Breakfast for schmucks

It’s been a slightly less than stellar 24 hours here in movie-land, at least as far as it regards managing ‘net access, which is why you’re not now looking at my usual box office preview. I’ll try to at least allude to this week’s very interest box office derby in a later post.

Though I’m embargoed from reviewing it before it’s 7/30 opening, and not sure how much opining I’m even allowed to do here, I can say that I attended a screening last night for the upcoming Jay Roach comedy starring Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, “Dinner for Schmucks” and that the brief scene below, while amusing in that humiliating way fans of “The Office” know so well, isn’t even close to being the funniest or best scene in a movie with a lot impressive comic set pieces — which is not saying it doesn’t have some significant faults, too, but you can wait to hear about those as well.

The movie’s real strength here is a strong supporting cast and, as oddly funny as Lucy Davenport and David Walliams of “Little Britain” are as a wackily pretentious Swiss billionaire and his wife, the comic stylings of Jemaine Clement of “Flight of the Conchords” as a wackily pretentious artist (a lot of wackiness and pretense going on in this film) and Zach Galifianakis of every-comedy-made-in-the-last-two-years as a dickie-wearing master of mind control are something to behold. Until you get a chance to see that, you’ll have to make do with this.

  

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TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: “Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire”

Give Comedy Central credit: “Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire” is the most ambitious comedy ever to appear on the network…and if we’re really lucky, it will become so popular that American keyboards will finally earn the right to possess an umlaut key. As a music critic, I struggled for years with my inability to properly type the names of Husker Du and Motley Crue, but, by God, isn’t it time we finally got easy access to that little horizontal colon?

When I initially heard about the show, my first thought was, “Jesus, I hope this is going to be funnier than, say, ‘Meet the Spartans.'” Little did I realize at the time that Sean Maguire, the man playing Krod Mandoon, was actually in “Meet the Spartans.” When I heard that tidbit, I really started getting worried…but, then, I learned that the show’s villain, Chancellor Dongalor, was to be played by Matt Lucas of “Little Britain.” Suddenly, I was legitimately excited, which speaks volumes about how much faith I put in Lucas’s work. But, additionally, they showed us the trailer for the series, and it was pretty funny. Granted, I haven’t seen an entire episode yet, so this may well prove to be a case where all the best bits are in the trailer, but the production values for the show are fantastic. The whole thing was shot on location in Budapest, Hungary, and it feels about as epic as a comedy series can; indeed, it feels less like a Comedy Central series and more like a BBC production…and given what an Anglophile I am, that’s high praise, indeed.

Creator Peter Knight lays the blame for the series on his steady diet of “Conan the Barbarian” comics over the course of his adolescence, claiming that he merely blended that love with his own insecurities and a modern male outlook, but executive producer Brad Johnson elaborated on the evolution of the show a bit more.

“Peter had this idea, and it would be impossible to pitch anywhere, so he wrote it as a spec, which is always, I think, the best thing to do if you want to get through the process and really get a pure voice initially on something that’s this out of the ordinary,” said Johnson. “When I read (the spec) initially, I loved the world, but what we added was a layer of…we kind of put a contemporary post-feminist modern male in a ‘Conan the Barbarian’ character. It was a chance to really comment on modern society using this backdrop, and also to use magic and sorcery and things you couldn’t use in normal storytelling. It just opened up the world for us to invent some characters and actually comment on modern society a little better.”

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