Thursday, March 06, 2008

How far is too far to be funny?

I was gonna save that photo, and who's actually in it, for the end, but since it made me laugh so hard I almost did an actual spit-take with my coffee, why not lead with it?

Believe it or not, the middle soldier in the above photo, with enlarged face at the bottom, is none other than Robert Downey Jr. in a scene from the upcoming flick "Tropic Thunder." Does that go too far? I don't think so, but I've been known to laugh at a lot of things (almost anything from Kevin Smith, for example) that the rest of the world finds incredibly offensive.

So, what's the story behind all this? Well, in the Ben Stiller-directed flick set to come out in August, Downey plays a method actor who takes his work so seriously that, when cast to play a black soldier, he actually has surgery to become, well, a black soldier.

In his defense (though I'm hoping he won't really need one), Downey clearly understands the stakes here:

"If it's done right, it could be the type of role you called Peter Sellers to do 35 years ago. If you don't do it right, we're going to hell."

I'd say he's right, if more than a little immodest, on both counts. And hey, at least he didn't audition to play a rather large and very dead black rapper (more on that later, so bear with me.) Any thoughts on this?

Jason Reitman's new muse ... Jim Carrey?

When I saw this report this morning, my first thought was when in the world have I last seen Jim Carrey in any kind of movie at all? The answer was the mostly enjoyable "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" (I didn't bother with either "Fun With Dick and Jane" or "The Number 23," and I've decided my life will still be just fine if I never see any big-budget Dr. Seuss flicks.)

Now, however, he's signed on for something I'll definitely tune in for: Jason Reitman's next flick. "Pierre Pierre," which Fox Atomic picked up for a cool million bucks from a spec script from first-time auteurs Edwin Cannistraci and Frederick Seton, tells the "politically incorrect" story of a self-indulgent French nihilist (Carrey, I presume) who transports a stolen painting from Paris to London.

Sounds dark like "Thank You for Smoking" rather than light as "Juno," which would be just fine by me. And though I'd much rather look at Ellen Page (hence the photo) than Jim Carrey, he can still be an extremely funny guy under the influence of a sedative or two, so I definitely say bring it on.

Biggie to be played by ... "Gravy"?

After a year-long search to play the late and very large Brooklyn rapper Notorious B.I.G., Fox Searchlight has settled on the equally large but very much alive Brooklyn rapper Jamal "Gravy" Woolard for its upcoming biopic, "Notorious."

Never heard of him? Me either, but as you can see from this photo he certainly fits the part. And besides, he has a real-life resume that sounds like it could have come straight out of "Fear of a Black Hat." He's released a number of albums, but was also apparently shot before a radio appearance outside the rather "Notorious" New York hip-hop station Hot 97 two years ago, after which he proceeded with the interview before seeking any kind of treatment.

And, apart from that seemingly perfect bit of casting, the flick has attracted a first-rate supporting cast as well. Angela Bassett (huzzah!) will play Biggie's mother, Violetta Wallace, Derek Luke (huzzah again!) will play P. Diddy (or whatever his name is now), and Anthony Mackie (who I had never heard of) will play the equally late Tupac Shakur.

I realize this all may not matter much to most of the world, but in another case of a white guy pretending to be black I listen to much more hip-hop than any gringo of my age rightfully should, and Biggie's "Life After Death" is easily one of my favorite records, so I say this flick - which starts shooting this month - should be all kinds of cool.

Seth Rogen teams up with another very funny guy

Though the rest of this report is about an entirely different flick, I definitely wanted to share the above pic from Kevin Smith's upcoming (and surely juvenile) "Zack and Miri Make a Porno." The expressions on the faces of Elizabeth Banks and Seth Rogen were enough to make me laugh out loud.

And now comes word that Rogen will team up with writer/director Jody Hill for a new project called "Observe and Report," in which he'll play just about the lowliest specimen of human being around, the mall cop. In something that sounds like it could come straight from the Broken Lizard crew, he'll play Ronnie Barnhardt, a head of mall security who somehow gets in a turf war with the real cops.

Sounds funny enough to me, but who in the world is Jody Hill? Well, the world is about to find out when his 2006 flick "Foot Fist Way" finally gets a hopefully very wide release June 6. Few things make me laugh harder than children getting kicked in the cojones, so this martial arts comedy starring Danny McBride should be right up my alley (and I think it will be one of the real sleeper hits of this summer.)

I've included the trailer below, but be warned: if you watch it at work do it with headphones on, because the language in this is definitely R-rated (and if it gets cut off before the end, you can see the whole thing at Peace out.


dbackdad said...

I believe they went too far with Tropic Thunder. I was at the very first screening of this in Peoria, AZ a few weeks ago.

I think Downey is a great actor but I think the role was a mistake. But the biggest offense of the movie is not that ... it's that it's not funny.

jeremy said...

Who knows, dback--editing and re-shoots have been known to make a movie funny. But I'm drawing a blank at thinking of the last funny Ben Stiller movie (or any funny Ben Stiller movie).
And ReelFan--quick movie snob note--auteur, when referencing film, actually refers to the director (who is also generally the writer). But technically, you're right with your usage since auteur literally translates as author.
(Ok, I'm taking off my nerd glasses now.)

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for the warning, dback, but since comedy is clearly a subjective medium I'm still holding out hope that I at least will find "Tropic Thunder" very funny ... And as far as funny Ben Stiller movies, Jeremy, I agree that they aren't all winners, but I at least really liked "There's Something About Mary" and "Night at the Museum" (but then I admit I'm rather easily amused)

BeatJunkie76 said...

Oh yeah, I like "There's Something About Mary" and the Foot Fist Way trailer had the whole office cracking up this morning.
One guy even said, "Its like they took that dojo guy from Napolean Dynamite and made a movie about him."

jeremy said...

oh, and the beatjunkie alias is me! (3 comments in one day? whoa!)

Shorty said...

I'm stunned that you've never heard of Anthony Mackie...he's a very good young actor who played opposite Eminem as Papa Doc in 8 Mile and also appeared in She Hate Me and We Are Marshall

dbackdad said...

Jeremy and RF,

I certainly hope you guys are right and the edit tightens it up a bit. God knows that I'm not the absolute arbiter on what is funny.

The last Ben Stiller movie I found funny was "Something about Mary".

Love your blog RF, especially the updates on all things Joss Whedon (I'm a big Firefly/Serenity fan). Keep up the good work. Your video on the Oscars was cool too.

Chalupa said...

I thought Stiller did alright in Heavy Weights.

Anonymous said...

Mickey Rooney played a chinaman in Breakfast at Tiffany's. RDJ will be hard pressed to be more offensive than that portrayal.

Reel Fanatic said...

You're certainly right for calling me out on that, Shorty, because those are all movies I've seen, and he was especially good in "8 Mile," a movie that gets better and better with subsequent viewings ...

And thanks indeed for the kind words, dback!

The Bloody Munchkin said...

Thank you Reel Fanatic for making my day with the Foot Fist Way trailer. I'm a sucker for crap like that. I laughed all the way through. "Yoga won't save you froma gang rape. Meditate on that." Dude.

Mercurie said...

I think A Series of Unfortunate Events was the last Jim Carrey movie I saw. For a while I thought he'd just disappeared from the map.

Anonymous said...