“Wild Target,” Reviewed

“Wild Target,” Reviewed (photo)

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It’s odd what films make you a believer in the auteur theory. A few years before I had ever heard of Andrew Sarris or really started to dig into Cahiers du Cinema, I had watched a review of the Michael Richards-Jeff Daniels comedy “Trial and Error” on “Siskel and Ebert” where Roger Ebert showered praise on the film’s attention to detail, particularly how Charlize Theron looked both ways for traffic before crossing the street. The film was the second courtroom-set comedy directed by Jonathan Lynn, a journeyman if there ever was one after coming to the U.S. following a career in British television (most notably as a writer on “Yes, Minister”).

This is worth mentioning since “Wild Target” bears all the hallmarks of Lynn’s best films, despite being, even at a tidy 90 minutes, a bit too long. It is silly but not stupid, conforms nicely with the conventions of screwball comedies, and once again displays the director’s ability to bring the best out of his actresses, whether it’s Theron, Marisa Tomei in “My Cousin Vinny,” Amanda Peet in “The Whole Nine Yards” or even Beyonce in “The Fighting Temptations.” (It’s no coincidence his weakest films have weak female characters (“Sgt. Bilko”) or have men playing them (“Nuns on the Run”).)

10292010_WildTarget2.jpgIn “Wild Target,” Emily Blunt is the clear object of Lynn’s affection, even if Bill Nighy is the real lead of the film as a hitman tasked with taking out a conwoman named Rose (Blunt), who has successfully passed off a Rembrandt forgery, and becomes infatuated with her instead. For Nighy’s prim, precise Victor Maynard to fall for her, Lynn must do so first, delighting in showing the type of trouble in store for Maynard when Rose tools around London on a bicycle, sneaking past cars at an intersection that she causes to crash and bewildering museum security guards. But once trouble catches up to Rose, which it does in the form of the wronged art collector Ferguson (Rupert Everett), she unwittingly flips Maynard from murdering her in a parking lot to killing the second hitman Ferguson has sent for her. (There is some small pleasure in the oddity that the third assassin sent to kill Blunt’s Rose is the British “Office”‘s Tim, Martin Henderson, has been hired as the third hitman to kill the real-life wife of the current American “Office”‘s Jim, John Krasinski.) Rupert Grint takes a rare step away from Ron Weasley to join Nighy and Blunt on the road after he witnesses the whole thing as a scruffy car wash attendant.

“Wild Target” is able to get by on the chemistry between the trio, and some clever wordplay in Lucinda Coxon’s adaptation of Pierre Salvadori’s 1993 original French film “Cible émouvante,” for about two-thirds of the film before reaching a point where Maynard and Lynn don’t know what to do with Rose, with the former taking her up to his country home for protection, robbing the latter of further opportunities to explore her devious streak. A life of domesticity doesn’t suit either Maynard or Rose, but that’s the direction “Wild Target” takes for much of the final third, with the two taking on roles completely unnatural to them that seems like an unintentional condemnation for their past crimes. And for a comedy that finds most of its humor in death, considering a life beyond one of crime is no life at all, though as the free-spirited Rose would likely be given to say, it’s fun while it lasts.

“Wild Target” is now open in limited release.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.


IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines


The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.


Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.


A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.


Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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