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“Everything Must Go,” Reviewed

“Everything Must Go,” Reviewed (photo)

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There is a scene in every Will Ferrell movie where Ferrell’s character hits rock bottom and all the puffed-up narcissism gets stripped away to reveal the pathetic loser underneath. Ron Burgundy gets fired, grows a beard, and drinks milk in the hot San Diego sun. Ricky Bobby loses his wife to his best friend, becomes terrified of his race car, and watches a French driver replace him as NASCAR’s hottest star. Brennan Huff is forced to get a job, wear a tie, and plan the largest helicopter leasing event in the Western hemisphere. Ferrell’s new movie, “Everything Must Go,” is that scene stretched out to feature length. In one terrible day, Ferrell’s Nick Halsey gets fired from his job, left by his wife, and locked out of his house. With no money — his wife has cancelled his credit cards and frozen their joint bank account — and nowhere to go, he reacquaints himself with his alcoholism and hangs out on his lawn, where his wife has dumped all his earthly possessions.

All the earlier Ferrell movies I mentioned above were comedies. “Everything Must Go” is certainly funny, but it’s more a sensitive drama with the occasional jolt of humor by Ferrell, who’s playing a man a lot closer to the “I drive a Dodge Stratus!” dude than Robert Goulet. The biggest joke in the movie isn’t a joke at all, it’s a simple, wordless look Ferrell gives to another man after he’s been caught with his pants down. That single look really sums up what sort of film “Everything Must Go” is in a nutshell: quiet and knowing.

I do not subscribe to the theory that drama is more valuable than comedy, or that quote-unquote serious actors are more important than comedic ones. As a well-established Ferrell apologist, I would be quite content to watch him do bread-and-butter broad comedies until the end of time, and to be perfectly honest if he’s going to make me cry, I’d rather he was doing it by making me laugh so hard that I can’t breathe. But nevertheless, Ferrell gives a very good performance here, sad without being saccharine and never showy in that “Look at me! I’m an actor now!” sort of way. I hope we don’t lose Papa Burgundy. But I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Nick Halsey occasionally as well.

Halsey’s neighbors aren’t too keen to watch a guy drink himself into oblivion on his front lawn, but fortunately for Nick his AA sponsor Frank (Michael Peña) works for the local police department. He finds a loophole in the law that says anyone can operate a yard sale for five straight days before the police can shut them down. Which means Nick now has five days to get rid of the crap on his lawn, get himself together, and find something to do with his life. With no car, no phone, and no house that won’t be easy.

Besides Frank, Nick’s only human connections are two other lonely members of the Phoenix suburbs. There’s Samantha (Rebecca Hall), a pregnant woman who’s moved out West without her husband to get their house in order while he finishes up some business back in New York City. And then there’s Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace, son of the Notorious B.I.G. and Faith Evans), who’s alone all day while his mother works as a nurse. You might think you know what to expect from these relationships, but the screenplay by first-time director Dan Rush from a short story by Raymond Carver, might surprise you.

There are some exchanges in “Everything Must Go” that are big and dramatic in a way that feels more like beats from a screenwriting manual than conversations pulled from real life; we definitely didn’t need to hear Nick scream “I’m no different than any of you, I just don’t hide in my house!” to his neighbors, for example. The movie works much better in minor keys, letting Ferrell plaintively riff on his established persona while bouncing off his fine supporting cast. The finest sequence is perhaps the least consequential to the narrative. Nick finds a sweet dedication in his high school yearbook and seeks out the woman who wrote it. The friend, a single mother who lives nearby, is played wonderfully by Laura Dern. Their scene, about life’s adventures and disappointments, is awkward and tender and beautifully melancholy.

Dern’s character says that good without bad ain’t no good at all. So perhaps “Everything Must Go”‘s minor flaws serve to accentuate just how precise and moving the rest of it is. It begins where most Will Ferrell movies end. It could be the beginning of a whole new phase of his career.

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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