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'They Came Together': Beating a Dead Horse with Efficiency and Spite

Made by smart, talented comedy people and starring smart, talented comedy people, They Came Together is a dumb movie. It's built on dumb ideas and executed as dumbly as possible, and that's the point. Slickly directly by David Wain and starring Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd, They Came Together is a self-assuredly dumb parody of the romantic comedy, intent on skewering the genre's worst instincts mainly by reproducing them in a biting tone dripping with mockery. To be clear, this movie doesn't give romcoms a good-natured roasting — it's straight up mean. Nearly every scene features a clever riff on the familiar beats of a romcom formula, and even when Wain's absurdist sensibility closest [...]

'Enlightened' Season 2 Review: It's 'The Wire,' But Funnier

Something like a little less than one month ago, Patton Oswalt began to tweet his effusive praise of a show very few people had heard of. Like a virus, more and more people on Twitter began to speak the world of it, suddenly discovering that the half hour after Girls Sunday nights on HBO wasn't a test pattern, a talk show talking about Girls that just ends up being a conversation about Lena Dunham, or even a classic episode of Arli$$. Instead, they found a challenging, uncomfortable, intelligent, incredibly nuanced work that wasn't The Wire that is categorized as a "comedy," and featured a bunch of talented comedic actors. [...]

Tracking the Rise of Comedy as Something Worth Following with 'The Lowbrow Reader Reader'

In the hierarchy of artistic endeavors comedy occupies a hazy, confused space. The enthusiasm comedians are capable of generating among the general public is considerable but often fleeting; they seem unjustly deficient at inspiring the kind of long term devotion more commonly reserved for their peers in music and film. It was precisely this frustrating divide that drove Patton Oswalt to launch his Comedians of Comedy tour in 2004, a string of stand-up dates that circumvented the two-drink minimum drudgery of conventional comedy clubs in favor of smaller, hipper venues. “These are the kind of people that will support indie rock bands — for twenty years they’ll follow a [...]

The Awkward Honesty of Girls

Last month at SXSW, HBO screened the first three episodes of Lena Dunham’s new show, Girls, to a packed house. For SXSW, it was an opportunity to showcase more television writing, but it also marked the return of festival progeny, as Dunham had premiered her first two features there, winning the narrative jury prize in 2010 for her film, Tiny Furniture.

The buzz around Tiny Furniture attracted HBO and the attention of one Judd Apatow, who signed on to executive produce Dunham’s premium cable series. Fast forward two years and Dunham is standing on Austin’s Paramount Theater stage, doing some combination of glowing and blushing after the [...]

Beavis and Butt-Head's Triumphant Return to MTV

In the spirit of the heroes of this cartoon, I feel it’s only proper to start this off with a five word review: the show does not suck. But if you want to know more about the much-anticipated premiere of Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head, read on.

I went in to the first new episode of Beavis and Butt-Head with a nagging feeling that something would be off. I wasn’t sure what, exactly. Maybe a small detail in the animation, a change in the voice acting, or even re-recorded theme song (the first time I watched a Married With Children on Netflix, I almost didn’t make it past the [...]

'Kroll Show's Second Season Evolves Into "Sketch-uational Comedy"

As far as character showcases go, it doesn't get much more elaborate than Kroll Show.

When Nick Kroll's sketch series on Comedy Central returned for its second season in January, it was clear that he had set his sights firmly on the pseudo-celebrity culture of reality television, with a lineup of characters inspired by the most despicable monsters that crawled out of the Jersey Shore and Real Housewives muck: the Guido womanizer Bobby Bottleservice, the psychopathic publicists of "PubLIZity," the man-child toilet-baby C-Czar, the self-destructively vain Rich Dicks, etc. But if the first season served to introduce the freakshow, the second season unleashed them out into [...]

'The Ben Show' and 'Nathan For You': Banging Gongs and Serving Poop

You can watch the series premieres of The Ben Show and Nathan For You online now if you desire. The shows will be making their debuts on television this Thursday on Comedy Central at 10 and 10:30 p.m. eastern time, respectively.

Maybe its because more cable networks than ever are running original comedic programming, or network brass is sick of relying on the same familiar faces for all of their original shows, but Comedy Central is rolling the dice and uncharacteristically debuting two new shows this Thursday, back to back, hosted by comedians that haven't already been showcased on one of the network's roasts or half-hour standup [...]

The Three Stooges Bring Their Slapstick Into the 21st Century, For Better or Worse

Remakes and reboots are the acme of corporate entertainment. Perhaps it was always so. Repetition usually makes money, a consumerist morphine drip. But The Three Stooges?

When it was reported that the Farrelly brothers were casting a Stooge remake, I, like countless Stooge fans, took a dim view. How could they possibly improve on the original? Or was this a cynical effort to cash in on Stooge nostalgia? None of it made sense.

For one thing, The Three Stooges are from another world. Their humor sprang from vaudeville, which was dead by the time they were making Columbia shorts. They crashed through the Depression, World War II, Hiroshima and [...]

I Watched Jack and Jill So You Don't Have To

Over the weekend, I joined legions of idiotic Americans with the absolute worst taste in movies to go see Adam Sandler's latest "movie," Jack and Jill. As I stuffed my face with popcorn, surrounded by slobbering hyperactive children and foul-smelling adults who appeared to be shut-ins who only venture out once a year to catch the latest Sandler flick, I came to two conclusions: 1) I completely agree with every critic that has raked this disaster over the coals. You don't need me to tell you how bad this movie is. It's literally unwatchable, as in there were moments where I had to turn my head away and stop [...]

Freak Dance Review: No Butts Allowed That Ain't Working

It's pretty remarkable how many dance movies Hollywood has churned out over the years. What's even more remarkable, though, is how godawful terrible most of them are. (Did you enjoy Center Stage too? We were so young!). I guess what I'm saying is, anyone who grew up watching Save The Last Dance will spent the first 30 minutes of Matt Besser's Freak Dance cringing in recognition. Cringing and laughing. Craughing. But you'll have to do it quietly because the Freak Dance score is part Jesus Christ Superstar, part Rent, and every note is worth hearing.

There Was No Winner To 'The Goodwin Games,' But It Was Fun to Play

It's very rare to see the actual lifespan of a television series equal the length of time its story naturally dictated it should last. Shows seem to either overstay their welcome thanks to the promise of more money, or get cancelled before it and the network understands all of its strengths. The Goodwin Games, and all seven of its episodes, concluded last night, seven weeks after it showed up dead on arrival. Based on what was witnessed, the game ended way too soon.

And it was not as if The Goodwin Games was a filler sitcom that hit the reset button every week, where closure of any narrative loose [...]

'Go On' Midseason Report: From Sad Keanu to Dancing Chandler In 15 Steps

It was definitely unwise of NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt to admit last summer that the network was going for "broad" comedies. Television is a business, and all of the really good, intelligent, critically acclaimed, New York and L.A. loving, genre defining/remixing/bending/ mocking/creating comedies that were/are on the channel had and continue to at times draw fewer eyeballs than — ugh — cable, so trying something different makes some sense. But "broad" is an awful word next to "comedy", and in 2013, when we are closer than ever to discovering that the medium's creativity is in fact limitless, the word immediately evokes images of clowns honking horns and the sounds [...]

Frankie Go Boom Manages to Keep its Supreme Weirdness From Spinning Out of Control

Director Jordan Roberts' Frankie Go Boom, which debuted at SXSW last month, is an entertaining, charmingly madcap comedy with an indie sensibility. Half sibling rivalry, half love story, it follows Frankie (Charlie Hunnam of Sons of Anarchy), who grew up being tortured by his older brother, Bruce (Chris O'Dowd), an aspiring director who filmed the awful, funny childhood pranks he pulled on Frank.

As an adult, Frank lives in Death Valley writing unpublished novels in front of a handwritten sign reminding him, "Your family is poison. Stay away.” When his mother convinces him to come home for Bruce's graduation from rehab, he goes against his better judgment. The brothers [...]

Jonah Hill's Allen Gregory: Kinda Funny, Kinda Mean

Last night's pilot episode of Allen Gregory, FOX's new animated comedy about a precocious seven-year-old, begins with the announcement that Allen Gregory (Jonah Hill) is being forced by one of his dads to return to elementary school so that his other dad can get a job. In addition to his dads, we also meet AG's adopted Cambodian sister Julie and her dorky friends, who let a boy regularly knock the books and lunch trays out of their hands because that makes him their "best guy friend" (ding ding ding favorite joke of the pilot).

We watch as Allen Gregory is embarrassed at the hands of the impressive Joel Zadak, [...]