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R-rated comedies rating highly at the summer box office

R-rated comedies rating highly at the summer box office (photo)

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At Badass Digest, Devin Faraci has a piece entitled “The Summer of The R-Rated Comedy,” declaring that the success of movies like “The Hangover Part II” ($250.8 million and counting), “Bridesmaids” ($158.1 million and counting), “Bad Teacher” ($78.7 million and counting) and the just released “Horrible Bosses” ($28.1 million in its opening weekend, better than the family-friendly “Zookeeper”) means that “R-rated comedies are back in a big way.”

“The story coming into Summer 2011 was that we had a whole bunch of superhero movies on deck; well, none of those have really set the world on fire (although ‘Thor’ has done okay), but it’s the quiet legion of R-rated movies that have really cleaned up.

This was something I was considering too as I looked over the weekend’s box office chart. On Friday, I was listening to local radio, and several DJs who have a sort of fantasy box office league, betting on which movies will open the biggest, were discussing the weekend’s releases. The unquestioned given amongst all three guys was that “Zookeeper” was going to be the highest grossing new movie of the weekend, and that it would flatten the competition. That didn’t turn out to be the case; it made $21.0 million to “Horrible Bosses” $28.1. Now you might say that had something to do with marketing, or star power (“Zookeeper” had just Kevin James on the poster; “Horrible Bosses” had Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell and Jason Bateman and Kevin Spacey) or the fact that “Zookeeper” looked carcinogenically bad. But “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” had all of those problems in 2009 and became a surprise hit. So maybe there is something to this R-rated renaissance.

When comparing this particular batch of R-rated comedies, it may be worth nothing something else about them: these are not R-rated movies aimed at teenagers. These aren’t stories about teenagers getting laid, or teenagers going to college and getting laid, or college kids who get laid off on a wacky road trip, getting laid. These are all films about adults; immature, foul-mouthed adults, yes, but adults all the same. They’re not sex comedies. And right now there aren’t a lot of mainstream options out there for adults in theaters. If you don’t want Terrence Malick or Woody Allen, you either take an R-rated comedy or risk date night on super-heroes or animated talking cars or pandas.

I guess we should also acknowledge that these films, are, to varying degrees, all pretty good too. We might to be having this discussion about “Bridesmaids” if it wasn’t funny and smart about female relationships, or about “Horrible Bosses” if the film didn’t have a pretty crackerjack murder/revenge plot. “Bridesmaids” has been a huge word-of-mouth hit; by now it’s $26.2 million opening is just an unusually low 16% of its total gross (“Pirates 4” opening weekend, for example, accounts for 38% of its total gross). But again: “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” was a massive hit. So you never know.

Faraci says the lesson of this summer is to “be cheap. Make the movies cheaply and you will make a profit on them.” As I wrote last week, Hollywood studios have already started taking the advice, thanks to comedies’ weak box office overseas. And just to throw a little cold water on this whole R-rated comedy renaissance, let’s consider how these movies have done internationally. With the exception of “The Hangover Part II” (everyone loves a face tattoo joke), they’re not anywhere near as successful in foreign countries as they are here. Despite being the biggest surprise hit of the summer in the United States, “Bridesmaids” has made just $48.5 million abroad. Some of its grosses are crazy low. It made only $37,342 in Iceland. Come on Iceland! “Horrible Bosses” hasn’t opened internationally yet, but “Zookeeper” has; when you combine domestic and foreign box office together, it’s made more money than “Horrible Bosses.” Cue ominous dramatic music.

So it’s the summer of R-rated comedies here. Everywhere else, it’s pretty much the summer of “Transformers” and “Pirates 4.” Which means there’s a very good chance this summer won’t be endless.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.