Thursday, June 30, 2011

The art of the funny, with "Bridesmaids," "Party Down" and, yes, a sneezing panda

Actually, to start things off, there's nothing at all funny about the above trailer, which is for "Let the Right One In" director Tomas Alfredson's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," which is certainly right near the top of the list of movies I want to see for the rest of this year.

The flick, based on the novel by John Le Carre, stars Gary Oldman as George Smiley, the spy charged with uncovering a Russian mole who has infiltrated the ranks of British intelligence. It also rather remarkably stars Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ciarán Hinds, among others, so definitely keep an eye out for this when it drops in the U.S. of A. hopefully very wide on Nov. 18.

After that today, it's all about laughs, starting with the I suppose inevitable movie to be based on quite possibly the cutest YouTube clip of all time (I wouldn't be the right judge of that).

If you haven't seen the clip of the sneezing baby panda by now, I just have to assume you've also never seen a computer. It is indeed just about the cutest thing you'll ever see, and has been on "South Park" and "30 Rock," among countless other places. Now, it seems that the folks responsible for filming it are making a hopefully very funny mockumentary, "The Life and Times of Sneezing Baby Panda."

Australian wildlife documentarians Lesley Hammond and Jenny Walsh came across the panda while making a 1999 film about the giant pandas of China. And now, for this potentially very fun project, they've got some grand plans.

The $1.3 million co-production, set to start shooting in China in October with Zhejiang Roc Pictures of Hangzhou, will follow an Australian zoologist whose zoo faces financial difficulties she thinks she might solve if she travels to China to save the real-life sneezing panda.

And Hammond has some big ideas for telling the family story of her adorable meal ticket. Per the director:

“One panda’s a terracotta warrior. Another’s on the Long March. You know the famous photo of Nixon sitting with Mao? Using visual effects, we’ll replace the woman interpreter sitting between them with a panda.”

Sounds like nothing but potentially very mawkish fun to me, but now on to some actual good news, this about the summer smash "Bridesmaids," which I'm far from alone in having big love for. And now, not only is it a big comedy hit this year, it also has just become the biggest movie from the directing/producing cult of Judd Apatow, and that's really saying something.

Here are the numbers: Through Tuesday, the domestic take for "Bridesmaids" was 148.1 million, putting it right behind big Apatow hits "Knocked Up" ($148.8 million) and "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby ($148.2 million), and well within sight of passing them both last night.

And it's all well-deserved. The movie is almost as insightful as it is just fall-down funny, especially when Melissa McCarthy is the center of attention. In fact, I might just go see it again this weekend before it disappears from theaters.

OK, moving on quickly to the clips, one of the real shames about being such a rapidly aging dude is that I'm rarely up late enough to watch Jon Stewart's "Daily Show." Which means I miss gems like this: Louis CK breaking down, in perfect detail, the allure of the fart joke. If you missed the season two premiere of his FX show "Louie" last week, it did indeed include a rather epic bit of flatulence from the guest star who played his pregnant sister, and it was very, very, very funny. Tune in for episode two tonight at 10:30, after "Wilfred," and in the meantime enjoy this clip of him on "The Daily Show."

And to close today with a bit about a TV show that was even funnier, the cast and creators of "Party Down," the much-missed (at least by me) Starz comedy about a catering company populated by wannabe actors and writers, had a reunion recently at Austin's Alamo Drafthouse. I would have loved to have been in the room for the whole thing, but here's just a tantalizing tidbit in which they tease the unlikely prospect of a "Party Down" movie. That's even more unlikely, of course, than an "Arrested Development" movie, but enjoy the clip anyway, and have a perfectly pleasant Thursday. Peace out.


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