Tag Archives: Judd Apatow

SXSW: The Disaster Artist

Before we talk about this movie, we have to talk about another: The Room. Not Room, the Brie Larson kidnap drama, but The Room, the worst movie ever made. Even better: the BEST bad tumblr_megxu99K4x1ry10fwo1_500movie ever made, the Citizen Kane of bad movies, a movie so bad it’s achieved cult status. Tommy Wiseau was obsessed with movies and had enough cash to get one made, so he did. And he did it with such earnestness and such a complete lack of talent that people love to watch it. Ottawa’s own Mayfair Theatre, one of Canada’s oldest surviving independent movie houses, an official heritage building in our fair city, champion of 35mm film, screener of indies and classics, has been showing it for 92 consecutive months now. Each midnight screening is a riot; this cult film draws fans that know the drill. Matt wrote a great review of it a while back, almost nothing about the movie itself, which defies reviewing, but about the experience of seeing, the rituals that go along with it, the things you yell at the screen, hell, the things you chuck at the screen, it’s all a wild ball of fun.

Greg Sestero, co-star in The Room and Tommy Wiseau BFF wrote a book about making this weird movie with its even weirder director. It’s called The Disaster Artist. Ever a sucker for a great Hollywood story, James Franco read this book one day and immediately got a boner. He brought the script to Seth Rogen on the set of their ill-fated movie The Interview, and the rest is history. Well, future history. I saw the one and only screening of The Disaster Artist at SXSW where it was still billed as a “work in progress.” Tommy Wiseau was in the house, and also seeing it for the first time. Big gulp.

Two things struck me about The Disaster Artist: 1. This film was made with love. It could easily mock The Room, as many have, but it doesn’t. This is a loving ode to The Room, and to the friendship that gave birth to it. 2. This film is fucking hilarious.

Even having never seen The Room, The Disaster Artist is still accessible and relevant. Tommy Wiseau is a goddamned character and James Franco is just the man to play him (although Wiseau pushed for Johnny Depp). Franco got into the part so deeply that he directed while in character too. He was in deep enough to fool Seth Rogen’s grandmother when she visited the set, and in more than deep enough to constantly annoy his little brother “Davey” who co-stars MV5BMjA4ZDZkNjEtNTFkZi00YjhjLWFjZTctNDZlOWVmYzZmZjhhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTM2Mzg4MA@@._V1_with him.  James and Seth debuted Sausage Party at SXSW last year, and for me it was a disappointment. The Disaster Artist, however, gave me continuous giggles. They’ve amassed an impressive cast, some with just bitty walk-on parts, which only proves the love Hollywood has for underdog Tommy Wiseau. Or perhaps for James “I’ll try anything once” Franco. Or maybe James Franco as Tommy Wiseau. In any case, I laughed until I cried, and then I slammed some Diet Pepsi just so I could cry-laugh some more. And I did! This movie will make you rabid for The Room but it stands on its own, a complete movie that probably benefits from NOT being written by Franco or Rogen. It’s an affectionate behind the scenes look at Hollywood gone wrong, but it’s also a kind of heart-warming tale about outsiders who can’t break in so they plow their own field, and even if it’s bad, at least they have potatoes. Know what I’m saying? Oh, hi Mark.

 

 

 

p.s. Check out the comments section for a delightful Q&A with James, Dave & Seth.

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Pee-wee’s Big Holiday

How long is America’s memory? About 25 years, according to the Pee-wee Herman comeback.

peeweehermanIt was 1991 when Paul Reubens, the man behind the tiny red bowtie and obnoxious laugh who streamed his playhouse antics directly into your family room to mesmerized kids, was arrested for masturbating in an “adult movie theatre.” His arrest was widely covered, Reubens terribly ridiculed, even when wholesome famous friends like Bill Cosby spoke up on his behalf, saying “Whatever (Reubens has) done, this is being blown all out of paulreubensmugshotproportion” (I guess he was hoping people would remember this sentiment when it came turn for his own shit to hit the fan).

At any rate, Reubens retired the child-like character that had entertained and confused Americans for the better part of a decade, but Pee-wee Herman never died, he only went underground, and now like a groundhog heralding spring, his little rose-cheeked head has popped up in 2016, ushering in a new era of what’s appropriate for a host of children’s television. He’s been testing the waters for a decade, appearing at fan conventions, guest judging on Top Chef, and even SNL-Digital-Shortdoing a skit on SNL. Since nobody showed up to burn him on a stake, it seemed the way was clear for Netflix to greenlight a movie he’d been waiting a quarter century to make.

You may not know that the Pee-wee Herman character has been around since the late 1970s. Paul Reubens was performing for The Groundlings, only he wasn’t a typical comedian, having no talent for remembering the proper sequence of jokes, or even punch lines. So he and fellow Groundling Philpeeweephilhartman Hartman created the anti-comic character, a weird, manic, effeminate,ambiguous “boy” who got by on enthusiasm and catchphrases like “I know you are but what am I?” Pee-wee Herman was born, but was initially aimed at adults, appearing on The Dating Game, and in a Cheech and Chong movie. Eventually Reubens toned down the peeweelaurencefishburneinnuendo and became a childhood icon (although you only have to look as far as Cowboy Curtis, played by a young Laurence Fishburne, to know it was still there).

So now Pee-wee Herman’s back, bitches, and we’ve got Judd Apatow to thank for it. Hollywood has been milking the 80s nostalgia cow an awful lot lately, and Paul Reubens was of course anxious to re-write his beloved character’s ending. But what’s in it for Apatow? Apparently a little peeweewish-fulfillment. A longtime Pee-wee fan, this was a film he thought people wanted to see. “I just think there are very few characters in comedy history as strong and hilarious as Pee-wee Herman. The first moment you’re sitting in a room with Paul Reubens and he starts pitching you things Pee-wee might say or do, you think to yourself, ‘This can’t be happening.’ The first time he put on the suit, I thought I was going to pass out.”

So Judd Apatow and Pee-wee Herman have $30 million dollars from Netflix to make a movie, and who do they call? Joe Manganiello, that’s who. It turns out, Magic Mike is Joe’s serious oeuvre, so get that straight in your head. Because when he’s between such serious roles, he’s available to be Pee-wee’s sidekick. Bet you never thought you’d live to see that. The plot of peeweejoePee-wee’s Big Holiday, which is nearly plotless, is this: Pee-wee has never left the small town he lives in, but one day a big, handsome movie star named Joe Manganiello drives through town on his sexy hog and the two hit it off as only two rootbeer-barrel-loving-boys can. Joe invites Pee-wee to his birthday party in NYC, and Pee-wee embarks on an epic adventure across the country. Or something like that.

This new adventure doesn’t have much to do with his other forays on the big screen or small screen, but if you’re a fan who’s been waiting for this moment for most of your life, there’s enough there to leave you satisfied. In fact, peeweeReubens, now 63, hardly looks as though he’s aged a day underneath the familiar pancake makeup. Pee-wee’s Big Holiday isn’t likely to win any new converts though. It’s a silly little thing, a very small fluff on some pretty major wind, but yes: it is in fact a movie. And you can watch it now on Netflix.

 

Trainwreck

Before watching Trainwreck, I did not know who Amy Schumer was (though Jay assures me I have watched some of her standup). Now, after watching Trainwreck on Saturday, we are binge watching all three seasons of Inside Amy Schumer, her Comedy Central show. I feel like the fact we wanted to see more is a ringing endorsement of Ms. Schumer’s brand of comedy, and thus an endorsement of this movie. Because she carries this movie and she is more than up to the task.

She’s not alone though.  There are lots of really good performances here.  Especially LeBron James.  Now as you may know, LeBron is on our shit list because he decided to skip last year’s Cleveland/OKC matchup that happened to be my birthday present (ironically because of a sore knee).  So this praise is very grudgingly given, but his portrayal of himself is probably the second funniest character in the movie.  I wish he had been given more screen time.

Also hilarious is John Cena as Amy’s sort-of boyfriend.  His movie theatre confrontation is probably the funniest scene in the movie.  There are certainly other funny parts but as Jay reminded me, Judd Apatow seems to focus on drawing out funny character stuff rather than trying to cram a scene full of laughs.  And I think that works here.

The only thing that doesn’t work is Amy’s love for Bill Hader’s sports doctor.  We never really see why he’s so awesome, which is a shame.  Especially because it seems the reason we don’t see/feel the connection between the leads is that Bill Hader is so restrained.  He seems to be actually acting, which I kind of feel bad criticizing him for.  It’s not that he’s bad, not at all, but it feels off when John Cena and LeBron James are making me laugh more than Bill Hader.

That’s really my only complaint about the movie.  Trainwreck is not quite great but it’s very good.  It’s been an excellent summer movie season and this is one of the best comedies so far (right up there for me with Spy and Inside Out).  That’s why Trainwreck gets a score of eight athlete cameos out of ten.