(Photo by Tracy Bennett/©Columbia Pictures)
The critics haven’t always been kind to Adam Sandler over the course of his film career, but box office receipts don’t lie — his detractors have been handily outnumbered by his many ardent fans, many of whom have been laughing it up over the SNL vet’s shtick for decades. His filmography’s certainly had its share of ups and downs, but it includes some of the biggest — and most eminently quotable — comedy hits in recent memory, from Billy Madison to Happy Gilmore, as well as a number of beloved rom-coms like The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates, and indie gems in the form of The Meyerowitz Stories and Punch-Drunk Love. In fact, one of his latest was exactly that: 2019’s Uncut Gems, the intense crime thriller from the Safdie bros, drew some of the highest critical acclaim of Sandler’s career.
Watch out for hired goons, giant penguins, and, of course, Bob Barker, and let’s take a look at his entire filmography, from the best Adam Sandler movies to the worst, ranked by Tomatometer!
(Photo by Columbia Pictures/ courtesy Everett Collection)
One-season wonder Freaks and Geeks had a startling amount of its young alums go on to have successful Hollywood careers, Seth Rogen chief among them. He followed mentor Judd Apatow into the movie game with The 40 Year-Old Virgin, starring in a memorable supporting role. Rogen was then upgraded to lead status for Apatow’s follow-up Knocked Up, and the movie’s critical and box office success showed Virgin was no fluke, heralding a significant sea change in mainstream American comedy. Rogen has remained the face of this bong- and bro-tastic style of comedy, also featuring big rips of heartfelt emotion – like Animal House by way of James L. Brooks – in repeated movie hits like Superbad, Pineapple Express, This Is the End, Neighbors, and The Disaster Artist.
He’s been amassing an impressive résumé as producer (not just on his own starring films, but also the likes of Blockers and Good Boys) and director, helming This Is the End, The Interview, and episodes of Future Man and Preacher. His latest comedy was An American Pickle. And now we’re looking at all of Seth Rogen’s movies, ranked by Tomatometer!
Thumbnail image: Columbia Pictures, Universal / courtesy Everett Collection
For almost two decades, Judd Apatow has been the king of a certain kind of American movie comedy – as he described it to Rotten Tomatoes, films about people who are stuck and whose lives are falling apart… because “life falling apart is usually funny.” In movies like Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Trainwreck, the writer and director has given us some of recent cinema’s funniest moments, from a chest-waxing scene that almost cost Steve Carell his nipple to an epic breakdown in the principal’s office courtesy of a foul-mouthed Melissa McCarthy in This Is 40. His latest comedy, The King of Staten Island, is a semi-autobiographical feature starring and co-written by Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson, and it packs in Apatow’s signature mix of big laughs and big feels.
Ahead of the movie’s release, Apatow sat down with us to break down the mechanics and stories behind some of the funniest scenes he’s put on the screen – including an messy pool fight that’s getting the biggest laughs from audiences who’ve seen his newest film.
With this weekend’s War Dogs, Jonah Hill teams up with Miles Teller to tell the reality-inspired tale of two guys out to strike it rich as arms dealers. It’s just the latest in a series of eclectic roles for Hill, who made his name as a member of the Apatow comedy stable before branching out into more dramatic fare, and we’re here to celebrate it with a fond look back at some of the brightest critical highlights from his growing filmography. It’s time for Total Recall!
Years after they roomed together as young comics with showbiz dreams, Adam Sandler and writer/director/producer Judd Apatow reunited for 2009’s Funny People, which surrounded Sandler with a crowd of comedic talent that included multiple members of the Apatow stable — including Seth Rogen, who plays an aspiring comedian who lucks into a friendship with Sandler’s embittered superstar, and Hill, who plays Rogen’s roommate and a fellow veteran of the stand-up circuit whose own career ambitions end up getting tangled in the complicated relationship between Rogen and Sandler’s characters. The movie’s 146-minute length turned off a number of critics, but it was just right for Ben Lyons of At the Movies, who wrote that “Apatow has always found a balance of heart and humor in his best films, and Funny People is no exception.”
Hill and Russell Brand triggered a few laughs during their scenes together in Forgetting Sarah Marshall — so when it was decided that Brand would reprise his character in the Marshall spinoff Get Him to the Greek, it was only natural that the duo should be reunited. Here, Brand’s Aldous Snow must be shepherded to a crucial gig through a landmine of bad decisions and irresponsible behavior, with responsibility for his whereabouts falling to an increasingly overmatched label rep played by Hill. “The movie’s a good, rude commercial comedy,” argued the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips. “How many good movies have we even seen this year?”
Hill earned his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his work in The Wolf of Wall Street, a luridly over-the-top Martin Scorsese epic that uses the real-life exploits of disgraced stockbroker Jordan Belfort as the launchpad for a wild-eyed look at modern capitalism — and three hours of drug-fueled insanity. Always entertaining as part of a duo, Hill turns in some of his best work as a foil for Leonardo DiCaprio’s Belfort, playing the comparatively less unscrupulous part in a gonzo dramatization of one of Wall Street’s more infamous cautionary tales. “For three hours the movie operates at a ridiculous comedic pitch. You never forget you’re at the circus,” Wesley Morris wrote for Grantland. “You never lose sight of the lawlessness, the reckless pleasure, the sheer lunacy and lack of regulation.”
The 21st century has brought us no shortage of comedies about schlubby man-children, but Cyrus is something different. Rather than going broad and over-the-top with the story of an overgrown mama’s boy (Hill) who plants himself squarely between his mom (Marisa Tomei) and her well-meaning new suitor (John C. Reilly), writer-directors Jay and Mark Duplass gave their seemingly tired premise a fresh mumblecore spin, playing up the sphincter-tightening awkwardness of the situation and trusting their talented cast to imbue the characters with three-dimensional honesty. “I’ve seldom seen,” mused the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern, “a film in which three intelligent, articulate people make so many penetrating observations about themselves, and address their bizarre situation so directly, without providing, or indeed possessing, the slightest clue.”
We’ve seen plenty of movies about the end of civilization, but they’ve all focused on the apocalyptic problems of ordinary people while neglecting to imagine what those last few days on earth might be like for celebrities. Enter This Is the End, which imagines what it might be like if disaster struck Los Angeles while James Franco was hosting a house party. Featuring Hill, Franco, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride — among plenty of others — playing fictionalized (and generally obnoxious) versions of themselves, it combines a fresh take on the apocalyptic comedy with the fun of watching movie stars make fun of themselves. As J.R. Jones argued for the Chicago Reader, “Their big joke is to literalize the Book of Revelations, but snaking around this is a biting contempt for the entertainment business, their own bad movies, and the social privilege these confer.”
A movie about a TV show that wasn’t exactly a classic in the first place has no business being awesome, and a buddy-cop picture doesn’t seem like the most natural environment for testing out Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill’s screen chemistry. All of which is pretty much exactly why the Jump Street franchise has had such a blockbuster time of it on the big screen: the duo’s easy banter, coupled with the freewheeling attitude of a pair of films that went meta on their medium in increasingly bonkers ways, added up to two critical and commercial hits. Whether we’ll ever get that rumored Jump Street/Men in Black crossover remains an open question, but for now, we’ve got the movies that moved the Atlantic’s Christopher Orr to write, “Self-referential irony is hardly a new gimmick, having served as the underlying premise for such franchises as Scream and Austin Powers, but rarely has it been indulged with such fervor.”
The Coen brothers have a terrific eye for talent and enough clout to hire just about any actor they see fit, so the opportunity to star in one of their films isn’t something many stars would take lightly — even if the role in question isn’t necessarily the biggest in the movie. For example, here’s Hail, Caesar!, a Coens spectacular that uses a bustling ensemble of famous faces (including George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, and — you guessed it — Jonah Hill) to tell the madcap tale of a doofus actor in ’50s Hollywood who gets himself kidnapped, spurring his studio to enlist the efforts of their in-house fixer (inspired by real-life movie biz legend Eddie Mannix) to secure his return. That description just scratches the surface of an old-school singing, dancing extravaganza that simultaneously celebrates and sends up old-school cinema; if the end result is a little unwieldy, most critics felt its deficiencies were far more than outweighed by its charms. “This,” opined Richard Roeper for the Chicago Sun-Times, “is one of my favorite movies ever made about making movies.”
A high school loss-of-virginity flick in the grand tradition of Fast Times at Ridgemont High and American Pie, Superbad teamed Hill and Michael Cera with newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse as desperately horny teens on a quest to secure booze for a house party. It may have been embarrassingly familiar, but screenwriter Seth Rogen and his writing partner, Evan Goldberg, nonetheless managed to squeeze fresh laughs (and plenty of ticket receipts) from it — not to mention kudos from critics like the San Francisco Chronicle’s Mick LaSalle, who wrote, “for pure laughs, for the experience of just sitting in a chair and breaking up every minute or so, Superbad is 2007’s most successful comedy.”
After making a brief appearance in Judd Apatow’s 40-Year-Old Virgin, Hill took on a more substantial role in the follow-up, Knocked Up, which paired rumpled slacker Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) with gorgeous E! Network employee Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) for a look at what can happen when you head to a club, have a few too many drinks, and don’t give a lot of thought to who comes home with you. (This is Hollywood, of course, so what ends up happening is everlasting love, but not before a lot of funnier, more unpleasant consequences.) An enormous box office success, Knocked Up offered Hill an opportunity to reel off a few funny lines, cemented Apatow’s standing as a purveyor of fine adult comedies, and earned the adoration of critics such as Stephanie Zacharek of Salon, who called it “Hilarious from moment to moment, but leaving behind both a warm glow and a sting. This is a picture that refuses to fetishize either the ability to conceive or the significance of our place in the universe once we’ve done so.”
As a (freakishly entertaining) by-the-numbers account of how the Oakland A’s used newly adapted metrics to turn conventional baseball wisdom on its head, Michael Lewis’ Moneyball seemed like one of the least cinematic bestsellers to have its film rights optioned by a major studio — and after directors David Frankel and Steven Soderbergh departed the project, it looked like it might be destined for the scrap heap. But with Bennett Miller behind the cameras and Hill demonstrating his Oscar-nominated dramatic chops opposite Brad Pitt — not to mention an Aaron Sorkin screenplay — it ended up being not only a six-time Academy Awards nominee, but a $110 million box office hit. “Baseball fans know this story,” admitted USA Today’s Claudia Puig, “but Miller puts it all in fascinating context. This is a thinking person’s baseball movie, a more complex version of the inspirational sports story.”
When Judd Apatow grew up he made Funny People. This is certainly his most mature comedy to date, if not his most successful.
George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is a narcissistic, superstar comedian who is diagnosed with a terminal disease. The only treatment available to him is highly experimental and he is plunged into deep misery as he contemplates his mortality and the superficiality of his life. He shares his introspective ponderings on stage at the comedy club where he started out and meets new-comer Ira (Seth Rogen).
There are some genuinely hilarious moments, most of which come from Ira’s housemates played by Jason Schwartzman and Jonah Hill, but at almost two and a half hours, the movie does drag in parts. The humour is lewd, over-the-top and at times down-right offensive but if that sort of thing worries you then you have no business picking up an Apatow DVD.
The plot has a jack knife twist which makes the film as a whole feel somewhat disjointed and some of the analysis of comedy as art and the nature of the artist borders on self-indulgent but at least all the scat and holocaust jokes save it from slipping into schmaltzy sentimentality.
Definitely plunder the special features on this one because the commentary with Apatow, Sandler and Rogen is very funny. There are also gag reels, deleted, extended and alternate scenes and featurettes including snippets from Judd’s High School Radio Show.
This highly stylised sci-fi thriller looks super slick and has an edgy feel that is well complimented by the Hong Kong setting. It has striking colours, gorgeous lighting and uses every trick in the editor’s handbook. There is only one problem…it is absolutely incomprehensible.
The basic premise is that the Nazi’s carried out a series of experiments on a gang of psychics in an effort to build a race of paranormal soldiers. Their work was picked up by a secret government agency called the Division and now the world is inhabited by rogue souped-up psychics. There are pushers who can force any idea into their victims’ heads, movers who are telekinetic, watchers who see the future, bleeders who appear to cause massive internal bleeding with a single scream and bloodhounds who can sniff them all out. There is also some serum, a suitcase and an ever-moving future. Don’t sweat the details because the details don’t make a whole lot of sense. Just enjoy it like you are flicking through a very hot comic and you will have fun.
The good news is that the special features contain a featurette that is meant to capture the science behind the film. I am not sure if it does that but it is a fascinating look into psychic conspiracy theories. You will also find deleted scenes and an audio commentary with director, Paul McGuigan, and stars Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning.
John Travolta stars as an evil hijacker who takes a New York subway and threatens to start killing off the passengers unless a massive ransom is paid in one hour. Denzel Washington is his nemesis, the subway dispatcher who draws on his intricate knowledge of the subway system in his race to thwart the criminals and save the day.
The stars in this do a good job. Both Travolta and Washington bring a great energy to the screen and James Gandolfini plays an excellent Mayor. In fact, this is a perfectly adequate, if predicable, remake of an outstanding original film. The techniques are flashier, the score bigger, the crashes are more explosive and computer generated and everything is slightly more frenetic. In short, it is a modern day thriller. However, all the flash in the world can’t replace strong characterisation and a good build of the story and sadly, both of those elements are missing in this version.
By all means watch it, enjoy it and then walk down to the dusty end of the video store and hire the 1974 original. You won’t be disappointed.
The special features include an audio commentary from director, Tony Scott as well as handful of featurettes including an interesting ‘making-of’ piece.
Robert Downey Jr. plays real-life newspaper columnist, Steve Lopez, who develops a friendship with an extraordinarily talented violinist, Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx), a schizophrenic living on the streets.
This true story is a very moving portrayal of friendship and acceptance. It is less successful in its analysis homelessness and mental illness, in part because tends to resort to a ‘midday movie’ style earnestness with its hand-wringing representations of welfare options and flashbacks.
What works exceptionally well is that the characters themselves are never romanticised. There is no traditional happy ending. There is no shining knight. This honesty redeems the film from all other failings. And this success lies in the work of Robert Downey Jr and Jamie Foxx. Sure, you can tell they were playing for the Oscar, but beyond that, they both deliver truly magnificent performances.
There are two interesting featurettes to be found amongst the special features, one is about Julliard, the famed music school where Ayers started his study before his mental illness made it unbearable for him to continue and the other is a making-of feature called ‘An Unlikely friendship’. There is also an audio commentary from director, Joe Wright, and some deleted scenes.
Real-life adult movie star Sasha Grey plays a high-class New York call-girl who offers her client the ‘girlfriend experience’ within a very structured code. Away from work she has a boyfriend who is accepting of her career choice, contingent on her compartmentalising her girlfriend experience offering.
This is a small film from director Steven Soderbergh. He even shot it himself, under a pseudonym, on HD video. It is set in the lead up to the last US election and is less about sex and the life of a call-girl as it is an analogy of the global financial crisis and an economy where even sex and love become a commodity.
Those looking for the emotional complexity of Soderbergh’s break-through film, Sex, Lies and Videotape, won’t find it here. The Girlfriend Experience is surprisingly cold and non-sexual but is still a fascinating little film.
Rachel Ward’s directorial debut is an emotionally charged portrayal of a family in ruin. When Ned (Ben Mendelsohn) returns home for the first time in 20 years to see his sister, played with great warmth by Rachel Griffith and his cruel, overbearing father, Bruce (Bryan Brown), he is confronted by haunting memories.
All of the performances in this film are exceptional. Each character, though largely unlikable, feels rounded and complete; with the possible exception of the title character, beautiful Kate. Bryan Brown is particularly harrowing as the dying old man who has lost none of his spit and venom with age.
The family’s story is revealed largely though flashbacks which gives the film a dreamlike quality to it. Ward makes excellent use of the South Australian bush and manages to take the original American novel and invest it with a strong Australian feel. There are moments in this film that are shot so beautifully, with such simplicity, that you can almost smell the dark, country night air.
The storyline is very confronting, for some maybe too much so. This is not a film that shies away from taboos but rather strides right through them, regardless of the consequences.
As well as containing deleted scenes and an audio commentary, the special features also offer a couple of Rachel Ward’s short films including The Big House and Martha’s New Coat.
Played by G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra’s Channing Tatum, Shawn is a street-hustler who finds himself lured into the underground world of bare-knuckle fighting in New York City.
This is a fairly predictable story that follows the well-trod formula of the underdog boxer or fighter film. It distinguishes itself from the dross, however, by its absolute grit. The fight scenes feel downright dirty and realistic. And the sleazy fight manager, Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard) is an example of how a fine performance can elevate even the most pedestrian film.
If it is a world that interests you, this film produces the best it possibly can with a slightly tired script.
Based on one of the most legendary battles in China’s history, John Woo’s The Battle of Red Cliff is a tale of heroism and warfare on an epic scale. It is nothing short of spectacular and makes some of the battle scenes in the Lord of the Rings trilogy look like playtime. It is the most expensive Chinese-language film ever made and you can tell.
There are two versions of this film available. In Asia, it was released in two parts and ran for over four hours in total. In Australia the theatrical release was a highly edited one-film version running at a little over two hours.
Editing this film was a travesty. It still contains many of the magnificent battle scenes but an epic of this quality deserves to be savoured in full.
There are two versions of this film on DVD. There is the one-disc theatrical release and the two-disc Director’s Edition which contains part 1 and 2. Both are available on DVD and Blu-ray. Look out for the extended version and where possible watch it on Blu-ray.
None of the DVD or Blu-ray releases are heavy on the special features, though there is an interesting interview with John Woo and some behind the scenes coverage.
You are looking fantastic — you’ve lost a lot of weight. How did you do it?
Seth Rogen: Thank You. I had a trainer and I dieted. It was that easy — it drives my girlfriend crazy.
They make quite a joke of your new slimmer build in the film. Was that based on real life?
Seth Rogen: Yeah people make fun of what I’m eating because they can tell I hate it. They know I am not happy eating healthy food. I look miserable — I look like I would rather be eating something else.
Was there any concern that people might look at you differently?
Seth Rogen: For me it’s like a movie to movie thing. Its like your doing a movie — you should probably lose some weight. This was done for Green Hornet and the filming was pushed back a bit. I was always supposed to film Funny People before Green Hornet so it was a mad dash to lose the weight before Funny People, because I couldn’t be losing weight throughout the film.
So you are also Executive Producer on this film. What did that involve?
Seth Rogen: On The 40 Year Old Virgin I was co producer and on Knocked Up I was also Executive Producer. I’m officially there to help him out throughout the pre-production process. It means I go to the rehearsals for the other actors which most actors would not do but as Executive Producer I do that and later I am involved in the conversation about those rehearsals. In this movie Judd had a very clear view of what he wanted to do. He usually finds it more along the way but this one he as very clear what he wanted out of it, so it made my job a lot easier.
Is your character based on Judd’s earlier career?
Seth Rogen: I didn’t know Judd when he was young so it’s kind of what I would imagine Judd would have been when he was young. Judd and I are very different — we don’t act anything alike. We are friends and we work together well but we are not very similar people. I knew the guy he wanted in the movie was supposed to be naïve and wide eyed and who would take a lot from other people but still could be a little sneaky. I think I am much more cynical and I put up walls much more than the character he wanted me to be. To be the sort of person that would take that much crap from someone I needed to be a very different person than what I am. If it was me I probably would have punched him in the face 20 minutes into the movie
That’s what was interesting — he seems to be a guy who would always do the right thing and yet he doesn’t hesitate to stabs his friend in the back.
Seth Rogen: That’s what makes them interesting characters. As a writer it’s bold to do something like that. It’s contradictory because people could say it doesn’t make sense — but it does make sense — the character is doing something complicated. That’s why I really like it.
Do you feel that being in the business you have to learn to play the game even if it’s against your nature?
Seth Rogen: What I relate a lot to in the movie is how much of yourself are you willing to sacrifice in order to become success? Are you willing to stop hanging out with your friends — are you going to become a jerk?
So what is your conclusion personally?
Seth Rogen: No I don’t think so. I think if you want to become the most successful person maybe you have to, but then I look at Adam who is unbelievably successful and he is really nice and seems happy and has a family and kids but generally when I see very rich people I generally assume they are evil. (laughs).
You started stand up at 13. How did you get your first break?
Seth Rogen: They have workshops run out of comedy clubs put on by comics and you learn the basic constructs of joke writing. Then you get up on stage and tell your jokes and that was basically what happened and it was held out of a lesbian bar in Vancouver. It went pretty well and there were some other comics that invited me to do something else, and then slowly you meet the comics and you get more work.
13 is pretty young to be hanging out with seasoned comics, isn’t it?
Seth Rogen: I thought it was hilarious. That’s probably why I have a pretty sick sense of humour now. I still had my friends. It’s not like I only hung out with comedians. I would be there a few nights at week.
What was it like doing stand up for this movie?
Seth Rogen: Judd made us do stand up for months leading up to the movie. It was very helpful in selecting the jokes — for every scene you see me telling a joke, we filmed an entire routine of about 20 minutes. Every moment in the movie may seem random and off the cuff but it is all very meticulously selected.
But you had to write them in character?
Seth Rogen: Obviously I couldn’t write jokes about sleeping on a pull out couch or not having money and I have a girlfriend. I had to write jokes from the point of view of an insecure single struggling guy that has no money. It’s a lot more pathetic than I am, so that was hard, but at the same time I couldn’t go onstage and would have to explain that these jokes are not about me.
Did you think of any other movie references when you were making this?
Seth Rogen: There were a lot of movies we talked about and tried to combine them. We did talk about Lenny because we felt it captured the stand up comedy world really well, and it felt real. We also talked about movies like Terms of Endearment and Broadcast News — those life changing movies, because it was going to be a mix of those.
Did you feel that this was a grown up movie for Judd?
Seth Rogen: I guess. I think it’s a much more complicated movie. I don’t know if it’s because it’s about terminal illness. There are a lot of stories. The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up are pretty simple stories. This one is tracking many ideas and it’s a much more ambitious movie.
How did you build your relationship with Adam Sandler for the movie?
Seth Rogen: We didn’t really hang out but we rehearsed for a few weeks. Luckily in real life Adam is someone I idolized my entire life growing up and I’m in awe of and nervous around so we didn’t need to work on that dynamic. Obviously he is way meaner to me in the movie than he is in real life but that’s easy to fake. We didn’t need to work that hard on it because the dynamic was already there.
This week marks the DVD release of Judd Apatow’s comedy Funny People, the director’s ambitious film starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen. To celebrate, we’re giving away five copies, with thanks to Universal.
To win, tell us in 25 words or less who you think the funniest person in movies is, and why. Send your answers, along with your mailing address, to: Funny People Giveaway.
Entries close Monday, January 11. Winners will be notified by mail. Please note that the contest is open to Australian residents only.
Check out our interview with Seth Rogen here.
Richard Curtis has a plan. “What I’ve decided is to choose recent films,” he explains to RT. “I do think that often people get stuck in always picking the five greatest films of all time, films they saw between the ages of 17 and 22, because that’s when you’re forming your opinions. I think I’ll talk about modern films, which aren’t necessarily the greatest films ever made, but are five great films.”
Modern films are certainly Curtis’ bread-and-butter. Best known for defining a genre with Four Weddings and a Funeral, the writer of Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’s Diary turned to feature directing in 2003 with Love, Actually — an entire career on the big-screen set in the here and now. The Boat that Rocked, out on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK this week and soon to hit US cinemas retitled Pirate Radio, is his first ‘period’ film and he doesn’t go much further back in time than the swinging 60s.
On the small-screen, he’s Britain’s ruling king of comedy, giving us the ultimate history lesson through the various series of Blackadder, and defining comedy for the 80s and 90s through BBC favourites Mr. Bean, The Vicar of Dibley and Spitting Image. In 1985 he founded Comic Relief, which has raised £80m for good causes this year alone.
Read on to learn about the five films he can’t do without.
“That will be the only horror movie on any list of mine. The first time I saw The Exorcist, I had to sleep with the lights on for about four years, so horror is not for me.”
There are so many other funny things — when Kristen Wiig is rude to Katherine Heigl when she gets her job, and she’s going on about how lucky she is to get the job, it’s completely hilarious. Both Seth Rogen and Katherine are so charming and funny, and it’s so modern, on the edge and hard; a real romantic film. I think that if romantic comedies are meant to be romantic and funny, then that’s a perfect example. It’s very relaxed and at ease with itself, and doesn’t try too hard, or doesn’t seem to be trying very hard, and I think that’s very much to do with how Judd makes his movies. I’m sure he knows exactly what he wants, but it does have a slightly improvisational edge to it, because he does work with people that he knows very well, so there’s a naturalness to it, and I think it’s a great modern film. I haven’t seen Funny People yet, but I have very high hopes for it, I’m looking forward to it a great deal. “
“It seems to me like a really great, classic, funny character movie hiding in wolves clothing, pretending to be a big stupid old generic college movie, but it actually invented the genre, and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a funnier version of those movies. Certainly when I was doing The Boat That Rocked, it was M*A*S*H on the one hand – very casual, conversational, just guys doing a weird job – and Animal House on the other – with big characterisations and set-pieces.. So we’ve got four moderns and one slightly older. Can I have one more? Am I allowed? Just for sorrow?”
I think we can let you have another film.
Richard Curtis: OK – The Son’s Room by Nanni Moretti. He was this kind of comedian when younger, and was always called Italy’s Woody Allen, and in a way he’s fulfilled that promise, because Woody Allen also made some very profound films. The Son’s Room is an amazingly gentle, completely sorrowful movie, which I don’t even know whether or not to recommend. It’s full of sadness but everyone who is thinking of having a family should see the film so that they know the risk, and everyone who has got a family should see the film so that they understand how in the middle of the most normal conversational world, sorrow can hit you. But it’s got the best music of any film I’ve seen and it’s got this Brian Eno track at the end. The movie can’t be resolved because it’s about grief that never ends, but somehow the music acts as some way back to normality. So I think The Son’s Room is the film I’ve been most struck by in a way, over the last ten years, the most truthful film I’ve seen.
Music in a film is obviously very important to you…
RC: Yeah, I don’t know. Strangely I watched The Godfather the other day, and the Godfather Soundtrack is extraordinary, it never stops. It’s either jazz music or orchestral music or exciting music, he never lets it go, and that’s the way he keeps the pace up. So I always wanted The Boat That Rocked to be an ecstatic movie. I remember at the end of Bridget Jones, the second one, where we were trying to choose which of the three songs to put at the end where she’s running after Colin Firth – in the end I just said, “Put them all in. Put all three. Let’s have Beyonce, let’s have The Shirelles, and let’s have Barry White.” So I like the idea of going for it, wall-to-wall. And in a way I’ve always thought of my films as being like a Madness album or like an ABBA album, full of delightful little scenarios and very high spirited bursts of things.
But as a writer, just as sort of autobiographically, I listen to music all the time while I’m writing. It always cheers me up and always lifts my spirits, and it always has. On The Boat That Rocked I just wanted to make a film about that feeling of what it’s like to be exhilirated day and night by pop music.
Does the music that you’re listening to end up in the movie when you’re writing?
RC: Yes, but the weird thing is when the music doesn’t. I wrote the whole of Love, Actually listening to one song, which is The Loving by XTC, which is a huge orchestral song about everyone in the world being full of love, but I didn’t put it in the film. Notting Hill was based around two songs, one of which was Wasting Time by Ron Sexsmith, and the other – very oddly I used to listen to it all the time because it exactly represented the pitch of the emotion I wanted in the film – was a version of Downtown Train by Everything But the Girl. That was what I wanted the film to feel like. I used that as the pattern and then threw it away, because there wasn’t actually a place for it in the film. But I often get the mood of what I’m writing from pop music.
Did you have any problems with rights for any of the songs you wanted to use in The Boat That Rocked?
RC: No. With The Boat That Rocked, we had a bit more money, so we got most of what we wanted. Some songs you just couldn’t get because they wanted something like a million pounds – those were the acts who just didn’t want their songs in movies. When Hugh Grant dances in Love, Actually, we wanted a Michael Jackson song we couldn’t get, because it was about a million pounds to use.
But on the whole, these days, I get what I want. My bad memories of The Tall Guy, the very first film I made, are thankfully in the past. It was meant to be structured around three songs by Madness. It was meant to start with Yesterday’s Men, go to The Sun and the Rain, then end with It Must Be Love, and that was the shape of the movie. But they could only afford one song, so we only had It Must Be Love, which was a great disappointment.
There’s a very funny bit in that movie where Jeff Goldblum sits down and listens to a radio and he’s heartbroken. He switches it and on comes a really sad song like Let the Heartaches Begin, so he switches it again and on comes another one called So Sad or Cry in the Rain or something, but if you listen carefully, they’re all sung by my friend Philip, because we couldn’t afford any of the songs. We had to spend an hour in a studio to do one impression of Long John Baldry and one of the Everly Brothers. So in the old days we couldn’t get what we wanted, but now it’s easier.
The Boat that Rocked might be the first film I’ve seen with a double-CD soundtrack.
RC: And I don’t think that’s all of them either – we’ve had to leave out one or two songs from the middle of the movie that haven’t made it onto the soundtrack. But yeah, it was very passionate. What you realise when you’re making a film like that is that people do love their pop music, and as people are finding out now at festivals, living with pop is a great way of leading your life. When we made the movie, everyday when we went out on the boat, all 140 of us, and they blared pop music for an hour. The moment it was lunch we would put it on over the huge speakers, and on the way home we put in on the speakers, and it was an idyllic life.
And you were working with Bill Nighy, who we know is a huge music fan – that would have been fun…
RC: Yeah, Bill loves his pop music. He’s obsessed, at the moment, with a guy called Maxwell, who he says is a great genius, and has just had a huge hit in America. What was nice was that there was one or two songs that I picked that nobody had heard of, like Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells and All Over the World by Francoise Hardy. Everybody had one or two things they were absolutely delighted to meet in the film. And that was my aim, to have a mixture of very high-profile songs and songs that people didn’t know as well.
What’s next for you as a director?
RC: I’m doing a huge range of things, but I think my next movie is probably going to be a film about time travel, but it’ll be quite complicated so it’ll take a while to work out.
Lots of paradoxes to figure out?
RC: I’m not going to worry about things like that, but there are always going to be issues!
Comedy heavyweights Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow claimed the number one spot
with their new dramedy
Funny People which debuted to only moderate results leading the entire top
ten to slump to its lowest point of the summer. Two other new releases, the
in the Attic and the horror film
both struggled to find ticket buyers helping the North American box office once
again fall below year-ago levels for the fourth consecutive weekend.
Universal claimed the top spot with
Funny People which debuted to an estimated $23.4M making for the lowest
gross for a number one film all summer. Playing in 3,007 locations, the R-rated
story of a Hollywood superstar facing death averaged a healthy $7,795 per
theater. Reviews were mixed for the reported $75M production.
Friday generated $8.7M in opening day grosses but sales tumbled 15% on Saturday
to $7.5M signaling bad word-of-mouth. The weekend estimate Universal reported
was very aggressive as it includes a scant 3% Saturday-to-Sunday decline. Final
grosses will be reported on Monday and the three-day figure may end up closer to
Funny People, which co-stars Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill, and
Eric Bana, opened weaker than Apatow’s last directorial effort Knocked Up
which bowed to $30.7M in June 2007 with a $10,690 average. With Sandler being a
bigger and more reliable star, Funny was expected to at least open in the
same vicinity. Even last weekend’s The Ugly Truth with Knocked Up
star Katherine Heigl did better with its $27.6M bow from fewer theaters.[rtimage]MapID=1205730&MapTypeID=2&photo=8&legacy=1[/rtimage]
People’s Saturday drop and weak B- CinemaScore grade hints at a troubled path
ahead. Audiences may be finding it too serious for an Apatow pic and not
immature enough for a Sandler flick. The actor has scored $100M hits in each of
the last seven years (tying Will Smith) but never with an R-rated entry.
Sandler’s younger fans may have been kept out because of the rating. A running
time of nearly two-and-a-half hours also tested the patience of moviegoers.
Universal has suffered through a very forgettable summer and Funny People
has added another headache. Land of the Lost is considered one of the
season’s most expensive flops with less than $50M collected, Public Enemies
hasn’t been a blockbuster despite the starpower, and Brüno fared well
on opening day but has been plummeting by at least 66% each weekend since. The
studio could possibly end the summer without any $100M hits. It had four last
summer when the it focused mostly on franchise action films.[rtimage]MapID=1205730&MapTypeID=2&photo=32&legacy=1[/rtimage]With most IMAX locations finally getting to open
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince this past Wednesday, the latest
wizard flick enjoyed the smallest third-weekend decline for the franchise since
2002. Prince’s Friday-to-Sunday take fell just 40% to an estimated $17.7M
allowing it to hold steady in second place. Domestic cume to date rocketed to
$255.5M. The last Potter installment to enjoy a smaller drop in the third
outing was Chamber of Secrets which dipped only 24% thanks to the
Thanksgiving holiday session.
Warner Bros. was able to debut the new Hogwarts chapter in 166 additional IMAX
venues this past week following the five-week run those screens had for the new
Transformers pic. That boosted the playdate count for Prince to
4,393 this weekend making it the widest film release in history edging out the
4,366 of last summer’s The Dark Knight, another Warners smash. The new
Potter seems likely to hit $300M in North America.[rtimage]MapID=1189302&MapTypeID=2&photo=48&legacy=1[/rtimage]Half-Blood Prince again ruled the overseas box office this weekend grossing
an estimated $42.7M from over 13,200 screens in 64 markets propelling the
international cume to a sensational $492.3M. The global gross flew to an
eye-popping $747.8M in just under three weeks of release. Top offshore markets
are the United Kingdom with $66.5M, Japan with $50.8M, and Germany with $48.2M.
Close behind in third was last week’s top entry
an estimated $17.1M for a 46% sophomore decline. It was a bigger fall than those
experienced by fellow summer 3D kidpics Up and Ice Age: Dawn of the
Dinosaurs which depreciated by 35% and 34%, respectively, in their second
weekends. After ten days, Disney’s spy actioner has grossed $66.5M and is hoping
to reach $110-120M by the end of its run.[rtimage]MapID=10009462&MapTypeID=2&photo=26&legacy=1[/rtimage]With a new Apatow flick in the marketplace,
The Ugly Truth
took a major hit falling 53% but still collected a sizable gross taking in an
estimated $13M in its second weekend. The ten-day total for Sony stands at
$54.5M. Budgeted at $38M, the Katherine Heigl-Gerard Butler pic should end up
with an encouraging $90-100M. Sony hasn’t been too big of a player at the box
office this summer so Truth will be a welcome hit.
Opening in fifth place and barely making a dent in the summer movie season was
the new kidpic
Aliens in the
Attic which took in an estimated $7.8M from 3,106 theaters for a weak
$2,511 average. The Fox release tried to play to families and older kids, but
couldn’t compete with the high-octane competition from all the wizards and
guinea pigs infesting multiplexes.[rtimage]MapID=1197086&MapTypeID=2&photo=15&legacy=1[/rtimage]The horror flick
Orphan held up reasonably well dropping 44%, encouraging for a fright
flick, to an estimated $7.3M boosting the total to $26.8M in ten days. Warner
Bros. looks to end with a solid $45M or so.
Popular summer blockbusters rounded out the top ten continuing their successful
Ice Age threequel dipped 37% to an estimated $5.3M upping the total to
$181.8M. Close behind was the runaway smash
with an estimated $5.1M, off only 21%, for a stellar $255.8M cume. The
post-bachelor party flick has now spent nine consecutive weekends in the top ten
matching Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Taken, and Monsters vs. Aliens
for the most of any 2009 releases. The only film to spend more time this
calendar year was Oscar champ Slumdog Millionaire which spent 11 total
frames in the top ten.
Sandra Bullock claimed ninth place with her top grosser ever,
which took in an estimated $4.8M, down just 24%, for a $148.9M sum. The Buena
Vista release has been a consistent go-to choice for adult women and couples.
Falling 43% to tenth place was the year’s largest hit
Transformers: Revenge of
the Fallen with an estimated $4.6M raising the cume to $388.1M.
Scaring up little excitement outside of the top ten was the new horror film
Collector which debuted poorly with an estimated $3.6M. Averaging a weak $2,736
from 1,325 sites, the R-rated Freestyle release failed to connect with its
target audience which had more high-profile options to choose from.[rtimage]MapID=10011524&MapTypeID=2&photo=2&legacy=1[/rtimage]
Two new titles launched to good results in platform release. Fox Searchlight’s
Hugh Dancy romance Adam bowed to an estimated $66,265 from four sites for a
$16,566 average. The total since its Wednesday start is $94,776. Focus unleashed
its Korean vampire thriller
Thirst in four theaters as well and banked an
estimated $55,173 for $13,793 per location. Both films will expand to more
cities throughout August.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $106.1M which was down a troubling 25%
from last year when
The Dark Knight stayed in the top spot for a third straight
time with $42.7M; and also down 33% from 2007 when
The Bourne Ultimatum debuted
at number one with $69.3M.
Author: Gitesh Pandaya, Box Office
|Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince||$17.7M|
|The Ugly Truth||$13.0M|
|Aliens in the Attic||$7.8M|
|Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen||$4.6M|