Review: Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy strike gold again with genre spoof 'Spy'
Credit: 20th Century Fox

Review: Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy strike gold again with genre spoof 'Spy'

HitFix
B+
Readers
n/a
Would you have guessed Jason Statham is fall-down funny?

AUSTIN - When "Bridesmaids" was in production, I visited the set, and it seemed to me that the collaborators working on the film were flying happily under the radar, no pressure on them beyond whatever pressure they put on themselves. When they brought the film to SXSW for a "work-in-progress" screening, it absolutely destroyed the audience, and Universal suddenly realized what a hit they had on their hands.

Seeing Paul Feig onstage last Sunday at the Paramount to introduce his new film as a writer/director, I was struck by how far he's come even since I met him on the set of "Unaccompanied Minors." He's always been wildly funny and very smart, and if you haven't read his book, "Superstud," you are doing it wrong. It is a tremendous piece of writing. His work on "Freaks & Geeks" is also beautiful and nuanced. But with "Bridesmaids," he was launched into that rarefied A-list territory, and he cemented it by following that film with another giant hit, "The Heat," written by Katie Dippold, who is now his co-writer on "Ghostbusters."

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Pee-Wee Herman

Judd Apatow gives us our first peek at Pee-Wee Herman back at work

It's been a long time coming.

One of the things that happens in this culture where every deal made gets breathlessly announced is people first hear about a film years before it hits a screen. In some cases, development can take a while, and it turns into this thing where someone has to answer questions about a particular project for four, five, or even ten years before it actually happens.

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Review: 'Insurgent' wastes a great cast on a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox
Credit: Lionsgate

Review: 'Insurgent' wastes a great cast on a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox

HitFix
C
Readers
n/a
Middle-movie syndrome lays bare just how weak this franchise is

Based on the nearly omnipresent ads online for the last month, "Insurgent" appears to be the story of a girl who lives in a world made entirely of giant windows who is determined to lead a revolution by jumping through panes of glass at every opportunity.

To be honest, that would be no less ridiculous than the film they're actually releasing.

By now, the YA model is as ossified as any other genre, with beats they all seem to hit like someone's got a checklist next to them as they write. If you want a great laugh, make sure you follow @DystopianYA on Twitter, where comedian Dana Schwartz has been publishing a line-by-line pitch-perfect parody of YA novels, so sharp and on point that I don't know how anyone could publish another one of these with a straight face after this.

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Jon Stewart literally drops the mic on Fox News and Benghazi
Credit: Comedy Central

Jon Stewart literally drops the mic on Fox News and Benghazi

Jon Stewart may be counting down to his final episode of "The Daily Show," but if last night's episode was any indication, he is not going to take it easy on his way out the door.

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Weird Crush Wednesday: Michelle Rodriguez leaves a mark as Letty in 'Furious 7'
Credit: Universal Pictures

Weird Crush Wednesday: Michelle Rodriguez leaves a mark as Letty in 'Furious 7'

It's safe to say terror plays a part in the attraction

Our weekly column in which writers share their off-beat, wacky and unexpected current obsessions.

Michelle Rodriguez is a major puzzle piece in the "Fast and Furious" franchise, and when her character "died," it caused some major reactions in the films. When it was revealed that she wasn't dead, it set up an entire movie that essentially served as the "Search For Spock" of this series.

In "Furious 7," Letty is still struggling because she can't remember her life with Dom (Vin Diesel), and she can't handle how intensely he loves her because she doesn't remember any of what went on between them. It's given both Rodriguez and Diesel plenty to do in the last two films.

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Behold! James Bond is back with a completely forgettable 'SPECTRE' poster

I don't get it.

There was actually a teaser all day yesterday about today's release of the first poster for "SPECTRE," the upcoming James Bond film. I'm tired of trailers for trailers or posters for posters, this idea that the studios want twice as much time in the news cycle for releasing one tiny piece of marketing. I am not going to write a story about a four-second clip advertising a thirty-second clip. That's asinine.

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Review: 'Get Hard' goes limp and relies on hate for its humor
Credit: Warner Bros.

Review: 'Get Hard' goes limp and relies on hate for its humor

HitFix
D
Readers
n/a
Someone just plain got this movie wrong

AUSTIN - It will come as no surprise to anyone who reads me on a regular basis that I am a Will Ferrell fan.

Even before he made the jump to leading man in the world of features, I was already fully onboard. There's just something about the particular brand of lunacy that so many of his characters embody that entertains me completely. There are few things I enjoy more than seeing what happens when Ferrell and Adam McKay are turned loose on something together, two halves of one mutant brain, the combination of the two resulting in something remarkable.

Etan Cohen, you are no Adam McKay.

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Review: Amy Schumer is only pretending to be a 'Trainwreck' for Judd Apatow
Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: Amy Schumer is only pretending to be a 'Trainwreck' for Judd Apatow

HitFix
A
Readers
n/a
The comic's blistering sensibility makes it to the bigscreen intact

AUSTIN - While it was introduced as a work in progress, Judd Apatow's new film "Trainwreck" looked pretty much locked and ready to release when it played on Sunday afternoon at the Paramount.

Since "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" was released, Judd Apatow's filmography has been made up exclusively of films he wrote, many of which felt very personal. "This Is 40" felt to me like a summation of a lot of those ideas and themes, and I'm glad he took some time to decide how to follow that film. "Trainwreck" was written by Amy Schumer, and her voice runs clearly through every part of this movie. What Judd's done here, and it's not as easy as it sounds, is turned his own considerable success into a shield he could use to protect Schumer and guarantee that her voice reached the screen intact. As a result, "Trainwreck" is lacerating, smart, heartfelt, and raw, and for a big studio comedy, it makes some very strong points about the small ways we punish ourselves and sabotage our own happiness.

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Review: 'Furious 7' takes over for unforgettable night at the SXSW Film Festival
Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: 'Furious 7' takes over for unforgettable night at the SXSW Film Festival

HitFix
A-
Readers
n/a
Big stunts, bigger biceps, and at least one world-class badass catfight

AUSTIN - One of the things that impresses me most about the team that throws the SXSW Film Festival in Austin every year is how adaptable they are. I've seen them roll with all sorts of things, and they seem to me to be open to all sorts of ideas in terms of programming. There was nothing originally scheduled for the Sunday night midnight slot at the Paramount, but when I woke up on Sunday morning, the festival had announced a very special treat for anyone who had a badge for the festival, and anticipation was running high because of which title it was.

This coming weekend, I'll be attending the junket for "Furious 7," so I was already scheduled to see the film. But seeing it tonight at the Paramount Theater, completely packed with lunatic movie fans who were all crazy excited to be there was better than any junket screening possibly could be. It was emotional, it was exciting, and it was genuinely moving at times. Before the screening began, producer Neal Moritz asked the assembled audience to protect one piece of information from the film, the ultimate fate of Paul Walker's character. When Walker died last year, it was devastating to this entire cast and crew, and they had to take a step back to figure out if they could finish it and how. What I find most impressive about how they finished it is that the seams don't show, at least not at first glance. This feels like the film they set out to make, and it is as satisfying as any entry in the series.

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Exclusive: Max Burkholder needs a 'Babysitter' in first clip from SXSW title
Credit: SXSW

Exclusive: Max Burkholder needs a 'Babysitter' in first clip from SXSW title

Young 'Parenthood' star features heavily in what sounds like an emotional ride

If you were a fan of the series "Parenthood," then you are already well familiar with the work of Max Burkholder. On the show, he played the autistic son of Peter Krause and Monica Potter, and over the course of the show's run, the journey they wrote for his character was always one of the most emotionally difficult and demanding, and Burkholder always rose to whatever challenge they put before him as an actor.

That's why I'm excited to see "Babysitter," the film that's playing at this year's SXSW festival. Here's the description from the SXSW site:

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