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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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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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