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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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…