The 'Ghostbusters' trailer does something I've never seen before
Credit: Sony Pictures

The 'Ghostbusters' trailer does something I've never seen before

Can you imagine the billable hours that went into that credits block?

In 2014, I did some work on a book for Insight Editions about Ghostbusters, and I was in charge of interviewing many of the people involved with the making of 1984's biggest hit and the 1989 sequel, as well as the cartoon spin-offs. I had a lot of interesting conversations about the film and did things like spend the day with Ray Parker Jr. at his house in his Ghostbusters room.

What was clear when doing the interviews was that there are many versions of Ghostbusters history, and the participants in the first two films all had their own stories, and they all took credit for the same things. It was both revealing and very confusing. It's revealing because it says a lot about the person recounting their version. In some cases, people credited others with a particular moment of inspiration, but mostly, people told versions in which they were the heroes of every moment.

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James Bobin may direct that 'Jump Street/Men In Black' crossover
Credit: Sony Pictures

James Bobin may direct that 'Jump Street/Men In Black' crossover

This could be a very shrewd move by Sony if they pull it off

Man, it's a good day to be Rodney Rothman.

I wrote this morning about his upcoming directorial debut, a still-untitled science-fiction/horror comedy that he wrote as well, and now comes news that Sony is pleased with his script for the also-untitled 23 Jump Street/Men In Black crossover, so pleased that the studio is evidently close to hiring James Bobin to direct so they can get things started.

James Bobin did lovely work on The Muppets, his bigscreen debut, but the reason I remain excited about what choices he makes as a filmmaker is because of his work on Flight Of The Conchords. That was a very tricky tone to master, and I think whimsy can be horrifying in the wrong hands, but Bobin has this very sweet and silly nature that comes through in his work. I wish I could be excited about his next film, Alice Through The Looking Glass, but I hated the first film in that series and the trailer does not give me hope this will be different at all.

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Review: Tina Fey anchors 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' with intelligence and charm
Credit: Paramount Pictures
B-

Review: Tina Fey anchors 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' with intelligence and charm

Oh, look, Hollywood, here's what you should be doing with Tina Fey

I'm not sure Tina Fey was meant to be a movie star.

She is, no question about it, a dazzling wit, and I think she can be very funny onstage as well. So far, though, Hollywood has not figured out what to do with Fey as a leading actress because she simply doesn't fit the cookie-cutter archetypes that so many actresses are forced to play, and it's left her in a weird place as an actress. She's obviously talented, but who's writing the roles that she could play?

As it turns out, all it takes are directors like Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and a writer like Robert Carlock, who worked with Fey on 30 Rock and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I like Ficarra and Requa. I don't think every film they've made is great, but they have a good eye for both character and detail. My favorite film of theirs is still I Love You, Phillip Morris, but working from the book, The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days In Afghanistan and Pakistan by Kim Barker, they've made something that is easy to enjoy, and it feels like it's grounded in honest observation, something that was totally missing from last fall's similarly-themed Rock The Kasbah.

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We have exclusive details on that mysterious Rogen/Hader/Galifianakis comedy
Credit: SPHE

We have exclusive details on that mysterious Rogen/Hader/Galifianakis comedy

But not too many... we don't want to ruin things for the 2017 release

Rodney Rothman is a spectacularly funny guy, and yet I'd wager that many of the audiences who have laughed their faces off at a joke he wrote have never heard his name. That will most likely change after the opening of what Universal is calling Untitled Zach Galifianakis/Bill Hader/Seth Rogen R-Rated Comedy, which Rothman is directing from his own original script.

I've known Rothman for a while now. We first met on Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and right after that, I tracked down his book, Early Bird: A Memoir Of Premature Retirement. He was a writer for Late Night With David Letterman when he was 21 years old, and at 24, he was promoted to head writer. That's the job he left before writing Early Bird, but he didn't stay unemployed for long. He wrote some episodes of Undeclared and Committed. He tried to get an Early Bird TV show off the ground. And as a producer, he worked his way up through the ranks of shows like Undeclared, Game Over, Committed, and Help Me Help You. This is a guy who has put in some serious man-hours over the years.

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What can we predict about DC's bigscreen future based on today's movie news?
Credit: Warner Bros.

What can we predict about DC's bigscreen future based on today's movie news?

Let's all pump the brakes a bit and wait to see the movies

Reading tea leaves and predicting the future is at least part of the job description of someone who covers movies on a daily basis. After all, there is so much content out there that no one can effectively write about it all. Instead, you have to pick and choose, and in a lot of ways, before you ever see a film, you are passing judgment just based on whether or not you cover this or that detail.

For example, what should we make of the news that Max Landis, David Ayer, and Will Smith are closing in on a deal to have Warner Bros. make their film Bright? After all, Ayer and Smith both worked on Suicide Squad, which isn't out until the end of the summer, and Landis has been attached to a number of high profile films, with Chronicle still his biggest hit. If Suicide Squad was giving the studio any trouble, chances are they wouldn't be first in line for what is most likely going to end up being a fairly hefty overall deal to land this packaged picture. According to Deadline, whoever buys the package does so with a firm commitment to actually make the film, which is as good a position as you can be in when you sign a contract. The film is described as "a contemporary cop thriller, but with fantastical elements," and that's certainly a promising single-line description. All the Deadline article really does is mention the deal, without setting up much context, and so any other speculation surrounding it would be just that… speculation.

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Film Nerd 2.0: How does 'cool' get handed down from one generation to the next?
Credit: MGM/UA Home Video

Film Nerd 2.0: How does 'cool' get handed down from one generation to the next?

A special tribute to the man who raised Film Nerd 1.0 in the first place

Later this month, my father will be in LA, and Toshi is already asking me what movie he's going to get to watch with Grandaddy this time. As we covered in an earlier Film Nerd 2.0, my dad shared some John Wayne films with Toshi and Allen during a vacation to Big Bear a few years ago, and they both connect John Wayne to my father now, exactly the same way I did when I was their age.

Today, my father turns 76 years old, and one of the things that I love about our relationship was the way he defined certain icons of cool for me because I saw what they meant to him. Steve McQueen, for example. I can't think of McQueen without thinking of my dad. On more than one occasion, I was able to get him to stop cold in his tracks simply by flipping past a cable showing of Ice Station Zebra or The Great Escape. I remember going to see The Hunter in the theater. I was ten years old when it came out, and even though it was an R, my dad didn't hesitate. It was McQueen. There was no question. We were going. He'd taken me to see Tom Horn when it was released in the spring, as well, with that same immediate resolve. As soon as he saw the ads, it was a done deal.

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One Thing I Love Today: Rick Rubin, EDM, and 'Star Wars' makes a crazy 'Headspace'
Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm Ltd.

One Thing I Love Today: Rick Rubin, EDM, and 'Star Wars' makes a crazy 'Headspace'

This one shouldn't work... but it does

One Thing I Love Today is a daily column dedicated to putting a spotlight on some pop culture item worth your attention. After all, there's enough snark out there. Why not start every day with one quick shotgun blast of positivity?

I don't own much in the way of EDM. It's just not my scene. I'm sure you look at me and think, "That's a guy who likes to really lay it down on the dance floor as just one small part of his aggressively physical lifestyle," but somehow, EDM just isn't on my radar. I buy new music often, but really wouldn't play this sort of thing typically while working or driving.

So, yes, Hollywood Records and American Recordings, your fiendish plan worked. I picked up a new EDM compilation album executive produced by Rick Rubin entirely because of the thing that unites all of the tracks: Star Wars. All of the producers and performers on the album were given access to a huge library of sounds and dialogue from the Star Wars films, and the only real restriction placed on them was to avoid leaning on the John Williams scores to the film. This isn't like Mecca's old disco version of the Star Wars themes; this is a collection of genuine EDM that just happens to be built out hundreds of Star Wars sound effects.

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Review: 'Zootopia' is more rooted in the zeitgeist than typical Disney animation
Credit: Walt Disney Feature Animation
A

Review: 'Zootopia' is more rooted in the zeitgeist than typical Disney animation

An uncommonly of-the-moment movie from the studio continues a streak of success

One of the most interesting things about Walt Disney Feature Animation is the way it has evolved over the course of its history from Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs to today. There are such distinct eras in its development, such major shifts in creative energy, such giant peaks and valleys, that even the worst moments in its history are worth study for animation fans. I wish Disney would embrace their entire history and not just their hits, because there is so much to learn from films like Song Of The South or The Black Cauldron. Right now, though, they have hit a stride that is admirable, and Zootopia is another triumph for the current version of the studio following films like Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and Big Hero 6.

First and foremost, Zootopia is a reminder of just how beautiful animated films can be. Holy cow, this thing is almost hallucinatory. Set in a world where both predator and prey have learned to live together, Zootopia itself is a city divided into impossible sectors, with Tundra Town right next to Sahara Square, both of them adjoining a rain forest area and an entire miniature city just for creatures the size of mice. It's like the most insane safari park in the world, but with walking talking animals, one of which is new to the city, pursuing her lifelong dream of being the first rabbit cop.

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#MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain is john Oliver's finest (and fiercest) moment so far
Credit: HBO

#MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain is john Oliver's finest (and fiercest) moment so far

HBO's 'Last Week Tonight' killed it for the second week in a row

John Oliver's show on HBO is essential at this point, and last week, I ran a piece they aired on whitewashing, the Hollywood practice of casting white actors to play people of other races. I loved that piece, but this week, they topped themselves, and it's actually hard to name any moment like it in the history of the uneasy relationship between television and American politics.

To be upfront about things, I'll tell you that I think Donald Trump is a terrible person full stop. I don't just dislike him as a candidate for President of the United States… I dislike everything he represents. One of the fundamental rots in American culture is the worship of money as the only metric of success, and the display of obscene wealth as a positive thing. Trump symbolizes that as much as anyone in American culture today, something he's cultivated carefully.

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One Thing I Love Today: Is this the most addictive new game on XBox?
Credit: Psyonix Studios

One Thing I Love Today: Is this the most addictive new game on XBox?

Psyonix has a fiendish new franchise on their hands here

One Thing I Love Today is a daily column dedicated to putting a spotlight on some pop culture item worth your attention. After all, there's enough snark out there. Why not start every day with one quick shotgun blast of positivity?

As a father sharing custody of my children, one of the hardest things about the last year and a half has been getting used to my weekends without my kids. When they're here in my home with me, we have the best time together, and I think they're off to a great start in terms of dealing with the break-up of a family. When we have that time, I try to encourage as much play as possible, because so much of what you learn about how to deal with other people comes from the way you play with them.  People reveal themselves in play without even realizing they're doing it, and they grow from it as well.  Play is programmed into us, hard-wired, and fighting that is impossible.

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