Splitsider’s Summer Comedy Preview: Movies
While the summer movie season is traditionally known for big, loud superhero movies, it’s also the time of year when the highest number of comedies hits theaters. It’s also the time of year that tends to offer the best big-screen comedies. Take last summer, for example, when This Is the End, The Heat, The World’s End, and indie In a World… all came out and ended up better-received than anything released before or after the summer.
Summer 2014’s crop of comedies is a little smaller than usual for whatever reason, but there’s still plenty of stuff to look forward to, including hot comedy directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s 22 Jump Street, Melissa McCarthy’s first movie she’s written for herself, and New Girl actors Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. being paired up to star in a movie together.
Seth Rogen has had a pretty solid track record with movies released from his and Evan Goldberg’s production company. 50/50 and This Is the End were the first two, and the third, Neighbors, looks to continue that streak. Rogen stars as a family man who moves into a new neighborhood with his wife (Rose Byrne), only to be dragged into a war with the rowdy frat house next door led by Zac Efron. Directed by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek), Neighbors was written by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, who make their screenwriting debut here but have been producing Apatow movies and writing unproduced stuff for years now. Neighbors has an impressive supporting cast that includes Ike Barinholtz, Hannibal Buress, and Jerrod Carmichael, and it’s been receiving mostly positive reviews from critics so far.
After spending the last decade or so directing action blockbusters like the first two Iron Man movies and Cowboys & Aliens, Jon Favreau returns to more relatable territory with Chef, a comedy he wrote, directed, and starred in about a chef who opens a food truck after his restaurant closes down while reuniting his estranged family. Chef has quite the eclectic supporting cast, including Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr., and Amy Sedaris, and like the other comedy coming out the same weekend, Neighbors, it’s being praised by critics too.
Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore teamed up again for Blended, their third movie, following The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates. Blended finds Sandler and Barrymore playing a pair of single parents who Brady Bunch their families together on an African vacation. The movie was directed by Frank Coraci (Here Comes the Boom, Click), not Sandler’s usual director, Dennis Dugan, who helmed his recent string of comedies (Jack and Jill, both Grown Ups, Just Go With It).
A Million Ways to Die in the West
Seth MacFarlane proved he could direct and co-write a successful movie with 2012’s Ted, and now, with A Million Ways to Die in the West, he’s looking to add movie stardom to his resume. MacFarlane co-wrote the western-comedy with Ted cohorts Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, and he stars in the film as a sheep farmer who falls in love with a woman (Charlize Theron), only to have to face off with her outlaw husband (Liam Neeson). MacFarlane may not have starred in a movie before, but packing his cast with Oscar-y performers (Theron, Neeson) and beloved comedic actors (Sarah Silverman, Neil Patrick Harris) is definitely a smart move.
Jenny Slate makes her lead role debut in Obvious Child, an independent comedy-drama that earned rave reviews at Sundance this year. Director Gillian Robespierre directed the movie, based on her 2009 short film of the same name (also starring Slate), and it follows a Brooklyn standup (Slate) who gets dumped, fired, and pregnant all on the same day. Jake Lacy, David Cross, and Gabe Liedman also star.
22 Jump Street
As directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) are eager to point out, all of their movies sound like bad ideas on paper but end up being surprisingly good. Hopefully, that’ll be the case with 22 Jump Street, the sequel to their 2012 Channing Tatum-Jonah Hill reboot of the same name. As suggested by the ending of the previous movie, 22 Jump Street finds Hill and Tatum’s characters going undercover at a local college to pull off a drug bust. Every movie Lord and Miller have directed so far has pleased critics, so expectations are high for this one.
Think Like a Man Too
When the first movie in the Think Like a Man franchise became a surprise hit two years ago, Kevin Hart had yet to become one of the most powerful people in comedy. Since then, he released the successful standup film Let Me Explain and starred alongside Ice Cube in Ride Along, the highest-grossing live-action comedy of the year. Like Ride Along and Think Like a Man, the sequel is directed by Hart’s go-to director, Tim Story and brings back the original’s cast and writers for a story set in Las Vegas.
They Came Together
They Came Together is only the second movie David Wain and Michael Showalter have written together, and considering that Wet Hot American Summer was the first, this one is being eagerly-awaited by fans. A spoof of romantic comedies that, from the looks of the trailer, will prove that parody movies can be funny again, They Came Together stars Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler as the central couple. David Wain, who also directed the movie, has populated his cast with a slew of ringers including Bill Hader, Cobie Smulders, Christopher Meloni, Max Greenfield, Jason Mantzoukas, Ellie Kemper, Jack McBrayer, Ken Marino, Michael Ian Black, Kenan Thompson, Ed Helms, and just about every other funny person on the planet.
Melissa McCarthy has been starring in movies for a couple years now, but Tammy is the first project she’s generated herself. McCarthy co-wrote Tammy with her husband Ben Falcone who is directing the film; McCarthy and Falcone are producing it alongside Will Ferrell and Adam McKay via their company Gary Sanchez. Tammy stars McCarthy as a white trash woman who goes on a road trip with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon) after losing her job and finding out she’s being cheated on. The cast also includes Allison Janney, Toni Collette, Dan Aykroyd, Kathy Bates, Nat Faxon, and Mark Duplass.
The Bad Teacher team (director Jake Kasdan and stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel) reunite for Sex Tape, a comedy about a married couple who make a sex tape that they accidentally send to everyone they know. Jack Black, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, and Rob Lowe also star. Bad Teacher, despite being popular with audiences, didn’t do so well with critics, but Kasdan has directed his fair share of solid comedies (Walk Hard, The TV Set) and this might end up being another one.
Let’s Be Cops
New Girl duo Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. are looking to become leading men with Let’s Be Cops, a buddy movie that stars them as two guys who pretend to be police officers for all the perks that doing that brings. Rob Riggle and Keegan-Michael Key also star in the movie, which was directed by Luke Greenfield (Something Borrowed, The Girl Next Door) and could wind up being a late summer surprise hit.