DID YOU READ

How “Crazy Stupid Love” stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are saving Young Hollywood

How “Crazy Stupid Love” stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are saving Young Hollywood (photo)

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Over the past few years, a looming question that’s plagued Hollywood has been, “Where have all the movie stars gone?” But, even more recently, the debate has shifted to the other pressing query, “If there are still movie stars left, what even makes one? What constitutes a movie star?” The first one can be answered, in the simplest terms, in that we are living in an era where both talent (Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt) and non-talent (“The Real Housewives of…Forget It, Now We Can’t Move There”) alike are overexposed and once reliable, bona fide movie stars have turned into unrecognizable, and often times, unlikable versions of people we used to know (Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise.)

To answer that second question, however, gets a little trickier. For those who still believe the movie star exists, it comes down to simple dollars and cents–how much does the actor or actress bring in at the box office — while others see it as famous people who haven’t tainted their image because of their pristine personal lives (Tom Hanks) or have a built-in brand of movies that will likely draw audiences no matter what (Johnny Depp, Will Smith.)

Still, that is a crop of stars who have been around for quite some time. While this generation has been lucky enough to grow up with plenty of talented other A-listers like Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, and the, late, great Heath Ledger, who left an immeasurable void in Hollywood, I couldn’t help but ask the question of, “Does this generation — my generation — have any stars to claim for their own?”

The uber-popular celebrities in the 2000s were sacred for many, but equally maligned for just as many others (the “Twilight” and “High School Musical” kids), while those who possessed a genuine talent, had too much of a reluctance of their fame for us to want to get attached to them (Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page.) Perhaps the worst offenders were those who had the combination of mass sex appeal, buzz, and genuine hits to make them into our generations movie stars, but didn’t have the self-control (Lindsay Lohan) or humility (Shia LaBeouf) to actually make it happen. It seemed, for some time, we were going to be an era without a crop of talent to call our own.

Then, like a beacon of hope in the form of enviable abdominal muscles and faux ginger hair, came our saviors: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Sure, it’s not as though the two, who star in this weekend’s romantic comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” are coming out of the gate and suddenly surprising everyone with their charms, good looks, and knack for effortless acting (he is already an Oscar-nominee for his work in the gritty drug drama “Half Nelson” and she has settled nicely into her role as a female comedic voice in film, thanks to flicks like “Easy A”) but the vehicle serves as a reminder that they really are, finally, ours to brag about.

In “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” Gosling plays Jacob, a rich Lothario who falls for Hannah, Stone’s character, a headstrong law student who sees through his act. Left in the hands of other young stars, the storyline could have felt contrived or downright predictable, but both actors, who have scorching chemistry to boot, never make the blooming love story feel inauthentic. In one of the movie’s best moments, Gosling and Stone’s characters spend the night talking and getting to know one another. The scene never feels gimmicky or with forced sentimentality and, in turn, the audience falls in love with their falling in love.

Then again, if you’re familiar with Gosling and Stone’s body of work, you’ve been falling for sometime. Gosling, 30, who got his start alongside fellow stars like Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera on the Mickey Mouse Club has managed to shed the teen heartthrob image (though, not entirely, due to the massively popular 2004 romance flick “The Notebook”) and, thanks to some major indie cred, become the most promising actor to come along in, well, ages. Gosling’s essential movies — the aforementioned “Half Nelson,” as well as “Lars and the Real Girl,” “The Believer,” and “Blue Valentine” (arguably his best performance to date as a broken man trying to survive love in the tough, true-to-life drama)–all have one common thread: He transforms entirely into these rich, complicated characters. You’re watching Gosling, but you never actually see him.

But, it’s not just the talent that solidifies Gosling’s spot as our go-to guy. Rarely the subject of tabloid fodder, Gosling has managed to keep his personal life — even including a high-profile romance with ex Rachel McAdams — separate, but without being a Hollywood recluse. While promoting “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” Gosling made the rounds to talk shows and did what so few stars do in the midst of a press tour: He had fun with it. From reenacting a scene from “Dirty Dancing” with Al Roker on the Today Show to bringing his Mohawk-ed pooch to Jimmy Fallon’s couch, it was evident that Gosling is a serious actor who doesn’t take himself very seriously.

She may not have the same stigma of dramatic actor attached to her the way Gosling does, but Stone, who is equally refreshing on-screen an in real life, has come up against her own challenges. The 23-year-old has spoken honestly and candidly about the pressure on women her age in Hollywood to look a certain way (Stone refreshingly shot from the hip when she criticized fad diets to Vanity Fair and carries the burden of being the funniest female on the big screen. Still, she’s handled that pretty well thus far thanks to her Golden Globe-nominated turn as a wrongly accused high school slut in last year’s “Easy A,” as well as holding her own in the boys club that was 2007’s “Superbad,” and kicking ass and taking undead names in 2009’s “Zombieland.”

Still, it seems as though all of this, including “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” is nothing more than the beginning for Gosling and Stone. A precursor of even more great things to come. In addition to this year’s “Drive,” Gosling has a bevy of exciting projects–mainstream and otherwise–including a remake of “Logan’s Run” and then opposite Sean Penn and Josh Brolin in “The Gangster Squad.” Stone is equally busy–this year especially–as she can be seen in three movies this summer, including “Friends with Benefits” and the highly anticipated adaptation of the bestseller “The Help.” Forgoing any unforeseen scandals or major casting missteps, neither of them are going anywhere any time soon, and that is the best news Hollywood– and a generation of jaded moviegoers–could have gotten in quite some time.

Perhaps the reason why “Crazy, Stupid, Love” could mark the turning point in their careers is not just because of their sweet, sexy storyline, but how much their characters echo why they are this generation’s greatest assets in the first place. Gosling plays a sickeningly handsome dude that all the ladies love and all the guys want to emulate (including co-star Steve Carell, who plays his ladies man apprentice) because both sides know there’s way more than what’s on the surface. Stone plays a woman that is both parts strikingly beautiful and attainable, with an attitude that is sweetly no-nonsense and has a throaty laugh that invites you to do just the same.

It seems Gosling and Stone may have just answered the biggest question of all: Where have you been all our lives?

Are you fans of Emma Stone or Ryan Gosling? Tell us why in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.

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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.

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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

Shopping

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.

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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.

Booger

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.

Ogre

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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