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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.


Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


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…