Let’s continue with the summer’s second-most beloved genre: the comedy. Over the last decade, Judd Apatow ruled the summer release schedule. Now, he’s relinquished a bit to Happy Madison and 2010′s biggest craze: the action comedy. Five of the ten films on this list are action comedies. Wow.
If you haven’t been following my summer preview, here’s what you’ve been missing
Now get on it. If you’ve followed me up to this point, you’re awesome. Here we go!
The Word: Let’s get started right away with the action comedies, shall we? “Killers” stars Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher as a romantically involved couple where he doesn’t tell her that he’s a government agent of some kind with a license to kill. She then tries to embrace the secret agent lifestyle, but she flips out and “dumb blonde who tries to be an action hero” jokes ensue. “21″ and 2009 summer rom com “The Ugly Truth” director Robert Luketic is in charge. Tom Selleck co-stars.
My Thoughts: I’ve never thought lesser about Katherine Heigl. She overacts the crap out of her role in the trailer, but I blame the script. To say she’s outdone in the credentials department by Ashton Kutcher, however, would be a lie. When the “Worst of 2010″ list roles around at the end of the year, look for this sucker to make the top ten. I hate to pass judgment like that, but this is only the 38th film in the last five years that’s tried to be “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” in some capacity. (View Trailer)
The Word: Bow Wow stars as a teen from the projects who scores a winning lottery ticket, but before he can cash it in, the whole neighborhood’s found out about it and they’re after whatever piece of the prize they can get, whether they have to beat it, sex it or preach it out of him. The cast includes Brandon T. Jackson (“Tropic Thunder”), Loretta Divine, Ice Cube, Keith David, T-Pain and more.
My Thoughts: The story is just original enough that this could prove one of the better films of late August as the final two weeks of that month offer minimal competition. It’s so weird to see Bow Wow minus the ‘Lil, but apparently he’s still just as recognizable. With that kind of cast behind him, who knows, but truthfully anything’s better than something like “Two Weeks from Next Friday” or any other ridiculous sequels that have plagued black comedies over the years. (View Trailer)
The Word: Positive reviews from Sundance early this year put “Cyrus” on the top of most critics’ indie list for this summer. With a strong cast including John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener and Jonah Hill in a slightly more sophisticated role, the Duplass brothers (“Baghead”) appear to have set themselves up as the next solid brother filmmakers comedy duo. “Cyrus” stars Reilly as a middle-aged man whose ex (Keener) is about to get remarried when he finally finds romance again with Tomei, only she happens to have a grown son, Cyrus. Cyrus has never seen his mother with a man, and their awkward father-son relationship includes both love and loathing.
My Thoughts: The most positive thing about “Cyrus” is seeing Jonah Hill take his acting style to a character with some psychological issues in addition to a sharp wit. We’ve seen Keener, Reilly and Tomei all in these kinds of roles before, but never Hill. Considering both Hill and Reilly have done the silly comedy thing before, this should be a really easy indie movie for someone who doesn’t usually catch these kinds of films to try on for size. (View Trailer)
The Word: Making a movie from an SNL skit hasn’t worked since the ’90s, but why not give it a try again?”MacGruber” is an action comedy spoof just in time for a year of team-based action movies that deserve, quite frankly, to be made fun of. Will Forte stars as the MacGyver knock off, a specialist who works with the government with a penchant for homemade explosives and “anything but guns.” He teams up with a normal government agent (Ryan Phillippe) and SNL co-star and leading lady Kristen Wiig to thwart the plans of the evil Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) to nuke Washington D.C.
My Thoughts: The name Dieter Von Cunth currently ranks as my number one best aspect of this movie. Seriously though, Kilmer is underrated in the comedy department and he’ll get some much needed props in this movie. The sense of humor is pretty solid deadpan, so there’s reason to be optimistic. Reviews have been pretty decent too as the film debuted at South by Southwest back in March. I don’t think the community at-large will crave the MacGruber mullet, but there’s always room for a cult-favorite dumb comedy. (View Trailer)
The Word: And here we have action comedy number two. Tom Cruise returns to the big screen with “Vanilla Sky” co-star Cameron Diaz, only let’s just say this is a bit different. Cruise plays an off-beat covert ops agent who has gone rogue, yet manages to tangle Diaz up in his ordeal. As he emphasizes in the trailer, she better stay with him or she’s likely to die. Funny, because there’s a lot of clips with the the two of them together getting shot at. James Mangold (“3:10 to Yuma” remake) directs.
My Thoughts: “3:10 to Yuma” was an underrated remake, so I think Mangold will surprise people on the action front. With a rookie writer in Patrick O’Neill, however, it’s hard to say anything with certainty. We’ve seen what Cruise and Diaz can do on their own and together, so there’s no doubt about the star power involved. I’m actually a big fan of the direction Cruise’s career has taken since Katie Holmes. Now that he no longer takes himself seriously, a role like this fits him to a tee. “Knight and Day” needs only to explain its title and defy action comedy stereotype to get my vote of confidence. (View Trailer)
The Word: Jonah Hill’s second film on this list has him in taking the reigns of this “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” character spin-off, but playing a different character from the one he played in that film. The story follows Hill’s aspiring young music exec on a trip to the UK to bring famous rocker Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) to the states for an anniversary concert at the Greek Theater. But Snow is no easy fish to wrangle. The two will have to maneuver their way through hallucinogenic drugs and licentious women in order to make it back on time, which the straight-laced Hill is all but prepared for. “Sarah Marshall” writer Nicholas Stoller takes control of this spin-off as well, with Apatow Productions of course behind the project, this being their only film of the summer.
My Thoughts: We’ve seen more promising offerings from this comedy troupe in the past, but “Greek” shows some promise anyway. I don’t watch MTV, so personally I haven’t had my fill of Russell Brand’s sense of humor and will welcome it with open arms even if the concept is missing that spark of originality. (View Trailer)
The Word: Will Ferrell and producer/director Adam McKay take another spin together with buddy cop comedy spoof “The Other Guys,” which pairs Ferrell up with a much more unique choice than John C. Reilly: Mark Wahlberg. The two are “the other guys,” you know, the ones that don’t get all the glory in these buddy cop comedies. Those two are played by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson. The plot isn’t totally clear from the trailer, but it seems as though these two get their chance at glory — or at least try and turn their dumpy assignments into glorified ones by their own stupid means.
My Thoughts: The change of pace by teaming Ferrell with Wahlberg is what gives me the most hope that the McKay/Ferrell pairing will get back on the tracks. There are enough solid jokes in the film that it should work and by virtue of just toying with the chemistry a bit, should produce a somewhat fresher effect. It also helps that this film intends to function in part as a spoof, which should give it the trajectory that the senseless “Step Brothers” and other recent Ferrell movies didn’t have. (View Trailer)
The Word: Adam Sandler’s yearly summer entry combines him with pals Kevin James, Rob Schneider, David Spade and Chris Rock for a comedy about old school buddies getting together after decades to catch up and meet each other’s families. Of course, each guy brings some kind of bizarre family situation with him. Sandler’s age has him writing a lot more recently about these kinds of subjects, which is very Judd Apatow of him. Sandler regular Dennis Dugan directs.
My Thoughts: This film could do really well for Sandler, who has toned down his craziness for a more traditional comedy concept with run-of-the-mill gags. It should appeal much more to the nostalgic generation of 40 to 50-somethings. Personally, the trailer doesn’t have me sold entirely on the actual humor of the entire film, but I like the potential for some heart that its premise clearly allows for. It will, however, have a tough time competing for the date audience with “Knight & Day” due out that same weekend. (View Trailer)
The Word: July’s lone comedy option is “Dinner for Schmucks,” the American remake of the French film “Le Diner de Cons.” The paris stars regular co-stars Steve Carell and Paul Rudd together again. Rudd plays a corporate employee looking for a big promotion, but to get it, he must participate in his bosses’ little dinner game: bring someone to dinner who everyone else can make fun of. Carell does his best combination of previous characters Andy Stitzer and Brick Tamland to play Barry, the loser (of course), whom Tim (Rudd) invites. How far will the hilarity go? Well, it includes Zack Galifianakis.
My Thoughts: Nothing jumps out as hilarious in the trailer, but the source material and the trio of Rudd, Carell and Galifianakis under the direction of seasoned comedy director Jay Roach hold the promise. The script has numerous writers on it, which is often a warning sign in a comedy, but knowing the stars, a lot was probably improvised. We should all probably check out the original French film anyway before attending “Dinner,” as it’s supposedly fantastic. (View Trailer)
The Word: Esteemed director Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”) takes on the hit action/comedy/fantasy/romance comic series of the same title, one of 2010′s most buzzed-about films. The trailer is somewhat mind-blowing, fusing the indie rom com sensibility with action movies, sci-fi movies and comic-book style graphic animation. Michael Cera stars as the teenager who must defeat — not just fight — his new love’s seven evil ex-boyfriends in order to win her good.
My Thoughts: I can’t wait to see more of this film (and eventually see it). The imagination Wright put into this movie at first glance is simply astounding and the way the genres mesh together would appear to put any geeky movie lover in a dweeb-coma. The trouble is that Scott Pilgrim will also have to do battle with “The Expendables” and “Eat, Pray, Love” that same weekend to make noise at the box office, which presumably will be the hardest of any of his fights. (View Trailer)
Tomorrow caps off the SMP with 2010′s summer action movies.