December 2, 2013 |
In The Trip, the verité-ish 2011 road pic that paired British comedy star Steve Coogan with British comedy star Rob Brydon - the two of them touring the Lake District, trading quips and impressions of Michael Caine and Sean Connery - Coogan, as Coogan, was often on the phone to his agent, whining that he wasn't being taken seriously. He was not getting the good movies, the substantial roles. There was more than a bit of truth to Coogan's lament. It's a situation he has remedied quite nicely in Philomena , by cowriting the screenplay and then giving himself one of the two leads.
August 23, 2013 |
OK, HERE'S a joke for you. Why did Cory Booker cross the river? No seriously, why did Booker - Democratic mayor of Newark, huge favorite to win the election in October as New Jersey's next U.S. senator, and friend to Oprah and Mark Zuckerberg - cross the river into Philadelphia last night? Booker confessed to wondering the same thing after stealing the show at the 23rd annual Stu Bykofsky Candidates Comedy Night - but only after suffering through 90 minutes of the charity fundraiser, including the unique comic stylings of City Controller Alan Butkovitz.
August 16, 2013 |
"I GIVE IT a Year" belongs to the growing genre of anti-romantic comedy - in this case, the story of newlyweds fated to break up. The picture does a poor job of explaining why the couple (Rafe Spall and Rose Byrne) get hitched in the first place, and simply asks us to accept the fact that folks get married for the wrong reasons. Friends (Stephen Merchant, Minnie Driver) and family see trouble right away: She has a glamorous career that comes with power suits and posh hotels; he's a blocked novelist content to sit around in shorts and eat warmed-over takeout.
August 16, 2013 |
LAKE BELL is pretty vocal on the subject of voices. Bell's on a one-woman crusade to rid American culture of "sexy baby voice," the hyper-girlish patois (words and sentences rise to a sonic, deferential question mark) overused, she says, by grown-up women. And, in her new comedy "In a World . . . ," which she wrote and directed, Bell's making fun of the glass ceiling that exists in movie commercials: Only men's voices are used. She hopes to put a crack in that ceiling. "I feel like when the movie comes out, even though not everyone is going to see it, I know that people in the industry are going to see it, and I hope it persuades someone to consider that maybe using a female voice to sell a movie is not a bad idea," Bell said.
July 26, 2013 |
A throwback comedy with millennial flavor, The To Do List is an improbably entertaining, R-rated raunchfest - and a milestone of sorts. It shows how far the teenage sex comedy has come, and how different it looks when a female writer or director is behind the camera. The film marks the feature-film debut of writer/director Maggie Carey, who delivers sexual slapstick most typically seen in movies about male initiation. It stars Aubrey Plaza as Brandy, a nerdy high school graduate who systematically conducts field research into the 57 varieties of sexual experience.
July 17, 2013 |
I wish I had never seen Michael Frayn's Noises Off . Correction: I wish I had never seen any other company's production of his comedy, now receiving a sensationally funny staging at People's Light and Theatre Company. Frayn's farce focuses on a British theater troupe embarking on a tour of the fictional Nothing On . Act 1 shows them fumbling through the last rehearsal before their first opening night; Act 3 catches up with them toward the end of the run, where the intra-cast hostilities and failed romances have all but consumed the production with mayhem and malice.
July 14, 2013 |
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) , the ultra-light theatrical romp that compacts the great playwright's lifetime output in ways that make CliffsNotes look expansive, is actually tried-and-true vaudeville. It's the classic clash between high and low art - just add some manic frat-house energy, and laughs are inevitable. But that doesn't mean you automatically have a show. That's why the three-member Commonwealth Classic Theatre cast, starting a run of 11 free performances through July 27 at various regional venues, must have felt shot out of a cannon Thursday at the Morris Arboretum.
July 12, 2013
WHAT IS Philly's longest-running show (not counting the "City Council Follies," which has run forever and seems destined for immortality)? If your answer was "ComedySportz," feel free to give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. The odd-duck mashup that brings an athletic format to improvisational comedy celebrates its 20th anniversary July 27 with two shows at World Cafe Live. More than just a commemorative gig, the event also will serve as an alumni homecoming. "The thing we're really excited about for the 20th anniversary is, we were able to invite back a number of performers who haven't performed with us for a while," said ComedySportz Executive Director Don Montrey.
June 26, 2013 |
She's in the middle of rehearsing for Love, Loss and What I Wore, and Kate Flannery is talking about the beauty of the femme-centric comedy running at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. There's Nora and Delia Ephron's rich humor ("such a touching, funny play") and the visceral reaction it's been getting from Off-Broadway audiences since 2009 ("when I did it a few years ago, I couldn't believe how vocal audiences were during our monologues"). This would be typical chatter for a working stage actress.
June 7, 2013 |
THE SUNDANCE hit "The Kings of Summer" is a drama about teen runaways, but don't look for their photos on milk cartons. Its about three boys (Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias) who run away, but not too far away. They're always within walking distance of a Burger King, in case living off the land proves too much of a chore, which of course it does - the movie makes a semi-joke about their contradictory teen yearnings for freedom and reassurance. Their summer away from home is like a ramshackle scout camp - clearing in the woods, makeshift clubhouse, junk food, basketball hoop.