Tag: Danny McBride

***2013 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | This is the End

The End

There’s nothing worse than a trailer for comedy that shows all the jokes, so once you’re in the cinema, the only things left are the exposition and awkward struggle for an emotional payoff.  Well, This is the End is not that.  The trailer is hilarious and packed with solid jokes.  And even with all the teasers, sneak peeks and pre-release extras that come with an Apatow affiliated movie, that mountain of promotional material is still only a fraction of the non-stop jokes hurled at you every second of This is the End.  And the best part is, almost all of them hit their mark.

The trailer sets up what you’ll be dealing with.  Most of the Apatow crew, playing themselves, with a few pop culture cameos thrown in, are at a party at James Franco’s house.  The drugs, drink and douche baggery flow thick and fast until rudely interrupted by the apocalypse.  In what has the be one of the biggest mass character killings in comedy film history, almost everyone is offed in the first third, then the real movie kicks in.  How do entitled, spoilt, selfish, pampered, useless movie stars deal with a crisis?

If you’ve seen the trailer, you know the movie focuses on Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Craig Robertson, Danny McBride, James Franco and Jay Baruchel playing heightened, not so flattering versions of themselves.  But that’s just the beginning.  What drives the story, the laughs and even the heart of This is the End, is how it uses preconceptions about these guys, and Hollywood stars in general.  It reinforces some stereotypes and character traits, overblows others to insane levels and flips a few completely on their head in ways that make sure there are plenty of surprises long after you expect the premise to have run out of steam.  It’s also great to see that nothing, including dubious film choices the actors have made in real life in the past, seems to be off limits.  The Green Hornet, Your Highness and their shared success based on playing Apatow-style man children all come under fire.

Writers (and first time directors) Rogen and Evan Goldberg have clearly learnt a lot under Judd Apatow and his fingerprints are all over this.  Especially in the vulgarity to heart ratio.  It’s a tried and tested recipe, plenty of swearing, insults and consistent aggression throughout, that somehow makes the heart and emotional climax seem totally earned and not at all schmaltzy.  I really was surprised at how invested I was in the “lesson” the heroes need to learn to survive the end of the days.   And even though I knew what was coming and had predicted exactly how it would happen the first time I saw the bright blue beams of light, Rogen and Goldberg manage to find plenty of ways to add twists and turns before you get there.  Especially through their use of the core characters.  I don’t think it’s spoiling anything to say not all of them learn a lesson, find redemption or get a happy ending.

This is the End is exactly what I was hoping for going in.  I’m a fan of the Apatow stable and got what I wanted.  Rogen and Goldberg prove jokes can be profane and smart at the same time, they prove the third act of a comedy doesn’t have to lose all momentum just so they can wrap up the plot, and they prove that they might have the healthiest perspective of anyone in Hollywood about how lucky they are the live the lives they live.  It takes real talent to highlight how much better you have it than your audience, but still make your characters sympathetic.

This is the End
Directed By – Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogan
Written By – Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogan

MOVIE REVIEW | Clear History (2013)

In the 90s, Larry David helped redefine the sitcom from behind the scenes when he co-created Seinfeld.  In the new millennium, he did it again, this time much more visibly, playing a fictionalised version of himself in Curb Your Enthusiasm.  At the height of Seinfeld’s success, he thought he’d give movies a go by writing and directing the immediately forgotten Sour Grapes.  Then news came after Curb’s eighth season that there were no immediate plans for a ninth, because David was once again off to have a crack at the movies.  And it looks like the result has been pretty similar to his first go round.  And that’s a shame, because like Sour Grapes, his latest effort, Clear History, deserves more attention than it seems to have received.

Ten years ago, David’s character, Nathan, was working with a fledgling electric car manufacturer, run by John Hamm’s Will Haney.  After a miniscule difference of opinion gets blown way out of prepetition (this is a Larry David story, after all), he cashes in his shares and leaves the company.  Almost immediately, the electric car he’s been helping develop, the ‘Harold’, becomes a huge success and Nathan has literally lost a billion dollars by walking away when he did.

A decade later, he has escaped the humiliation of his billion dollar mistake by moving to the island of Marha’s Vineyard and going by the name Rolly.  He’s built a modest but happy life that is turned upside down when the now multi billionaire Will Haney moves to the island to start building his dream mansion.  Again, because this is a Larry David story, easily fixed misunderstandings run rampant, totally unnecessary lies, cover ups and deceptions go down, people act in ways no one ever would in real life in a million years, and almost all of it is pretty hilarious.

For a movie you’ve probably never heard of, Larry David was able to pull together an amazing cast.  Besides Jon Hamm, there’s Danny McBride, Amy Ryan, Kate Hudson, Eva Mendes, Phillip Baker Hall and an almost unrecognisable Michael Keaton, who absolutely steals every single scene he’s in.

Going back to the Seinfeld days, and only amplified on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David loves coincidence.  The amount of tiny little, coincidental meetings, overheard comments, character quirks and contrivances that need to occur within your average Larry David story should make it impossible to suspend any disbelief.  But somehow, in the hands of Larry David, they work.

There’s an odd side story about Rolly’s ex girlfriend and the band Chicago that never really leads anywhere or has anything to do with the main story, but it’s funny enough to more than justify its existence.  Plus, his ex is played by Amy Ryan who is always amazing, so if nothing else, she makes that subplot worth it.

Basically Clear History is an extended episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, only Larry has a different name and set of friends.  And if I can’t have ten episodes of Curb every year, something like Clear History is a pretty good substitute.

Clear History
Directed By – Greg Mottola
Written By – Larry David, Alec Berg, David Mandel, Jeff Schaffer