Comedy offerings this fall won’t have you marking your calendar. Scroll below and you won’t see the names Jonah Hill, Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Seth Rogen, Vince Vaughn, Zach Galifianakis or anyone remotely linked to them. A majority of these movies don’t warrant a trip to the theater, but one or two are bound to be worth seeing.
Written and Directed by Leslye Headland
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, Rebel Wilson
Summary: Three friends are asked to be bridesmaids in the wedding of a girl who they tortured in high school and the pre-wedding events get out of hand.
The Word: Already available on demand, “Bachelorette,” critics seem to disagree about it. The comparison to “Bridesmaids” are a given, but this one appears to pack a more brutally honest tone, a sharper wit and not the “heart” of a usual comedy.
My Thoughts: I really like this cast, as we don’t see Dunst, Fisher or Caplan in nearly enough films. It speaks to the quality or at least the individuality of Leslye Headland’s script. “Bridesmaids” was fresh as it is, and knowing this is a more black comedy version has me interested.
Directed by Jason Moore
Written by Kay Cannon, Mickey Rapkin (book)
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Summary: When Beca arrives at college, she’s recruited by the Bellas, the all-female a cappella singing group. As the group prepares for competition, they also face competition from the all-male group as well as each other, personally.
The Word: Kendrick is way above this class of comedy, but it’s a starring role and she deserves as much. The film clearly wishes to ride whatever’s left of the “Glee” wave though in hopes of catching a more mature teenage and college-aged audience. Jason Moore, who made episodes of “Dawson’s Creek” and “One Tree Hill” back in the day directs from “30 Rock” writer Kay Cannon’s script. The release was moved up a week very recently thanks to good social media buzz from early screenings.
My Thoughts: I’ve read Mickey Rapkin’s book, and anyone who has can tell you from the look of the trailer that this film is nothing like it. Rapkin writes about three real-life groups and explores the collegiate a cappella phenomenon. It’s a dramatic read and a good one. As such, this film rubs me the wrong way. Hopefully the humor emphasis is just for marketing purposes.
Directed by Jim Field Smith
Written by Jason A. Micallef
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Ty Burrell, Olivia Wilde, Rob Corddry, Yara Shahidi
Summary: Several small-town Iowans are at odds with each other over a butter-carving competition. There are the reigning champion Picklers, who have political aspirations, an orphan and a stripper.
The Word: “Butter” premiered at Telluride — last year. With so much talent and an easy-sell premise, it’s a wonder it took so long to get a release date. In addition to a large ensemble cast, “Butter” comes from “She’s Out of My League” director Smith based on a script from first-time writer Micallef.
My Thoughts: The conclusion to be drawn from the long delay is that “Butter” is probably decent at best. Although there’s enough comedic talent for a winner, the film looks like it could just as easily take itself too seriously.
Directed by Frank Coraci
Written by Kevin James, Allan Loeb, Rock Reuben
Starring: Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler
Summary: To keep his school from cutting all extra-curricular programs, a teacher (James) trains to become an MMA fighter.
The Word: Ever since “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” became a surprise hit in January 2009, Kevin James has struggled to make a successful starring vehicle (such as last summer’s “The Zookeeper”). Here, he combines comedy with a sports drama featuring mixed martial arts. James writes again with “Zookeeper” partner Rock Reuben and Hollywood comedy go-to guy Allan Loeb (“The Dilemma,” “Just Go With It,” “Rock of Ages”).
My Thoughts: I have not so much as a sympathetic bone in my body for James, who makes his comedies as though it were still the ’90s. Hopefully the sports drama angle and compensate for what will surely be an awful comedy.
Written and Directed by Martin McDonagh
Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson
Summary: A group of dognappers find themselves over their heads when they steal the shih-tzu of a man (Harrelson) with connections in the world of organized crime.
The Word: McDonagh finally follows up his under-the-radar hit “In Bruges” with this off-beat Guy Ritchie-esque comedy. The marketing presents a comedy strangely self aware and quirky, namely as it lists the seven psychopaths: the seemingly normal one (Farrell), his best friend (Rockwell), the one with issues (Harrelson), the hot girlfriend … played by a Bond Girl, of course (Olga Kurylenko), the non-violent one (Walken), the passive-aggressive girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) and the one with the bunny (Tom Waits).
My Thoughts: I didn’t think too highly of “In Bruges” when I first saw it, but I think I would probably change my mind if I were to watch it again as I had no sense of McDonagh’s sense of humor or style. It looks to really work here, even if the film is bound to be rather imperfect coming out in October. Then again, I’d never expect this kind of movie to get a wide release.
Directed by Justin Zackham
Written by Justin Zackham, Jean-Stéphane Bron and Karine Sudan (original French film)
Starring: Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Amanda Seyfried, Ben Barnes, Katherine Heigl, Topher Grace
Summary: Don (De Niro) and Ellie (Keaton) have been divorced for ages, but they must pretend to be together for a family wedding when their adopted son (Barnes) learns that his very Catholic biological mother is coming.
The Word: Justin Zackham, who wrote the rental hit “The Bucket List,” adapts the 2006 French film “Mon frère se marie” for Hollywood. The cast list is one that will attempt to blow rom-com lovers away with talents young (Heigl, Seyfried, Grace) and old (De Niro, Keaton, Sarandon).
My Thoughts: Doesn’t this sound perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas or even the early summer? Perhaps that’s the only indicator you need to know that Lionsgate simply wanted to green light a comedy with an all-star cast. Personally, I’m so tired of watching trailers for movies about family drama/hijinks that take place when everyone is in town for a wedding.
Directed by Josh Schwartz
Written by Max Werner
Starring: Victoria Justice, Jane Levy, Thomas Middleditch, Thomas Mann
Summary: Best friends Wren and April have been personally invited to a Halloween party by the hottest guy in school, but Wren finds out she has to babysit her little brother. While trick-or-treating, however, she loses him.
The Word: Never heard of any of the actors in this movie? That’s probably because you don’t watch Nickelodeon anymore. Victoria Justice of “Victorious” and Jane Levy of ABC’s “Suburgatory” star in this Nickelodeon movie in which responsibility clashes with being cool. Writer Werner works on “The Colbert Report” and director Schwartz is the guy that created “The O.C.” and “Chuck” and developed “Gossip Girl.”
My Thoughts: This movie is swinging hard for the tween fences, though the trailer focusing on a mechanical chicken humping a station wagon might cause middle school parents to be a bit cautious before dropping their kids off at the mall. The humor here is pedestrian, so it’s a bit weird that Schwartz would make it his directing debut after tons of success writing and producing for the small screen.