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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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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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