Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sex Tape

Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel star in the latest R rated comedy to hit theaters this summer. Segel co-wrote the script and executive produced the movie. Reuniting his stars from Bad Teacher, Jack Kasdan directed. Reactions via imdb and Rotten Tomatoes were poor and critical reviews were unfavorable. Entertainment Weekly sent a mixed message of a C+ rating and yet included the movie in its Must List in the movie's release week. With a domestic opening weekend box office just under 15 million, Tammy fared better in its recent opening Independance Day weekend with 21 million. I found myself laughing much more at Sex Tape than I did at Tammy. While criticized for being uneven in tone, I found the juxtaposition of raunch and heart warming moments provided a good balance. I am the comedy lonewolf this summer. I did not enjoy 22 Jump Street as much as everyone else -- I liked it, but I did not love it; I would be happy to keep rewatching the first one. I actually thought Sex Tape was good, and I am among the few. Diaz and Segel's characters were sweet and there was a good supporting cast in Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper. There were also a couple of fantastic surprise cameos.
This summer my comedy conclusion is that the success of comedies is one of the most difficult of genres to predict. Horror movies always make money. That's why there are always so many sequels. They are cheap to make and bring in box office regardless of star power or quality. Next up in the R rated comedy releases is Let's Be Cops. That movie would not exist without the success of the Jump Street movies.

If asked prior to both of their releases, I would have thought Sex Tape would be Cameron Diaz's big comedic hit of 2014, not The Other Woman. Both Diaz and Segel have solid enough careers as stars and in their behind the scenes work to weather the weak reception of Sex Tape. The movie has also made back the money it cost to make it in two weeks' time. Diaz is still having an amazing year with her movie releases overall and the huge publishing success of The Body Book. Girl has her own door on the Tonight Show, come on.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Begin Again

Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley make for unexpected musical collaborators in Begin Again, the best kind of indie -- really unique and difficult to put into a box. Some of the most refreshing things about it can not be specified in an effort to avoid spoilers. Often said but there really was a very strong cast. Adam Levine has a solid acting debut, though his role as a musician is not too much of a stretch. British actor James Corden is a great friend to Knightley's character and Hailee Steinfeld and Catherine Keener are equally believable as Ruffalo's estranged family.
No one can play a sympathetic screw-up like Mark Ruffalo. Somehow he manages to make each of his characters fitting that description different from the last. Ruffalo may very well be an Entertainer of the Year with HBO's the Normal Heart and now Begin Again. While he may be the current in a long line of Hulks, he still maintains his indie roots.

It looks as though Begin Again is kicking off an excellent year in independent film. Wish I Was Here, Zach Braff's second directorial effort, opened in limited release this week with solid reviews and Obvious Child was another indie great thus far into 2014. In the fall, the Jason Bateman/Tina Fey family comedy-drama This Is Where I Leave You opens in September, Laggies, also starring Keira Knightley arrives in theaters in October and the Thanksgiving indie Hollidaysburg fittingly debuts in November. God Help The Girl and The One I Love also look promising. Should be a particularly interesting year at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Monday, July 7, 2014


Melissa McCarthy stars as Tammy in the type of role for which she has become famous. Wacky and unique, the characters are well developed with extended back histories. More along the lines of Identity Thief than the Heat, Tammy is not bad but it is not really great either.

It is more than a stretch to believe that Susan Sarandon is old enough to be Melissa McCarthy's grandma. They did a solid job with Sarandon's hair and wardrobe to age her but it was not enough to suspend one's disbelief. With Allison Janney as Tammy's mom, it seemed to shed even more light on the ages being implausible. Sarandon is only thirteen years older than Janney, Janney only eleven years older than McCarthy. The ages are so off, it almost suggests that it was done on purpose, like some kind of Bad Grandpa routine, though I am still missing why.
Opening July 2nd for the Fourth of July weekend, in its five days in release, Tammy has made 33 million dollars, 21 million of it just during the weekend. Released almost exactly a year apart, the Heat made 39 million in its opening weekend last summer. That is not a huge difference considering the Heat also starred Sandra Bullock. Even with mediocre reviews, Tammy has already made millions more than its budget.

Tammy was written by McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, who also directed. Falcone often cameos in McCarthy's films, most memorably in Bridesmaids and also in the Heat and Identity Thief. Will Ferrell and Adam McKay also produced. 

You will not have to rewatch this movie to catch the dialogue that you laughed over, my desired experience in a comedy, but it is not a bad flick either. The extended cast is peppered with recognizable faces and does have a certain charm.