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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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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.