Alan Trezza's screenplay for "Burying The Ex" might as well have had Joe Dante's name above the title from the moment he wrote it, because it is a perfect fit for the filmmaker's sensibilities. Dante's three leads (Anton Yelchin, Ashley Greene, and Alexandra Daddario) are all game for whatever he asks of them, and they seem to be having a blast with the material. There's a slightly muted quality to the film, though, which keeps it from being a complete pleasure, but considering how rarely we get a new film from Dante, I'll take something slight over nothing at all.
One of the things that I noticed during my married years was just how hard it can be for a couple to meet another adult couple they can spend time with socially. There were plenty of couples we knew, but that was because I was friends with someone in that couple before they were in that relationship. Most of our friends were my friends who she met through me, or friends of hers that I met through her. There was really only one couple that we met during our entire marriage where we clicked completely and they became basically family to us.
It started when they moved into the apartment directly across from ours. Right around the time we found out we were having our first child, they found out they were expecting as well. We started out chatting about that, and then little by little realized how much we all got along, and by the time our kids were born, they were absolutely part of our lives. They live in Alabama now, and one of the strangest parts of our divorce last year was thinking about how we won't have that experience again. I'll see them, and I'm sure she'll see them, but part of what was great was the way it felt to hang out with them together, with all of the kids. It was invaluable, and I felt like a big part of what made it work was that we all understood where we were as people and as parents and as adults.
Like all superheroes (or anyone else who uses a secret identity), there came a moment when someone finally cracked the code and published my real name.
To be fair, my identity was a pretty poorly-kept secret by that point. The first time I went to an actual press event, I used my real name, and anytime I met someone, I used my real name. "Moriarty" was a fun identity to slip into, and especially in the early days of the site, we played up the mythology of things. My friends all got their own spy names and would show up in the reports in the form of Henchman Mongo and Segue Zagnut and Harry Lime and more. From my end, it was silly and fun, and not something to be taken seriously. But when Film Threat ran a fairly vicious hit piece on Harry, I was also a target, and them exposing my identity in print was treated like they'd found the missing Nixon tape segments. It was supposed to destroy me, and they had plenty of support for that concept.
I became the personal hobby of a group of particularly grotesque Internet trolls for a while, and they seemed to be determined to chase me offline. I see some of the outrage wars that pop up now and I see the tactics of the trolls in these cases, and it all seems very familiar. There were certainly moments where I considered walking away from all of it because it seemed like such a strange and violent overreaction to what was, at the heart of it, me writing about movies.
There's not a week that goes by without someone either e-mailing me or reaching out through Facebook or Twitter to tell me how much they love the "Star Wars" series I wrote here as part of Film Nerd 2.0. That is something that I can't quantify in terms of how much it means to me that what I went through with the boys resonated so loudly for so many people, and I am excited to be able to share a new "Star Wars" film with them for the first time ever later this year.
But when it came to one of the other major movie trilogies, my approach was a little less considered. When the first chapter of the "Hobbit" trilogy came out in theaters, the boys were well aware of it and asked repeatedly to go see it. For movies based on books, I try to encourage them to read the book before they see the film, and in some cases, I make that a condition of them seeing the film. WIth the "Harry Potter" series, they had to hold off for two years until we'd gone through the entire book series, and it certainly felt like their experience was richer as a result. We read "The Hobbit" over the span of a few weeks, and then on New Year's Eve, my wife and her mother went out to a party, and I stayed home with the boys and watched the awards-season screener of the "Hobbit" that I'd been sent. They enjoyed it quite a bit, but right away, they realized that the movie and the book were very different experiences.
Joe Dante is one of my favorite people.
You'll actually get some Joe Dante stories in the final two parts of my "25 Years In LA" series, but even before that, you'll get a video interview that we've cut up into three pieces for you. Last week, on the same morning we all learn that Christopher Lee had passed away, Joe came to the HitFix studios along with Anton Yelchin, who is the star of his new film "Burying The Ex," which will be in theaters on Friday.
While it's clear that each new release from Pixar seems to spur people to offer a fresh assessment of the company's entire output, I'd rather not immediately try to figure out where "Inside Out" lands by comparison. It seems like a reductive way to approach this surprisingly sophisticated emotional experience. Co-directors Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen have told a very, very small-scale story when you look at what happens in the actual physical world. But in doing so, they've done something very powerful, because they have paid full respect to just how turbulent and important the inner life of a child can be.
Ah, hell, who am I kidding? "Inside Out" works because we are all always wrestling with the particular balance required to keep us functioning. The film imagines five distinct beings that work in harmony (hopefully) inside each person: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger. To be fair, that's just in the control room. There's a fairly complex ecosystem at work inside the mind, which the movie makes clear is not the same thing at the brain. This isn't "Innerspace," where characters are racing around the recognizable landmarks of the body. Instead, this is pure metaphor, a way for Docter and Del Carmen to dig deep into how we react when we are faced with some of life's defining moments.
The first and most important thing that happened as a result of the staging of "Sticks and Stones" at the Met Theater as part of the Act One Festival was that Scott Swan and I got our first agent.
Barbara Baruch worked for Ambrosio/Mortimer, a smaller boutique agency at the time, and from the moment we met her, she seemed like what I imagined an agent to be. She was nurturing, she was a cheerleader, she was a ballbuster, and she was always, always, always in our corner. Our time with her was unfortunately too short, and by the time the agency imploded in accusations of embezzlement, we were already repped by Gersh out of New York. Barbara was first, though, and she was the first one to start pushing people to come see our show and to read our work.
The strangest thing about those early days is that Scott and I had spent so much time working on scripts that were, truth be told, deeply derivative genre exercises, and that's really not what people were expecting when we walked into the room. They would see "Sticks and Stones" onstage and expect us to come in pitching certain types of projects, and then these two 25 year old "Star Wars" nerds would roll in talking about giant monsters and other such nonsense.
Feig has not been remotely shy about the fact that he sees a gender war in our pop culture right now, and he has chosen his side emphatically. When he and co-writer Katie Dippold set out to recreate "Ghostbusters" with an all-female team, they didn't just take the original script and gender-flip every single part of it.
Instead, they started from the basic idea and they developed characters that fit the actors they want to work with, just like Aykroyd and Ramis did with their script. And now, in one of the most delicious bits of sublimated star power I've seen in a while, Feig has announced who is playing Janine…
Okay, sure, he's not actually playing Janine. That would be weird. But the idea of Hemsworth as the guy manning the phones while the ladies head out to handle all the dangerous ghostbustin'?
Love it. And after this summer's "Vacation," I think Hemsworth is going to start to earn a reputation as a secret weapon in comedy mode.
"Ghostbusters" is currently set to hit theaters July 22, 2016.
Bryce Dallas Howard is a big old nerd.
I had no idea until we sat down to talk about her work in "Jurassic World." Right now, there's a conversation happening online about the gender politics of the film, and while I think the larger conversation about how Hollywood approaches representation for anyone is a valuable one, I think "Jurassic World" is a very strange film to pick as a battleground on this subject.
When I saw the original "Jurassic Park" for the first time, it was a magical screening, held exclusively for the Universal tour guides. It was several weeks before the release of the movie, and they wanted to give us a chance to see it early and then spread the word on the trams about what it was they were about to release.
I will always remember and revere the experience of seeing it in the Alfred Hitchcock Theater, in the room where the sound was actually mixed. When the T-rex attack began, everyone in the room stopped breathing. That may sound like an exaggeration, but the temperature went up so much during that one scene that people began sweating. In that one moment, Spielberg and his production team reached deep into our collective memory of being small furry things afraid of being eaten and tapped that fear in a very real and immediate way. It remains one of the single most effective sequences of terror ever captured on film, no matter what the rating.
The rest of "Jurassic Park"? Eh.