DID YOU READ

The Miami Heatification of the Action Genre

The Miami Heatification of the Action Genre (photo)

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According to Todd Brown over at Twitch the franchise formerly known as “The Fast and the Furious” is not content to rest on its laurels. Having every actor who’d appeared in the franchise return for “Fast Five” and now for “Fast Six” and “Fast Seven” wasn’t enough. Brown reports that Universal’s “entering into preliminary conversations with Jason Statham to explore the possibility of the action star joining one or both films.”

Think about this for a moment. They might not all reappear in “Fast Six,” but “Fast Five” already featured Vin Diesel, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Paul “I Don’t Have a Nickname” Walker. That’s already a bounty of beefcake. Now you’re going to cram Jason Statham in there as well? Don’t get me wrong — I’m an irrationally big fan of Jason Statham. But how are you going to divvy up all the screentime for these guys? They’re going to have to ditch the characters and call each other by their real names to save time on exposition.

It is interesting that Statham is the guy they’re targeting to boost “Fast Six”‘s all-star cast since he’s already a part of the other current all-star cast in action movies, “The Expendables.” That Sylvester Stallone jam featured Statham alongside Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Steve Austin, Randy Couture, and more. “Expendables 2” is just getting underway with most of the original cast, plus Jean-Claude Van Damme, plus Chuck Norris, plus Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis expanding their cameos from the first movie into bigger supporting roles.

It’s also interesting that “The Expendables” premiered last summer on August 13, just over a month after LeBron James announced on a primetime television special that he was taking his talents to South Beach and joining up with fellow superstars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat. All three guys formerly anchored their own teams; now all three would play together. Forecasters predicted short-term doom: the team couldn’t afford decent role players to fill out its roster and its bench was thin. Surely former alpha dogs like James and Wade couldn’t figure out how to coexist. Early season troubles seemed to validate those theories, but they figured it out well enough to make the NBA Finals in just their first year together. If the NBA can solve its lockout, other teams are going to have a lot of trouble solving the Miami Heat for years to come.

The timing is coincidental but curious. Between “The Expendables” and “Fast” franchises, are we seeing the Miami Heatification of action movies? It doesn’t seem like it’s enough for an action film to feature one studly actor these days — it’s got to feature all the studly actors in Hollywood. Even Statham’s last solo project, “Killer Elite,” brought in two other headliners, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro, to play his wingmen. If the goal is to make a movie to appeal to the widest possible audience, then the strategy makes perfect sense. By tripling your star power, the thinking goes, you triple your potential audience. But where do you draw the line? Will the veritable arms race between the “Expendables” and “Fast” series heat up until they join together into one mega-movie? Will we be talking about “The Fast and the Expendable” starring Stallone, Diesel, Statham, Walker, Schwarzenegger, Willis, Van Damme, and the ghost of Lee Marvin in 2015?

I don’t know. I do know that this looks more and more like a cinematic trend. A spirit of competition has been replaced by a spirit of merger and acquisition. You could argue “bigger is better” is one of Hollywood’s default ideas, and it kind of is. But this is something different. It’s hard to imagine Magic Johnson and Larry Bird playing together back in the day, and it’s equally hard to imagine Schwarzenegger and Stallone making a movie together back in the day. They were so obsessed with determining who was the biggest movie star they would have never joined forces (except to own Planet Hollywood, and we know how that turned out). Now, whether it’s because of their own mortality or the economics of securing increasingly elusive funding from the international market, they’re teaming up. Action movies are just the tip of the iceberg, too: check out the new wave of star-studded romantic comedies. Last year we had “Valentine’s Day” with Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway, Taylor Lautner, and many more; this year you can look forward to “New Year’s Eve” with Katherine Heigl, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Biel, Halle Berry, and Hilary Swank.

Magic and Bird did play together at one point: on the Dream Team. And what did the Dream team do at the Olympics? Conquer the entire basketball world. There wasn’t a ton of drama in their games, but sometimes a guaranteed win can be fun to watch (as long as you’re rooting for the winning team, of course). There’s a similar philosophy behind these new action franchises: if we all work together, this is a guaranteed win. And a sure thing is always better than a risk, in sports or in movies.

Do you think action movie casts are just going to get bigger and bigger? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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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.
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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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