Fall Movie Preview 2010: Comedy

I generally like to end these previews with comedy since there’s usually more comedies than any other genre each season. Laughter has a high place at the movies and that will never change. There’s no better way to feel you got your money’s worth in these days of high ticket prices than to at least have a good laugh for a couple hours.

In case you missed them, here are the other fall previews I’ve posted thus far:

10. You Again (Sept. 24)

Directed by Andy Fickman
Written by Moe Jelline
Starring: Kristen Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Odette Yustman

The Word: This fall doesn’t have too many romantic comedies, so “You Again” is the one of these 10 comedies that caters most to the ladies. The story centers on a young woman whose brother is about to marry the girl that tormented her in high school. And it also turns out that the bully’s mom tormented her mom in high school. Small world. Somewhere in it all is Betty White being awesome.

My Thoughts: I tend to think of Curtis and Weaver as the same type of actress (the height thing), so seeing them together is weird. Other than that, as a fan of Bell, it would be nice to see her stop doing these romantic comedies (see “When in Rome” earlier this year) and take some roles that actually show the talent she has.

9. Alpha and Omega (Sept. 17)

Directed by Anthony Bell, Ben Gluck
Written by Chris Denk, Steve Moore
Starring: (voices) Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Christina Ricci, Dennis Hopper, Danny Glover

The Word: If you’re a major film distributor, your goal is to pair up with an animation studio (or start your own). Disney/Pixar, Paramount/DreamWorks, Fox/Fox Animation. This year, Universal teams up with Illumination Entertainment for the first time and found massive success with “Despicable Me.” Now it’s Lionsgate’s turn — they’ve embraced Crest Animation Studios to turn out this film about two wolves that couldn’t have different personalities or social statuses who are forced together to survive.

My Thoughts: This year has been another amazing success for the animation medium. That said, this film looks bad. The animation is bland and the story couldn’t be more generic. These days, the bar is high for animation. You can’t just make a film with animals and expect a hit on your hands. I’m open, but you’re better off waiting a week for Zack Snyder’s “Legends of the Guardians.”

8. Life As We Know It (Oct. 8)

Directed by Greg Berlanti
Written by Ian Deitchman, Kristen Rusk Robinson
Starring: Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel

The Word: In just three years Katherine Heigl has gone from promising comic actress (“Knocked Up”) to Jennifer Aniston levels of unfunny  romantic comedies. This time she ropes in “Transformers” star Duhamel, but the film (and the trailer) bounces back and forth between comedy and drama. The reason being is that Duhamel and Heigl’s characters despite each other but are forced to take care of a baby (funny) because the baby’s parents were their friends who died in a car accident (serious).

My Thoughts: The bi-polar nature of this film is intriguing but concerning. Trying to think like the average moviegoer, I wouldn’t know if I’d want to see it just by virtue of not knowing if I’m getting some comic relief or a serious film about family. Some of each seem funny, then again, you never want uncertainty from a trailer.

7. The Virginity Hit (Sept. 10 – limited)

Written and directed by Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland
Starring: Matt Bennett, Nicole Weaver, Zack Pearlman, Jacob Davich

The Word: Adam McKay and Will Ferrell present a comedy from one of the writers of “The Last Exorcism.” Huh? Well, both this film and that one use a handheld style with the look and feel of low budget. “The Virginity Hit” looks like the “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” meets “The Real World” meets high school. A group of friends attempt to document their friend losing his virginity to his girlfriend, who finds out. Not good.

My Thoughts: Certainly different, but kind of troubling at the same time. Who thinks it’s a good idea to record their losing their virginity. This is not the type of thing high school kids need to see, as losing one’s virginity really shouldn’t be put on this kind of a pedestal, but I digress — not my place to say if it’s right, just if it’s funny and it could be funny/interesting. The fact that it looks “real” might also convince people to see it, since that’s how reality TV works.

6. Jackass 3-D (Oct. 15)

Directed by Jeff Tremaine
Written by Preston Lacy
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius

The Word: If you’re going to make a third movie about men carelessly throwing themselves in harm’s way for the sake of entertainment, 3D seems like the logical next step in the medium’s evolution, right? Well, that’s what’s happening in this guilty pleasure franchise.

My Thoughts: Hard to believe that “Jackass” is a 10-year-old series/concept, but who can blame these guys for taking advantage of the eternal truth that watching others get hurt is always funny? I’m not sure I would pay $10 to see it in theaters, let alone the premium on the 3-D ticket. “Jackass” has always struck me as mindless rental material, but perhaps laughing and gasping with several others make it that much better.

5. Megamind (Nov. 5)

Directed by Tom McGrath
Written by Alan J. Schoolcraft, Brent Simons
Starring: (voices) Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill

The Word: DreamWorks has already had one animated critical and financial success and another financial success so far in 2010 with “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Shrek Forever After,” so now they go for the trifecta with “Megamind,” another animated film hoping to capitalize on the superhero/supervillain dynamic. This one features Ferrell as the villain-since-birth, Megamind, who after finally defeating his arch nemesis (Pitt), finds life meaningless.

My Thoughts: This take on the supervillain tale is interesting and the trailer is amusing enough as the character suits Ferrell’s voice talents really well. It’s not exactly bursting with originality, but it’s in prime position to do well with no family films set for October and three weeks before Disney’s Rapunzel film “Tangled” hits theaters.

4. It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Oct. 8 – limited)

Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Written by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Ned Vizzini (novel)
Starring: Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts

The Word: A teenager wrestling with depression checks into a hospital’s adult psychiatric ward where he meets an interesting cast of characters (including none other than Zach Galifianakis) and his equally troubled love interest (Emma Roberts). The trailer makes a good case for “Funny Story” to be the indie comedy hit of the season and the filmmakers, Boden and Fleck, were responsible for acclaimed indies “Half Nelson” with Ryan Gosling and Dominican baseball movie “Sugar.”

My Thoughts: A classic indie coming-of-ager set in a mental institution of sorts seems like an appropriate analogy for struggling with and understanding life’s problems. Galifianakis will get a chance to flex both comedic and dramatic muscles as well, which should be interesting. The track record for this filmmaking duo is also excellent, so expect “Funny Story” to deliver.

3. Easy A (Sept. 17)

Directed by Will Gluck
Written by Burt V. Royal
Starring: Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson

The Word: Rising star Emma Stone (“The House Bunny,” “Zombieland”) stars as a girl who pretends to have sex with a gay male friend at a party so that guys at school will stop picking on him, but the success leads many others to ask for the same “favor,” and so she sullies her once-good reputation at school. While reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” a girl tells her to embroider an “A” on her clothes to mark her promiscuity and she accepts the challenge. Sony must be happy with director Will Gluck, as he’s also got “Friends with Benefits” for them coming out next summer, starring Mila Kunis, Stone and Justin Timberlake.

My Thoughts: I think Stone is great and it’s nice to see her land that lead role. Accompanied by Oscar-nominated actors playing her parents, I think “Easy A” could be one of those rare teen comedies that actually works.

2. Due Date (Nov. 5)

Directed by Todd Phillips
Written by Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel, Todd Phillips
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx

The Word: When you helm the most successful R-rated comedy of all time, you win the keys to the Hollywood castle. That’s the situation for director Todd Phillips and his post-“Hangover” offering is “Due Date,” co-starring two of movies’ hottest names at the moment in RDJ and Galifianakis. In a “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” type of premise, the two are forced to stick together on a cross-country journey  if Downey Jr.’s character is to arrive in time for the birth of his child.

My Thoughts: This is one of those films that even if it isn’t all that good, ought to at least garner positive reviews for the mere fact that these two will be bantering back and forth for 90-plus minutes. If Warner Bros. has another comedy hit on its hands, however, that would only continue the surge for all the talents involved, especially the already-prolific stars.

1. Machete (Sept. 3)

Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis
Written by Robert Rodriguez, Alvaro Rodriguez
Starring: Danny Trejo, Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba

The Word: If you saw “Grindhouse” or when it was separated into “Planet Terror” and “Death Proof,” you might have seen a trailer for “Machete.” The idea was to have directors just create fake movie trailers, but Rodriguez took his idea for “Machete” a step further: an actual feature film. Pulling together the most randomly awesome cast ever, Rodriguez has created the ultimate ’70s Mexploitation flick. The film stars Rodriguez regulars such as Trejo and Cheech Marin as well as Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Robert DeNiro, Lindsay Lohan, “LOST”‘s Jeff Fahey and even Steven Segal.

My Thoughts: Can you think of a better film to start off the fall movie season than the delightfully insane “Machete”? Those who enjoyed “Planet Terror” ought to find Rodriguez in top form here. Early reviews are rather positive, so expect over-the-top action and hilarity in only the way a cheesy ’70s homage can provide. Sure, this movie might belong on my action list (at least based on this second trailer), but if you don’t laugh, then you can complain to me personally.

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