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Comedy Calendar: Your July 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.

Star power will dominate July. Ryan Reynolds, Steve Carell, Bruce Willis, Adam Sandler and Aubrey Plaza all have movies coming soon, but there’s a little something for everyone over the next few weeks: coming-of-age films, romance, teen virgins, turbo-charged snails, Smurfs. Here’s a rundown of this month’s comedy options…

“Despicable Me 2” (July 3)

What’s It About: Former supervillain Gru finds love while trying to track down a missing mystery serum.

Who’s In It: Steve Carell leads the voice cast, which also includes Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Russell Brand and Kristen Schaal.

Why You Should Care: “Despicable Me” is one of the highest-grossing animated movies of all time, and the sequel should do even better thanks to its plum placement as the go-to family film over the Independence Day holiday. And that’s especially good news for Carell, who could use a hit.

“Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain” (July 3)

What’s It About: Comedian Kevin Hart performs his standup material at Madison Square Garden.

Who’s In It: Kevin Hart. Also, a microphone.

Why You Should Care: Hart has had success as a standup, but in the last few years he’s watched his acting profile rise as well, especially with last year’s surprise hit “Think Like a Man,” whose director (Tim Story) also helmed this concert film. That brings to mind a question: What was the last great theatrical concert movie? If “Comedian” doesn’t count, we’re going with Louis C.K.’s “Hilarious.”

“The Way, Way Back” (July 5)

What’s It About: An unhappy 14-year-old gets a job at a water park, where he befriends an older employee (played by Sam Rockwell) who helps get him out of his shell.

Who’s In It: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Liam James.

Why You Should Care: “The Way, Way Back” is the first film directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who shared an Oscar with Alexander Payne for the screenplay to “The Descendants.” This coming-of-age comedy was the big pickup at this year’s Sundance, with Fox Searchlight reportedly scooping it up for just under $10 million. Funny enough, the Fourth of July weekend will be one of the rare times when a movie star will be competing against himself: Carell is in both this indie and the blockbuster “Despicable Me 2.”

“Stuck in Love” (July 5)

What’s It About: A divorced novelist and his two children, both aspiring writers, must wrestle with relationships and art over the span of a year.

Who’s In It: Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Collins, Logan Lerman, Kristen Bell.

Why You Should Care: It’s a fine cast in a movie positioned as a sensitive, thoughtful counterpoint to the season’s bigger, flashier offerings.

“Grown Ups 2” (July 12)

What’s It About: The “Grown Ups” gang gets back together, and Lenny (Adam Sandler) discovers that moving his family back to his hometown brings with it plenty of problems.

Who’s In It: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade.

Why You Should Care: The first “Grown Ups” may have been savaged by critics, but that didn’t keep it from being Sandler’s highest-grossing hit since “Big Daddy.” With all its big names, this franchise is sort of an “Avengers” of lowbrow comedy. Reviewers will probably hate this one, too, but it won’t deter these guys’ fans. And even if you can’t stand Sandler, give him this: “Grown Ups 2” is the first sequel he’s ever done.

“Crystal Fairy” (July 12)

What’s It About: A rude American living in Chile goes on a drug-fueled road trip with his buddies and a mysterious woman who calls herself Crystal Fairy.

Who’s In It: Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann, Agustín Silva.

Why You Should Care: Winner of the directing prize at Sundance in the World Dramatic competition, “Crystal Fairy” is a funny, nuanced character piece. Cera is wonderfully jerky in the film, and if you like him in this, you’re in luck: He’s made another film with the same director (Sebastián Silva) that’s a creepy psychological horror film called “Magic Magic.”

“Dealin’ With Idiots” (July 12)

What’s It About: Looking for material for his next movie, a successful comic takes a special interest in his son’s little league team, getting to know the various parents and coaches.

Who’s In It: Jeff Garlin, who also wrote and directed the film. Also, Gina Gershon, Christopher Guest, Bob Odenkirk, Timothy Olyphant, J.B. Smoove, Nia Vardalos and Fred Willard.

Why You Should Care: Garlin, one of the foundations of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” previously made “I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With.” And how can you say no to that cast?

“Turbo” (July 17)

What’s It About: A snail suddenly develops the power of super-speed, inspiring him to compete in the Indianapolis 500.

Who’s In It: The snail is voiced by Ryan Reynolds, and he’s joined by Paul Giamatti, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph and Samuel L. Jackson.

Why You Should Care: “Turbo” is one of the few big animated/family movies this summer that’s a bit of a question mark. As opposed to “Despicable Me 2,” “The Smurfs 2” and “Monsters University,” it’s not a prequel or a sequel or otherwise based on something. (The movie’s storyline is the brainchild of first-time filmmaker David Soren.) But considering how much audiences ate up the “Cars” movies, there’s probably some interest in adorable, drag-racing snails. (And like Carell, Reynolds will have two movies out the same weekend. He’s also appearing in the action movie “R.I.P.D.”)

“Red 2” (July 19)

What’s It About: Frank (Bruce Willis) has to reunite his team of retired agents to make sure that a top-secret weapon doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Who’s In It: Hanging out with Willis are John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins.

Why You Should Care: The modestly budgeted “Red” was a sleeper hit in the fall of 2010, and no doubt Summit and Lionsgate are hoping that audiences will want another round of action-comedy from aging movie stars. (That certainly proved true with the far more violent “Expendables” films, which also featured Willis, albeit in a smaller role.)

“The To Do List” (July 26)

What’s It About: A bookish high school student decides to make it her mission before college to lose her virginity.

Who’s In It: Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader, Alia Shawkat, Rachel Bilson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Donald Glover, Andy Samberg, Connie Britton, Clark Gregg.

Why You Should Care: “The To Do List” developed some buzz back in 2010 when the script (which had the more explicit title “The Hand Job”) started making the rounds, hailed by some as a female “Superbad.” As the red-band trailer below suggests, the title may have been tamed down, but the content hasn’t.

“The Smurfs 2” (July 31)

What’s It About: The Smurfs go to Paris. Apparently, Gargamel goes, too, which is really smurfed up.

Who’s In It: The live-action actors include Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and Sofia Vergara. Voicing some of the Smurfs are Jonathan Winters, Katy Perry, Fred Armisen, Alan Cumming, Anton Yelchin and George Lopez.

Why You Should Care: Sappy, sweet but pretty generic, the first “Smurfs” catered to younger audiences. That’ll probably be the primary demographic for this sequel as well — not to mention that demographic’s dragged-along parents.

You can follow Tim Grierson on Twitter.

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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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