The stars were out in Austin on Monday night, as enthusiastic cast members Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe, and a black-clad, turquoise bootlace tie-wearing Val Kilmer, along with friends like SNL‘s Seth Meyers and comedian Paul Scheer, came out to celebrate the world premiere of MacGruber (in theaters May 21). The sketch-to-feature adaptation, SNL‘s first since the Ladies Man (2000), follows the exploits of a doofus soldier of fortune (played with terrific idiocy by Forte) as he tries to take down his arch enemy (Kilmer) who happens to be in possession of a nuclear warhead. Kilmer’s character, who fancies painting aged women in the nude when he’s not wreaking havoc on the world, is named Cunth. If imagining the possibility of riffs on such a name makes you snicker, as it did the genial Austin crowd, this is the movie for you.
Image Credit: Photopro/Landov The biggest delight of Day 2 of the Austin-based film festival was the world premiere of Barry Munday, director Chris D’Arienzo’s big-hearted debut about a rugby-wearing, boob-leering office drone who loses his testicles in a freak accident. Stay with me, people! Barry, played with great oafishness by Patrick Wilson, is a character straight out of the cult hit Office Space. He hits on women relentlessly, he loves a good Chili’s happy hour, he sings in the shower about how awesome he is. But in Wilson’s good hands, Barry is a recognizable and even endearing nitwit without being reduced to easy caricature. Barry loses his balls early on in the film, but soon finds out that a former one-night stand is knocked up with his kid. The woman with the bulging belly, whose face Barry can’t remember, is played by the marvelous Judy Greer.
The movie, which will draw inevitable comparisons to Knocked Up, is a surprisingly wistful and winning ode to growing up and finding one’s place in the world. What really made me want to stand up and cheer, though, was the sight of my beloved Greer getting a shot at material that required more from her than playing the plucky best friend. Here, Greer gets to play the woman at the heart of the story. Her Ginger Farley, a woman used to being overlooked by her family members and co-workers and men at large, is at once prickly and soulful. She gets to flex muscles — comedic and romantic — that have gone underutilized for too long. It’s always a treat to see a treasured character actor take on a starring role. In Barry Munday, a film in need of a worthy distributor, Greer proves once and for all that she deserves much, much more than stock supporting roles.
Who out there is a Judy Greer fan? What’s your favorite role of hers? (Kitty in Arrested Development? Back-stabbing Lucy in 13 Going on 30?) What other character actors would you love to see get a great starring role? Does Barry Munday look like a film for you?
The line of movie geeks eager to celebrate Friday’s opening night of Austin’s SXSW film festival coiled around the grand Paramount theater. The draw was the world premiere of Kick-Ass (in theaters April 16), Matthew Vaughn’s cheeky take on the superhero movie genre. Based on Mark Millar’s popular comic book series, the film follows a forgettable high school student (played by the endearing relative newcomer Aaron Johnson) who, with the help of a mail-order costume, attempts to transform himself into a real-life superhero. The very sight of Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s name in the opening credits was enough to elicit calls of “McLovin’!” from the audience. But he in fact sheds some of that exaggerated doofus-cool here, playing an interesting, isolated son of a villainous mobster.
Without knowledge of the comic book, you might think going in that you’re sitting down to a genial movie about high school boys. But the very best of the film belongs to Nicolas Cage, a heroic vigilante out to bring down a mobster, and his highly trained, knife-wielding, wig-wearing 11-year-old daughter. The audience hooted and hollered during all of the kinetic fight scenes with Hit-Girl (played by the thoroughly convincing Chloe Moretz), but the biggest laughs were earned by Cage. His performance is so fun, ridiculous without being hammy, wistful without a touch of melodrama, that it manages to wipe clean the past few years of goofball work. The Austin audience loved Kick-Ass. I was reminded that I f***ing love Nicolas Cage.
Many fans have a love-hate relationship with George Lucas. This is, after all, the man who gave the world Luke Skywalker, but later gave birth to Jar Jar Binks.
Director Alexandre O. Philippe bravely tries to get to the heart of this conflicted relationship between Lucas and his fans in the new documentary The People Vs. George Lucas, which has its world premiere at SXSW on Saturday.
In addition to a lot of contributions from obsessive fans, the film includes interviews with the likes of Neil Gaiman, Darth Vader actor David Prowse, Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz, and George Lucas In Love director Joe Nussbaum. There’s even a band singing “George Lucas raped our childhood.”
EW.com recently caught up with Swiss-born, Denver-based director Philippe, who spent nearly three years making the film, amassing 634 hours of footage and interviewing 126 people. (See trailer at end of interview.) READ FULL STORY »
Beneath the trees of Austin’s Brush Square park, and with the merry vibes of good music and good free Shiner swirling around us, I grabbed a couple minutes with Mr. Schwartz — who would make a fun guest blogger, don’t you think, PopWatchers? — to talk Rockville, awesome bands, Chuck, potential impending maturity, and get one super!juicy!scoop!exclusive! on the Gossip Girl spinoff. Read on, after the jump!
The best movie I saw during the week-long SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Tex., was not I Love You, Man (though it was awesome!) or the Iron Maiden documentary Flight 666 (excellent!) or Sam Raimi’s unfinished cut of Drag Me To Hell (killer!). No, my favorite movie was a brisk 80-minute documentary by first-time, San Francisco-based filmmaker Geralyn Pezanoski. Mine, the story of pets left behind in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and their owners, who would spend years trying to get them back, didn’t swan into the festival with the fancy stamp of studio backing. But after wowing, and reducing everyone to sniveling tears, Mine was awarded the SXSW Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Watch the film’s extended trailer from YouTube, below, or its more recent trailer over at MIneTheMovie.com. Arm yourself with tissues. More on Mine after the jump.
Last night in Austin, festival-goers with a taste for white sneakers and concert t-shirts surged into the Paramount Theater for the American premiere of the rock documentary Iron Maiden: Flight 666. There were families where the kids and parents and even Grandma were in Iron Maiden t-shirts. One young man decided to watch the movie with his shirt off, so that he could wind it like a lasso over his head during "Run to the Hills."
Directors Sam Dunn and Scott McFadyen (Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey) followed the British metal band on their 2008 Somewhere Back In Time World Tour. Singer Bruce Dickinson, who seemed came across like the sunny and amiable billionaire Richard Branson, piloted the 757 Ed Force One jet that took the band, crew, and all their gear around the world.
In Mumbai, India, teenagers sick of Bollywood music flooded the sold-out stadium. In Guadalajara, Mexico, the crowd chanted in unison "Ole, ole, ole, ole! Mai-den! Mai-den!" Outside of Sao Paola, Brazil, the directors interviewed a rural minister who bases his sermons around the band’s lyrics, named his son after the bassist Steve Harris, and has 162 Iron Maiden tattoos on his body. Then he took off his vestments and showed off the tattoo of the band’s mascot Eddie that was made to look like it was tied down between his nipples and belly button. When the Father undulated his belly, he said it looked like Eddie was trying to escape. (This might have been my most favorite moment of the Film Festival so far.)
Right around the time the jolly blokes in Iron Maiden were being whisked into a 5-star hotel in Chile, as crying fans pounded on the glass front doors, I had to cut out early if I was going make it to the screening of Anvil: The Story of Anvil. This documentary is about a couple of metal heads who met when they were teenagers in small-town Ontario and went on to produce a seminal album Metal on Metal. But then, as their peers shot to greatness, singer Lips and drummer Robb found themselves somehow limping back into obscurity. "Everybody sort of ripped ‘em off and sorta left them for dead," Slash says in the film.
On the fourth night of Austin’s SXSW Film Festival, fans got their first look at the wholly weird and strange and sad and rageful new Jody Hill (The Foot Fist Way) movie Observe and Report. Seth Rogen plays a bipolar mall cop, but his illness thankfully isn’t employed as an easy joke. He’s just a deeply odd dude with an inflated sense of importance, a crew of sweet underlings, and an alcoholic kindly wreck of a mom at home. (The Austin crowd loved it. Not all crowds will. It’s weird. Paul Blart would probably walk out of this movie.)
The first question during the Q&A after the screening was not about the flaccid penis (not Rogen’s, incidentally) that played a pivotal role in the film’s climax, or the bizarre fact that mainstream Warner Bros. allowed such a dark comedy onto their plate, or the arguments that must have gone down during post-production over scenes that were just too troubling to stay put. No, the first question was some earnest idiot who stood up and wondered about the possibility of a Freaks and Geeks movie. Incidentally, at the previous Friday’s screening of I Love You, Man the actress Jamie Pressly was cut off while trying to answer a question about improvisation by a similarly hopeful young fellow who hollered out to Jason Segel about the need for a reunion.
Now I watched that entire series in one delirious sitting, breaking only to pee and drink, pee and drink. Linda Cardellini was like a much cooler version of my childhood idol Jo from The Facts of Life. But all you freaks and geeks out there aren’t helping your cause by acting goofy. Speaking today about Freaks fans’ sometimes inappropriately timed bursts of devotion, Rogen expressed amused patience. "It’s nice, it’s nice," he said. "I’m sure they’ll keep asking. And the fact that they’re doing an Arrested Development reunion movie doesn’t help us. They’ve given people hope!" Alas, no plans are in the works as of now. So we all might as well start trying to enjoy the actual entertainment in front of us. And when a lady is talking, don’t interrupt!
What do you think? Do you think the guy who asked the Freaks question was a champion or a boob? What pop culture favorite can you not let go of? For my ladies, did you too try to make two mini ponytails converge into one larger ponytail a la Jo when you were growing up?
The annual South by Southwest festival kicked off this past Friday in sunny Austin, Tex., and, man, am I jealous I’m not there yet. Right now, only the Film and Interactive portions of SXSW are underway; I’ll be heading down as part of EW’s SXSW crew this Wednesday, when the Music free-for-all begins. Starting Thursday, you can head over to our our brand-new all-music microsite, The Music Mix, for tons of coverage on the buzz bands and rock titans (Metallica?!) that play shows. Hey, maybe we’ll even throw in an occasional barbecue blog. Till then, I’ll just be here in New York wishing I hadn’t missed hilarious blogger/cartoonist David Rees‘ Friday-afternoon panel.
Are any of you planning to check out SXSW this year — or are you in Austin already? Who are you most looking forward to seeing there? Schedules tend to take form very much on the fly, but personally I’ll be trying to juggle seeing the likes of Grizzly Bear, ReflectionEternal, Erykah Badu, DM Stith, Beach House, Sam Amidon, Explosions in the Sky, Vetiver, and lord knows who else. Whatever you do, don’t forget to pack sunscreen!
On Day 3 of Austin’s SXSW Film Festival, horror fans converged at the beautiful Paramount Theater for the midnight screening of Sam Raimi’s unfinished cut of Drag Me to Hell. Would that I went to every movie with this crowd. People came ready to love. When Ain’t It Cool News’ Harry Knowles, in orange Hawaiian shirt and lime green sneakers, wheeled out onto the stage to introduce Raimi, the audience members took to their feet at the mere mention of the Evil Dead director’s name. In between Spider-Man movies, Raimi had finally found time to return to his roots. Standing ovation. In his brief hello, Raimi came across like an endearing dork in a square black suit. He pratfalled as he walked across the stage, pretended to confuse his prepared speech with an eviction notice from the local Four Seasons Hotel, and then he got his tie purposely jumbled behind his glasses like a blindfold. "Hey, who turned out the lights?" he wondered. It was like watching your favorite uncle at Thanksgiving before he decides he ought to go nap.
As the curtains parted, a couple stray bats swooped circles up in the dimming lights and the crowd geek orgasmed. (Unlucky bats? Yucky promotional stunt?) The movie (in theaters May 29), starring Alison Lohman as a cursed bank loans officer (ha!), was funny and silly and smart and full of genuine screams that ended in happy snorts of disbelief. The delightfully gnarly death match in the parking garage between a crazy-eyed old gypsy and the delightfully cast Lohman should make one of EW’s inevitable future list of best fight scenes. IT WAS AWESOME. Standing ovation. Welcome back, Mr. Raimi.
Who out there is psyched for another Raimi horror film? Is there any way he could fail you? When will an old gypsy ever get to break typecasting and play the lead in a romantic comedy?