Tag: Stranger than Fiction

Friday movie news dump

It’s that time of the week when we offload the week’s last few stories.

Will Ferrell in * In the wake of his “Land of the Lost” debacle, Will Ferrell is going back to “Stranger than Fiction” territory with a more low-key form of comedy, writes Mike Fleming. “Everything Must Go” will be from first-time feature director Dan Rush and is based on a story by Raymond Carver — not an author frequently connected with hilarity though the script is apparently primarily a comedy and the premise (a newly unemployed guy’s wife locks him out and deposits his stuff on the lawn…and the guy responds by trying to sell all of it) sounds potentially pretty funny.

It’s important to remember that, once upon a time, not all comedies were expected to be laugh-riot farces and, ironically enough, they were often funnier anyhow. (The classical definition of comedy, by the way, is less about being funny and more about having a happy ending. By that definition, many black comedies are not comedies at all.)

* More from Fleming: Robert Redford’s new Lincoln conspiracy film started shooting on Monday and he has quite a cast assembled. This one could be good.

* American liberals like me complain a lot, and for very good reason, about the actions of media mega mogul Rupert Murdoch, particularly in regards to how his TV news network is essentially an arm of the Republican Party. But, it could be a lot worse. Italy’s scandal-ridden, far-right movie and TV mogul Murdoch-equivalent actually runs the freaking country and I bet Italian rightwingers cry about the “liberal media” and the evils of the Rome film-making establishment too. But, hey, at least they have health care,.

* Speaking of media moguls, Nikki Finke believes that GE may ultimately divest itself of NBC Universal, which may please ecologically minded and antiwar folks while depriving “30 Rock” of one of its best running gags. Still, Finke says it may be seven years before it’s complete, so Tina Fey & company should be able to milk it sufficiently. Also, Finke wonders about Ted Turner’s mental health in regard to Time-Warner.

* It may be last summer’s news here in the U.S., but “Up” continues to land on top of the global box office.

Will “Funny People” be a sad clown at the box office?

Whatever my reaction to it winds up being when I finally see “Funny People,” Judd Apatow has my respect. As a producer, writer, and sometime director of mostly R-rated comedies, he’s enjoyed a level of unusually consistent box office and artistic/critical success over a large number of movies that only Pixar, which takes much longer to make its very different brand of crowd-pleaser, can top right now.

Making good movies requires taking risks, and Apatow is taking one right now with a film that is being described as a tragicomedy and with his only hedge being a cast dominated by popular comic actors led by Adam Sandler. That the film seems to be largely dividing critics and generating confused reactions would, if I were Apatow or Universal, make me a little nervous. Actually, Universal may be more nervous than Apatow. As Nikki Finke and everyone else is reporting tonight, the hyphenate comedy guy just inked a 3-picture deal with them, so he’s set for the time being.

Variety‘s Dave McNary reports that box office predictions vary pretty widely for the film, from the low twenty millions to the mid-thirties. No wonder. A casual look around the wilds of Rotten Tomatoes indicates that the Apatow’s third feature as a director after “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up” is far different piece of work and what you might call “difficult.” As far as I can remember, this has almost never indicated an immediate box office success — better to have critics universally detest the movie, it seems, than be conflicted. Movies that elicit this kind of reaction have more than once emerged years later as cult hits or even, as in the case of “Blade Runner,” legitimate classics. On the other hand, Adam Sandler’s name will count for something, and the presence of Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill, among others, certainly won’t hurt. But, on the other other hand, we’ve seen the power of stars amount to less than expected results more than once over the last year or so.

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