Tag: Elizabeth Banks
Taglines: Remember who the enemy is.
The film begins as Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a Victor’s Tour of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow (Donald Sutherland) prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games, The Quarter Quell – a competition that could change Panem forever.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is anAmerican science fiction adventure film based on Suzanne Collins’ dystopian novel, Catching Fire, the second installment in The Hunger Games trilogy. The film is the sequel to The Hunger Games, and the second installment in The Hunger Games film series, produced by Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik and distributed by Lionsgate. Francis Lawrence directed the film, with a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt. Francis Lawrence took over from Gary Ross as director. Adding to the existing cast, the supporting cast was filled out with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Claflin, Lynn Cohen, Jena Malone, Amanda Plummer, Alan Ritchson, and Meta Golding.
The plot of Catching Fire takes place one year after the previous installment; Katniss Everdeen has now returned home safely after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Throughout the story, Katniss senses that a rebellion, against the oppressive Capitol, is simmering through the districts. Filming began on September 10, 2012, in Atlanta, Georgia, before moving to Hawaii.
About the Story
One year after the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark return home to District 12. After a hunt in the woods with her friend Gale Hawthorne, Katniss is visited at her home by President Snow. He tells her that her decisions in the arena have triggered rebellions, especially in District 8, and also warns her to use the upcoming Victory Tour to show Panem that her acts of rebellion in the arena were just to show love towards Peeta. She reluctantly accepts.
During the first visit in the Victory Tour, which is held in District 11, an old man holds up the three-fingered sign that’s occasionally used in District 12 to show respect and admiration for someone. Peacekeepers interpreted this as an act of rebellion, and dragged the man to the front of the stage in the square and shoot him dead with a pistol, much to the horror, shock and dismay of Katniss. Haymitch angrily tells her “you never get off this train” which means that Katniss and Peeta are mentors for the District 12 tributes and act as a “distraction” to the districts so that the people of Panem will forget “what the real problem is.”
Katniss, Peeta, Effie and Haymitch return home and Katniss quickly goes to Gale. They both devise a plan to run away, but fail. The Capitol sends Peacekeepers to District 12 to crack down on the citizens. The new head Peacekeeper, Romulus Thread, whips Gale after Gale attacked Romulus to stop him from killing an old woman. Haymitch convinces Thread to leave Katniss, Peeta and Gale alone as they are loved ones to the country. While Katniss is watching TV with her family, she, Peeta and Haymitch learn that the previous victors from each district will be selected for the 3rd Quarter Quell. At the reaping, Effie draws Katniss and Haymitch’s names, but Peeta volunteers to take Haymitch’s place.
The victors from each district visit President Snow’s palace for a royal dinner party. While having a dance, Katniss meets new head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee. After the dinner party, the victors are sent to the training center and a hotel. Haymitch warns Katniss that the tributes are furious at being returned to the games and advises a reluctant Katniss to make allies. During the interviews with Caesar Flickerman, Katniss wears a wedding dress, but her stylist Cinna rigs it to transform into the representation of a mockingjay. President Snow witnesses this and sends Peacekeepers out to kill Cinna before Katniss is elevated into the arena.
Katniss and Peeta make alliances with the District 4 tributes, Finnick Odair and Mags, a few minutes into the games. Finnick saves Katniss by throwing a trident into a male from District 5 who was trying to kill Katniss. While the group is trudging through the jungle, Peeta accidentally hits his machete against the force field, electrocuting him and stopping his heart. Finnick resuscitates him.
Before going to sleep, Katniss notices a poison fog coming for them at a fast pace, and the group flees. When Peeta is incapacitated by the fog, Mags walks into it, sacrificing herself and allowing Finnick and Katniss to carry Peeta to safety. After fleeing from a group of wild and extremely ferocious mandrills, Katniss, Peeta and Finnick escape to a beach where they ally with Wiress and Beetee from District 3, and Johanna Mason from 7.
Wiress is in shock from a blood storm and repeatedly says “Tick-Tock.” Katniss realizes that the arena is set up like a clock, with disasters occurring every hour and lightning striking at midnight. The group is then attacked by the Career pack in which Wiress is killed in the fight but Katniss and Johanna kill two of the Careers, sending the surviving Careers back into the jungle. Beetee devises a plan to electrocute the last two Careers by combining a spool of wire and lightning, sending Katniss and Johanna to help prepare the trap.
The women are ambushed by the remaining Careers; Johanna attacks them, incapacitates Katniss and slits the tracker out of her arm before disappearing. Shaken by Johanna’s assault, Katniss returns to the tree and finds Beetee knocked out next to a metal tipped spear wrapped with the wire. Katniss is now suspicious of potential secret foes and attempts to kill Finnick, but he reminds her to ‘remember who the real enemy is,’ as Haymitch had advised her prior to the games. Seeing that the lightning is about to strike, Katniss attaches the remaining wire to an arrow and shoots it into the force field just as the lightning hits, taking down the dome’s force field as well as the Capitol’s surveillance.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Jena Malone, Amanda Plummer
Screenplay by: Simon Beaufoy
Production Design by: Philip Messina
Cinematography by: Jo Willems
Film Editing by: Alan Edward Bell
Costume Design by: Trish Summerville
Set Decoration by: Larry Dias
Music by: James Newton Howard
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language.
Studio: Lionsgate Films
Release Date: November 22, 2013
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
– 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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