Death at a Funeral

Screen Gems has released the first trailer for Chris Rock-produced re-imagining of Frank Oz‘s 2007 British comedy Death at a Funeral. Although Oz’s original was well-received by many critics, it didn’t get very much traction with theatergoers, drawing only a niche audience. The new film has a primarily African-American cast and focuses on a funeral that “devolves into a debacle of misplaced cadavers, indecent exposure and family secrets.” Basically, they have decided to remake an English-language film, dumbing down the jokes, in an effort to attract a more black audience (and to clarify: this comment is a statement on Hollywood chooses to treat ticket-buying African-Americans, and not a statement on the intelligence of that audience). It seems completely unnecessary. If you think that sounds horrible, watch the trailer — it’s much worse.

The remake was directed by Neil LaBute (In The Company of Men, The Wicker Man, Lakeview Terrace), was written by Dean Craig (Caffeine), and stars Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan, Danny Glover, Regina Hall, James Marsden, Zoe Saldana, and Columbus Short. Watch the trailer now embedded after the jump. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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During the Warner Bros. panel this morning in Hall H, Richard Kelly took the stage, alongside stars Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, to show off four minutes from his upcoming film The Box. This footage gave a much better indication than the first trailer of the scope of the film, and also was the public debut of the music by Win Butler and the Arcade Fire. The vibe had a lot of classic Twilight Zone feel, and the music conjures up tones of suspense from the ’60s and ’70s. Then add the sort of effects you’d expect to see from Kelly. (Think shimmering water and energy fields.) Some comments and description of the footage is after the break. Beware, though, that a variety of mild and severe spoilers follow. Read More »

Straw Dogs Remake Rounds Up Cast

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Variety have named Kate Bosworth and Alexander Skarsgard, alongside the previously cast James Marsden, as the three key players in the Straw Dogs remake. Marsden will be playing a screenwriter relocating to Mississippi from LA, Bosworth his wife who travelled to La La Land with aspirations to become an actress, and Skarsgard her high school boyfriend who sees her return home to Mississippi as a way to reignite his lost reputation in the town.

When I heard that Straw Dogs is being remade, I wanted to hear that it would be handled by a director as unflinching and uncompromising as Sam Peckinpah, helmsman of the original (Chan Wook Park would have been ideal, for example). That it is Rod Lurie in charge, sometime film critic now best known for (occasionally polemical) political dramas like The Contender or TV’s Commander In Chief, leaves me both weary and a little curious. Whatever else he may or may not be, Lurie certainly isn’t a guy to pursue an easy gig with a simple knock-off cash in.

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Richard Kelly’s The Box Movie Trailer

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The first trailer for Richard Kelly‘s new film The Box has appeared, and it appropriately tries to push a few buttons. The film stars Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as a couple with an increasingly desperate need for money. A box mysteriously appears on their doorstep, followed by Frank Langella, who presents an offer: push the button on the box and someone unknown to them will die, and they’ll be given a payment of one million dollars. The story is based off Richard Matheson‘s short story Button, Button. See the trailer after the jump. Read More »

Comic-Con logo smallAs Comic Con approaches, we’ll be learning more and more about what we can expect at this year’s geek fest.

First up, I’ve learned that Derrick Comedy’s Mystery Team will not only have a booth on the convention floor, but will be holding a panel and a special sneak preview screening at the con. No word on the exact dates.  Writers/stars Dominic Dierkes, Donald Glover, and DC Pierson, producer Meggie McFadden, and director/editor Dan Eckman will be on hand at the panel debuting an all-new Mystery Team short film. On the convention floor:

Come bust kid criminals with Oakdale’s best eighteen-year-old kid detectives the Mystery Team in their storefront slash crime lab.  Meet the filmmakers, take pictures with actual setpieces, and submit a mystery of your own for solving.

Next up, Donnie Darko/Southland Tales director Richard Kelly says he will be making an appearance at the con to promote his upcoming sci-fi thriller The Box, starring Cameron Diaz, James Marsden and Frank Langella. The panel will take place on Friday, July 24th as part of the Warner Bros presentation. Cameron, James and Richard will be in attendance to present a first look at the trailer and “other cool stuff.”

More after the jump.

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We’ve tried to convince you that this weekend’s Sex Drive conquers the odds for that ever commodified of genres, the teen sex comedy. And now Summit Entertainment has released the first R-rated 10 minutes online to convert the masses. This should give you a good idea of how the film balances funny rapid-fire sophomoric humor with cast chemistry reminiscent of so many ’80s mallrat gems. While the movie’s resident mack, Clark Duke, doesn’t show up until the end, the brotherly crossfire between Josh Zuckerman and James Marsden hasn’t lost any punch since our press screening exploded. And Zuckerman’s Mexican donut now seems like a big Halloween Don’t (Do?) for the ages.

Unless you’re someone who apologizes for laughing with people who like beer, or you’re super depressed about the economy or a dead pet, it’s a really good time.

Discuss: After viewing this clip, what do you think?

Hunter Stephenson’s Movie Review: Sex Drive

Three things you should know about Sex Drive: 1) A whore nearly shits on Clark Duke. 2) It’s one of the funniest movies of 2008. 3) It doesn’t carry a Judd Apatow hall-pass.

And if the word of mouth explodes on this flick, it might be hailed commercially as the new American Pie (whatever that means) right in time for total economic collapse. Admittedly, like your own, my expectations were really low for this movie, comparable to those for Nick & Norah: Die, and that was before I found out Fall Out Boy had a cameo. That was before I paid enough attention to realize the title was a pun. That was before I went to Momofuku Ko for free and got a free massage. The only reason why this movie was on my movie radar was the presence in the unfunny trailers of Clark Duke, a shapely young actor who starred in the addictive web series, Clark and Michael, opposite Michael Cera.

But after seeing Sex Drive, Clark Duke is officially a star. And he’s a star who’s open to “dude, you look like a chick” jabs courtesy of Brian Posehn. And he’s the highlight of an R-rated teen-sex comedy because he bangs everything that moves, including the Amish.

This is not a comedy you should read five reviews on, even if you’re bored. It follows the adventures of a proto-Last American Virgin named Ian (Josh Zukerman, awesome here) who steals a ’69 GTO and bounces around with his pussy-magnet best bud (Duke) and his best girl/crush (Amanda Crew, funny)—the Ferris Bueller equation. Talented youngs, all. And, as confidently co-written and directed by Sean Anders, the movie never forgets the sparkly cast chemistry and off-the-cuff banter of ‘80s flicks like Fast Times, Weird Science and License to Drive, even while piling on supremely gross sight-gags from the late ‘90s, ‘00s agreeable YouTube segues, and lots of ‘20s “Fag!”s. This is a cast you’ll want to stay with after, even if the didactic ending kinda bails—and did we really need the cliché “that explains the bigotry?” safety net?

James Marsden destroys as the older, alpha brother to Zuckerman’s bashful Ian. His character, Rex, has drawn early comparisons to Bill Paxton’s Chet (and Lee Tergesen’s), but also possesses the jock heart of Brand in The Goonies. When guns are drawn and the film’s plot goes madcap, Rex joins the party rather than squashing it. The preview audience ate-it-up. Marsden is swell at physical comedy—making you feel sorry for a garage door—and whenever he’s on screen he offers a jolt of violent anticipation. His one-liners aren’t bad either. When informing his brother that he “looks like a Mexican butthole,” in the context of the scene it’s both an endearing, painfully wrong and acute observation. To the pantheon of movie jerks he goes.

So much current mainstream comedy walks an awkward, paranoid tight rope—see SNL being censored by billionaire stiffs—and Sex Drive is refreshing because Anders and co-writer John Morris seem blissfully unawares here. This is Anders’s second film following a little seen 2005 Christian rock spoof, and due to the success of Superbad, it could have been predictably stuffed with pseudo-shocking cock jokes. Instead, nothing is off limits if it scores a laugh, as it should be. Christians get beaved, grandma, cancer, abstinence and suicide are up for grabs, and I think there’s an Elvis Mitchell doppelganger at the end. A talking Jean Claude Van Damme poster? Sure. Unlike the second Harold and Kumar, the jokes aren’t stitched together to mock yet casually simmer in the cultural climate; compared to a few of this summer’s high profile comedies, the bromance on display doesn’t fill the air like congratulatory cigar smoke.

When Clark Duke assures an incarcerated black dude that he’ll check out his rap MySpace page, it’s Zen-like. Suddenly it’s as if you’re peering into a future of countless afternoons spent enjoying Sex Drive on Comedy Central instead of getting dressed or blankly watching your roommate clean-up. For me, that’s an all too rare accomplishment for a film. And congrats to those involved for The Wraith homage set to Kenny Loggins’s “Danger Zone.”

8.5/10

Richard Kelly’s The Box in September 2009?!

Richard Kelly’s new film The Box finished shooting four plus months ago, and the first test screening is supposedly later this week. So we can probably expect to see the movie in theaters in October, November or December, right? Wrong.

According to Collider, Warner Bros is planning a 2009 release for the Donnie Darko director’s ney’s w sci-fi film. Not only that, but the date they are eyeing is over a year away – September 11th 2009. Why are they interested in a date so far away? And why September 11th? Does the date have anything to do with the plot? Not that I’m aware of. Of course, everything could change if the test screening scores are through the roof.

The Box tells the story of Norma and Arthur Lewis (James Marsden and Cameron Diaz), a suburban couple with a young child, receive a simple wooden box as a gift, which bears fatal and irrevocable consequences. A mysterious stranger, delivers the message that the box promises to bestow upon its owner $1 million with the press of a button. But, pressing this button will simultaneously cause the death of another human being somewhere in the world; someone they don’t know. With just 24 hours to have the box in their possession, Norma and Arthur find themselves in the cross-hairs of a startling moral dilemma and must face the true nature of their humanity.

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