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Will Gluck Makes Comedy Look “Easy,” Eh?

Will Gluck Makes Comedy Look “Easy,” Eh? (photo)

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For a comedy about rumors and innuendo, it is all too appropriate that “Easy A” has raised eyebrows as a selection at the Toronto Film Festival, a place not known for celebrating high-school-set satires. But it shouldn’t take long for cynics to discover the truth of why it belongs more in the festival than the genre: it’s exceptional.

Of course, the reasons for this have been hiding in plain sight. “Easy A” is driven in no small part by a starmaking turn from Emma Stone (“Zombieland”) who finally finds a character as rich and complex as her distinctively raspy voice in the perpetually misunderstood Olive Pendergast, a high schooler in the desert town of Ojai that, emboldened by an English class assignment of “The Scarlet Letter,” becomes a savior of her fellow virgins and outcasts when she decides to embrace hallway chatter that she’s a harlot. Collecting gift cards from her pretend conquests who just want to fit in, along with the dirty looks from the school’s religious sect, Olive is quick-witted yet still can’t stay ahead of the speed of gossip and keenly aware that this screenplay is not to her liking, she longs for her “life to be like an ’80s movie.”

09022010_WillGluckEasyA.jpgEnter the film’s other secret weapon, writer/director Will Gluck, who has openly professed to wanting to make a film that “John Hughes wouldn’t be embarrassed to watch.” Which the “Breakfast Club” mastermind likely would, appreciating both “Easy A”‘s invocation of his early-career irreverence and “Brat Pack”-era sincerity (not to mention the “Ferris Bueller” references, of which there are no fewer than 10). Yet Gluck has his own unique perspective, a style rare among modern comic directors that places equal value on visual panache as punchlines and veers between rude non-sequiturs and gently subversive skewering of pop culture. It’s a mix of the silly and the sweet that’s perhaps kept his fan club a little exclusive — go ahead and be shocked how funny his first film “Fired Up” actually is — but that’s about to change.

In the middle of preparing for a crazy week that will have Gluck shuttling between the set of his next film, the Justin Timberlake-Mila Kunis romantic comedy “Friends With Benefits” and the film’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, the director talked about hatching the next Julia Roberts, having friends “pay for sex,” and his one regret about the film.

09022010_EasyA5.jpgWhat’s incredible about your career thus far is that you’ve been able to translate the off-kilter tone of your TV work [“Andy Richter Controls the Universe” and “The Loop”] into films, even if they weren’t necessarily commercially successful. How is it that you’ve been allowed to be so independent within the studio system under Sony?

I met a guardian angel in [Screen Gems president] Clint Culpepper. “Fired Up” was his idea…not his, it was the studio’s idea, but his title and he let me make the movie. And I had some success in television, but for some reason, he took a leap of faith and one thing Clint does is once he trusts someone’s tone…comedy is all about tone, it’s subjective – good or not, who knows? Once he picks someone’s tone, he just let me go. He just didn’t interfere. He knew what I did and accepted it and then “Easy A,” he was just like “Here, see you later, buddy.”

There’s a reason why I continue to do movies at Sony for Amy [Pascal], Michael [Lynton] and Clint. As a filmmaker, it’s the best situation in the world to be in because they give me everything I want, all the support they want, all the ideas they want… I mean they’re great ideas. There’s such an adversarial relationship with studio executives, but when you find someone who is as passionate and as smart as the people at Sony and Clint, it’s the best. So I’m never going to leave unless they kick me out, which might happen. [slight laugh]

Are you excited about playing the Toronto Film Festival? It’s not the type of film that normally goes.

I know, right? I am excited about Toronto. I’m in the middle of shooting my movie, but I’m thrilled and ridiculously humbled. I’m shocked at the response this is getting. I really believe a lot of the response is because of Emma Stone. I think that people are watching Julia Roberts about to be hatched and they want to get onboard.

Did you know you had something special with “Easy A,” particularly with Emma Stone?

Like the old adage, no one ever sets out to make a bad movie. I just pour myself into everything I do, failure, success. I did know Emma was special from the very beginning and I’ve had the same crew forever, they’ve seen a lot. They do four movies a year, right? They knew. And when she came back yesterday [on “Friends With Benefits”], they were like, “oh my God, we’d forgotten.” There’s something about her, yeah.

09022010_EasyA2.jpgYou’ve talked about having an unusual high school experience, which was split between schools in New York and Tokyo. How do you think that perspective shaped the film?

The high schools I went to were big city high schools, which are much different than a lot of schools in America because in New York City when you leave the high school at three o’clock and you slip off into the subway, you’re gone. No one cares on the subway that you looked at a girl that didn’t like you in math class. You completely become your own person. But in small-town schools like most of America, you can’t escape it because you go into town and everyone knows who you are and it’s suffocating.

So I’ve always been kind of intrigued and idolized normal high schools, especially because my view of a high school has always been John Hughes’ high school. That’s what I thought high school was. So I really tried to in “Easy A” make that high school and it’s interesting that Emma, who also left high school very early, also didn’t have a normal high school experience, so this movie was made by two people whose whole view of high school was kind of through a cinematic lens.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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