DID YOU READ

John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein talk “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” “Horrible Bosses 2” and the upcoming “Vacation” remake

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John Francis Daley, the former “Freaks and Geeks” star turned “Bones” actor and movie scribe, can’t really do any magic tricks — “save for one where I can make it look like my middle finger is coming off, because I’m double jointed.” As for his screenwriting partner Jonathan Goldstein (“Horrible Bosses”), he can do two card tricks and one coin-disappearing trick, “in a terrible, terrible way.” But that didn’t stop the two of them from taking a crash course in magic, illusions, and other trickery for “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.”

Daley and Goldstein had been working on their own version of a Vegas magician comedy when New Line came calling, only their version was “more supernatural.”

“We had been wondering why there wasn’t a comedy yet about a Vegas magician,” Goldstein said. “So we went to Vegas, like ‘The Hangover.’ Only what happens there, stays there.”

“We also went to the Magic Castle,” Daley said, “which is the nerd heaven for magic in the best possible way. It’s the closest thing to the magic bar that Burt, Anton, and Rick the Implausible frequent in the movie. So we learned a lot of secrets there.”

Some magicians became more active consultants, such as Penn Gillette and David Copperfield (who cameos in the film and helped developed the movie’s pivotal “Hangman” illusion to be shot on film in one take without any cuts necessary). And when Gillette kept coiling a napkin about his finger while talking to them, as if he were doing so absentmindedly, Daley kept waiting for a trick to happen in front of them. (He ended up being disappointed).

“These people are so secretive about their material,” Daley said, “because it’s a very competitive world, and some of them risk their lives every day when they do certain illusions, like the bullet catching illusion, although telling us that they’re risking their lives might be part of the trick, too. So we didn’t really focus as much on their secrets as the secrets behind their lives.”

“They’re really isolated in this bubble because they have no time to do anything but rehearse and perform,” Goldstein said.

Daley and Goldstein performed a trick of their own, of sorts, by creating a role for Steve Carell in which he would have to wax his body hair — again. (“That’s the main reason to do this movie!” Daley laughed). And they were grateful that Jim Carrey created an illusion with the character they created for him (a blend of David Blaine and Criss Angel). Steve Grey (“the Brain Rapist”) isn’t as much of a conjurer as an endurance specialist, and Daley and Goldstein were intrigued by the idea of him being a “low key villain, but not openly malevolent.” Carrey turned Steve Grey into more of a “messianic figure,” coming up with a whole new look for the street magician and then disappearing into him.

“It was his idea to do the body tattoos,” Goldstein said. “He even drew a picture of the bunny skull and he gave it to the cast and crew as temporary tattoos during production.”

Next up for the Daley-Goldstein team is directing a remake of “Vacation,” starring Ed Helms, in which he would play a grown-up Rusty. “It’s in the spirit of the best of what John Hughes did,” Daley said of the pair’s script. “There will be emotion and you will hopefully care about the characters and their fun mishaps, including another road trip to Wally World.” That, and other homages to the original, are what makes the project “exciting” for the duo. “We’ve been playing it out in our heads,” Goldstein said, “catching up with the characters, and going for the darkest possible reveal.”

Daley and Goldstein said that they’re in talks for both Chevy Chase and Anthony Michael Hall to make appearances in the “Vacation” remake. “Our hope is to have some people back from the original,” Goldstein said. “There will definitely be characters from the original in this, but we do want it to be its own movie.” (And don’t expect cameos from the two in this one, despite popping up in “Wonderstone” as paramedics and stage managers: “We’ll probably stay behind the camera this time,” Daley said.)

Soon to follow will be “Horrible Bosses 2,” which is several drafts into the scripting phase. Just as in the last round, expect several stars to play against type as Jennifer Aniston and others did before. “They don’t have to make a big commitment,” Goldstein said. “They just come in, and it’s not a huge part. But whoever it is, they can come in and go out many nights past their bedtime, and have a lot of fun murdering people — at least on camera.”

Which upcoming Daley and Goldstein project are you most excited for? Tell us in the comments section 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.
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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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