Category: Relativity Media

Out of the Furnace

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Out of the Furnace

Taglines: Sometimes your battles choose you.

Russell Baze (Christian Bale) and his younger brother Rodney Jr. (Casey Affleck) live in the economically-depressed Rust Belt, and have always dreamed of escaping and finding better lives. But when a cruel twist of fate lands Russell in prison, his brother is lured into one of the most violent and ruthless crime rings in the Northeast – a mistake that will almost cost him everything. Once released, Russell must choose between his own freedom, or risk it all to seek justice for his brother.

The film is being produced by Relativity Media, with Jeff Waxman, Tucker Tooley and Brooklyn Weaver serving as executive producers. Leonardo DiCaprio, Tony Scott and Ridley Scott are among the film’s producers. Director Scott Cooper read an article about Braddock, Pennsylvania, a declining steel industry town outside of Pittsburgh, hit hard economic depression, political corruption and the efforts to revitalize it led by Latoya Ruby Frazier, a life long resident, community activist and artist. After visiting, Cooper was inspired to use the borough as the backdrop for a film. Cooper developed an original story and co-wrote the screenplay with Brad Ingelsby. The story has no relation to Out of This Furnace, a 1941 historical novel by Thomas Bell, set in Braddock.

Out of the Furnace

Production began in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area on April 13, 2012, and wrapped on June 1, 2012. The majority of filming took place in Braddock, with additional filming in nearby North Braddock, Imperial, and Rankin. Prison scenes were shot in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia, at the former State Penitentiary in Moundsville. Filming also took place in rural Beaver County, including a deer hunting scene in Raccoon Creek State Park, and a mill scene in Koppel. The Carrie Furnace, an abandoned blast furnace near Braddock, served as the location for the film’s finale.

Originally, it was announced that Alberto Iglesias had reached an agreement to compose the score for the film. However, Dickon Hinchliffe has taken over duties for scoring the film. Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder will also record a new song for the film.

Out of the Furnace Poster

Out of the Furnace

Directed by: Scott Cooper
Starring: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Sam Shepard
Screenplay by: Brad Ingelsby, Scott Cooper
Production Design by: Thérèse DePrez
Cinematography by: Masanobu Takayanagi
Film Editing by: David Rosenbloom
Costume Design by: Kurt and Bart
Set Decoration by: Merissa Lombardo
Music by: Dickon Hinchliffe
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language and drug content.
Studio: Relativity Media
Release Date: December 6, 2013

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Free Birds

Free Birds Movie

Taglines: The greatest turkey movie of all time.

Free Birds is an American 3D computer-animated buddy comedy film produced by Reel FX Creative Studios, directed by Jimmy Hayward and it stars the voices of Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler. Originally titled Turkeys. It was scheduled for 2014, but it was released on November 1, 2013 by Relativity Media.

On a quaint, family-owned farm, a giant turkey flock lives a quiet, complacent, corn-stuffed life. All everyone cares about is feeding time and grazing in the sun with the Farmer, who they swear will bring them to “Turkey Paradise.” Everyone, that is, except for Reggie (Owen Wilson), a whip-smart turkey whose badmouthing of the Farmer and disinterest in the mundane, overfed turkey existence makes him an outcast among his flock.

Reggie’s life is changed forever when an unexpected visit from the President of the United States lands him the esteemed honor of “Pardoned Turkey.” This means living the plush life at Camp David, complete with TV On Demand and cheese pizza. By being pardoned, Reggie has found his own Turkey Paradise — a place where he (and he alone) calls all the shots! That is until Reggie is plucked from his paradise by Jake (Woody Harrelson), the relentless founder– and only member–of the “Turkey Freedom Front.”

Jake has only one mission: to change history forever and save all of turkey-kind. But he can’t do it alone: a mission like this needs brain and brawn, and that’s why he needs to induct Reggie into his effort. “It’s our destiny!” he proclaims, much to Reggie’s scoffing. Despite Reggie’s refusal to abandon his life of luxury, Jake kidnaps him, and together they break into a top-secret government lab and hijack a time machine named S.T.E.V.E (George Takei), taking them back to the year 1621, just days before the first Thanksgiving

Unfortunately, as soon as they arrive in the past, they find themselves in the crosshairs of Plymouth Colony Commander Myles Standish (Colm Meaney), an avid hunter on his own mission to capture enough birds to feed the colonists and their Native American allies for the upcoming Harvest Feast. Before Reggie and Jake become a main course at Standish’s dinner, they are rescued by Jenny (Amy Poehler), the beautiful and fierce daughter of the Wild Turkeys’ Chief Broadbeak (Keith David).

Jenny leads the pair to the edge of the forest where the rest of her flock is hiding from the Pilgrims. Jake must teach the wild flock about the future and rally support for his mission to change history, but Reggie is apparently on a mission of the heart: falling beak over-tail for Jenny.

Inspired by Jenny’s bravery, Reggie leads a daring raid on the Pilgrim village to free their captured comrades. However, their rescue plans backfire when Jake’s feather-brained scheme actually leads Standish and his hunters to the flock, putting Jenny, her family, and the future of all turkey-kind in jeopardy.

Disheartened, Reggie flees to the present day with S.T.E.V.E., following his longheld philosophy that “it’s better off if you go it alone.” But his life at Camp David no longer feels like it’s enough without Jenny and Jake around. Reggie finally realizes that Jake’s crazy mission IS his destiny, and he and S.T.E.V.E head back to help fulfill Jake’s effort to get turkeys off the menu for good!

In this irreverent, hilarious, adventurous buddy comedy for audiences of all ages, directed by Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears a Who!), two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks must put aside their differences and team up to travel back in time to change the course of history – and get turkey off the holiday menu for good.

Free Birds Movie Poster

Free Birds

Directed by: Jimmy Hayward
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler, Keith David, George Takei, Kaitlyn Maher
Film Editing by: Chris Cartagena
Art Direction by: Kevin R. Adams
Music by: Dominic Lewis
MPAA Rating: PG for some action/peril and rude humor.
Studio: Relativity Media
Release Date: November 1, 2013

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Don Jon

Don Jon Movie

Taglines: Everyone loves a happy ending.

Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a strong, handsome, good old fashioned guy. His buddies call him Don Jon due to his ability to “pull” a different woman every weekend, but even the finest fling doesn’t compare to the bliss he finds alone in front of the computer watching pornography.

Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) is a bright, beautiful, good old fashioned girl. Raised on romantic Hollywood movies, she’s determined to find her Prince Charming and ride off into the sunset. Wrestling with good old fashioned expectations of the opposite sex, Jon and Barbara struggle against a media culture full of false fantasies to try and find true intimacy in this unexpected comedy written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

About the Production

“I thought a romantic comedy about the relationship between a guy who watches too much porn and a girl who watches too many romantic Hollywood movies would be hilarious and get to the point. That’s how it started.” – Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Joseph Gordon-Levitt isn’t about to pull any punches. In his provocative, fun, and appealingly frank R-rated comedy, Don Jon, the writer, director and star dives into a host of thorny topics: objectification, intimacy, and today’s media, to name a few. And he does it with the cool-headed forthrightness that’s defined him as an actor, whether it’s playing a lovelorn outsider in (500) Days of Summer, a cancer survivor in 50/50, or a steely cop in The Dark Knight Rises. Don Jon is a hilarious and refreshingly honest dissection of modern American machismo.

Don Jon Movie - Scarlett Johannson

While Don Jon might be the first mainstream American comedy to highlight pornography – the reasons why we watch, why we continue watching – Gordon-Levitt is quick to point out his debut feature isn’t really about porn at all. “I wanted to tell a love story,” he says. “But what I’ve observed is, what often gets in the way of love is how people objectify each other.”

A life-long actor who’s garnered increasing fame in his film career, Gordon-Levitt is no stranger to the vagaries of objectification, particularly at the hands of the media. “Sure, maybe I want to tell this story because I’ve felt objectified in my life,” he says. “But it happens to everyone, to friends of mine outside Hollywood. We put expectations on each other, and rather than engaging with a unique individual and listening to what the other has to say, right at this moment, we put people in boxes with labels.”

“I also wanted to compare pornography to the rest of our media, even perfectly mainstream stuff,” Gordon-Levitt continues. “We see it all the time in movies, TV shows, or commercials, especially commercials. A person–usually a woman–is reduced to a thing, a sex object. And whether the image is rated X or, you know, approved for general viewing audiences, the message is the same. That’s what I wanted to talk about, and sorta make fun of.”

Don Jon Movie - Scarlett Johannson

While Jon objectifies women with porn, his new girlfriend, Barbara, played by Scarlett Johansson, is distracted by fantasies of her own. A drop-dead gorgeous Catholic girl who’s by no means a prude, Barbara nevertheless has very particular ideas of what a relationship should look like, many of which are gleaned from Hollywood romantic comedies. “Women grow up with this idea of what a man should be, whether that comes from films or from our parents or fairytales,” says Johansson. “So, the same way Jon has created this fantasy world as a means of escaping what’s in front of him, Barbara creates this idea of the perfect future, the perfect life, the perfect man, the perfect family. Her ideals don’t leave room for the humanity of a relationship.”

“We learn these expectations everywhere,” adds Gordon-Levitt. “From our families. We get it from our friends, from the church we go to. And we get it from different kinds of media. That in particular fascinates me.”

This mutual objectification, for Gordon-Levitt, forms the heart of Don Jon’s central love story: “I thought a romantic comedy about the relationship between a guy who watches too much porn and a girl who watches too many romantic Hollywood movies would be hilarious and get to the point. That’s how it started.”

Don Jon Movie - Scarlett Johannson

While Don Jon took about four years to come to fruition, Gordon- Levitt’s desire to become a filmmaker began much earlier. “I’d always played around with video cameras, even when I was a little kid. Then, for my twenty-first birthday, I got myself my first copy of Final Cut, the video editing software. Since then I’ve made tons of little short films and videos. Countless, probably hundreds of them. I definitely don’t think I would have been able to direct a feature if it hadn’t been for all that experience.”

After several screenwriting attempts that bore no fruit, Gordon- Levitt landed on the central idea for Don Jon and realized it would be the ideal project for his directorial debut. He says, “This movie is really a character study with no car chases or explosions, no scenes in outer space. It felt like something I could do and I was very much intent on having total creative control.

He spent two years pondering the story, eventually landing on the legendary, fictional character of Don Juan himself. A tragic figure, Don Juan never learns to amend his womanizing ways and is routinely ruined by his shortcomings. Gordon-Levitt wanted to find a more positive ending. “I guess I’m an optimist. I like to think people can change. And I like movies with a good balance of darkness and light. I wanted the story to have that light at the end of the tunnel; I wanted it to have hope,” he says.

It wasn’t until he found himself in Vancouver shooting the comedy 50/50 with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg that Gordon-Levitt finally landed on the right tone for the project. “I was really inspired by Seth and Evan’s approach to 50/50. It was funny as hell, but the humor was coming less from gags, and more from the characters. And because it was rated R, it could be real, people could talk how they really talk, and do the things they really do. That’s when I first landed on the comedic tone and started picturing Jon as this East Coast guy with the gym body and the shiny hair. The idea of playing a character like that made me laugh, so I kept going with it.”

One thing that remained constant for Gordon-Levitt, however, was the image of Scarlett Johansson in the role of Barbara Sugarman. An admirer of her performances in films like Lost In Translation and Vicky Christina Barcelona, Gordon-Levitt flew to Albuquerque to meet her on the set of The Avengers so they could discuss the script before she read it. “We had a long conversation about men and women, love and lust, connection and objectification, media, family, religion, you name it,” Gordon-Levitt recalls. “Shortly thereafter, she read it, and fortunately, she liked it. I don’t know what I would have done if she hadn’t!”

Says Johansson, “I grew up in New York and when I read the script I thought, I know this character. She’s a nice Catholic girl. She has a bit of an attitude. She’s totally absorbed in what she feels she’s entitled to, and it completely blinds her to the reality of a relationship. She’s unrealistic in that way.”

The other, more unlikely, woman in Jon’s life is Esther, a fellow student in Jon’s night class played by Julianne Moore (“Game Change,” Far From Heaven, The Hours, The Big Lebowski). When Esther busts Jon furtively watching porn on his cell phone during class, the moment sparks a frank, and at times quite rocky, rapport. Along the way, Esther introduces Jon to an entirely new way of thinking, leading him on a journey of unexpected growth.

Moore admits she was initially reticent to read Gordon-Levitt’s script; she didn’t want to appear in another movie about pornography after a career-defining turn as an adult film actress in Boogie Nights. Everything changed when she read Gordon-Levitt’s writing. “I just loved it,” Moore recalls. “It’s not about porn at all. It was really inventive and went in ways that were completely unexpected. The journey from that kind of objectification all the way to intimacy is a really transformative one. And to do it through the lens of porn is – it’s just incredibly refreshing and original.”

Moore particularly enjoyed portraying Esther’s enviable lack of self-consciousness. In the film, Esther is grieving a great personal loss; but this emotional wound paradoxically opens her up to the unexpected possibilities of life. “Esther is extremely present and doesn’t seem to have an awareness of how she’s presenting herself,” Moore explains. “I like how innately curious she is about the world and about Jon. She has no agenda about what’s happening right in front of her.”

In the role of Jon’s father, Jon Sr., Tony Danza (“Taxi,” “Who’s The Boss”) plays a working class Dad whose obsession with televised sports mirrors his son’s addiction to porn. “There’s a scene where Jon, Sr.’s in the middle of telling this wonderful story about his wife and how beautiful she was back then,” recounts Danza, “and it’s this touching moment and everyone says, ‘Oh, that’s such a great story.’ Then all of a sudden, he’s screaming at the television because there’s been a big play. He doesn’t even realize that he’s doing it.”

“I think with Tony’s performance you really see how Jon Jr. inherited this habit of escapism,” says Gordon-Levitt. “In a way, it doesn’t matter whether it’s through porn or sports. It’s a disconnection from what’s really in front of you.”

For his own turn in front of the camera, Gordon-Levitt relished the opportunity to play a character audiences might not expect from him. “I knew that if I was going to make my own movie,” he says, “I wanted it to be something I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. Otherwise, what would be the point?”

Don Jon Movie Poster

Don Jon

Directed by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly
Screenplay by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Production Design by: Meghan C. Rogers
Cinematography by: Thomas Kloss
Film Editing by: Lauren Zuckerman
Costume Design by: Leah Katznelson
Set Decoration by: Cindy Coburn
Music by: Nathan Johnson
MPAA Rating: R for strong graphic sexual material and dialogue throughout, nudity, language and some drug use.
Studio: Relativity Media
Release Date: September 27, 2013

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Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet Movie

Taglines: The most dangerous love story ever told.

The families of Montague and Capulet use any excuse to publicly fight in the streets of Verona, drawing a strict rebuke from the Prince (Stellan Skarsgård). But young Romeo (Douglas Booth) of the Montagues is not interested – he is far too in love with Rosaline, a cousin to the Capulets, a romance which his cousin Benvolio (Kodi Smit-McPhee) urges him not to pursue. But that night, there is to be a masked celebration at the Capulet estate, and Romeo manages to secure an invitation. The Capulet household prepares for the event, where Lord and Lady Capulet (Damian Lewis, Natascha McElhone) hope that their daughter Juliet (Hailee Steinfeld) will accept the advances of young Count Paris (Tom Wisdom). A free spirit little interested in romance, Juliet seems more interested in bantering with her nurse (Lesley Manville) than listening to her parents.

At the ball, Romeo instantly forgets his feelings for Rosaline when he spies Juliet; she is likewise struck dumb when she sees Romeo. They dance briefly, noted by Juliet’s cousin Tybalt (Ed Westwick), who is told by Lord Capulet to let them be and not start trouble. Later, Romeo and Juliet are dismayed to learn that their new loves are of the rival family; undaunted, Romeo spies Juliet on her balcony and boldly declares his love for her.

Romeo and Juliet Movie

About the Production

He is impetuous and emotional, ruled by his heart. She is a thoughtful ingénue, new to romance. And they are madly in love. Their parents and kinsmen would disapprove – if they knew. But they cannot – their families are bitter, ancient enemies, and would separate them forever if they had any inkling of the budding passion. His name is Romeo and hers is Juliet. The lengths they go to for love will require schemes and secrecy, will turn friend against friend, cousin against cousin. It will lead to violence and death – and, ultimately, to reconciliation.

Sometime between 1591 and 1595, William Shakespeare wrote what would become one of his most celebrated and beloved plays: “Romeo and Juliet.” This tragic tale of “a pair of star-crossed lovers” has captured the hearts and imaginations of audiences ever since. While the iconic teens’ ill-fated love affair has played out on stage, television and movies, it has been over 40 years since a feature film returned the story to its original setting in Verona, Italy.

Academy Award-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes, director Carlo Carlei and Swarovski Entertainment and Amber Entertainment aim to rectify that with this latest screen adaptation of the play, filmed on location, starring Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth as the title characters, and featuring an international, all-star cast of actors as their friends and relatives, members of opposing houses of Montague and Capulet.

Romeo and Juliet Movie

The latest version of “Romeo and Juliet” began with producer Ileen Maisel, who felt that the current generation had not been exposed to a more traditional, romantic vision of the play and might enjoy sumptuous locations, costumes and production design, along with the timeless tale of young love, deception, intrigue, death and redemption.

While Renaissance-era English and iambic pentameter can be daunting, Maisel believed the story has contemporary resonance – the opposing young Montague and Capulet boys are akin to rival gangs, for instance; and Romeo and Juliet carry on an illicit relationship, in direct defiance of their parents, something every teenager can understand. Maisel wanted someone who could update Shakespeare’s language and story while staying true to its poetic cadence and compelling plot lines. She turned to Julian Fellowes, who, with the acclaimed feature “Gosford Park” and his recent television series “Downton Abbey,” has experience adapting dense, multi-character, period dramas for modern sensibilities.

“Ileen thought that modern audiences hadn’t seen a classic presentation of the play on film in a long time,” Fellowes says. “Medieval Italy, velvet, silk and damask costumes, climbing roses, the beautiful, Italian architecture, that sort of thing. She thought the story was timely but also that the play needed to be accessible for the new generation in a simpler, more straight-forward way. Also, the play is three hours long and we needed to work in the timescale of modern films, so the narrative had to be more concise. There have been good film versions – notably Baz Luhrmann’s, which I thought was marvelous – but that was set against a contemporary background. There hasn’t been a more traditional ‘Romeo and Juliet’ since Franco Zefirelli’s in 1968,” Fellowes says.

A Short History of Romeo and Juliet on Film

One of Shakespeare’s so-called “black” plays – because any company putting on the show will be guaranteed to be “in the black” (turning a profit) – it’s no surprise that “Romeo and Juliet” has proved to be irresistible for filmmakers since the earliest days of the motion picture. With iconic moments such as the balcony scene, the deaths of Tybalt and Mercutio, and taunting of the Nurse, and the final tragic moments in the crypt, the story speaks as much in visual language as it does in Shakespeare’s soaring, heartbreaking verse. The earliest record of the play on film is a French version from around 1900 – a mere four years after the public exhibition of films began.

Early Hollywood also embraced the work. “Perils of Pauline” hero Paul Panzer played Romeo in a 1908 version opposite a young Canadian named Florence Lawrence: Lawrence was unbilled, but her success in that role and others eventually lead her to abandon her contract with Biograph and become the first nationally publicized “movie star” a couple of years later. In 1916, Metro Pictures (with a version starring matinee idol Francis X. Bushman) raced to get their version of the classic to the screen three days before the Fox version (with smoky Theda Bara as Juliet), with spies from both studios apparently engaging in corporate espionage to bring secrets of production from one set to another.

Since then, productions of “Romeo and Juliet” have tended to be high-profile events worthy of the screen’s greatest talent. In 1936, MGM, the “Tiffany” of the movie studios, hired George Cukor to direct an all-star version of the film, with reigning MGM queen Norma Shearer and A-list British import Leslie Howard as the title lovers. Never mind that Shearer was 34 years old and Howard 43 at the time; with stage and screen legend John Barrymore as Mercutio and notorious “bad guy” Basil Rathbone as Tybalt, the film received four Academy Award nominations.

The 1954 UK version also earned international acclaim, with young Laurence Harvey (“The Manchurian Candidate”) starring opposite unknown Susan Shentall – in her only screen role. With a stable of renowned character actors like Flora Robson, Mervyn Johns, John Gielgud, and Sebastian Cabot in supporting roles, the Renato Castellani- directed version won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and was named Best Foreign Film by the National Board of Review.

Perhaps the best-known version of the film to date is the 1968 Itailan/UK co-production directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Featuring two young actors who were very close to the age of the characters, audiences flocked to see Olivia Hussey (15 when the movie was made) and Leonard Whiting (17) as the title characters. In the more modern era, the young lovers’ passion was most evident in bedroom scenes that featured glimpses of a nude Hussey: eventually, the scenes generated controversy when Hussey was not allowed to attend the premiere of the film because she was underage, even though she was the one who appeared nude. Still, audiences were probably just as much enthralled by the lush location shooting, period costumes, outstanding supporting performances by Michael York (a cold and villainous Tybalt) and Milo O’Shea (a sympathetic if bumbling Friar Laurence),and the haunting “Love Theme” (“What is a youth, what is a maid…”) featured throughout the film. The film earned Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design, and went on to earn nearly $40 million on a budget of less than $1 million.

More recently, the story was taken up by director Baz Luhrmann in 1996 in “Romeo + Juliet,” starring then-youthful sensations Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. Though well-received and well-regarded, Lurhmann’s film drew some criticism for resetting the action in a contemporary beach community meant to resemble Miami, choosing to represent the swordfights as gunplay, and often deliberately highlighting anachronistic elements in both the visual design and soundtrack. Perhaps most significantly, the famous “balcony” scene became a moonlight swim with the two lovers eagerly embracing underwater as opposed to over a suspended trellis. Still, the film earned acclaim from audiences young and old who appreciated the contemporary interpretation, and helped solidify the young Luhrmann’s career in anticipation of his widely praised “Moulin Rouge” (2001).

Even when it is not called “Romeo and Juliet,” the story of Verona’s star-crossed lovers has helped inspire filmmakers and artists. Several ballets are inspired by the play, and every tenth grader knows that the legendary musical “West Side Story” transplants the basic elements of the story to the streets of New York in the 1950s. The Oscar-winning “Shakespeare in Love” centers around the first production of the play in Elizabethan England (a highly fictionalized, but nonetheless enchanting rendering); the play and film “Romanoff and Juliet” imagines the lovers in the Cold War; the imaginative “Romeo Must Die” with Jet Li is a martial-arts version of the familiar story; and most recently, the animated comedy “Gnomeo and Juliet” imagines the lovers as the garden gnomes belonging to two feuding neighbors. Regardless of the filmmakers’ unique take, the presence of the story throughout film history is a testament to the story’s enduring appeal and ability to entertain in many ways, shapes and forms.

Romeo and Juliet Poster

Romeo and Juliet

Directed by: Carlo Carlei
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Holly Hunter, Ed Westwick, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Paul Giamatti
Screenplay by: Julian Fellowes
Production Design by: Tonino Zera
Cinematography by: David Tattersall
Film Editing by: Peter Honess
Costume Design by: Carlo Poggioli
Set Decoration by: Maurizio Leonardi, Christina Onori
Music by: Abel Korzeniowski
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and thematic elements.
Studio: Relativity Media
Release Date: October 11, 2013

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The Family – Malavita

The Family - Malavita Movie - Malavita - Dianna Agron

Taglines: Some call it organized crime. Others call it family.

The Family (released as Malavita and Cosa Nostra in some foreign markets) is a crime comedy film directed by Luc Besson, starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones, Dianna Agron, and John D’Leo. The film follows a Mafia family under the witness protection program that want to change their lives. The film is based on the French novel Malavita (Badfellas in the 2010 English translation) by Tonino Benacquista.

Principal photography began 8 August 2012 and completed on 27 October 2012. In May 2013, it was revealed that the film, originally titled Malavita, would be re-titled The Family in the United States and some English-speaking countries. In countries, including France, the Malavita title was retained.

Filming took place in the locations of both Gacé and Le Sap in Normandy, and in New York City. Some of the filming also took place L’Aigle and at Cité du Cinéma in Saint-Denis for 1 month. The Family (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) was released on 13 September 2013, the same day of the film’s premiere. It includes original compositions by Evgueni Galperine and Sacha Galperine.

The Family Movie - Malavita

About the Story

A mafia boss and his family are relocated to a sleepy town in France under the witness protection program after snitching on the mob. Despite the best efforts of CIA Agent Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones) to keep them in line, Fred Manzoni (Robert De Niro), his wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and their children Belle (Dianna Agron) and Warren (John D’Leo) can’t help but revert to old habits and blow their cover by handling their problems the “family” way, enabling their former mafia cronies to track them down. Chaos ensues as old scores are settled in the unlikeliest of settings.

The Family, also known as Malavita, is an English-language French action crime comedy film co-written by Tonino Benacquista and directed by Luc Besson, starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones. The film follows a Mafia family under the witness protection program that want to change their lives. The film is based on Benacquista’s novel Malavita.

Six years ago, mafia boss Giovanni Maznoni was believed to have performed some unspecified negative activity to a Don Luchese, a crime kingpin in the Brooklyn community. After a failed hit attempt against him and his family at a barbecue, he snitches on the Don Luchese (sending him to prison, where his influence allows him to live well) and enters the witness protection program under the supervision of FBI Agent Stansfield. The family is once again re-locating, to a small town near Normandy after their mafia tendencies alert the kingpin to their location.

The Family Movie - Malavita

As the family adjusts to life in the small city, each family member breaks off into their own stories occurring in parallel. Giovanni runs into trouble when he claims to be a history author writing a novel on the Normandy landings, which is problematic as many citizens in the area are much more familiar with the event than himself. He also begins a quest to track down why the water in his house is brown, becoming irritated when no one he talks to will take responsibility. He beats a plumber who tries to shake him down and a local fertilizer factory owner who interrupts him while talking.

Daughter Belle falls in love with a college student who is substitute teaching a math class. She fakes needing math lessons in order to start a relationship with him, which he rebuffs, but they eventually have sex. Wife Maggie blows up a small grocery store when its owner spews stereotypical American comments. She spends a lot of time at a church, and she and the local priest have a good relationship.

This ends when she confesses the numerous sins her family committed, and he tells her never to come back. Son Warren develops intel on his local school. On the first day, he is beaten up by a small gang, but uses his intel to buy favor with most of the school’s influential students, creating a mini-mafia within the school. He uses this sway to beat up the gang, but also inadvertently alerts Don Luchese to their location when he quotes one of the kingpin’s sayings in a school paper that makes its way back to Don Luchese through a series of strange events.

The family’s individual storylines come to a conclusion as a team of nine hitmen enter the town; the team kills the local police and firemen. Warren decides to leave town with fake passports after the school detects his activities, afraid that the FBI will drop the family’s protection. He returns to the house after seeing the hitmen leaving the train he was about to board. Belle decides to commit suicide after the college student rejects her, but stops when she sees the hitmen team entering the police station.

The Family - Malavita Movie Poster

The Family – Malavita

Directed by: Luc Besson
Starring: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianna Agron, John D’Leo, Tommy Lee Jones
Screenplay by: Luc Besson, Michael Caleo, Tonino Benacquista
Production Design by: Hugues Tissandier
Cinematography by: Thierry Arbogast
Film Editing by: Julien Rey
Costume Design by: Aude Bronson-Howard, Olivier Bériot
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and brief sexuality.
Studio: Relativity Media
Release Date: September 13, 2013

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Paranoia

Paranoia Movie

Taglines: Information is the most dangerous weapon.

The high stakes thriller Paranoia goes deep behind the scenes of global success to a deadly world of greed and deception. The two most powerful tech billionaires in the world (Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman) are bitter rivals with a complicated past who will stop at nothing to destroy each other. A young superstar, Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth), seduced by unlimited wealth and power, falls between them and becomes trapped in their twisting, turning, life-and-death game of corporate espionage. By the time Adam realizes his life is in danger, he is in far too deep and knows far too much for them to let him walk away.

Inside Paranoia

Is it paranoia if they’re really after you?

Adam Cassidy is a bright young rising star at his global tech company who just wants a life different from that of his working-class father still struggling to make ends meet. But when Adam makes one naive mistake, he is forced into becoming a covert corporate spy and obtain trade secrets at a rival company. He gets an instant pass into the opulent and ruthless world of the rich, and sees how this other half lives with a corner office, ready-made luxury apartment and fast car. But before he knows it, he is snared between two tech-world icons with titanic wealth and a mighty system of power to watch – and control – his every move. When Adam decides he wants out, he discovers that they will go to shocking lengths to keep their secrets concealed. A deadly cat and mouse game ensues and Adam must do all he can to protect himself and the ones he loves.

Paranoia Movie

Taking the role of Adam Cassidy is Liam Hemsworth, the Australian up-and-comer who recently garnered global attention playing Gale in the blockbuster The Hunger Games. The filmmakers saw in him all the qualities of both youthful, daring and hard-won integrity they were looking for in Adam.

“He’s gorgeous, charismatic and charming, but Liam is also very accessible,” says Producer Alexandra Milchan. “You feel that he’s someone who is really on the rise and wants it, but at the same time he has the class and dignity that allow him to question that. He also has a maturity and a work ethic that is rare.”

Director Robert Luketic was equally impressed. “I found him to be a wonderful surprise in this role,” he says. “From the start, we shared the same vision of what his character should be. Adam’s values really resonated with Liam and as he responds to seeing his loved ones threatened, I watched him blossom.”

For Hemsworth, his character is someone who gets savvier the harder he is pushed. “Adam has tech smarts, but he also has street smarts,” he observes. “He starts out as someone I think everyone can relate to: a guy with big dreams who has grown up in a low-income family who wants to reach for the stars. But when he gets into the position where he really can do that, and sees what it’s all about, he realizes it’s not exactly the life that he wants.”

Paranoia Movie - Amber Heard

Hemsworth was challenged to reveal how Adam transforms in the middle of the jeopardy he is in. “At the start of his spying, I think it feels like a game to him and he kind of buys into that game,” the actor notes. “It’s really fun for him getting a new apartment and cool cars and having money, but as it goes on, he realizes how serious this game is and once he’s in deep, he starts to see that his very life is at stake.”

The two powerful men endangering his life – Wyatt and Goddard – gave Hemsworth a thrilling opportunity to work closely with both Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford. “Gary is scary as hell as Wyatt,” Hemsworth muses. “He doesn’t hold anything back and he can look you in the eye smiling while he tells you that he’s going to kill you. He’s very gentle and kind in the morning and then we would do rehearsal and he was spitting in my face and yelling at me with amazing intensity.”

Hemsworth notes that Ford also transformed in frightening ways. “Harrison is a really nice guy with a soft-spoken demeanor and Goddard is that way on the outside. But inside, Harrison reveals that Goddard has an edge to him that’s quite mean and very powerful,” he says. “Adam really falls under his spell and it’s easy to see why he starts to idolize and trust him, until he realizes Goddard might not be as nice as he seems.”

Even as Adam is fighting to stay one step ahead of Wyatt and Goddard, he is also falling in love – with one of Goddard’s star executives and a woman who has no idea he isn’t who he says he is. Hemsworth particularly enjoyed exploring this unusually thorny relationship with Emma, played by Amber Heard. “Adam is truly falling for Emma, so he doesn’t want to be stealing from her and spying on her, but he’s forced to lie from the start, which makes it very complicated for them,” he says.

Paranoia Movie

It all comes to a head, Hemsworth believes, when Adam realizes that he is no longer just acting as a spy … he is being spied on himself, with the intent of terminating him when he’s no longer useful. “Adam’s whole world is turned upside down when he realizes that these guys are watching him,” Hemsworth explains. “That’s the moment he understands that they’re beyond the law and they’re never going to let him out of this alive. His life and everyone he loves are threatened – and he’s going to have to find a way to outsmart these guys.”

To help build the danger surrounding Adam to a fever pitch, Luketic worked closely with a great team headed by director of photography David Tattersall, production designers David Brisbin and Missy Stewart and costume designer Luca Mosca – who create his sleek new life, including his luxury apartment outfitted in stylish Armani Casa furnishings, which cleverly conceal surveillance devices.

Early on, Luketic decided he wanted to go for a realistic depiction of the grandiose wealth that Adam turns away from when he decides to go up against Wyatt and Goddard’s empires. “We’re in a post-recession era,” he observes. “It’s a new world where the people with money are a bit more restrained. It’s a sign of our times and the film reflects that. So while Adam is certainly enveloped in a world of luxury goods, he isn’t about flashing bling. He also quickly realizes it’s not the beautiful cars and clothes that make him happy; it’s the chance to create his own technology ideas. But he’s not going to get a chance to do that ever again, if he doesn’t find a way to take these men down.”

Paranoia Movie Poster

Paranoia

Directed by: Robert Luketic
Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman, Amber Heard, Harrison Ford, Lucas Till
Screenplay by: Jason Dean Hall, Barry Levy, Joseph Finder
Production Design by: David Brisbin, Missy Stewart
Cinematography by: David Tattersall
Costume Design by: Luca Mosca
Set Decoration by
Nancy Nye: David Smith
Music by: Junkie XL
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexuality, violence and language.
Studio: Relativity Media
Release Date: August 16, 2013

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21 and Over

21 and Over Movie

Not long ago, Casey, Miller and Jeff Chang were as close as friends could be. Sure, Casey is a bit more buttoned-up compared to Miller’s wild child, with Jeff Chang serving as their foil, studious and ambitious, but that’s why they’re best buddies; they complete each other. Going to different colleges may have put physical distance between them, but they’re still as tight as ever.

This trip to Northern Pacific University in Seattle is about attaining newfound glory; the three of them finally being able to party freely in the eyes of the law, unencumbered by the nuisance of fake IDs and bothersome bouncers. Only problem: Jeff Chang’s overbearing Doctor-father has a Med School interview scheduled for 8AM the next morning, and he’s determined his son follows in his footsteps as a physician.

Luckily, Miller offers a compromise: only one drink, one single drink. It’s only fair since he and Casey traveled all this way to surprise Jeff Chang, and they’ll even have him back by midnight. Certainly sounds reasonable enough, until that one drink turns into many.

Barhopping for Jeff Chang’s birthday is quickly becoming a night for the ages, complete with copious shots and mechanical-bull rides. Even Casey loosens up enough to hit it off with Jeff Chang’s friend Nicole, a smoking hot coed. It’s as though nothing can go wrong! That is, until Jeff Chang starts blacking out and it’s time to take him home.

21 and Over Movie

Naturally, this should spell the end of the evening, only Miller and Casey are in unfamiliar territory; they have no idea where Jeff Chang lives! With the hours till Jeff Chang’s crucial interview ticking away, Casey and Miller embark on an epic quest to put their drunken friend to bed. Along their journey, they draw the ire of a Latina sorority, the NPU mascot, an angry buffalo, and Randy, Nicole’s cheerleader boyfriend. But when their friendship is called into question, that turns out to be the biggest test of them all.

About the Production

On the heels of a resounding success in The Fighter, producers David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman were presented an exciting opportunity; not only would they reteam with the studio that helped earn them Academy Award nominations, but they would be collaborating with writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, whose work they long admired. “[Relativity] had this script that they wanted to make with Lucas and Moore and wanted to find producers for them,” said Hoberman. “We had tried to be in business with Lucas and Moore as writers many times… and really loved the guys and their voice and their sense of humor… And we loved the script and loved them. It was kind of a no-brainer for us.”

Added Lieberman, “Producing an R-rated comedy isn’t something that I’d ever done before and really wanted to. And so it felt like the opportunity to work with two guys who I really respected and wanted to work with… it seemed like kind of like the perfect situation.”

The screenplay that garnered much adulation from its producers may have a simple premise at its core, but don’t think it doesn’t dig a little deeper. “The basic premise is really three friends who get together to celebrate one of their twenty-first birthday and the whole night goes off the rails,” said Moore. “[The question we explore is] are most friendships based on proximity?” This theme permeates the story; its relevance resoundingly clear when characters’ friendships are tried by fire. “You make all these great friendships, but is it because you’re actually meeting people and having a deep connection, or is it just that you live down the hall from this guy and it’s easy to hang out with him and go out and party?” said Moore.

21 and Over - Sarah Wright

While outrageous scenes are the norm in this genre of comedy, 21 and Over surprises, balancing zany set-pieces with down-to-earth, relatable situations. “Really broad comedy without the grounding isn’t something that I’m necessarily interested in,” said Lieberman. “And what this script offered was both.”

After writing the monumentally successful comedy The Hangover, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore penned 21 and Over as a spec script not based on their own experiences, but about the outrageous things they had longed to do. “Mostly Scott and I write from wish fulfillment. I don’t think my 21st birthday was as crazy as I’d like to remember. I definitely made mistakes on my 21st birthday, but no where near what our heroes experience,” shared Lucas.

“We were really excited about the idea of doing a plot-driven comedy,” added Lucas. “A lot of people loved The Hangover, and we’re grateful for all of them, but I don’t think people loved it for the same reasons we loved it as writers. We loved it because it was a real; it was a comedy that was driven by story, as opposed to a comedy driven by an idea. The idea of writing mystery-comedy is exciting to us.”

“The Hangover was really director Todd Phillips’ movie and he did a great job. I’m proud to have my name on it, but this is more an expression of who we are. Our comedy comes from a slightly different place. We go for a slightly more emotional level. I saw that on the day we shot the the vomiting in the bar scene,” laughed Lucas. “But it is heartfelt.”

“We also like a thriller structure in a comedy, so you’re not just relying on jokes, because jokes are hard,” Lucas pointed out. “Successful comedies have more than just laughs, they get you engaged and caring about the characters as you’re laughing.”

“Also, Jon and I like to write movies about universal experiences,” contributed Moore. “As writers, we try to make more out of everything. We had a checklist of a couple of things that we feel pretty much everybody has gone through. Almost everyone has had a hangover, and at some point in life you will turn 21. It is this little rite of passage. So we had this notion floating around and it married really well with this experience that Jon had at a musical festival and it all came together as this movie.”

“I was in the desert at Coachella, so it’s really hot and a friend’s girlfriend’s sister got messed up beyond belief. The tickets were really expensive, it was a big trip, and then he spent the whole time carrying this poor girl,” laughed Lucas. “I’m 35 now and as a movie writer, you’re basically pulling from everything that has ever happened to you. That feeling of carrying your buddy home, you probably did it once a semester in college, like that Vietnam pose of you getting your buddy home… I was starting to fire some axons in the brain and think maybe there’s an idea there.”

“21 is a birthday you really celebrate,” added Lucas. “You’re so psyched. Turning 16 or 17 is a huge one because you can finally drive, and then turning 21 is really exciting. After that, I’m not saying it’s all downhill, but you really don’t celebrate 22. You kind of celebrate 30, but not really, and turning 40 definitely isn’t awesome.” Moore added, “Then you stop celebrating. Done.”

“But 21 is where you go out with all your friends. We call it the American Bar Mitzvah in the movie, because it is oddly this day when America recognizes you as a grownup,” explained Lucas. “You can now do everything you haven’t been able to do. That moment when you first walk into your first bar and you finally don’t feel like you have to lie to someone to get in, you don’t have to be a fraud, you can be welcomed in… it felt like fodder.”

“College is a seminal moment in all our lives because there’s that moment of freedom experienced for the first time,” said Hoberman. “Adults look back fondly on discovering what college life was really like and those who are going through it can also relate. These are three guys that haven’t seen each other in a while and have to get to know each other again. In the intervening years, they’ve changed. Each one goes through an arc: Miller has got to accept responsibility; Skylar needs to loosen up from his fast track to get into the financial world; and Jeff Chang, who is really the primary story, has gotten himself in trouble as a result of traveling in his father’s footsteps. Each of them go through a journey, but they do end up reigniting that friendship they had years ago.”

“It’s actually a really clean idea – two great friends go visit their other third friend at college on his 21st birthday, get him so wasted that they can’t find where he lives, and spend the entire night trying to find his home,” added Lieberman. “This happens and this happens and this happens, but all the obstacles are in the service of a larger goal… get that guy home because his dad’s going to kill him if he doesn’t make that medical school interview. Along the way, they encounter an unbelievable amount of crazy set pieces, but the general construct of the movie is a very simple A to B, almost a road trip paradigm, but on one college campus.”

21 and Over Movie Poster

21 and Over

Directed by: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Starring: Sarah Wright, Justin Chon, Miles Teller, Jonathan Keltz, Daniel Booko
Screenplay by: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Production Design by: Jerry Fleming
Cinematography by: Terry Stacey
Film Editing by: John Refoua
Costume Design by: Christine Wada
Music by: Lyle Workman
MPAA Rating: R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, some graphic nudity, drugs and drinking.
Studio: Relativity Media
Release Date: March 1, 2013

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Safe Haven

Safe Haven Movie

Taglines: You know it when you find it.

When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.

But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her… a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo’s empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards… And that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

About the Production

SAFE HAVEN marks the beginning of a new chapter in author Nicholas Sparks’ already extraordinary career, which encompasses more than a dozen bestselling novels and a string of hit movie adaptations including MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE, A WALK TO REMEMBER, THE NOTEBOOK, NIGHTS IN RODANTHE, DEAR JOHN and THE LUCKY ONE. The story’s North Carolina setting and exquisitely wrought romance are classic Sparks, but this time the author has added an element of mystery and action to the mix, producing a tense thriller wrapped around a tender love story.

Safe Haven Movie

“It’s something a little unexpected,” Sparks says. “There are a lot of elements in the film that are new as far as a Nicholas Sparks film goes. Of course, fans will still get the relatable characters and the strong love story that they come to my work looking for. There’s a lot of chemistry between the main characters and the relationship evolves in a very natural way. But there are a couple of other threads that are different. It feels like Nicholas Sparks, until it suddenly doesn’t.”

The story of a young woman who has left her home in Boston for a place in which she can lose herself, SAFE HAVEN sets up some seemingly insurmountable obstacles to be conquered by true love and ups the ante with an element of real danger. “Our main character, Katie, is on the run,” explains the author, who is also one of the film’s producers. “I thought, what if this woman finds what she thinks is a safe haven? What happens next? All of a sudden you’re on the edge of your seat wondering exactly how this is going to end. That’s what I want in a film: threads of familiarity, then a surprise. SAFE HAVEN puts all of those things together in an absolutely amazing way.”

SAFE HAVEN reunites Sparks with director Lasse Hallstrom and producers Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey for the first time since their successful collaboration on 2010′s DEAR JOHN. “It was a lot of fun working with them again,” he says. “When you work with people more than once, you get to know their strengths and their weaknesses, but most importantly you trust them. They did such a great job with DEAR JOHN and I knew that when they got involved they would do a great job with SAFE HAVEN.”

Safe Haven Movie

Bowen says he and Nyberg were enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with the author again. “DEAR JOHN was such a positive experience that we knew we wanted to be in business with Nicholas again,” he says. “This story seemed really special because it had all the great drama and romance that speaks to his core audience, as well as a thriller element, which separates this movie from his others.

“Nicholas is almost scarily attuned to the heartbeat of America,” Bowen goes on. “He has a deep understanding of pathos and love and pain and hope. Making a film from one of his novels is about delivering something that contains all of what his fans love about his books, plus a twist they can look forward to. They know what’s on the page, so they’re looking for an interpretation that isn’t completely literal. We try to give a little extra something to those readers.”

According to producer Tracey Nyberg, adapting SAFE HAVEN presented the filmmakers with a unique opportunity — and a challenge. “Because it’s a thriller, we wanted to heighten the suspense as much as possible and that meant keeping things back from the audience. But we know that a large portion of the audience will have already read the book. So we tried to find ways to suspend their disbelief in order to surprise them. I think we’ve set it up so that you’re not sure why Katie is being pursued or just who is chasing her. Everyone goes into a Nicholas Sparks movie expecting the romance and emotion, but the twist should set this one apart.”

Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom was the logical choice to helm the film given his sensitive handling of DEAR JOHN, says Bowen. “Lasse is a special spirit whose soul is reflected in the movies he makes. He’s fond of saying he loves sentiment, but abhors sentimentality, and he finds the charm and the awkwardness in moments that people less talented tend to make into cliches. That’s real human nature, and he’s so attuned to it. Like a Nicholas Sparks novel, a Lasse Hallstrom film is a truly special event.”

The story’s low-key romance and natural pace gave the director the opportunity to create the kind of authentically intimate film he prefers. “Two people slowly get to know each other and fall in love,” Hallstrom explains. “We follow the story as it builds in small increments. The camera seems to be present as sparks fly and two people connect. I want you to feel like you’re a peeping Tom, peeking through a keyhole.”

Hallstrom helped build that authenticity by asking the actors to throw away the script and improvise key scenes. “Lasse believes that to find real, raw emotion, the actors have to let go of what they have memorized and start simply feeling it,” says Bowen. “There were moments in every scene when he told them to just forget about the words on the page and tell him how they felt about the moment. The actors had to stop thinking about artifice and start thinking about their characters in a really special way.”

The final film contains both scripted scenes and improvisation, which Hallstrom believes will draw the audience in and make them feel like they are a part of the story. “My interest is to evoke strong emotion,” the director says. “I really want to walk that tightrope and move people. It can be dangerous territory. Especially with a love story, the performances must be authentic. Sentimentality occurs when you push too hard for emotion. You avoid that trap by being honest and truthful in the performances and the telling of the story.

“To be able to do that, I needed the actors to improvise and play around with the material,” he continues. “Nicholas allowed us that freedom. He allowed us to take some liberties with the story, add certain elements and some more humor. We tweaked the script as we went along, which was great fun.”

Hallstrom says he is extremely pleased with the finished film. “I had the ambition of creating something that rang truthful and authentic,” says Hallstrom. “The thriller elements create a certain pulse, an engine for the story. As always with a Sparks story, there is an emotional twist at the end. I hope that will make people shed a tear or two. To move and entertain — that’s all it’s about.”

Safe Haven Movie Poster

Safe Haven

Directed by: Lasse Hallström
Starring: Julianne Hough, Cobie Smulders, Josh Duhamel, David Lyons, Mimi Kirkland, Wendy Wilmot
Screenplay by: Leslie Bohem, Nicholas Sparks, Dana Stevens
Production Design by: Kara Lindstrom
Cinematography by: Terry Stacey
Film Editing by: Andrew Mondshein
Costume Design by: Leigh Leverett
Set Decoration by: Patrick Cassidy
Music by: Deborah Lurie
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material involving threatening behavior, and for violence and sexuality.
Studio: Relativity Media
Release Date: February 14, 2013

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Movie 43

Movie 43

Movie 43 is the outrageous new comedy from the twisted mind of Peter Farrelly and starring some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Comprised of hilarious and offensive story lines and featuring tons of familiar faces we love, Movie 43 is the first of its kind, putting each actor in crazy and unique scenarios. This isn’t spam, it’s just celebrities gone wild… or perhaps it’s just plain wrong!

Movie 43 is an American sketch comedy anthology film co-directed and produced by Peter Farrelly, and written by Rocky Russo and Jeremy Sosenko among others. The film features sixteen different storylines, each one done by a different director, including Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Patrik Forsberg, James Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, Brett Ratner, Will Graham, and Jonathan van Tulleken. It stars an ensemble cast that includes Kristen Bell, Halle Berry, Gerard Butler, Anna Faris, Hugh Jackman, Johnny Knoxville, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloë Grace Moretz, Seann William Scott, Emma Stone, and Kate Winslet among others.

The Catch

Directed by: Peter Farrelly
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet

“The Catch” is about a woman, played by Kate Winslet, who’s set up on a blind date with a guy (Hugh Jackman) who is, by all description, perfect. He’s talented, good-looking, successful, single. Sort of too good to be true — and it turns out is too good to be true. He has one flaw that she never could have expected. He’s got a pair of nuts hanging off the bottom of his chin.

I love this kind of comedy of one person seeing something that nobody else in the room seems to notice — kind of like the old “elephant in the living room” nobody is willing to talk about. At one point, actually, we had it that he has this thing and everyone notices, that everybody in the restaurant’s looking over, like, “What the hell’s going on?” And then we realized it’s not funny if everybody is feeling the same way she’s feeling, which takes away some of her uncomfortableness. So we just thought, “Well, what if nobody acknowledges it at all? What if she’s the only one that sees this thing,” or these things, I guess. That was funny.

Movie 43

The script came to us from a writer that Charlie Wessler met with in London at the Soho House when he was gathering scripts. It was originally called “Mr. Bollocks,” which is British for… well, you know what it’s for. He wrote really funny stuff, but it was very English. So we gave it to Rocky Russo and Jeremy Sosenko, who became sort of our core writers on this movie, and they were able to Americanize it.

Hugh Jackman was actually the first actor signed on to do anything in MOVIE 43. Charlie Wessler had met him at a friend’s wedding. He also knew Kate Winslet’s agent, Hylda Queally, who showed her the script, and then Kate agreed to do it.

And then it became about schedule. Kate was working on a movie, and Hugh was actually in a play with Daniel Craig on Broadway. So eventually, when we did it, we did it in New York. We shot the whole thing in a hotel – and Charlie and I stayed there. We shot Kate’s apartment there, and we shot the body of the short in the restaurant at the hotel – we never left the hotel. With Hugh, we had to shoot him from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and then he would literally get in the car and go to the theater to do this really complicated and dramatic two-man play.

The two of them were just great — they both did whatever we asked. I remember being how shocked at how off-color Kate Winslet was. Her sense of humor is hilarious and shocking. You just couldn’t believe the things that would come out of her mouth! Not what you would expect from Kate Winslet, that’s for sure.

Tony Gardner, our effects makeup specialist, did just a great job on Hugh’s… appliance. And when Kate and Hugh first saw them, they couldn’t believe their eyes. They had figured it was just going to be some ridiculous-looking thing. But they looked insanely good. Every angle. I love when they tighten up when it gets cold. But you could walk right up close, get six inches away, and not see any flaws. Hugh would walk into the room and you’d see these things, and you’d be, like, “You gotta be shitting me.” But they were so impressive that, right away, Hugh and Kate knew this could be really funny, and it jazzed them up.

And their reactions to them are real. They just played it straight. Hugh was extremely authentic, just this warm, genuine guy with this thing hanging off his neck. And Kate’s reactions — she wasn’t trying to be funny. She was acting exactly like she would if this had happened. And that’s the beauty of it.

Movie 43

Homeschooled

Directed by: Will Graham
Cast: Liev Schrieber, Naomi Watts, Jeremy Allen White

Charlie Wessler appeared out of nowhere, like a comedy genie conjured out of some tin can I probably kicked on my way into work at THE ONION. I was starting the Onion News Network, the web video and now TV branch of the venerable satire newspaper. It was 2008. Did you know that sometimes movies take a long time to get made?

Anyway, we were in our second year at ONN, in the thick of covering voting machines electing one of their own in the 2008 election and the other important fake news of the day, when one day Charlie e-mailed me out of the blue. Like many of Charlie’s e-mails, I think this one was less than 10 words long. It might have been, “I am Charlie Wessler. Get on phone?”

We did, and it led to one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had. Charlie had seen an ONN piece we made, the headline of which was “Use of ‘N-word’ May End Porn Stars Career,” and he had a strange offer: he and Peter Farelly (whom I had worshipped since I was 10) were making a movie consisting of what Charlie described as “just the funniest shit we can think of.” Of course I agreed to do it while I was on the phone with him, even as I was still feverishly Googling to make sure this ‘Charlie Wessler’ was a real person and not my Dad doing a ‘relaxed dude’ voice.

I reached out to Jack Kukoda, an incredibly talented writer from our group at THE ONION. Jack wrote about 96,000 ideas for various different shorts, which he and I culled down to a list of approximately 36,000 that we sent to Charlie. He latched onto one about a pair of extremely well intentioned parents who homeschool their son, but are trying to do it in the most authentic way possible, so that he had every experience that normal kids do — getting beat up, being shut out of the cool kids party, and so on.

Working at THE ONION totally desensitizes you to jokes that are offensive or dark, because we do so many of them. When I’m working on something else, I always have to remind myself “how would a normal person react to this?” Except when we were writing this script. We kept coming up with ideas that made us laugh, like the kid having a horrible first kiss forced on him by his mom, and we were like “yeah, there’s no way they’re going to let us actually do this.” But those were the jokes that Peter and Charlie loved — they’d keep saying “go further” — and that was the moment I knew we’d found real kindred spirits.

Movie 43

That was also the fun of making this idea as a short. If it was a feature, it would be an incredibly depressing drama about parents torturing their offspring. As a short, you just pop in, see how awful this kids life is, laugh (hopefully), and then cruise on to the next tragedy.

I like comedy that’s crazy or silly but feels very real. That’s what I tried to do in directing the short — take something that could have felt like a zany sketch and instead just treat it as completely pragmatic and real world. The thing I was most worried about getting across was the idea that these parents aren’t evil — they’re really trying to do what they think is the best thing for their kid, and wind up completely fucking him up, as all parents do (except mine, if they ever read this).

Enter Naomi and Liev. When Charlie first brought them up as a possibility, I was immediately like “they would be perfect.” They have so much credibility because of their amazing dramatic work, that I knew they’d bring a perfect seriousness to the comedy. I was also like, “Yeah, there’s no chance that they’d ever do this.” But Charlie and Peter worked their weird voodoo magic, and a few days or months or years later Charlie told me Naomi had read and liked the script and was going to call me in the next couple of days. There was no specific time.

So of course that Friday evening I was in Times Square showing my cousins from Wisconsin how we have Barnes and Nobles in New York too when my phone rang and it was Naomi. And I was like, “Oh boy.” So I talked to Naomi about the script and tried to convince her that I was a person she’d like to work with while pushing my cousins through a mob of screaming Chinese and Italian tourists in the most crowded and loudest six blocks in the world.

A couple of times Naomi very politely said, “I can’t quite hear you,” probably because I was getting run over by a bus. I might not have said any complete sentences for the entire conversation, but I don’t know for sure because I’ve blacked out the whole interchange except I remember that a lady was trying to throw a piece of pretzel to some pigeons but hit me in the neck instead. Somehow, Naomi agreed to do it, and she dragged in her husband as well.

Movie 43

The other thing I really wanted to make sure of was that you really felt this kid’s pain, that you understood his parents weren’t just playing wacky pranks on him, they were detonating his soul into a million particles of atomic mist. Enter Jeremy Allen White, who I was lucky to get to work with just before he moved to LA to join the cast of SHAMELESS.

We saw a ton of different actors for the part, but there was just something about Jeremy’s hollow stare and weird monotone that made me laugh through his whole audition. Also, he seemed like he had a lot of confidence, which was good because as an eighteen year old, he was going to have to make out with Naomi Watts.

Shooting was a blast and a heart attack, as always. The script has a lot of short scenes, so we could improv and goof around, which I think was fun for Naomi and Liev because I’m guessing they didn’t do much improv in KING KONG or WOLVERINE, maybe? Anyway, a lot of fun things happened:

– Naomi, Liev and Jeremy were willing to try anything. This was especially true when we were shooting the “first kiss” scene. There are about eighty different versions of that scene, including one where Liev grabbed Jeremy’s face and made out with him so hard that they fell off the bed. Jeremy didn’t look surprised, which says something about him as a person but I’m not sure what.

– Naomi and Liev really like to dance. See those sweat stains on Liev’s shirt in the scene where they’re throwing a crazy high school party and not inviting their son? Those are real. Also, Liev is extremely detail oriented. He asked for a few extra takes of the shot where he has to lower his face into that high school girl’s boobs, because he wanted to make sure he got it exactly right.

Movie 43

– There was an alternate ending for the script where Jeremy put on a weird helmet with a taxidermied crow attached to it and told the neighbors that it let him control birds. Or something like that. Yeah, we didn’t use that one. But, as a result of that ending, I now have pictures of the entire cast wearing that helmet on my iPhone. If you buy me a drink, I will show them to you sometime.

– It was August, and I sweat a lot, so I remember spending the whole two days feeling like someone had just dumped a cooler of lukewarm Gatorade over my head. When we finished the last shot, Naomi came over and gave me a big hug. I remember thinking that for her it must have been like hugging a golden retriever who just got out of a pond of sweat. Anyway, Naomi is a very nice lady.

The very talented Paul Zucker edited the short, and thanks to his skills, what’s in the finished movie is very similar to the first cut, except that we tried all eighty different versions of the “first kiss” and we cut the weird bird helmet from the ending. I’ll always be a little sad about that, but completely happy about every other minute I spent working on MOVIE 43.

The Proposition

Directed by: Steve Carr
Cast: Chris Pratt, Anna Faris, JB Smoove

I come from the world of music videos and hip hop videos, but I had become known for doing family films — PAUL BLART: MALL COP, DR. DOLITTLE 2, DADDY DAY CARE. Hollywood can be a ghetto — if you do family films, that’s what you get offered.

So when Charlie and Peter pitched me this story, I jumped at the chance. It validated everything that I felt was funny as a 14 year old adolescent. It was the opportunity to do exactly what I wanted — plus Peter and his brother, Bobby, are personal heroes of mine. So I agreed to do it.

Chris Pratt and Anna Faris were already on the film by the time I came onboard, which was wonderful. They were both such great sports — I don’t know that it could have been better. I’d produced another film in which Anna starred, “Mama’s Boy.” She really knows how to play the naive, angelic girl. And I think because of Chris and Anna’s real-life relationship, there really is a kind of loving pulse that you can feel.

Their ability to play it straight, plus that warm vibe from their real relationship, is what makes this comedy work. My feeling is, everyday life is absurd enough, and if you’re in a heightened situation and the actors play it real, it just makes it hilarious. Who would ever expect that conversation would come up at a picnic? They played it like it was a romance.

When I first got the script, I realized it didn’t quite fit the three-act structure that even a short film should have. Like I said, I come from music videos, so I already had the perfect skill set for telling a whole comedy in seven minutes — this was right up my alley! And what’s great is, with a short film like this, you can cut right to the chase: you don’t have to waste time telling how they got to the barbeque – they’re just at the barbeque. It was very freeing.

I knew I wanted to make the conversation with Chris and his friends the centerpiece, and J.B. Smoove and Chris were just ridiculous — hilarious. That’s my favorite part of the film. It’s really almost all improvised. J.B. went on for, like, 15 minutes, and Chris was able to keep up with all his riffing. All that stuff, like, telling him to add some guacamole and salsa to give it “color” on the back end – that was all J.B. And we were all literally cracking up behind the camera. I ruined three or four takes because I was laughing so much! He must have done 20 different versions, all hysterical.

Of course, it’s the third act that seals the deal. And, again, with Chris, there’s this incredible mixture of this real warmth and affection for Anna he has –he really wants to do what she wants, and you can feel it. But when push comes to shove, he can’t take waiting anymore — he’s just, “Ahhh, I gotta shit!!”

Those sounds you hear, by the way — all the “bad plumbing” gurgling and farts – that is literally me just channeling my 14 year old inner self. I was lucky to have a good editor, who I’ve worked with before, Craig Herring, and we worked together to really enhance and heighten his reaction with the sound effects and cutting in between takes. But, at one point, we had so many farts and gurgling sounds that everyone told me I had to take it down a notch.

That scene where they’re in bed — when the big moment comes, in the third act — Chris and Anna really chimed in and helped choreograph it. We were getting, “Why don’t I come in and I’ll just stand over her?” and “Well, what if he is ready, but I say no?” It was like a ballet.

We had to build this powerful “poop cannon” for when the car – that was my idea – hits him and the poop ends up all over the car. We had to come up with this projectile unit, and we filled it with mud and dirt and whatever else we could get in there. Funny enough, I came back to that same location wanting to shoot something else sometime later, and they wouldn’t let us. They said, “Well, the last people who shot here used this thing to make everyone think it was poop, and we had to hire special street cleaners to get it off the street!”

The whole thing was a blast. When will I ever get the opportunity to channel my 14 year old self and spend someone else’s money doing it? I really had a good time on set, and if that was all I got out of it, it was plenty satisfying. Even though it was a shitty experience.

Veronica / CVS

Directed by: Griffin Dunne
Cast: Emma Stone, Kieran Culkin

My oldest and closest friend, producer Charles Wessler, had the brilliantly retro idea to make an anthology of short comedic movies exclusively for theatrical release. He understood that as our attention spans get shorter, the need for another classic like KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE only grows stronger. Also, having underestimated Charlie’s taste in material by turning down the part of Harry in DUMB AND DUMBER (in fairness, so did Sinbad) I was willing to direct whatever filth he asked me to.

Fortunately, he and partners John Penotti and Pete Farrelly, sent along a charming little ditty called “Veronica” about star crossed lovers who must say farewell for the last time. My two deeply gifted actors, Keiran Culkin and Emma Stone, committed with their hearts and souls to play the young couple. During rehearsals we watched the ending of CASABLANCA so as to set the bar for the kind of emotions their scene required.

Though Humphrey Bogart never actually accused Ms. Bergman of “blowing a hobo for magic beans”, nor did Ms. Bergman ask Bogie if he still “liked fingers in his butthole”, I think you will agree that the depth of feeling Emma and Kieran brought to their roles match those iconic actors note for note. Seriously, how did Emma make a single tear fall down her cheek take after take while saying such outrageous lines? If a party of deaf people had visited the set that night (and couldn’t read lips) they would have thought we were making SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS. That’s my favorite kind of comedy and they are my favorite kind of actors.

Robin’s Big Speed Date

Directed by: James Duffy
Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Justin Long, Leslie Bibb, Uma Thurman, Kristen Bell, Bobby Cannavale, John Hodgman

“Robin’s Big Speed Date” got its start in 2004 when I convinced Sam Rockwell to be in a movie for three hours. I had gone to college with Justin Long, who had befriended Sam on the set of GALAXY QUEST. Justin somehow convinced him this would be fun. Sam agreed to do three hours. I brainstormed ideas with Will Carlough, another college friend and an aspiring writer, when his comic book obsession allowed.

We had three days to try and figure out what kind of movie we could possibly make with Sam Rockwell in three hours. I had an idea about a date gone wrong and Will took it home and the next day we had a script about Batman cock-blocking Robin on a disaster date. The movie, “Robin’s Big Date,” ended up being a mild internet sensation, pre-YouTube, if you can believe that such a time even existed.

Several years later, Charlie Wessler and John Penotti approached us with an even harder to believe scenario. They had seen “Robin’s Big Date” and wanted us to make a sequel for their upcoming MOVIE 43. We said yes immediately. When it came time to shoot the sequel for MOVIE 43, Sam couldn’t do it, because he was off shooting COWBOYS AND ALIENS. Jason Sudeikis filled in, which in my mind, gave it a nice parity with the 90′s Batman films, having a new Batman for each new sequel.

Justin, who really is responsible for all of this happening, went to work recruiting actor friends who would be willing to spend two days in tights. Will and I worked on the script trying to limit the number of dick jokes requested. An over the top ballroom dance studio in Chinatown was discovered by a genius location scout, the script was finalized and we were ready to go.

We had one read through the day before the shoot and I realized quickly that everyone was game and everyone was ready to help out as they could. There’s something about putting people in tights that seems to make everything a little more relaxed.

The shoot was on. It was hot in that dance studio and everyone was drinking a lot of water. This meant a lot of complicated bathroom visits. Bobby Cannavale gave the funniest read of Superman that I could possibly imagine. He turned the character into a selfish thug, which if you think about it, is probably how most super powered aliens would probably end up. Almost everyone were in costumes that took a good fifteen minutes to get in and out of. It was a whole ordeal and required two costume designers to help each actor. Bobby didn’t want to go through the trouble and actually took a pair of scissors and cut a pee hole into the blue tights under the red underpants.

Justin and Jason set the tone in their opening scene. Pushing each other and one-upping each other with line after line of genius improv. It couldn’t be funnier. The options were limitless. These two could do this all day. Charlie Wessler approached me calmly and let me know that no, in fact, they could not do this all day and that we were way behind. We made it through the first scene and then the first day and the second. I can’t thank everyone enough for shepherding me through this my first non-three hour directorial adventure.

Truth or Dare

Directed by: Peter Farrelly
Cast: Halle Berry, Stephen Merchant, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi

“Truth or Dare” is another blind date, with these two people, played by Halle Berry and Stephen Merchant (from THE OFFICE), who’ve been through dating service dates for a long time and have had no luck with them. They start having the usual small talk, and quickly Halle says, “This is bullshit. Let’s play truth or dare,” to help break the ice. But the thing quickly sends them down a slippery slope, and they start pushing each other into places they couldn’t have imagined going.

It’s funny, we actually gave another script to Halle back in 2010, and she came back and said it was funny, but wanted to do something that was even crazier! We had first given her a script for one called “Clooney,” which was originally written for George Clooney – he ended up being pretty anxious not to do it. It’s all about how he couldn’t pick up on girls at a bar.

We thought that was pretty outrageous, and we sent it to Halle, not quite sure if she’d do it, you know, she’s an Oscar winner and all that, that she might be offended. Not only was she not offended, she came back and said, “I know you guys are going to really push it – this is too wimpy. Let’s go for it!” And we went, “Okay, well, we have another one.” And we decided to get her into “Truth or Dare.”

I’m a huge fan of Stephen Merchant – I think, for my money, he’s one of the top five funniest men on the planet. He kills me. Anything he does, just walking down the street, I’m laughing. And to put him with Halle Berry, who’s never done anything remotely like this, and to see those two mix it up, was just a joy, as a director, to watch. They’re so different in so many ways, and yet they’re both extremely talented actors. They can push each other in directions that were just amazing to watch.

And it was great having Snooki in there. She was a good sport, making fun of herself. She knows where her bread’s buttered, and she’s not afraid to make fun of herself, because that’s how she’s made her living, and she gets that. That’s what’s fun about it. And, luckily for us, when she’s reading MOBY DICK to Stephen, she was going by memory.

The truth-or-dare gags really came from the writer, a guy named Greg Pritikin. He did several drafts, and we’d say, “No, no, push this further, push that further, try this.” There weren’t enough at some points, but we kept going back to him and saying, “Come up with more.” And each one went up a notch from the previous one. It’s not that they’re necessarily funny, it’s that they’re so unexpected and offensive, and that they would go that far.

I particularly liked the thing with the blind kid having the birthday party in the restaurant, with the waiters singing one of those obnoxious “Happy-happy-happy birthday!” songs. I was a waiter for years when I was in grad school, and I had to do those birthday songs. It was a nightmare. You’re in the middle of work, and all of a sudden, you have to be humiliated. So we had to get that in there.

But Halle and Stephen were up for all of it. I couldn’t believe the glee with which Halle embraced the role. There was no embarrassment. Anything we asked her to do, she would do. She was such a great sport, particularly with the big, fake boobs. And Stephen, doing the bad stripper dance – it was actually uncomfortable how far we pushed it. There’s stuff that didn’t make the cut because it was too much, because he was grabbing girls’ butts and breasts. They were okay with it, but we realized, “Nah, that’s too much,” and we were figuring we’d just pull back in the editing room. But what I didn’t want to do was get in the editing room and say, “You know what? We should have gone further.”

Happy Birthday

Directed by: Brett Ratner
Cast: Gerard Butler, Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott

As I recall it, (Charlie) Wessler screamed to me to his imaginary assistant…”Get (Brett) Ratner on the phone! He’s the only guy who’s able to do this!” And so it was to be. Brett immediately dove in, honing the script, and then hand picking his cast. Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville perfectly fit as on- screen roommates – being that off screen they have long been great friends. Each of them fully immersed themselves in the twisted tale. Most fun was to decide who would be the brave soul willing to be shrunk into a tiny leprechaun. Gerard Butler casually agreed, “Sure, sounds like fun. But I’ll need an accent coach. I’m a Scotsman and this little fucker has an Irish accent.”

This was our longest and most complicated shoot. The body of the little leprechaun you see in the chair during the entire film is a little person actor named Gabriel Pimentel. (Stunt work was done by another expert little person named Martin Klebba). He was amazing and frankly very small. So Johnny and Seann spent two days acting out their scenes with this guy. But on the last day of the shoot, Butler was brought in to sit in front of a green screen to act out and match every body movement that Gabriel had done in the two days earlier. Brett would tell Gerard to move a little to your left and, “When you say the word ‘balls’ shake your head a little.” Highly detailed work but necessary to be able to get the performance perfectly attuned.

Pete, Charlie and John are extremely grateful for all the actors’ contribution, and even more for Brett’s tireless pursuit of excellence.

iBabe

Directed by: Steve Brill
Cast: Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, Jack McBrayer, Aasif Mandvi

I’m a lot like Pete and Charlie – I loved KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE when I was a kid. I remember seeing it playing at drive-in theater and trying to sneak over from where my family was watching some other movie to see it. I was a young adolescent – 15 years old – and, to me, it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen. There was nudity, and it was aggressive comedy. I just thought it was like seeing something secret and special. It sort of put me on the path to wanting to do comedy, in a lot of ways.

I loved the unstructured narrative – having the funniest shorts you could have, and then having some weird, funny way to tie it all together, which is what we ended up doing with MOVIE 43.

I’ve known the Farrellys since way back – I’ve known Pete forever, and I used to play hockey with Bobby. I’d always wanted to work with Pete, and I remember going down and meeting them on the set of THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. I remember being impressed by how they had their own sense of comedy, and they stuck to it. It was really fresh and unapologetic, and also sweet.

So I trusted them, when Pete and Charlie Wessler, someone I’ve also known for a long time, tracked me down and pitched me the idea of doing one of these insane shorts. We met over at Carrie Fisher’s house, and they pitched me some crazy ideas, which I thought were impossible to do – and then I realized they had already shot some of them. I had looked at some of the scripts and told them, “We could never do that,” and they went, “Oh, no, no – we already shot those. We want you to pitch some new ones.”

I tossed around some ideas with Rocky Russo and Jeremy Sosenko, who are kind of the core writers on this movie, trying to go out on the edge, but I didn’t come up with anything as good as “iBabe,” which they already had rewritten from a script Charlie had gotten.

As far as casting goes, Charlie’s mandate was always to try to cast as big a star as you could. I knew a bunch of people, but they weren’t really available. Then he said, “I know Richard Gere,” and I thought, “Well, there’s no way you’ll get Richard Gere.” But, as you’ve probably heard, Charlie knows everybody. We actually reached out to Seth McFarlane, but his schedule was too busy. In the meantime, Charlie got Richard – I was floored.

Kate Bosworth was someone I had just seen in another short, a bawdy “Funny or Die” short, and she was really funny. In “iBabe,” she plays the one person in the room who’s calling this thing what it is and standing up to the corporate lunkhead, while everybody else is busy sucking up to him. She has this strength – she just has to give one look, which she can just do with one roll of her eyes. She was great.

And Jack McBrayer, who I knew from the Apatow camp. He had just done FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL, and we had hung out in Hawaii. I always thought, “If you ever needed some small role in something that needed to be funny, just hire Jack.” He was awesome. And it was exciting having all of these people together in one room, on set.

What I really liked about the humor of this short was that, here, you’ve got the head of this computer corporation – Richard – and I love the fact that he never really gets what’s going on. The more you played the fact that he didn’t get it, and the denser he seemed, in front of all the facts of kids getting their fingers, and other things, cut off – and he’s someone who doesn’t get the connection about what he’d done. And Richard played it so great, so obtuse. “Well, why would that happen? I don’t understand.” And everyone else is just coddling him as the executive who was so out of touch.

It’s kind of a theme in MOVIE 43, the thing about “Why can’t everybody else see the most obvious thing?” “The Catch” has it, and so does ours (“iBabe”) and a few of the others. I love that kind of humor – they can’t see the obvious. And the more you repeat it, it just gets funnier and funnier.

We also did some iBabe commercials – I did about three or four of them, we used one of those, the one with people dancing around this naked woman. That was fun – like doing a musical, only with a naked woman standing there. I think you’ll see the rest on the DVD.

I actually kind of put the film together after they had the first bunch of shorts. We talked about lots of different ways to connect them. Then Rocky and Jeremy wrote the cool, sort of, science fiction wraparound with the kids in their room, surfing the internet and going down the rabbit hole to uncover this secret MOVIE 43. I found it an intriguing idea, good and relevant. It was kind of reverse engineering, a way to tie the shorts together thematically, which was fun.

I think it all comes together really well, and it’s the perfect time for a movie like this, with all these different films with different kinds of comedy. It’s like going to the candy store and looking at the different displays and seeing all these really fun, glossy items and just moving on through it. It’s coming at you, and it’s all good – and it’s really fun.

Middle School Date

Directed by: Elizabeth Banks
Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz Plasse, Patrick Warburton, Jimmy Bennett

I got a call from these three nitwits, Charlie, John and Peter who claimed to be producing a movie of short comedies. They asked if I would consider acting in one of the shorts. (I ended up in “Beezel”). They pitched me the list of male writers and directors involved at the time and I said, “Can I direct one? You don’t have any women!” I know in my heart these guys believed in me and that it wasn’t just shame that led them to agree. Although shame is very powerful. I asked a funny, young, whip smart female writer, Elizabeth Wright-Shapiro to pitch a few ideas with me.

Initially, the guys responded to a different idea than “Middle School Date” – one that may have involved youngsters in their underwear and blind people – but again, my heart, which is very intelligent, knew “Middle School Date” was the one. Of course, “Middle School Date” is all about how men can never know what women are truly about and so, when the guys rejected it, they totally reinforced its relevance to me. Humbly, I felt MOVIE 43 needed a female heroine – a woman who wins – and I wanted that woman to be Chloe Grace Moretz. Who can argue with that?

Elizabeth Wright Shapiro, who came up with the story, deserves credit along with Chloe, Jimmy Bennett and the rest of my awesome cast. Funny note, Jimmy and Chloe played brother and sister in THE AMITYVILLE HORROR and had their first on-screen kisses as actors in.

Beezel

Directed by: James Gunn
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Josh Duhamel

The best part of making of “Beezel” was the initial emails between director James Gunn and Elizabeth Banks.

From James to Elizabeth: “You’re dating a guy (Nathan) and falling in love with him. He introduces you to his pet cat that he’s very attached to – only, this cat is a disgusting, goofy 2D animated cat. Like many couples, this cat gets in the way of your love life. At first it’s smaller things, like wriggling between you as you’re about to kiss, and having explosive diarrhea all over your stuff, and staring at you creepily over Nathan’s shoulder as Nathan makes sweet love to you. But then, after you catch the cat whacking off to photos of Nathan in a swimsuit, it becomes more serious, and he tries to kill you…”

From Elizabeth to James: “I kind of think it’s amazing.”
From James to Elizabeth: “Phew. I thought you were going to say you’ve already done the sobbing, masturbating cat while shoving a hairbrush up his ass movie.”

Victory’s Glory

Directed by: Rusty Cundieff
Cast: Terrence Howard
NBA Players: Larry Sanders, Jared Dudley, Corey Brewer

It was great having the opportunity to work on MOVIE 43. I have been a Farrelly Brothers fan for some time, so this was a really great experience for me on that level alone. But the real fun was working with writers Rocky Russo and Jeremy Sosenko and creating the basketball moments for “Victory’s Glory.” And of course it was a blast to work with the segment’s star, Terrence Howard, who told me he wanted to show he could be funny after doing so many dramatic roles. He really put his all into his performance. I don’t think there is a comic alive that could have turned in a funnier and more on point performance.

It was a very quick two days of shooting, and it was very difficult trimming the piece down to a tight five minutes when there was so much funny stuff to choose from. I’m pretty sure the first cut was up above twelve minutes and I hope at some point a few of the gems we had to lose in the edit will find their way to some outtakes on special extended disc. It was also a fun time working with the combination of actors and actual NBA players that composed the high school basketball teams in the sketch. I’d bet the audience won’t be able to tell which is which unless they’re NBA fans and know the players. The NBA guys could all have careers in Hollywood; they were that good.

And though I didn’t work with them directly, it’s very exciting to have participated in a film that is packed with so many stars, and other talented directors. Lots of laughs.

Movie 43 Poster

Movie 43

Directed by: Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Peter Farrelly, Patrik Forsberg, James Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, Brett Ratner, Jonathan van Tulleken
Starring: Anna Faris, Chloe Moretz, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Emma Stone, Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman, Jason Sudeikis, Josh Duhamel, Justin Long, Kate Bosworth, Kate Winslet, Kristen Bell, Leslie Bibb, Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Richard Gere, Uma Thurman
Screenplay by: Steve Baker, Will Carlough, Patrik Forsberg, Elizabeth Wright Shapiro
MPAA Rating: R for strong pervasive crude and sexual content including dialogue, graphic nudity, language, some violence and drug.
Studio: Relativity Media
Release Date: January 25, 2013

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