Pete and Debbie – supporting characters in Judd Apatow’s terrific Knocked Up – get their own movie and it’s something of a mixed blessing.
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Produced by Judd Apatow [him again?], Lena Dunham’s comedy series Girls [premiereing this Sunday at 10:30/9:30C] is lining up some pretty special critical acclaim. Check out a couple of interviews with cast members – and two extended trailers – after the jump.
After he loses his job, George and his wife Linda must moves from NYC to live with his brother in Atlanta. But on their drive south, they discover a commune right out of the 1960s. Deciding to leave the rat race behind, George and Linda give the commune life a try in WANDERLUST.
I think I laughed maybe twice over the course of the two trailers for Bridesmaids. Despite this, I decided that I would check out the film for a couple of reasons – the producing directing team of Judd Apatow and Paul Feig, and the combination of Kristen Wiig, Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy. It didn’t hurt that Wiig also co-wrote the film. The result is about 75% hilarious and 50% cringeworthy [there’s a 25% overlap…].
For his third film as a director, Judd Apatow wanted to tackle something a little deeper than a one-night stand that resulted in a baby or a sexual late bloomer with goofy friends. I can almost see him in the “reading room” when the proverbial light bulb goes off above his head and he shouts, “Imminent death! Of course!”
And so we have a film about a crisis in the life of America’s most beloved comedian, George Simmons [Adam Sandler], who gets the news that he has the rare and usually fatal disease, AML. To balance the darkness of George’s plight, we get a look into the life of wannabe stand-up comic, Evan Wright [Seth Rogen] who works at Otto’s Deli alongside a fellow named Chuck [RZA] who thinks so little of his skills that Evan has to pay him to attend his next performance.
I’ve had my review copy of Freaks and Geeks: Yearbook Edition for awhile – but only now have I managed to get through all of its many features. This is the kind of DVD package that you have to actually see, full-size, to really appreciate.
Freaks and Geeks, of course, is the classic one-season wonder set in 1980 that revolved around siblings Lindsay [Linda Cardellini] and Sam Weir [John Francis Daley]. Unlike other shows that used metaphors for “high is hell” [Buffy the Vampire Slayer], or “high school is cruel” [Veronica Mars], Freaks and Geeks proud asserted that high school is real – and it may seem earth-shattering while you’re, but in the end? It’s high school. By using siblings who were at different ends of the school population’s periphery, the series [all eighteen episodes] gave us a look at an institution that was far more real than we’d seen before – and because we saw it through the filter of a newbie freak [Lindsay] and an entrenched geek [Sam], it brought back all the epic highs and devastating lows of that period of our lives.
Seth Rogen may have used his action sequences in Pineapple Express to audition for his upcoming The Green Hornet, but despite action sequences choreographed for humor as well as thrills, his earnestness in them almost takes deflates the good-natured stoner buddy comedy that Pineapple Express really is.
Dale Denton [Rogen] is a process server who loves his job [mostly because of the costumes he uses to fake out his victims – and the time it affords for smoking up]. After a day of multiple disguises, he stops at his dealer’s place. There, Saul Silver [James Franco] hooks him up with some Pineapple Express – smoke so potent that you can high just smelling it! From there, Dale heads off for one last delivery before calling it a day – a summons for Ted Jones [the comically malevolent Gary Cole], the dealer who supplies Red [Danny McBride], Saul’s supplier. When Dale witnesses Ted and a policewoman [Rosie Perez] kill an Asian man, he freaks out and tosses his roach of PE – which in turn leads Ted to Saul, via Red and things go from easy flowing and happy, to omigawdomigawdomigawd! And I haven’t even mentioned Dale’s high school student girlfriend, yet…
If Harold and Kumar are the stoner Hope & Crosby, then Dale and Saul are the stoner Riggs and Murtagh. Director David Gordon Green somehow manages to takes Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg’s split personality script and makes it feel like a single piece. The action sequences ramp up the tension, but much of the choreography and stunt work have elements of humor to them that hold the film together despite Rogen’s dead serious approach to them. Fortunately, between the ridiculous action, Franco’s ability to just bliss out – even when under fire – and some way out bits with McBride’s Red, the goofily genial absurdity of the film is maintained.
Although Pineapple Express is the weakest of the productions from the Apatow Comedy Factory, it remains, largely, above the average because of its slightly hallucinogenic bromance and its integrity when it comes to maintaining its overall upbeat mood. And did I mention Danny McBride’s Red? Definitely one of the best parts of the flick…
Final Grade: B-