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Comedy Calendar: Your August Movie Options

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Welcome to “Comedy Calendar,” a regular column that tracks the month’s most intriguing film comedies that will be coming to a theater near you.

Though it’s technically part of summer movie season, August doesn’t have nearly as many high-octane releases as the previous months do. Things start to slow down in preparation for the fall and the award-hungry prestige films that will be coming soon. But in the meantime, you can choose from several Sundance offerings — not to mention new films from the directors of Dodgeball and Hot Fuzz. Here’s a rundown of this month’s comedy options…

2 Guns (August 2)

What’s It About: A DEA agent and a Naval Intelligence officer who don’t know each other separately go undercover to infiltrate a Mexican drug cartel, neither realizing that their partner is a law enforcement officer as well.

Who’s In It: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton and Edward James Olmos.

Why You Should Care: 2 Guns was directed by Baltasar Kormakur, who previously made another Wahlberg starring vehicle, Contraband. This action-comedy is rated R, offering a sexy, nasty alternative to a summer of superheroes and kids’ movies.

The Spectacular Now (August 2)

What’s It About: An alcoholic, party-hearty teen comes across a pretty, shy local girl, an unlikely friendship forming in the process.

Who’s In It: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Kyle Chandler.

Why You Should Care: This comedy-drama earned enthusiastic buzz after its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won a special jury prize for its acting ensemble. Based on Tim Tharp’s novel, The Spectacular Now was adapted by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the screenwriters behind (500) Days of Summer. And the trailers are definitely positioning the film to be this season’s smart, sensitive, John Hughes-esque coming-of-age tale.

We’re the Millers (August 7)

What’s It About: A drug dealer needing to smuggle a large marijuana shipment from Mexico assembles a fake family that will avert suspicion, including a local stripper.

Who’s In It: Reuniting after costarring in Horrible Bosses, Jason Sudeikis plays the drug dealer and Jennifer Aniston is the stripper. Also, you’ve got Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Ed Helms and Nick Offerman.

Why You Should Care: Director Rawson Marshall Thurber previously made Dodgeball, and Sudeikis is no doubt hoping that We’re the Millers will further his bid to transition from television — he recently confirmed he’s leaving Saturday Night Live — to leading-man status on the big screen.

Planes (August 9)

What’s It About: A sweet crop-dusting plane wants to compete in an air race. But there’s a catch: He’s afraid of heights.

Who’s In It: This animated film features voice work from Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Cedric the Entertainer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and John Cleese.

Why You Should Care: Advertised as “From Above the World of Cars,” this Disney animated movie wasn’t made by Pixar, but its talking vehicles have been fashioned to remind you of Lightning McQueen and his buddies. Disney had initially planned to put Planes only out on DVD, but instead it’s going to get a theatrical release first. If your kids dug Cars, they’re probably beyond excited for this, although we’ve already had one animated movie this summer about an underdog who competes in the big race: the under-performing Turbo.

In a World… (August 9)

What’s It About: Set in the world of voiceover performers, In a World… examines the romantic and career foibles of a Los Angeles actress.

Who’s In It: Lake Bell, who also wrote and directed the film. Plus, Fred Melamed, Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Rob Corddry, Nick Offerman and Tig Notaro.

Why You Should Care: Another crowd-pleaser from Sundance, In a World… is a very likeable romantic comedy, and it’s got a great cast. Plus, seeing the inner workings of the voiceover industry — i.e. the people who narrate movie trailers with pumped-up pomposity — is quite fun.

Prince Avalanche (August 9)

What’s It About: In 1988, two Texas guys get to know each other while painting traffic lines on an empty stretch of highway.

Who’s In It: Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch.

Why You Should Care: This quiet comedy-drama represents a return to director David Gordon Green’s indie roots: When he started out, he made movies like George Washington before switching to broad comedies such as The Sitter and Your Highness. And both leads are charming in an understated way.

I Give It a Year (August 9)

What’s It About: A recently married couple begin to wonder if they’re built to last — an opinion secretly shared by their friends.

Who’s In It: Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall play the lovebirds. Anna Faris, Simon Baker and Stephen Merchant lead the supporting cast.

Why You Should Care: Already available on-demand and through iTunes, I Give It a Year is the brainchild of writer-director Dan Mazar, who co-wrote Borat and Bruno. And in a summer that hasn’t offered a lot of romantic comedies, this one might fit the bill.

Kick-Ass 2 (August 16)

What’s It About: Kick-Ass and Hit Girl return, this time joined by an older vigilante named Colonel Stars and Stripes.

Who’s In It: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Jim Carrey and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

Why You Should Care: The first Kick-Ass was a cult favorite, so there’s an audience for a sequel. But the new film received a real high-profile boost by the fact that Carrey, who plays Colonel Stars and Stripes, announced that he wasn’t going to do publicity for the film after experiencing “a change in my heart” about the film’s amount of bloodshed. So expect the old “Do violent movies influence society?” debate to return to the forefront around Kick-Ass 2’s release.

Austenland (August 16)

What’s It About: A Jane Austen super-fan visits Austenland, a British resort that’s like Disneyworld for all things Austen.

Who’s In It: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, James Callis and Jane Seymour.

Why You Should Care: Debuting at Sundance, Austenland will cater to Austen worshipers. There hasn’t been an indie chick-flick smash this summer: This could very well be it.

The World’s End (August 23)

What’s It About: In the midst of a pub crawl, a group of friends unexpectedly do battle with alien invaders.

Who’s In It: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Rosamund Pike.

Why You Should Care: Director Edgar Wright teams up again with star and co-writer Pegg to complete their loose trilogy of films that included Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The reviews out of the U.K., where The World’s End has already open, were pretty positive, which will hardly matter to these guys’ rabid fan base.

Drinking Buddies (August 23)

What’s It About: Romantic complications ensue for two employees of a craft brewery who have feelings for each other — despite being in relationships with other people.

Who’s In It: Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson are the employees. Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick are their significant others.

Why You Should Care: Drinking Buddies was written and directed by Joe Swanberg, who previously made tiny mumblecore films like Hannah Takes the Stairs and LOL. (He also directed a segment in the V/H/S horror anthology.) This new comedy-drama is his step into slightly bigger-budget terrain, and it features his most high-profile cast to date.

You can follow film critic Tim Grierson on Twitter.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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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.