The start of the year is usually a dumping ground for studios to quietly release movies that couldn't cut it in the fall (which, in turn, is a dumping ground for movies that couldn't cut it in the summer, and also when awards fare is released and not dumped). This winter looks no different, comedy-wise, with some movies that have been sitting on the shelf for a while finally coming out alongside some good-looking comedies that just don't have the star power of a big summer blockbuster. When spring hits, things get a little less grim, with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock's buddy cop movie The Heat looking like a safe bet. Other potential highlights from this next batch of releases also pair up likable actors, like Admission (starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd), The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell and Jim Carrey), and Identity Thief (Melissa McCarthy again and Jason Bateman). And hey, those of you who wanted another Scary Movie or a movie starring Bill Murray and Charlie Sheen together will get to see what those are like. Let's check out all the movie comedies that are coming your way this winter/spring!
A Haunted House
The first new comedy of 2013 comes courtesy of Marlon Wayans, surprisingly working without his Wayans Brother Shawn (or any other Wayanses). In addition to starring in this send-up of Paranormal Activity and other found footage movies, Marlon Wayans also produced and co-wrote A Haunted House, his first comedy since 2009's Dance Flick. It boasts a cast that includes Andrew Daly, Nick Swardson, David Koechner, and Cedric the Entertainer. Will it be as scary as Dance Flick? Only time will tell.
An anthology comedy made up of several short films that intertwine, Movie 43 was filmed in 2010 but has been sitting on the shelf until now (we even included it in last year's Splitsider Winter Comedy Preview back when it was supposed to be released in 2012). Spearheaded by Peter Farrelly, the movie features 13 segments by 12 different directors and 17 different writers. Comedy god Bob Odenkirk was at one point on board to direct his own little chunk of it, but it doesn't look like that happened since his name isn't on the final product.
The 12 directors are Peter Farrelly, Steven Brill, Brett Ratner, Elizabeth Banks (making her directorial debut), James Gunn, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Will Graham, Griffin Dunne, Patrik Forsberg, and Jonathan van Tulleken, and Movie 43 stars Everyone In Hollywood in small roles, including Jason Sudeikis, Emma Stone, Anna Faris, Chris Pratt, Justin Long, Stephen Merchant, John Hodgman, Elizabeth Banks, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jack McBrayer, JB Smoove, Hugh Jackman, Gerard Butler, Kate Winslet, Halle Berry, Chloë Grace Moretz, Kristen Bell, Naomi Watts, Richard Gere, Uma Thurman, Liev Schreiber, Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, Tony Shalhoub, and probably a hundred more big names like that. From the poster/marketing campaign, it looks like a raunchy version of one of those oversized cast movies like Valentine's Day/He's Just Not That Into You; however, this is more of a sketch comedy anthology, and Kentucky Fried Movie was the only decent one of those ever so this seems iffy.
A zombie romantic comedy from writer/director Jonathan Levine (50/50, The Wackness), Warm Bodies looks like it might have a fresh take on the well-trod zombie apocalypse genre. It's a love story between a zombie boy (Nicholas Hoult) and a non-zombie girl (Teresa Palmer), with John Malkovich, Rob Corddry, and Dave Franco turning in supporting performances. Sure, it won't be Shaun of the Dead, but what is?
Melissa McCarthy makes her movie star debut here, opposite Jason Bateman, as a woman who steals the identity of his straight-laced Jason Bateman character. Identity Thief was directed by Bateman's Horrible Bosses director Seth Gordon from a script by Craig Mazin (The Hangover II). The supporting cast includes Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, John Cho, Jonathan Banks, Eric Stonestreet, Clark Duke, and the rapper T.I. This is the first movie produced by Jason Bateman and Will Arnett's company Dumb Dumb, which has only produced funny TV and online ads so far.
A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III
Roman Coppola co-wrote Moonrise Kingdom and Darjeeling Limited with Wes Anderson, but he's taking the directing reins on Charles Swan, which he wrote solo. Charlie Sheen stars as a partying, womanizing graphic designer (a character that's clearly not based on Sheen because he's not a graphic designer), with Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Patricia Arquette, and Aubrey Plaza making up the supporting cast. Early reviews have been mixed, praising the cast's performances while criticizing just about everything else, but hey, it's Bill Goddamned Murray!
21 & Over
Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the writers of the first Hangover movie, make their directorial debut with this college-aged party movie they also scripted together. 21 & Over follows a straight-laced young dude named Jeff Chang, whose best friends drag him out to celebrate his 21st birthday in typical raucous The Hangover/Project X fashion, the evening before his big important medical school exam. Lucas and Moore also wrote The Ghosts of Girlfriend's Past and The Change-Up, but 21 & Over looks like it'll skew closer to The Hangover in terms of its subject matter and its lack of ghost ex-girlfriends or body switching.
Tina Fey and Paul Rudd star in this pleasant-looking rom-com about a Princeton admissions counselor (Fey) who may have found the child she secretly gave up for adoption with help from her old college friend (Rudd). Paul Weitz (About a Boy, Little Fockers) directs Admission, which is Fey's first movie since Date Night three years ago and Rudd's fifth movie to come out since you started reading this sentence.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
You've always wanted to see Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi play a Siegfried & Roy-esque magic team; you just didn't know it until now. Burt Wonderstone stars Carell as the title character, an illusionist who splits with his partner (Buscemi) after a guerrilla street magician (Jim Carrey) upstages them. Alan Arkin, Olivia Wilde, James Gandolfini, Gillian Jacobs, and Brad Garrett also star. Wonderstone was written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein (who last wrote Horrible Bosses together) and will mark the directorial debut of Don Scardino, who's directed more 30 Rock episodes than anybody in the history of 30 Rock.
Bridesmaids was the biggest comedy of the past few years, so Melissa McCarthy reteaming with director Paul Feig for The Heat could turn out to be the comedy event of the year. The Heat stars McCarthy as a Boston cop who is forced to team up with Sandra Bullock's FBI agent character to catch a scary drug lord. Kaitlin Olson, Taran Killam, Michael McDonald, Tony Hale, Nate Corddry, and Bill Burr round out the supporting cast. Given Feig and McCarthy's recent hot streak, the super funny supporting cast, and the fact that the script was penned by Parks and Rec writer Katie Dippold, The Heat has all the makings of a really funny movie.
Scary Movie 5
The last Scary Movie was 7 years ago, but producer/co-writer David Zucker has dusted off this old franchise to try to inject some life back into it with the fifth installment. Most of the movies they're parodying this time around seem pretty dusty too (Inception, Paranormal Activity, Black Swan), and it's the first Scary Movie not to feature Anna Faris and Regina Hall as the protagonists, but hey! Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan are cameoing as themselves in a scene that has some fun with their personal foibles! It's like if the people in a Jay Leno monologue acted out a Jay Leno monologue.
Want more Winter Comedy Preview? Check out our rundown of all the new midseason TV shows.