film set in the late 80’s about coming of age in the era post Pacman and pre Beavis And Butt-head that it has a heart more akin to John Hughes than Judd Apatow. A comic valentine to a plastic but palpable time, ADVENTURELAND is a good, not great, ride.

Post note: New Jersey Indie rock heroes Yo La Tengo scored the film and contributed a track called “Leaving Adventureland” which plays over the end credits and is well worth a download. It’s Yo La Tengo instrumental dreaminess at its best.

More later…


FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL (Dir. Nicholas Stoller, 2008)

This is one I really wish I had seen when it came to theaters last spring. The raving reviews and accolades have piled up so much that by this point it can’t possibly be as funny as all that, can it? Almost comparable to the hype of THE DARK KNIGHT being immediately called one of the greatest films ever, this got an instant comedy classic stamp on it and I’ve seen it appear on several premature “best of 2008” so, yeah, my expectations couldn’t help from hitting the ceiling. Well, after watching it on DVD I can say that it definitely was far from a letdown with many laughs and likable characters though not exactly the experience Richard Roeper gushed about: “I want to just get down on my knees and declare my undying love for this movie”. Boston Globe critic Ty Burr also seemed a bit over the top when he wrote: “it delivers belly laughs that explode from the meeting of wit and shock”. But to be honest, I believe that if I had seen it on its original release I probably wouldve gotten carried away and might have said some similar things too.

Sure, it has a flimsy sitcom premise – boy loses girl, boy goes on Hawaiian vacation in order to get over girl, boy runs into girl with her new boyfriend who happen to be staying at the same resort, crude wackiness ensues etc. but the whole deal is as affable as its protagonist. The boy is Jason Segel whose persona as a hapless schmuck he began perfecting on the late great one seasoner Freaks And Geeks. He’s an LA musician who writes incidental music for a CSI-derived TV drama starring his girlfriend (Kristen Bell). Bell tells him that their 5 year relationship is over in a scene that sets the tone by featuring Segel refusing to put clothes on as his heart breaks: Oh, would you like to pick out the outfit that you break up with me in?!!? Segel, who wrote the screenplay, appears to have no shame portraying a guy who feels nothing but shame as he cries in the nude and shakes uncontrollably in emotional pain while eating from an oversized bowl of cereal.

After some comic consoling by his best friend (SNL’s Bill Hader who spends most of the film as a head on a laptop) he makes that fateful trip to one of the world’s most famous vacation spots and, yep, he has to face his former love in the arms of a major pop star played by the sleazily charming Brit Russell Brand. Luckily there’s Mila Kunis (That 70’s Show, voice of Meg Griffin on Family Guy) as a flirting hotel clerk that may be the key to helping him recover (you think?), Paul Rudd as a perpetually stoned surfer, Jonah Hill as Matthew the Waiter who is obviously hiding a man crush on Brand, and a Christian newlywed couple (30 Rock’s Jack McBayer and newcomer Taylor Wily) who are definitely not having a good go at consummating their marriage.

FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL is another in the series of Judd Apatow produced flicks about pop culture obsessed immature men coping with growing up as they endure a plethora of awkward sexual circumstances – i.e. THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN, KNOCKED UP, and SUPERBAD. It helps that this has a few somewhat plausible female characters and an actual moral code beneath the scatological silliness. None of things realy matters though as what folks were raving about is simply how freakin funny this flick is. It is certainly much funnier than many comedies, especially recent rom coms (a genre this film seems to want to reconstruct by way of just add more dick jokes) so maybe those people were on to something. But comedy classic? Lets just give it some more time and I’ll get back to you.

Post Notes – Bonus Material With A Shout Out: There is not much difference between the unrated extended version and the theatrical cut on the DVD except for some excised lines and a mildly amusing Kristen Wiig (SNL) yoga class scene. The gag reel is, like the movie, funnier than most flicks flubs while the patented Apatow “line-o-rama has a lot of great alternate lines like Segels reaction to Kuniss over-reaction to seeing her ex-boyfriend: “You were like David O. Russell when he was yelling at Lily Tomlin! Jonah Hill has some good unused ones too: “I think its cool though, you just come and eat dinner by yourself. I wouldnt do it, I would rather stay in the room and jerk it, if you know what Im saying? Dont tell anybody I said that.

The shout-out goes to the great barely known comic actor Bill Hader who was in a couple of other possible future comedy classics over the last few months. Though many would classify them as bit parts – his turns as Private Miller in PINEAPPLE EXPRESS and studio executive Rob Slolom in TROPIC THUNDER, which had him hold his own up against Tom Cruise, are great sideline roles. With hope he will get some more substantial film work alongside his current gig at SNL but with projects like NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 2 and something called CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS on his cinematic horizon, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

More later…

JUNO what I’m talking about?

Since it opened on Christmas Day JUNO, Jason Reitman’s comedic drama about a teenage girl who gets pregnant, has been trouncing WALK HARD at my hometown theatre (where I work part-time) with at most showtimes 3 times the audience in attendance. The critical response has been overwhelming – it has 94% rating on the Rotten Tomatometer and the most beloved and respected critic ever – Roger Ebert wrote that it’s “just about the best movie of the year” and that he thought that star Ellen Page (who plays the title role) “will be one of the great actors of her time.” Whoa! I thought it was a likable though derivatively quirky little film with good acting and some sharp lines but Ebert’s swooning seems a bit much.

Of the minority that didn’t care for what looks from a distance to be this year’s LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, one of the most interesting reviews came from Triangle critic Craig D. Lindsay. His review was entitled “Danger: Snarky Pregnant Teen Ahead” and he writes that JUNO “could very well be the most dangerous movie to come out this holiday season”. Dangerous not for its possible pro-life agenda but for “its kooky, deceptive, ultimately mediocre charms”. He goes on to say that if successful “it will inspire and influence a legion of teenage girls to start acting snotty and snarky, just like Juno, more than they already do.”

So since Ebert adores Page, thinks Diablo Cody’s first time screenplay is Oscar worthy, and ended up making JUNO his #1 film of the year while Lindsay considers the whole thing “snarky” I find myself toeing the middle ground. It is not in my eyes anywhere near the best movie of the year or is it a dangerous socially influential manifesto.

Greatly in its favor is that JUNO is very well cast – apart from Page we have J. K. Simmons and Allison Janey (The West Wing) as her parents, from the beloved yet short-lived Arrested Development – Michael Cera (also of SUPERBAD) as Juno’s boyfriend and his fellow former cast member Jason Bateman. Bateman and Jennifer Garner play a suburban couple who sign on to be the baby’s adoptive parents. How it all pans out was a little different than I expected and some of the exchanges are nicely witty:

Juno (Ellen Page): “Can’t we kick it old school? Like Moses and the reeds?”

Mark (Jason Bateman): “Actually that would be kicking it old Testament.”

None of JUNO will be surprising visually to moviegoers – it resembles most indie fare from THUMBSUCKER to ROCKET SCIENCE and its soundtrack won’t shock either. Reitman should know that you don’t use The Kinks (their song “A Well Respected Man” plays at one point) if you don’t want to invite Wes Anderson comparisons but don’t worry I won’t make them. I feel after one viewing in the middle of the busy bustling season I may be blowing the film off so I may see it again and get back to you but for now –

Film Babble Verdict: JUNO is just alright.

More Later…

Pop Culture 101: Today’s Class – KNOCKED UP

I finally got to see Judd Apatow’s hit comedy KNOCKED UP (newly released on DVD) which I really regretted missing last summer in the theaters. I thought it was very funny though it was more of a James L. Brooks style drama than I expected – the 2 hour 13 min. running time should have tipped me off. What really got to me about this anti rom-com about slacker stoner Ben (Seth Rogen) unintentionally impregnating way-out-of-his-league Allsion (Katherine Heigl), is the incredible amount of pop culture referencing going down. The abundance of name dropping, bad impersonations, and snarky wise-cracks would put Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarentino to shame! It’s almost like without these media touch points these people would have nothing to talk about at all. Since I would have nothing to talk about without them let’s take a look at the cinematic schooling KNOCKED UP provides us in pop culture profundity:

WARNING : Many Potential Spoilers

A large percentage of the riffing comes from Ben’s room-mates (Jason Segel, Martin Starr, Jay Barachel, and SUPERBAD‘s Jonah Hill – who all use their real names in the movie). They all have a what they call “the dirty man competition” – a bet that air-headed Martin can’t grow his hair and beard without cutting or shaving for a year. If he lasts that long they have to pay his rent for a year – If he caves and shaves he’ll have to pay all of their rents for a year. So they hurl insults relentlessly at him – calling him SERPICO, Charles Manson, Chewbacca by way of Jay’s horrible impression, and Jonah asking him if he had a hard time changing his name from Cat Stevens to Yusef Islam. Martin: “yeah, it was awkward.”

The gang has a website in the works – Ben’s pitch: “only at fleshofthestars.com * will customers be able to find exactly into what movie their favorite stars are exposed”. It seems to be a premise created soley to riff on Jamie Lee Curtis’ infamous full-frontal in TRADING PLACES, Julianne Moore’s pantless appearance in SHORT CUTS , we actually see them watch the Denise Richards/Neve Campbell lesbian love scene in WILD THINGS on TV, and Meg Ryan’s nude scenes in IN THE CUT. To their later dismay Pete (Paul Rudd) tells Ben there is already a celebrity nudity website called Mr. Skin. Ben rationales – “Good things come in pairs you know? VOLCANO, DANTE’S PEAK. DEEP IMPACT, ARMAGEDDON, right? WYATT EARP, TOMBSTONE.” To which Jay adds – “Panda Express, Yashinoya Beef Bowl.”

* Yep, it’s a real site now.

Random Reference Riffing :

Shortly before Ben and Heigl meet, the guys discuss Speilberg’s MUNICH – all agreeing on its awesomeousity. Ben : “Dude, every movie with Jews we’re the ones getting killed. MUNICH flips it on its ear. We’re capping motherfuckers!” They all drink to Ben’s proclamation – “if any of us get laid tonight it’s because of Eric Bana in MUNICH!”

Paul Rudd’s character Pete is a A & R guy for some never named record label. Photos of him with Elvis Costello and framed album covers (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “Damn The Torpedos” can be seen a few times) decorate the walls of his suburban home. Pete does a number of impressions throughout the film including Robert Deniro (not bad) and in the deleted scenes – Austin Powers (awful). He and Rogen disagree on music – Ben: “If I ever listen to Steely Dan, I want you to slice my head off with an Al Jarreau LP!” The most defining straight-forward statement that Pete makes of course is encased in pop culture – “marriage is like that show, Everybody Loves Raymond but it’s not funny.”

Pete and wife Debbie (Leslie Mann – Judd Apatow’s real-life wife) have kids (played by Apatow’s daughters Maude and Iris) who argue over whether to listen to the soundtrack to “Rent” or the band Green Day from the back seat of Allison’s car on the way to school. Not far from the tree obviously.

Of course you’ve got to have a “boy loses girl” 3rd act conflict development with both couples spliting temporarily. Ben and Pete take a trip to Las Vegas in which they plan to take mushrooms (acquired by Pete from a roadie for The Black Crowes no less) and go see Cirque de Soleil quoting SWINGERS all along the way – “you’re so money!”

On a hotel room TV a scared Ben, tripping out of his mind on those Crowes roadie ‘shrooms, watches CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (we see shots of Steve Martin running around surrounded by his kids’ wacky shenanagins) and remarks “He’s got 12 kids…that’s a lot of responsibility to be joking about. That’s not funny.”

When Ben starts getting his life together and moves out of what was essentially a clubhouse into a respectable apartment he replaces his framed Bob Marley smoking a big ass spleef poster (obviously pictured on the right) for a ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND poster which he hangs in the soon to be nursery.

Dr. Kuni (Ken Jeong) who delivers the baby angrily tells Ben in the hallway – “if you want a special experience go to a Jimmy Buffett concert!” In the bonus features there is a line-o-rama feature that has dozens of alternate lines for many scenes. There’s an amusing run with trying out variations on the Jimmy Buffett line – some examples: “go to Disneyland”, “go to freaking Busch Gardens”, “go to Korea”, and “go to my apartment, it’s phenomenal.”

Another run on the line-o-rama has Jonah Hill saying “Mr. Skin is like the Beatles and we’re like the Monkees” and “Mr. Skin is like Alec Baldwin and we’re like Billy Baldwin.”

The opening credits sequence shower scene from CARRIE is viewed by Ben and Allison for further fleshofthestars.com research.

Loudon Wainwright III plays Dr. Howard and also contributes the songs “Daughter”, “Grey In L.A.”, and “Lullaby” to the soundtrack.

One of the deleted scenes has Jonah spouting out a hilarious rant about BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN which he says “was made by, like, fuckin’ homophobes in my mind!” He drags MASTER AND COMMANDER and Bruce Willis’s full frontal in COLOR OF NIGHT down into his profanity filled diatribe.

Harold Ramis makes a nice (albeit too brief) showing as Ben’s father. He attempts to console his son in an extended scene with an Indiana Jones analogy – “So, he could be like little Indy and you could be Sean Connery.”
Ben: “Or, I could be the guy that got melted when he looked in the Ark.”

Uncredited cameos by obvious Apatow and Co. friends Steve Carrell, James Franco (plugging SPIDERMAN 3 which was released at the same time as KNOCKED UP and is mentioned several times), and Andy Dick are brief blips on the reference radar – helped by Heigl’s character being a reporter for E! Entertainment Television. That definitely hooked up the attitude-infused Ryan Seacrest appearance. Also swift bit parts from SNL‘s Kirsten Wiig and Bill Hader should be noted too.

Whew! That’s a lot of TRAINSPOTTING for one movie. I didn’t even mention the mentions of Robin Williams, Taxicab Confessions, Martin Scorsese, Cartman from South Park, Doc Brown from BACK TO THE FUTURE, Ben’s Mr. Bill T-shirt, Pete’s Tom Waits “Rain Dogs” T-shirt, Vince Vaughn, Matthew Fox from Lost, Fellicity Huffman from TRANSAMERICA, as well as Ben and gang’s posters of Pink Floyd, Hunter S. Thompson, and Fraggle Rock. Okay, now I ‘ve mentioned them.

There will be a test on all this so I hope you took good notes.

More later…

Apatow Arrives Again

So apparently from just about everything I read on the internets writer/producer/director Judd Apatow is the new king of cinema comedy. Apatow, whose credits include the cult TV series Freaks And Geeks, the 2005 hit THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN, and KNOCKED UP which was an early summer smash, now has another #1 movie – SUPERBAD (reviewed below). But wait a minute – he didn’t direct SUPERBAD. As this amusing New York Magazine blogpost tells us Greg Mattola did – Apatow was the producer. So why does it seem so much like Apatow was the director? Well, interviews with the cast members who pretty much were all in KNOCKED UP talk about taking notes from Apatow as much or more than they do Mattola and the film has more than one critic considering it part of Apatow’s series of immature-male-moves-forward-movies. Makes some sorta sense for this mass confusion I guess.

So on to the movie itself :

SUPERBAD (Dir. Greg Mattola, 2007) If you’ve heard anything about this movie you know the drill – we spend the day with a few foul mouthed teenagers trying to get laid. Yep – it’s like a zillion 80’s sex comedies as well as a homage to them at the same time. Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg wrote the semi-autobiographical screenplay when they were teenagers but got too old to play the parts themselves. So now we’ve got Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) filling in and a great pair they are. Their kind of chemistry can’t be faked and when joined by Fogle (more referred to as McLovin because that’s his name on his fake ID) played by Christopher Mint Plasse, a lot of hilarious riffing flies through the air. McLovin has his own sideline adventure when he bemusedly befriends a couple of inept cops played by Rogen (he had to put himself in the movie somehow) and Saturday Night Live’s Bill Hader. That bit, while it contains some big laughs, feels more like a comic convention than say, some of the other true to life sloppy shenanigans on display. Much better than your average teen flick these days (and better than anything Kevin Smith has done in ages) SUPERBAD isn’t for those who dislike lots of profanity and dick jokes but just about everybody else will find it really funny.

And Now A Recent Release DVD :

THE LOOKOUT (Dir. Scott Frank, 2007) After a prom-night joyride turns deadly, survivor Joseph Gordon-Levitt lives a quiet life with a blind mentor room-mate (Jeff Daniels) spending most of his time dealing with his guilt and trying to get his sequencing in order. You see – his mind still hasn’t recovered from the accident and he has to constantly take notes to remind himself of the order of his day’s events. He’s not as extreme a case as the guy from MEMENTO but far from fully functional. Gordon-Levitt works as a night-shift janitor in a small bank and is being targeted to be an unwilling participant in a bank heist by a gang of pure movie thugs led by Matthew Goode. This is where the conventions of Gordon-Levitt’s condition are exposed as just another piece in the contrived plot puzzle. It seems to take place in a world with only a handful of characters including a friendly bumbling cop who brings Gordon-Levitt doughnuts and whose fate we can see coming way in advance. Also annoying is the thunderous rumbling sound that’s dubbed onto just about every scene. You know, the sound from so many thriller trailers – usually paired with quick cuts to underscore tension and jar us. It’s a suspense string pulling manipulation – CUT IT OUT! Despite the good acting and some solid direction throughout (the sequencing is in perfect order) it’s unfortunate that a routine heist plot is the order of the day. Gordon-Levitt is good though – he proves that like his intense turn in BRICK that he can handle weighty material. With hope next time around he’ll get something weightier than this.

More later…