DID YOU READ

Rise of the Jason Bateman Comedy Brand

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Very few child actors manage the pitfalls of the film industry as well as Jason Bateman. Unlike, say, Jodie Foster, who has had career ups and downs, Jason Bateman never really left the pop-cultural event horizon at all, tirelessly working his way through television, to small supporting roles in interesting films – like Juno – and wonderful failures – like “The Sweetest Thing.” From each role, it seems, he took something away, learned his craft, gave generous performances, developing, along the way, a dry comedic sensibility all his own. This, for lack of a better term, is the Jason Bateman comedic brand.

Bateman’s rise to the top of the comedic box office began, strangely enough, on the dourest of television dramas. He cut his chops on “Little House on the Prairie,” starring as an orphan adopted into the rather severe Ingalls family. From his years in entertainment, he has developed a powerful work ethic, drawing upon his established comedy brand, expanding into digital content creation in his co-venture with Will Arnett. DumbDumb, a comedy marketing venture started by the “Arrested Development” alums in 2010, already has had Obit Gum as a sponsor. “We’re the CEOs of DumbDumb, but that’s a hilarious moniker to give us,” Arnett told Papermag. “We’re actually co-chief executive dummies. That’s our official title.”

Perhaps it is the longevity of his career in the entertainment business — 30 years — but Bateman rarely seems to make mistakes or at least the magnitude of mistakes that have sidelined generations of child stars. He seems to have gotten all the partying out of his system. Bateman, further, is a good businessman, a virtue not many creatives, especially comedy minded creative, can claim. He told Howard Stern that he got some back-end from “Juno,” which would make him quite wealthy as well as smart for taking that risky role. “My goal is to get another 30 years out of this business,” Bateman told Men’s Health magazine in 2009. “So I need to figure out the fuel to do that. And so far, I think its respect and quality and company, not celebrity or box office or stardom. It’s not a sprinter’s approach. It’s more like a long-distance thing. You can stick around a lot longer if you kind of slow-play it.” Be grown up and the box office will follow.

Jason Bateman will be the first, however, to cop to some of his wonderful failures, like the horrendously unnecessary “Teen Wolf Too.” At the end of January, Bateman, on the Howard Stern Show, called the werewolf sequel, justly, “a shitty movie.” As usually happens, the subject of the Stern show turned towards the guest’s sowing of wild oats years. Bateman was unusually candid about his life before marriage and kids. “Because I worked so much as a little kid I made a concerted effort to play as hard as I was working and try to catch up.” He continued, “the reason it became a problem is because I wanted to start doing things that were more adult, which means you’ve got get up a little bit early in the morning. So I had to dial it down.” And dial it down he did.

That characteristic dry style evolved, over time, achieving its apex in “Arrested Development,” soon to come back to the small screen in season four. And he killed it in “Horrible Bosses,” where he had a memorable supporting role. That brings us up to date with Identity Thief. Identity Thief, poised finish in one of the top sports for the third week in a row, is proof positive that Bateman is now a box office comedy royal, capable of carrying a comedy all on his own. The Jason Bateman comedy brand – for lack of a better term – took 30 years to build. I look forward to 30 more, and you should too.

What’s your favorite Jason Bateman role? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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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.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.