Category: New Line Cinema
Taglines: The Defining Chapter.
Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield, and his Company of Dwarves have unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world. Enraged, Smaug rains his wrath down upon the men, women, and children of Lake-town. Meanwhile, unseen by almost everyone but the wizard Gandalf, the enemy Sauron has returned to Middle-earth and has sent forth legions of Orcs in an attack upon the Lonely Mountain.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is an epic fantasy adventure film, directed by Peter Jackson and written by Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Guillermo del Toro. It is the third and final installment in Peter Jackson’s three-part film adaptation based on the novel The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, following An Unexpected Journey (2012) and The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and together they act as a prequel to Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Produced by New Line Cinema, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and WingNut Films, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, The Battle of the Five Armies was released on 11 December 2014 in New Zealand, 12 December 2014 in the United Kingdom and on 17 December 2014 in the United States. It stars Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Stott and James Nesbitt. It also features Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving and Orlando Bloom.
About the Story
Bilbo and the Dwarves watch from the Lonely Mountain as the dragon Smaug attacks Laketown. Bard the Bowman manages to break out of prison, fights Smaug, and eventually kills him with the black arrow given to him by his son Bain. Smaug’s falling body crushes the fleeing Master of Laketown, along with his cronies, who were escaping Laketown on a boat with the town’s gold.
Bard becomes the new leader of the Laketown people as they seek refuge in the ruins of Dale, while Legolas travels to investigate Mount Gundabad with Tauriel. Thorin, now struck with “dragon sickness”, searches obsessively for the Arkenstone, which was stolen earlier from Smaug by Bilbo. Bilbo learns from Balin that it would be best if the Arkenstone remained hidden from Thorin, who orders the entrance of the Lonely Mountain to be sealed off.
Meanwhile, Galadriel, Elrond and Saruman arrive at Dol Guldur and free Gandalf, sending him to safety with Radagast. They battle and defeat the Nazgûl and Sauron himself, banishing them to the East. Azog, marching on Erebor with his vast Orc army, sends Bolg to Gundabad to summon their second army. Legolas and Tauriel witness the march of Bolg’s army, bolstered by Orc Berserkers and giant bats.
While Bard and the Laketown survivors shelter in Dale, Thranduil arrives with an elf army, supplies and aid, and forms an alliance with Bard, wishing to claim an elven necklace of white gems from the Mountain. Bard attempts to negotiate and reason with Thorin to avoid war, but the dwarf refuses to cooperate. After Gandalf arrives at Dale to warn Bard and Thranduil of the Orc army on the way, Bilbo sneaks out of Erebor to hand the Arkenstone over to Thranduil and Bard.
When Bard and Thranduil’s armies gather at the gates of Erebor, offering to trade the Arkenstone for Thranduil’s gems and Laketown’s share of the gold, Thorin nearly kills Bilbo in a furious rage. After Gandalf forces Thorin to release Bilbo, the arrival of Thorin’s cousin Dáin with his Dwarf army worsens matters. A battle of Dwarves against Elves and Men is imminent, when Wereworms emerge from the ground releasing Azog’s army from their tunnels. With the Orcs outnumbering Dáin’s army, Thranduil and Bard’s forces, along with Gandalf and Bilbo, join the battle as some of the Orcs, Ogres, and Trolls attack Dale.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom
Screenplay by: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro
Production Design by: Dan Hennah
Cinematography by: Andrew Lesnie
Film Editing by: Jabez Olssen
Costume Design by: Bob Buck, Lesley Burkes-Harding, Ann Maskrey
Set Decoration by: Simon Bright, Ra Vincent
Art Direction by: Simon Bright, Andy McLaren
Music by: Howard Shore
Studio: New Line Cinema
Release Date: December 17, 2014
Taglines: New crime. Same tools.
Fed up with answering to higher-ups, Nick, Dale and Kurt decide to become their own bosses by launching their own business in “Horrible Bosses 2.” But a slick investor soon pulls the rug out from under them. Outplayed and desperate, and with no legal recourse, the three would-be entrepreneurs hatch a misguided plan to kidnap the investor’s adult son and ransom him to regain control of their company.
in this follow-up to the 2011 hit comedy “Horrible Bosses” that reunites stars Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis as everyone’s favorite working stiffs. Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey also reprise their starring roles, while Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz star as new adversaries standing between the guys and their dreams of success.
Horrible Bosses 2 is an American comedy film directed by Sean Anders and a sequel to 2011′s Horrible Bosses. Produced by New Line Cinema and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, the film is set to be released on November 26, 2014.
About the Production
Following the release of Horrible Bosses in July 2011, director Seth Gordon confirmed that talks were underway for a sequel due to the financial success of the film in the United States, saying: “Yeah, we’ve definitely discussed it. It’s done well in the States, the film has, so that’s becoming a more concerted effort now, we’re trying to figure out what the sequel could be.” On January 4, 2012, it was confirmed that a sequel was moving forward, and that screenwriters John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein would be returning to write the script.
At this time, New Line Cinema was reported to be negotiating with Gordon to return as director as well as with Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis to return in the lead roles. On February 27, 2012, it was confirmed that Goldstein and Daley were in the process of writing the new script. In March 2013, Goldstein and Daley confirmed that they had submitted multiple draft scripts for the sequel, and that production had moved towards finalizing the budget. Later in the same month Bateman, Day, and Sudeikis were confirmed to be reprising their roles, with Jamie Foxx negotiating to return. The film will again be produced by Brett Ratner and Jay Stern.
In August 2013, it was announced that Gordon would not be returning to direct because of scheduling conflicts and that the studio was actively searching for a replacement. In September 2013, Sean Anders was announced as Gordon’s replacement, with John Morris joining the production as a producer. The pair had previously performed a rewrite on Goldstein’s and Daley’s sequel script. In September 2013, Jennifer Aniston signed on to reprise her role as Julia Harris.
Horrible Bosses 2
Directed by: Sean Anders
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz, Kevin Spacey, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Kelly Stables, Keeley Hazell, Suzy Nakamura, Brianne Howey, Romina
Screenplay by: Sean Anders, John Morris
Production Design by: Clayton Hartley
Cinematography by: Julio Macat
Film Editing by: Eric Kissack
Costume Design by: Carol Ramsey
Set Decoration by: Jan Pascale
Music by: Christopher Lennertz
MPAA Rating: R for strong crude sexual content and language throughout.
Studio: New Line Cinema
Release Date: November 26, 2014
Dumb and Dumber To is an American road buddy comedy film co-written and directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly. It is the third film in the Dumb and Dumber film series and a direct sequel to their 1994 film Dumb and Dumber. It stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reprising their roles twenty years after the events of the first film, and also features Rob Riggle, Laurie Holden and Kathleen Turner. The film tells the story of Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne (played by Carrey and Daniels, respectively), who set out on a cross-country road trip to find Harry’s daughter who has been adopted.
Twenty years after the events of the first film, Lloyd Christmas has been committed at a psychiatric hospital ever since his doomed romance with Mary Swanson. During a visit, Harry Dunne discovers that Lloyd pranked him into thinking he was mentally disturbed all this time. Lloyd leaves with Harry and they head to their apartment, where Harry reveals one of his kidneys is bad and he needs a donor soon.
They go to Harry’s old home, but Harry cannot get a kidney from his parents since he was adopted. Harry’s dad gives him his mail that has been piling up since he moved out. It includes a postcard from old girlfriend Fraida Felcher dating back to 1991. It says she’s pregnant and needs Harry to call. Fraida admits that she had a daughter named Fanny that she gave up for adoption. She wrote Fanny a letter, only for it to be sent back and noted to never contact her again.
Hoping she can provide a kidney, Lloyd and Harry decide to find Fanny and drive to Maryland, where she now lives. Dr. Bernard Pinchelow and his wife Adele are the adoptive parents of Fanny, who has taken up the new name Penny. She is going to a KEN Convention in El Paso, Texas to give a speech on her father’s life work. Penny is also given a package to be given to one of the convention heads, but the dim Penny ends up forgetting both the package and her phone.
Adele is secretly trying to poison Bernard and Penny out of jealousy, with the help of her secret lover, the family’s housekeeper, Travis Lippincott. Harry and Lloyd arrive to inform the Pinchelows of their situation, at which point Bernard realizes Penny left the package, which he says contains an invention worth a billion dollars.
Adele suggests that Harry and Lloyd deliver the package to Penny. So that he and Adele can get whatever’s inside it the box, Travis goes along, but he becomes annoyed with the duo’s antics, eventually deciding to kill them. Instead, a train collision kills Travis. Adele hears of the death from Travis’s twin brother Captain Lippincott, a former military man who agrees to help her kill Harry and Lloyd.
Dumb and Dumber To
Directed by: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Laurie Holden, Kathleen Turner, Brady Bluhm, Angela Kerecz, Lauren Henneberg, Erika Bierman, Rachel Melvin
Screenplay by: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Production Design by: Aaron Osborne
Cinematography by: Matthew F. Leonetti
Film Editing by: Steven Rasch
Costume Design by: Karen Patch
Set Decoration by: Jennifer M. Gentile
Music by: Empire of the Sun
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, partial nudity, language and some drug references.
Studio: New Line Cinema
Release Date: November 14, 2014
Taglines: Before The Conjuring, there was Annabelle.
John Form has found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia – a beautiful, rare vintage doll in a pure white wedding dress. But Mia’s delight with Annabelle doesn’t last long. On one horrific night, their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, who violently attack the couple. Spilled blood and terror are not all they leave behind. The cultists have conjured an entity so malevolent that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now… Annabelle.
New Line Cinema’s supernatural thriller “Annabelle” begins before the evil was unleashed. She terrified you in “The Conjuring,” but this is where it all began for Annabelle. Capable of unspeakable evil, the actual doll exists locked up in an occult museum in Connecticut — visited only by a priest who blesses her twice a month.
Annabelle is an American supernatural horror film directed by John R. Leonetti, produced by James Wan, and written by Gary Dauberman. It is both a prequel to and spin-off of The Conjuring. The film stars Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, and Alfre Woodard. The film was released worldwide on October 3, 2014. Annabelle premiered at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, on September 29, 2014.
About the Story
The film starts with the same opening scene from The Conjuring, in 1968, in which two young women and a young man are telling Ed and Lorraine Warren about their experiences with a doll called Annabelle they believe to be haunted.
In 1967, John and Mia Form are expecting their first child. John gives her a doll that she has been trying to find. Mia loves it and puts it with the rest of her doll collection, saying that she “fits right in”. At night, Mia hears a murder occurring at their neighbours, the Higgins’, and is attacked by a woman holding the doll and a male accomplice. John and the police arrive and kill the man while the woman kills herself. She leaves a bloody symbol drawn on the wall and a drop of her blood falls on the face of the doll in her arms. A news report shows that the assailants were Annabelle Higgins and her boyfriend. They had murdered her parents and are said to have been part of a satanic cult.
Thinking the doll is involved with the mysterious happenings, Mia asks John to throw it away. Later, Mia gives birth to a healthy baby girl named Lea. The family moves into a new apartment. Mia unpacks her dolls and finds the one which they had thought discarded, now known as Annabelle.
As expected, more strange activity plagues Mia and her new baby. She contacts the detective, who informs her of Annabelle and her boyfriend’s history in a cult that seeks to summon a demon by claiming a soul. Mia goes to a bookstore run by a woman named Evelyn and determines from a book that the presence haunting her wants Lea’s soul. The couple contacts their church’s priest, Father Perez, who takes the doll with him to church.
The ghost of Annabelle attacks him with a demonic-looking creature, and the doll disappears. Evelyn tells Mia that she had a daughter named Ruby that was around Mia’s age when she died in a car accident caused by Evelyn. She was so distraught and guilt-ridden that she attempted suicide. However, she claims to have heard Ruby’s voice telling her it wasn’t her time.
Perez warns John that it was indeed Annabelle’s spirit that caused his injuries, and that she will take a soul that night. John rushes to warn Mia. In the apartment, the demonic presence pushes Evelyn out of the apartment and taunts Mia. Mia attempts to kill Annabelle and the demon then asks for Mia’s soul instead. John and Evelyn break open the door to find Mia ready to jump out the window with Annabelle in her hands. John saves Mia; Evelyn takes hold of Annabelle and decides to make the sacrifice, knowing this is the way she can atone for Ruby’s death. She jumps out of the window and is shown at the bottom of the apartment building, dead next to Annabelle. Lea is then found safe and sound in her crib.
Six months later, the Forms have moved on and have not seen Annabelle since then. Elsewhere, the mother of one of the girls in the opening scene purchases Annabelle as a gift for her child. The ending text states that the real Annabelle doll resides in a case in Ed and Lorraine Warren’s museum and that it is blessed by a priest twice a month to keep the public safe from the evil that still resides in the doll.
Directed by: John R. Leonetti
Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard, Eric Ladin, Kerry O’Malley, Shiloh Nelson
Screenplay: Gary Dauberman
Cinematography by: James Kniest
Film Editing by: Tom Elkins
Costume Design by: Janet Ingram
Set Decoration by: Lia Roldan
Music by: Joseph Bishara
MPAA Rating: R for intense sequences of disturbing violence and terror.
Studio:: New Line Cinema
Release Date: October 3, 2014
Taglines: Live for Love.
Mia Hall (Chloë Grace Moretz) thought the hardest decision she would ever face would be whether to pursue her musical dreams at Juilliard or follow a different path to be with the love of her life, Adam (Jamie Blackley). But what should have been a carefree family drive changes everything in an instant, and now her own life hangs in the balance. Caught between life and death for one revealing day, Mia has only one decision left, which will not only decide her future but her ultimate fate. “If I Stay” is based on the best-selling novel of the same name.
If I Stay is an American romantic drama film directed by R. J. Cutler, based on the novel of the same name by Gayle Forman. The film stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard, Stacy Keach, and Aisha Hinds. It was released on August 22, 2014. The film received mixed reviews from critics, grossing $78.3 million worldwide.
The music was composed by Heitor Pereira. The soundtrack was released on August 19, 2014, by WaterTower Music. It peaked at number 54 on the Billboard 200 in the United States, and number 77 in Australia. All the songs for Adam Wilde’s band Willamette Stone, including the cover of The Smashing Pumpkins’ song “Today”, were produced by indie rock producer Adam Lasus.
Mia: Isn’t it amazing how life is one thing and then in an instant, it becomes something else?
Sometimes you make choices and sometimes they make you. For reserved high school cellist Mia, it comes in an instant. One snowy drive, one horrific accident, and she is forced to make a choice only she can make, one that will make this day Mia’s defining day.
That is the storyline of “If I Stay,” based on the New York Times best-selling novel by Gayle Forman. Forman’s book has gripped Young Adult readers around the world with its enthralling love story and its unflinching look at what one young girl would do in the face of a life or death crisis that suspends her between this world and the next and presents her with an impossible choice…to stay or go?
“I read it in one sitting and it shattered me,” says director R.J. Cutler. His big screen adaptation marks the documentary filmmaker’s motion picture debut. “The central premise-we are whom we love-was so evocative, so moving, I knew I had to translate the profound connection I had with those pages to film.”
The book’s global fan base includes producer Alison Greenspan, who read the galleys of Forman’s novel before it was even printed. Greenspan was equally engaged by Mia’s conflict and relationships.
“I was captivated by Gayle’s voice, and how true it was to the young experience of grappling with love: family love, romantic love and love of self. It really spoke to my heart,” she offers.
She was also completely taken with Cutler’s vision, which he revealed in a visual presentation, complete with a CD reflecting the detailed musical palette for the world revolving around star-crossed musicians.
Greenspan was familiar with Cutler’s thought-provoking and critically acclaimed documentaries that covered pop culture from politics to fashion. She followed an instinct that the combination of Forman’s material and Cutler’s inherent understanding of it was the start of something special.
An integral part of the process was finding the person who would embody Mia. Chloe Grace Moretz was drawn to the inevitable struggle with love, hope and tragedy in the book, as well as the Young Adult fan dialogue surrounding it.
“There is so much energy swirling around If I Stay, so many teenagers and YA readers are completely infatuated with this story, so it was exciting to get involved. I was really eager for the chance to try and do justice to Mia and her wrenching conflict,” explains Moretz.
“When you fall in love for the first time, it’s all new; you can hear your heart beat from across the world for that person,” she continues. “Gayle’s book depicts that beautifully and shows how love brings out all sorts of different strengths and weaknesses, particularly when a catastrophe is involved.”
The person who becomes the center of Mia’s world-and who is also at the crux of the most significant choice she will ever make-is her boyfriend, Adam, played by Jamie Blackley.
Blackley notes, “It’s such a great story. These two people find each other because they share the same passion for music, and their relationship is nuanced and complicated and really appealed to me. But then in the blink of an eye everything changes without warning. Contemplating whether you’re ever going to see someone again and be able to say everything you thought you’d always have time to say to them is quite intense.”
In addition to chemistry, capturing the spirit of the popular book in a script was another key element. Although screenwriter Shauna Cross’s repertoire had been predominantly edgy comedies, her regard for the book and her take on it was exciting to the filmmakers.
“There was a great alchemy between her hip, vibrant voice and the heartrending nature of Gayle’s,” says Greenspan. “The script is touching and sentimental, but still grounded in reality, and that’s what Shauna brought to the table.”
The producer also made a decision early on to keep Forman closely involved. Cross enjoyed the collaborative process with the author, noting, “The novel has so many layers-it’s funny and cool and heavy and uplifting. I wanted to preserve what the fans fell in love with in the first place. You have to modify things a little, but the film is still Gayle’s world and has Gayle’s Mia; it’s her Adam, parents and friends.”
The pairing of styles proved fruitful. Forman, who also serves as executive producer, attests, “This is material I know intimately and characters that have lived in my mind for years, so, as I read the screenplay or watched on set, and got that twist in my gut I knew, for me, the book’s emotional content had successfully made the transition to screen.
“It’s been a real labor of love, I think, by a remarkable team,” she goes on. “Alison has been a champion and the moment I met R.J. I knew he saw it. He completely got the music, visuals, love story, and the characters. The cast is incredible too. It’s really the full package and I think the readers will be happy.”
Cutler adds, “Regardless of whether or not you’ve read the book, ‘If I Stay’ is a love story that takes an emotional journey exploring a fundamental truth: fate may have a hand in defining us, but so does love. And the choices we make because of that love can alter everything.” Accompaniment
Mia: Why do I have a feeling you’re about to mess up my life?
Adam: A little mess never hurt anyone.
In “If I Stay,” music is the connective tissue that threads Mia Hall’s world together. It is also “a metaphor for our passions in life,” states Cutler.
Mia’s life has always been infused with a rich soundtrack, because music has always been a priority in her house. Mia’s father was the drummer in the punk band Nasty Bruises before he became a teacher. Her mother carted Mia along to his gigs as a toddler and reveres women like Blondie’s Deborah Harry. Mia’s little brother, Teddy, who is already pretty good at drums himself, idolizes Iggy Pop. But Mia wants to play the cello at Juilliard. And her heroes are Yo-Yo Ma and Beethoven.”
Mia’s parents embraced the punk ethos of living in the moment and the messiness of life and that’s just not who Mia is-she is a girl who needs order,” explains Cutler. “She craves structure and form and it’s one of the reasons she was so attracted to the cello and why the moment she met her first cello she connected with it.”
Mia began playing cello at the age of eight and, ever since her father surprised her with her very own, she and the instrument have been inseparable.
Greenspan thought Chloe Grace Moretz was Mia. She recalls, “When I met Chloe, I immediately had the sense that she would be right for the role.”
Cutler, too, had always wanted to work with Moretz and was thrilled when she came on board.
Moretz describes Mia as “very shy and sweet. She’s a regular girl, just living her life, figuring it out step by step like everybody else, faced with normal things like being insecure, wondering if she’ll get into the school she wants to get into. Unlike everyone else, however, she just happens to feel more comfortable with her cello than with people.”
Cutler says of his lead, “Chloe carried so much of the film and always came to work with such a positive attitude. When you have a star that brings it every day, everyone else brings it, too, and it makes a big difference. I was impressed by her professionalism and how she delivered at that level.”
How Mia’s story was told intrigued Moretz even more: in flashbacks, as Mia weighs her life and relationships. “The structure was such an interesting way to frame this character. It required going through such a range of events and emotions at different times in her life. It was nice exploring those dimensions.”
Cutler remarks, “Although Mia’s family and friends are unaware of her presence, Chloe was able to evoke a tangible connection with the other characters in a way that was truly remarkable.”
Being present but unseen was one challenge for the actress. She admits the mere physical aspect of portraying an accomplished cellist was another, particularly since Moretz had never played any instrument before in her life.
Moretz spent time studying classically trained cellists to prepare for the role. She relates, “There is something so raw and beautiful about a cello because cellists literally sing through their instruments. You can hear them breathing with each bow stroke, and every time they put their finger on a new note a new part of their body moves.”
She noticed many of the cellists she met were introverted-until they began to play. “It was fascinating to watch them transform before my eyes. They become so animated and so passionate through this instrument. And that helped me with Mia, because Mia speaks through her cello,” says Moretz.
Cutler notes, “One of the things Chloe did so beautifully was capturing the essence of what it means to already be a virtuoso cellist at the age of 17. Her performance is persuasive and conveys that love of music. She really channeled the great cellists she studied.”
The director arranged for lessons with a cello instructor via Skype and in person during the busy months before Moretz would start “If I Stay.” He also wanted Moretz to have access to a cello-no matter where she was in the world.
And Moretz was all over the world. “I’d come to these new locations and there’d always be this instrument lurking around, following me. From Leipzig, Germany to the middle of Louisiana, the hotel staff would give me a strange look and say, ‘Ma’am, there’s a cello for you downstairs,'” Moretz laughs. “But actually living with it constantly made a difference since, for cellists, it really is an extension of their body.”
Although Mia has only been playing for ten years, she already seems destined for great things…and then she meets the front man for a band whose star is also on the rise.
British actor Jamie Blackley stars as the unlikely rocker who can’t resist the shy girl he hears playing the cello one day at school.
Cutler says, “When Jamie sang for us he blew us away and when he and Chloe read together we all had tears in our eyes. We all felt the same way; we had our guy.”
Greenspan adds, “I knew he had made his big break in ‘Spring Awakening’ in London, which is vocally rigorous, but listening to him sing and watching him interact in character with Chloe was incredible-the electricity in the room was palpable.”
Blackley couldn’t resist stepping into the boots of the up-and-coming musician-and onto a stage behind a microphone and guitar. “I thought it would be nice to be a rock star for a bit,” he smiles.
Cutler says, “Adam is talented beyond his years and going places and I think Jamie is, too. He’s an incredible actor and really puts a hundred percent into it. We were lucky he walked in that door.”
Greenspan also thinks they were fortunate. “Women like men who are a combination of tough and sensitive. Jamie is the perfect blend of good looks and beautiful emotions. He immediately became Adam.”
Adam and Mia don’t travel in the same circles. He’s super cool. She’s just…not. But when Adam hears Mia rehearsing, he is so mesmerized by the soulful sound he has to follow it.
“She’s like his muse. Adam doesn’t even see her at first; he’s just compelled to seek her out,” says Cutler.
“When you first meet Mia, all she has is this cello and the goal of Juilliard,” says Moretz. “No guy is going to get in the way of that. Adam comes in and pretty much flips Mia’s world on end. I mean, here’s this guy who’s a total god: he’s sexy, he sings, he plays the guitar…he’s every teenage girl’s dream.”
Although it’s a completely different style of music, Adam can’t stop watching Mia play because he can see who she really is when she lets go. Blackley notes, “It’s the music that really brings them together at first. He’s obsessed with it and he can see Mia is as well. I think when someone is good at something or cares about something, it’s insanely attractive. That goes for both of them, too, because they see each other’s passion through their respective music and that’s quite exciting for them.”
Moretz agrees that instead of love at first sight it’s love at first sound. “Mia feels the music in the core of her being, the same way Adam feels the music, and that’s intoxicating. It forges a passionate bond between them, despite how different they are, and that’s what makes them fall in love so far so fast.”
Blackley and Moretz shared a mutual professional admiration from the start. “It was such a pleasure doing our scenes because Jamie’s a brilliant actor. Our relationship felt organic and natural,” says Moretz.
Blackley, who reveals he had been a fan of Moretz’s for some time, remarks, “It doesn’t hurt that we just get on well, and laughed a lot. It was cool to actually work with Chloe.”
Mia and Adam may come from different sides of the music tracks, but it is possible for them to meet somewhere in the middle largely because of Mia’s family, who have more in common with Adam’s musical tastes than Mia.
Blackley explains, “Adam doesn’t have a family life, really, so when he goes around to their house the first time for a family dinner it’s something he’s never really experienced before. I think when he sees Mia with them he gets why she understands him so well, and did from the start.”
Mireille Enos stars in the role of Mia’s laid back mother, Kat. A travel agent since surrendering her mosh pit world for parenthood, Kat still throws bashes attended by her husband’s former band mates. “Music runs in their veins and it’s what moves them,” Enos states, revealing, “I wasn’t all that familiar with punk rock before shooting, but in researching it for the role, realized I actually liked it.”
She continues, “It’s interesting that Mia’s parents were the counterculture and now Mia is the counterculture to their world. And Adam is another version of her parent’s counterculture. So the circle continues.”
Joshua Leonard plays Denny, Mia’s still-punk-at-heart father who got a grown-up job as a teacher when the family started multiplying. Leonard reveals he is an ex-punker himself, one of only a handful of rebel kids growing up in a small suburban Pennsylvania town who listened to the genre.
He describes how the authenticity resonated with him from the start. “The first day we shot the family kitchen scene that opens the movie. R.J. had Richard Hell’s ‘Blank Generation’ blasting, a punk classic emblematic of who this family is and what kind of beat they move to-it was just one of the details that rang true to me. R.J. got the punk down…right down to the t-shirts. He’s smart as hell and a great dude.”
Although he plays a songwriter/drummer, Leonard had never played drums, so he rented a drum kit and took lessons. Jakob Davies portrays the youngest in their brood, Teddy, who is already a drummer, just like his father. Davies also took some drum lessons for his role.
Both Enos and Leonard were drawn to the cool parents whose commitment to each other is the basis of the close-knit family. “Part of what I love so much about Kat and Denny is they did have their own hopes and dreams and they wound up with this family a little unexpectedly, yet completely embraced it. No regrets. Kat and Denny love being parents,” says Leonard.
Enos adds, “They love and support each other, and they have always loved and supported Mia, especially with her musical aspirations. That love and support is their real gift to her. It’s the most important thing she needs to get through life.”
“Sometimes as a director you have this experience watching wonderful actors perform and you think to yourself, ‘there’s nothing to say, but what a privilege to be able to watch it,'” says Cutler.
Keach describes Gramps as “a hard worker, raised on a farm. He’s straightforward, sometimes gruff, and can be impatient, but he’s basically a generous, loving person.”
Gramp’s world does not revolve around music. But he does love his granddaughter and realizes she has a gift. “He’s not well-versed in the arts so he never encouraged his son to do the thing he wanted to do,” Keach allows. “He never gave Denny the emotional support that was required. I think he realizes Mia’s musical trek is his chance to make up for that.”
Mia’s extended family includes her best friend, Kim, played by Liana Liberato, whose wry humor keeps her in check; and her parent’s best friends, Willow and Henry, played by Lauren Lee Smith and Adam Solomonian, respectively, who are there for every big event in her life. And as Mia is hovering between this world and the next, revisiting memories and contemplating her relationships, Aisha Hinds, in the role of Nurse Ramirez, is determined to watch over Mia’s corporal being and bolster her will to fight.
“We were fortunate to have this wonderful ensemble that melded together so convincingly. You really invest in this offbeat family,” Greenspan states.
Cutler adds, “It’s hard to believe this group of people isn’t genetically linked because they fit together so naturally. Once you spend time with this family it complicates the stakes of Mia’s central decision as she asks herself, in the words of The Clash, ‘Should I stay or should I go?'” Bridge
Adam: Promise me we’ll spend New Year’s together next year. No matter where you are, no matter where I am.
Mia: Even if we’re in different places you’ll still be with me.
“If I Stay” was shot in practical locations in and around Vancouver, which doubled for outside of Portland, Oregon, during the fall and winter.
Cutler turned to cinematographer John de Borman and production designer Brent Thomas to execute his vision of two very distinct styles reflecting the two interwoven narrative planes of the story structure: Mia’s past memories, which tell the story of her romance with her Adam and her cello; and the present, the day the accident takes place.
“John de Borman was at his finest on a number of levels in this film. The richer color scheme for Mia’s past memories was quite a contrast to the almost monochromatic present day, which was exactly what I had envisioned in my head,” relates the director.
The sparse present-day sets a detached tone that goes hand-in-hand with Mia’s physical limitations. “In the present, Mia has an out-of-body experience. I accept that fully. Who am I to say there isn’t more?” Cutler posits, revealing he did a lot of reading about the phenomenon while fine tuning his strategy for depicting it.
Greenspan recalls, “One of the first things R.J. told me was he didn’t want this to be about visual effects. He didn’t want a character that walked through walls. He wanted it to be as grounded and real and emotional.”
To achieve that, de Borman used long lenses and shallow depth of field to give a feeling of Mia’s isolation. Another tool was a Steadicam, to create Mia’s perspective, so viewers would feel as if she is moving around the hospital in ways that wouldn’t be humanly possible.
One of Cutler’s favorite scenes is the moment where all of Mia’s family and friends first learn of her status from a doctor and a social worker. “You come floating into the scene and watch the entire thing from a specific point of view, but you don’t know at first whose point of view it is.”
Cutler dictated that only a specific vivid primary color disrupt the monochromatic post-accident present in which Mia watches and reacts without being seen: the red blood at the accident, the blue tones in the hospital.
The hospital becomes the primary location as the drama unfolds in the aftermath of the horrific accident. Thomas and his design team built the hospital set in the former psychiatric ward of an abandoned medical facility, Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam, making four separate locations on the grounds look like one cohesive unit.
In the overall design, they played a lot with glass and reflection, to represent a barrier between the real world and Mia’s in-between existence.
Thomas also designed transitional sequences at the hospital, with Mia in a glass walkway, based on an interesting photograph he found. It allowed the director to clearly represent that she is trapped between here and there.
Echoing the camera work, Thomas also utilized color: cool hues to cue the viewer they are in the present, and a fuller color prism for Mia’s pre-accident memories.
One major set piece that appears throughout Mia’s memories is her house. Thomas found the residence in New Westminster, a city just outside of Vancouver. “It was important to keep the look genuine and authentic, not affected.”
To reinforce the theme of choices creating change, the house starts with one look, and as Kat and Denny go through transitions and build a family, the feel of the house also evolves. However, one recurring color used as a prescient symbol for death or change was purple. “You see it right off the bat, center frame, the very first time we see Mia’s home, it’s the front door,” says Thomas.
Gayle Forman wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of feelings that overwhelmed her when she first stepped into the house. “I cried. I couldn’t help it; it was just so perfect. The quirky dynamic of the family was completely there. This place had been inside my head, and here it was, and I was standing in it,” she shares.
Cutler notes, “It was an honor to have Gayle there. It also gave us the opportunity to pick her brain. She gave birth to the world, so it was great to be able to get it right in her eyes.”
Overall, Cutler impressed a central concept upon his entire team that the story is being seen through Mia’s eyes.
One very prominent memory of Mia’s is her Juilliard audition in San Francisco. Vancouver’s historic Orpheum concert theatre doubled for the fictional Jolari Hall. As Mia plays Camille Saint-Saens “Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 33” better than she has ever played in her life, it is bittersweet because she is torn between exhilaration and the feeling that she is starting a new path that is taking her further away from Adam.
For Mia’s classical music scenes, Moretz and cellist Haigan Day, who served as Moretz’s photo double, were both filmed performing and then composited in post-production.
At Cutler’s direction, the art department designed a new oval ceiling mosaic that was digitally composited onto the ceiling of the Orpheum concert hall. The recognizable image is replicated later in a pivotal moment that demonstrates the depth of Adam’s feelings for Mia.
Earlier, for their first date, Adam takes Mia to see one of her idols, renowned cellist Alisa Weilerstein, in a scene shot at the Chan Centre at the University of British Columbia.
As Mia is pursuing her Juilliard dream, Adam is chasing his own dream, and his band, Willamette Stone, is gaining popularity. Their shows required dressing Vancouver locations as well as staging crowd sequences. Since the club scenes show the ascendance of the band, the locations and sizes mirrored that. “The initial club where Mia sees Adam perform for the first time wasn’t even an actual club, rather a dingy kitchen area of what used to be an old restaurant, and it progressed from there,” says Thomas.
Cutler turned to John Carrafa, with whom he’s worked since his theatre days, to stage the musical scenes. “He did a wonderful job staging the band as well as the audiences. I think the crowds are so authentic, you really feel like you’re in those spaces.”
Cutler and his music team took care to produce all the music, both rock and classical, so it felt organic to each space, from a small dive to the concert hall at Juilliard. He offers, “It was very important to us that whether you’re in the small club with Adam, or with Mia at Juilliard in a beautiful big hall, that you feel you’re really there.”
As the film progresses the success of Adam’s band grows, culminating with a performance filmed at Rickshaw, Vancouver’s large, popular alternative rock club.
Cutler notes, “All my departments-art, lighting, wardrobe, extras casting-had to work together to illustrate this story arc and I think they did an incredible job.”
One Willamette Stone show in particular is not only a major milestone for Adam’s band, but one for Mia as well. Set during Halloween and filmed at the Cobalt night club, it’s the first time Mia lets go, dancing along in a frenetic crowd dressed in an array of costumes. For once, she doesn’t feel like the outsider in Adam’s hip world.
Greenspan says, “The Halloween concert is really where Mia comes into her own. She thinks it’s the sexy costume she’s wearing but it’s really Adam’s performance on that stage that makes her shake it up. I love that it’s not some kind of artificial tool that gets her to let her hair down but Adam’s connection to his music. It’s not about how she looks; it’s who she is that he loves. It’s a highpoint in their relationship.”
Adam’s period costume was a nod to Mia’s favorite composer, Beethoven. Costume designer Monique Prudhomme designed Mia’s ensemble to differ greatly from her daily look and comfort zone while illustrating a nice connection with her mom.
While Prudhomme did not base it on any one rocker, she acknowledges, “I took inspiration from the world of Blondie: a white china doll bob-cut wig, leopard top, very short skirt with side buckles, fishnet hose and super high red faux lizard pumps. The look resembled her mom’s when she used to go clubbing. Mother and daughter put this outfit together with clothes from Kat’s past, so it also had to look like it actually would be in Kat’s closet.”
Conversely, Mia’s closet has very simple clothes in it, almost neutral to contrast with her mother’s colorful wardrobe, conveying an effortless simplicity. Moretz’s costume for the accident and afterward in the hospital, a light layered top with a lace ballet skirt, which she remains in as she hovers between worlds, was designed to convey an ethereal feeling of lightness and transparency.
Blakeley’s wardrobe was conceived to reflect a subtle change in Adam’s coming of age as a man and musician. However, Adam’s most distinctive and telling accessory is his guitar: a Fender Jaguar Electric Guitar in live performance scenes and a Fender Guild Acoustic for the acoustic songs.
Mia’s cello in the film is a modern Romanian model instrument by Ian Moar, a local Vancouver luthier. Moar altered the top and back plates of the instrument and then finished it with a multi-layered oil varnish to give it an antiqued appearance. In addition, a petite 7/8 size Moar cello, a perfect fit for Moretz, but very uncommon and hard to find, was located for the actress.
Prudhomme had to dress Mia’s parents as both punkers in their youth and as dedicated parents almost two decades later, making a living to support their family. “Their look is a combination of what they were and what they have become, more tame but still fun and unconventional: a mixture of off-beat fashion trends of the last 20 years, which also needed to be different from Adam’s band and groups of the present,” she notes.
One of the more sentimental costume choices was using a vintage leather jacket Gayle Forman’s husband had worn in his punk days. It was shipped from Brooklyn for Joshua Leonard to wear in his Nasty Bruises drummer period.
Adam: When I was eight I saw this old video of the Ramones playing “I Wanna Be Sedated.” And it felt like my head exploded. And I was like, “I have to learn how to play the guitar.”
“If I Stay” opens with a Cello Sonata by Beethoven and riffs through an array of music including Zoltan Kodaly, Bach, Buzzcocks, Beck, Sonic Youth, Blondie, Iggy Pop, and The Dandy Warhols, to name a few.
“Music is an undeniably critical element in and of itself in this film and that created a wonderful opportunity for me,” says Cutler. “Telling stories about people who play music and who sing allows you to enhance the narrative in many different ways. You’re dealing with the content of the lyrics, the nature of the performance, and the tone of the actual scene itself. It’s really exciting to get things that function on all of those levels when you find exactly the right piece of music and put it together in exactly the right way.”
Cutler set the musical tone early, giving MP3 players to his cast loaded with playlists that their characters would be listening to, since “they are defined by the music they love,” he explains.
Moretz received one filled with music from the classical genre, as well as contemporary music that incorporated classical instruments, like Nirvana’s “Unplugged.” Cutler also included a lot of Kat and Denny’s favorite music, which Mia grew up on: The Clash, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, The Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, as well as more contemporary Pacific Northwest-based music that would likely be in the world around her.
Blackley’s playlist overlapped Moretz’s, but with less classical and more of a foundation in Punk and Grunge. Enos and Leonard’s were loaded with the music of Kat and Denny’s youth-Punk, New Wave, Grunge, and a good deal of grunge-influenced music.
Cutler also worked very closely with music supervisor Linda Cohen and the film’s composer, Heitor Pereira. They listened to hundreds of songs-some that had been written for them, some that bands had just never recorded-on a search for the five songs that Adam’s band would perform.
Adam’s musical roots, which influence Willamette Stone, begin with the Ramones. This was the point of origin that influenced Cutler’s choices for the band.
Cutler notes, “Adam’s band’s music is a kind of raw rock ‘n’ roll that has great passion and articulates a relationship to punk with a certain rage. Of course, because they’re from Portland, there’s also a relationship to grunge, so there’s a relationship to pop as well. It’s a really great merge of sounds. And Jamie and the band crushed it.”
Blackley and the other members of Willamette Stone-Ben Klassen, Ran Stephenson, Tom Vanderkam, along with keyboard player Ali Milner as Adam’s friend, Liz-arrived in Toronto weeks before the start of production to practice songs and record them for playback later in actual scenes.
“It’s fun to get up on stage and mess up your hair and have a little head bang,” Blackley smiles. “It’s mad, a total adrenaline rush.”
Although Blackley actually plays guitar and sings, he brushed up with lessons from Simon Tong, who played in the band Gorillaz. The first time Blackley got to perform the music was a pivotal scene which takes place at a Labor Day party at Mia’s house. The day Mia remembers in her retrospective state as her favorite day was also one of Blackley’s favorite scenes. Adam and his band mates play guitar with Mia’s father and his musician friends gathered around a bonfire in Mia’s backyard.
Blackley recalls, “That was really fun to film because we had worked so hard on the music.”
Adam brings out Mia’s cello and pulls her into the impromptu jam and, for the first time, she and Adam are finally playing music together, melding her classical music with his.
“It’s very symbolic. It’s like they are intertwining all the aspects of their lives,” says Moretz.
Forman relates, “Being able to actually viscerally experience watching Mia play the cello or seeing Adam and Mia actually jam together was a million times better than it could ever be in the book or in my head. I think the music is really going to resonate with viewers.”
The songs are touchstones in Mia’s memories as she studies her past in the in-between world and reflects on the complex twists and turns in her relationship with Adam.
“It’s really beautiful how R.J. infused music into every aspect of making this movie,” Moretz notes, “You hear their love story; it’s completely encompassed in the songs.”
Cutler reflects, “These two people who are deeply in love with each other, and really connected could be torn apart for no other reason than that they are fully pursuing who they are.
“Life is messy. There isn’t just one path. It’s all the joy that comes from the surprises that it has in store for you and all the tragedy that comes from those surprises. What Mia learns on her journey with Adam is invaluable and helps her make her ultimate choice.”
If I Stay
Directed by: R.J. Cutler
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard, Liana Liberato, Ali Milner, Aisha Hinds
Screenplay by: Shauna Cross, Gayle Forman
Production Design by: Brent Thomas
Cinematography by: John de Borman
Film Editing by: Keith Henderson
Costume Design by: Monique Prudhomme
Set Decoration by: Louise Roper
Music by: Heitor Pereira
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material.
Studio: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, New Line Cinema
Release Date: August 22, 2014
Taglines: There is no calm before the storm.
In the span of a single day, the town of Silverton is ravaged by an unprecedented onslaught of tornadoes. The entire town is at the mercy of the erratic and deadly cyclones, even as storm trackers predict the worst is yet to come. Most people seek shelter, while others run towards the vortex, testing how far a storm chaser will go for that once-in-a-lifetime shot. Told through the eyes and lenses of professional storm chasers, thrill-seeking amateurs, and courageous townspeople, Into the Storm throws you directly into the eye of the storm to experience Mother Nature at her most extreme.
Into the Storm is an American found footage disaster film directed by Steven Quale, written by John Swetnam, and starring Richard Armitage. The film was released on August 8, 2014.
About the Story
A group of high school students are in a car together as a storm is brewing. When the storm gets worse, the kids look up ahead and see a tornado approaching. A girl begs for them to go, but the boy recording on a camera gets out to video tape the tornado. He gets back in the car, but the tornado picks them up before they can escape, killing them all.
In the town of Silverton, Oklahoma, the local high school senior class is preparing for graduation. The high school’s vice-principal, Gary Fuller, has asked his two sons, Trey and Donnie, to record messages from the seniors for a time capsule to be opened in 25 years. Elsewhere, Pete, a veteran storm chaser, has been attempting to intercept and film tornadoes using a heavily armored vehicle nicknamed Titus, but has come up short all year long.
Upon learning of a major line of developing storms, the chasers confer and decide to head for Silverton in hopes of filming tornadoes. After arriving in Silverton, the team discovers that the cell they had been chasing has dissipated, upsetting Pete. As the team reconvenes to determine its next move, the Silverton cell abruptly strengthens, resulting in a hailstorm and tornado. As the team films, the funnel abruptly shifts course and heads for the high school.
At the high school, the senior students are participating in commencement ceremonies when the weather suddenly sours. Moments later, the tornado sirens sound, and the students are subsequently marshaled into the school building by the head principal and his staff. In the aftermath of the tornado, shaken students emerge from the damaged building to view the destruction, while Gary sets out to rescue his eldest son, who had gone to an abandoned paper mill to help a friend with a project; both were subsequently trapped when the tornado brought the building down on them.
Into the Storm
Directed by: Steven Quale
Starring: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Arlen Escarpeta
Written by: John Swetnam
Cinematography by: Brian Pearson
Edited by: Eric A. Sears
Production Design by: David Sandefur
Cinematography by: Brian Pearson
Film Editing by: Eric A. Sears
Costume Design by: Kimberly Adams-Galligan
Set Decoration by: Brana Rosenfeld
Music by: Brian Tyler
MPAA RatingB PG-13 for sequences of intense destruction and peril, and language including some sexual references.
Release Date: August 8, 2014
Taglines: Life’s a bitch… And then you go on a road trip.
Tammy, who was recently fired from a Toppy Jacks fast food restaurant, returns home only to find her husband enjoying a romantic meal with the neighbor. She quickly packs her necessities, and travels down three houses to her parent’s home. Upon denied use of her mom’s car to drive to Niagara Falls, she quickly resorts to an “ailing” grandmother, who also lives in the home… Only instead of traveling alone, Grandma Pearl wants in on the road trip.
After realizing Grandma Pearl has the funds, they hit the road. Pearl soon proves to be quite the alcoholic despite her diabetes, and Tammy quickly turns into the “baby-sitter.” From finding love in a bar to robbing a Toppy Jack’s in order to bail Pearl out of jail,the quirky adventure will have you finding yourself riding along for the misadventures of Tammy.
About the Production
Tammy: I lost my job, my car’s on fire and Greg is screwing our neighbor. I’m getting out of this stupid town for good.
Road trips are a tradition of comedy films, but in the hands of married duo Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy, their new movie, “Tammy,” is anything but a traditional road trip.
Falcone and McCarthy have been writing comedy material together since their early days as Groundlings, where they met. “Tammy” marks the couple’s first collaboration on the big screen as writers. It is also Falcone’s feature directorial debut, and McCarthy’s first foray into producing.
“I guess you could say it was literally a dream come true,” says Falcone, who reveals that the idea sprang from a dream he described to McCarthy about going on a crazy road trip with her grandmother. “I always love writing with Melissa, but to get to direct her was incredible because she’s so talented and, of course, funny.”
McCarthy shares, “Ben and I had always talked about writing a movie about real people who mess up and have to decide if they are going to keep making mistakes or change things. Since Ben has been directing theatre and comedy videos for years, we felt it was a natural progression for him to direct “Tammy.”
Falcone and McCarthy mined their own Midwest backgrounds to create a string of colorful characters and situations that revolve around a working-class woman who gets trapped on an interminable road trip with her rather atypical grandmother.
Producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay were already fans of Falcone and McCarthy and were eager to work with the pair.
McKay states, “Melissa is one of the funniest people on the planet and Ben is a super-talented, hilarious guy. As a producer, this meant two things: we would have a very funny and unique movie, and I would not have to work as hard because they are so good.”
Ferrell adds, “Melissa has made me laugh hard for a long time, so when I heard it was her and Susan Sarandon in a car having wild adventures, I wanted in.”
Sarandon, who stars opposite McCarthy as Tammy’s irrepressible grandma, Pearl, was drawn to the raucous road trip that Tammy and her grandmother take, which, surprisingly, becomes an emotional journey. “The script had such energy and was flamboyant in its freedom,” she conveys. “I liked that all the absurd things they go through give Pearl and Tammy the opportunity to look at where they are in their lives and take it up a notch.”
McCarthy and Sarandon are just two pieces of what turned into an all-star ensemble, including Allison Janney, Gary Cole, Mark Duplass, Sandra Oh, Dan Aykroyd and Kathy Bates. Falcone also brought fellow Groundlings Nat Faxon, Steve Little and Sarah Baker to the mix. With such a deep talent pool, he encouraged improvisation from his entire cast to extract even more humor from Tammy and Pearl’s misadventure.
As the two women take to the highway, everything that can go wrong does, and then some, forcing them to face each other’s flaws as well as their own…and put out a few fires along the way.
McCarthy says, “If you’re having a terrible day and something ridiculous makes you laugh, that’s the best. We wanted to capture that feeling.”
Falcone adds, “Tammy is not only having a terrible day, she’s having one huge, epic bad day and a whole lot of ridiculousness ensues. We had a lot of fun with that.
Behind the Dash
Pearl: Would you like a beer?
Pearl: Oh my god, you’re knocked up.
Tammy: No. I’m driving a car. Duh.
Nothing says ridiculous like mouth-to-mouth with a deer. That’s exactly how Tammy’s epic bad day starts out after colliding with the unfortunate creature on a deserted highway on her way to work. The deer isn’t the only impact on her day. Her creepy boss at Topper Jack’s burger joint also blindsides Tammy by firing her.
Falcone notes, “We’re immediately clued into the fact that Tammy usually takes the easy road, does the minimum required to get by. And that ripples throughout the rest of her world.”
McCarthy describes Tammy as “underdeveloped, stunted, and immature. She’s a train wreck. But with a good heart.”
Echoing that sentiment, Falcone says, “Tammy does have a good heart and so does Melissa. I think that quality is what makes Melissa so appealing to audiences. It really shines through her character.”
“My inspiration for Tammy came from an amalgamation of regular people I’ve known or observed just living their lives. Only jacked-up a little,” McCarthy admits. “Tammy hates her life, or lack thereof, but instead of changing it, blames everyone else. She just can’t get out of her own way.”
If Tammy thought her crappy day couldn’t get any worse, she’s sadly mistaken. When she finally drags through the door of her house, she finds her husband, Greg, played by Nat Faxon, having a romantic interlude with her neighbor, played by Toni Collette.
Falcone observes, “This is already the worst day of her life. We wanted to slam Tammy with enough to make her have to physically leave. There’s nowhere left for her to hide from her problems.”
So Tammy tries to get out of town, turning to her mom for comfort-and a loaner car.
Falcone and McCarthy both pictured Allison Janney for the role of Tammy’s mother, Deb. Falcone says, “We love Allison’s work and knew she would be perfect so we wrote the part with her in mind.”
“Allison is brilliant. We weren’t sure she’d do it so we plied her with several margaritas,” McCarthy jokes.
“They could have had me at one,” Janney counters, laughing. “Deb is a complicated, lovely woman, and can’t catch a break with her mother or her daughter. She’s frustrated that she doesn’t understand them and they don’t understand her, so she’s at a point where she’s going to try tough love with Tammy.”
Deb’s husband, Don, would rather get tough with Tammy’s cheating husband. Falcone cast Dan Aykroyd in the role of Tammy’s father. Falcone comments, “As a comedian, I’ve always looked up to Dan, so it was a thrill to work with him.”
Aykroyd says, “I loved working with Ben and Melissa. They’re a great team-genuinely gifted, true professionals.” Aykroyd also relished working with Janney, noting, “Allison is a veteran, a pro who immediately conveyed with simple gestures a feeling of affection and that we’d known each other for the decades Don and Deb have been married.”
“I have to thank Ben and Melissa for giving me Dan,” says Janney. “He’s the best on-screen husband I’ve ever had.”
Deb’s new tough love program begins with denying Tammy transportation. Knowing her granddaughter won’t get far without wheels, Pearl then seizes upon the opportunity to blackmail Tammy with the keys to her Buick sedan. And since Pearl controls the car and cash, she also controls the destination: Niagara Falls.
Starring as Pearl, Susan Sarandon says she loved the grandma-with-a-past role. “Pearl is smart but she’s wild, definitely a product of the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll generation. She had a baby really young, and then her daughter had a baby really young. But she disappeared from Tammy’s life at a critical time, and Tammy resented it. So now they’re stuck in a car together and will finally have to work all that out.”
Falcone comments, “It was amazing to watch Susan bring these layers to Pearl. Pearl has definitely partied and had her fun, but she is also really smart and grounded.”
“Susan is just cool,” says McCarthy. “She came in with no judgment of Pearl and her wild past. She said, ‘It is what it is,’ and I think that approach is what makes Pearl so interesting, vibrant, and sexy.”
Pearl packs light, bringing only the bare necessities on the road: cash, booze and her crocheting.
“Pearl is always carrying around her booze and her rugs and trying to score,” attests Sarandon, who learned to make rugs like her own grandmother for the role. The rug Sarandon was actually making in the scenes kept getting bigger and bigger.
Sarandon felt that McCarthy provided an equally layered character to work off. “Melissa commits so completely,” she remarks. “She’s great with silly physical humor but she doesn’t patronize her characters. You recognize some of your own frailties in the mistakes that Tammy makes.”
The most recent mistake is going in the wrong direction, which takes them far afield. Tammy is ready to throw in the towel almost immediately and head home but Pearl challenges her to stop whining about missing life and get one.
Not one to back down from a dare, Tammy finds herself at a happening country-western bar. But instead of getting lucky, Tammy is lucky if she’ll be able to pry Pearl away from Earl, a random guy who ends up locked in the Buick with Pearl, fogging up the windows.
Gary Cole, who stars as Earl, says he jumped at the chance to work with both Sarandon and McCarthy. “You put Melissa in a situation where her character’s going to get in trouble, with a lot of obstacles, and you know some gold is going to happen. That, and making out with Susan Sarandon,” he laughs. “It was really a no-brainer to say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll come to that party.'”
Falcone observes, “Gary brought a lot of fun to the character and punch to his storyline. Earl is a guy who is a good time and trouble all at once.”
Cole calls Earl “an alcohol enthusiast. Some people may say he has a problem; he would say it’s a hobby.”
Pearl is also an avid “enthusiast,” so she and Earl hit it off immediately, which is a problem for his son, Bobby, played by Mark Duplass.
Like Tammy, who has her hands full with Pearl, Bobby has the thankless-and impossible-task of keeping Earl in line. Duplass offers, “Pearl and Earl have this electric connection of debauchery, so Tammy and Bobby are caught in the middle of that dynamic as it explodes, trying to get a handle on their elders. It’s a fun role reversal.”
The dynamic between Bobby and Tammy, however, is something of a hot mess. McCarthy explains, “Their eyes don’t meet across a crowded room; it’s more sloppy. She hits on him and makes an ass of herself. It’s the perfect imperfect springboard Ben and I wanted, so these subtle changes can transpire in Tammy as she and Bobby keep getting thrown together.”
Falcone adds, “Mark is a very expressive actor and infused Bobby with a simple honesty and sweet energy. He and Melissa played off each other so well. He brought nuances that helped build an organic progression and make you really root for the relationship between Tammy and Bobby.”
Things can only go downhill from the bar and Pearl enlists the help of her cousin Lenore to mitigate some of the collateral chaos that follows. The part was written for Kathy Bates.
Bates liked the strong, positive character, noting, “Lenore is very down-to-earth, a self-made woman. She has worked hard to achieve success both personally and professionally. But when she sees that Tammy has no aspirations for her life on either front, Lenore just wants to shake her a little so she’ll wake up.”
“I walked around New York City in my twenties with a copy of the play ‘Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune,’ with a picture of her on the back, so I had to pinch myself in scenes with her,” McCarthy shares. “Kathy’s so amazing, she can send lightning bolts through you.”
“Melissa was inspiring, she’s funny as hell, and she’s emotionally full every single take,” says Bates. “And Ben created an easy environment. It was effortless, like those great friendships that are uncomplicated from the very beginning.”
Falcone states, “Kathy is all in. She didn’t even flinch at some of the crazy physical stuff, like lighting a Molotov cocktail or throwing a flaming tiki torch as a javelin. She is an exceptional talent.”
Sandra Oh joined the ensemble as Lenore’s partner Susanne. The two had previously worked together on “Six Feet Under,” though on opposite sides of the camera, with Bates directing Oh. Now, in front of the camera, their chemistry flourished.
Falcone says, “Kathy and Sandra are so great together. They just make you want to hang out at Lenore and Susanne’s house. A lot.”
“When they approached me to play opposite Kathy, I jumped at it,” says Oh. “I have great respect for her. I was excited about the opportunity to perform in scenes with her this time around because we already had such a strong connection.”
Bates agrees. “It’s always a treat working with Sandra. And from our first scene, it was like she had been my partner for years. I told her later she really gave us our on-screen relationship; her little details brought so much heart.”
“We were fortunate to have an incredible cast,” says Falcone. “Melissa and I love these characters. You could tell the cast did, too, and I think the audience will feel that love.”
Pearl: Where’s the dance floor and the bar? Not in that order.
Filming took place primarily in and around Wilmington, North Carolina, which doubled for the Midwest look of Murphysboro, Illinois. At Falcone’s request, director of photography Russ Alsobrook implemented cross-shooting throughout the film, with cameras simultaneously on each actor, a method Falcone had observed on previous films in which he had worked. “It helps people keep that reaction in the moment, because later it’s really hard to go back and remember what you said if you were improvising,” the director relates.
Falcone notes that although not everyone in the cast was used to improvisation, they all ultimately embraced the opportunity. “Melissa and I both come from a background of improv, so we know it’s a great tool.”
One memorable improvisation took place between Melissa and “Stuffy,” the deer Tammy hits with her car. Made at Creature Effects, the animatronic deer was controlled by two puppeteers who could make its eyes, ears and mouth move. The props department made a double for Stuffy which could be thrown at the car to simulate Tammy hitting it. In a completely unscripted and unexpected moment, Melissa suddenly started giving Stuffy mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Falcone recalls, “It was so hot and she was down on that asphalt, and she started ‘saving’ Stuffy. I was having a hard time not laughing and ruining the takes.”
Sarandon agrees, “It was fabulous to improv scenes with Melissa. It may seem like it’s off the-cuff but she is very present; a consummate professional who never loses sight of what needs to be accomplished in the scene.”
She continues, “For me, Ben’s directing style also helped make it possible for us to go off script. He created a solid structure, and then within that structure, there was freedom, which enabled a looseness and fluidity to the performance.”
Bates also found the improvisation environment stimulating, admitting, “I told Ben to make me part of his rep company. He gave us room, and because it always comes from such a natural, real place, you really want to try things.”
Another key decision was the use of practical locations to achieve a grounded look. Falcone turned to production designer Jefferson Sage, who had previously worked with McCarthy on “The Heat” and “Bridesmaids,” to transform the locations into Tammy and Pearl’s world.
Sage started with designing Topper Jack’s burger chain, the fictional franchise that recurs throughout the film. Inspired by a now-defunct chain McCarthy remembers growing up, Sage says, “The look and corporate identity of this restaurant chain needed to feel local and dated, like they were overdue for an image re-set, but hadn’t done it yet. We used the signature yellow and red color scheme to identify with a jarring 1970s palette, emphasizing the tiredness of the place, which also reflects the dead-end nature of Tammy’s job.”
The first Topper Jack’s is the scene of an argument between McCarthy and her boss that involves throwing both insults and food. Falcone plays the boss from hell. Of her nightmare on-screen boss, McCarthy says, “We all know that guy, we’ve all worked for that guy. I have been fired by that guy for sure.” She adds, “It was fun throwing food at Ben.”
As Topper Jack’s keeps popping up on the road, they become the site of some bad decisions, which only compound Tammy’s troubles.
While Topper Jack’s color scheme pushed the envelope, Tammy’s home was specifically designed to avoid kitsch and evoke a contained feeling. “Her world needed to feel kind of small,” explains Sage. “It’s cluttered, there’s no cohesive sense of design. We crowded enough in to make it feel cramped and a bit oppressive, using a dour, dark, dingy color palette.”
Two houses down is Tammy’s mother’s house. Sage says, “Deb’s reflects a successful, happy relationship. The flowerbeds are tended, it’s comfortable inside. There is happiness here.” Fortunately, Sage found one neighborhood with the houses located right near each other on the same street, which enabled Falcone to establish Tammy’s problems quickly, and shoot her ensuing escape in a continuous sequence.
Falcone designed Tammy’s post-escape car scenes “to force the intimacy between Pearl and Tammy, whether they welcome it or not.”
“It was hot and there was weather and dust and a lot of hours in the car, but those were actually some of my favorite scenes,” says Sarandon.
McCarthy also enjoyed them. In addition to trading barbs with Sarandon’s character, she got to do the real driving. Stunt coordinator Peter King details, “Melissa was fearless. She has enormous endurance and a sense of natural timing, but she is also one of the best drivers I’ve ever worked with. She can hit a difficult mark, nailing it even without practice. She outdrove my stunt drivers more than once, which was fun to watch.”
“It was pretty cool,” McCarthy smiles. “Look out NASCAR.”
Their first real stop, The Blue Post, is a location that will change the course of Pearl and Tammy’s road trip. For the bar sequence, Sage added a stage and lots of neon to an existing converted downtown warehouse. The last touch for the bar was the real bluegrass band Possum Creek. Executive Producer Rob Cowan took Falcone and McCarthy to hear them at the local bar Satellite on a Sunday night and they hired the band on the spot, including using original music by the band in the scene.
Filmmakers also hired local outer banks artisans and brothers Skip and Bob Raymo, whose forte is sculpting by chainsaw, to create a piece for a seminal scene at Snow’s Cut Park, located on the inland waterway. Falcone and McCarthy wanted an iconic American theme, which the artists delivered in the form of a very unique American eagle.
Several pit stops on Tammy and Pearl’s trek also involve lakes, which posed a challenge to filmmakers as there are none in Wilmington.
To accomplish the Sea Doo sequence-where Tammy attempts to ride the power water craft but only digs herself and Pearl into more trouble-Sage built a wharf with a dock and huts where vendors are selling wares.
Once again, McCarthy wanted to execute as much of the stunts as possible. The stunt coordinator recalls how fast McCarthy picked it up. “It’s 99 percent Melissa on that Sea Doo ‘coming in hot,'” King states.
Falcone scheduled plenty of time for practice. “I figure we’d get Melissa oriented to the Sea Doo, and take it slow, but she just got on and immediately took it up to almost 50. She did a hard turn and stopped…but the Sea Doo just kept going without her. There was no stopping her from getting back on and doing it again. She’s a trouper.”
As Tammy’s troubles increase in size after her Sea Doo debacle, so does the getaway vehicle. Pearl calls her cousin Lenore, who shows up with an enormous RV so they can ditch Pearl’s Buick sedan in a big way and lay low at Lenore’s house on the lake.
On the inland waterway outside of Wilmington, filmmakers found a large Nantucket-style residence surrounded by giant oak trees with a private dock to use as Lenore’s house. A generous wraparound deck gave way to a sizeable pool area. The landscaping was so inviting Falcone moved scenes from indoors to outdoors on the property and had Sage and his team create a dance floor over an entire section of the pool.
They redressed the interior of the house, for a mountain lodge motif. Some of the key pieces of furniture were custom upholstered using antique quilts and vintage silk coverlets from the Depression era. The art was all locally sourced. Although Pearl and Tammy are hoping to hide out at Lenore’s during her annual Fourth of July party, there are more fireworks than expected.
There were some unexpected behind-the-scenes surprises as well. During an important shot that not only involved most of the main cast and lots of extras, but pyrotechnics, too, a storm came in. Falcone relates, “We were on a camera barge and suddenly lightning struck and the barge lost power. We just started to drift off out into this inlet with the storm picking up. That’s when my director of photography, Russ, looked at me and said, ‘It’s been great knowing you.'”
Directed by: Ben Falcone
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd, Sandra Oh, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Kathy Bates
Screenplay by: Ben Falcone, Melissa McCarthy
Production Design by: Jefferson Sage
Cinematography by: Russ T. Alsobrook
Film Editing by: Michael L. Sale
Costume Design by: Wendy Chuck
Music by: Michael Andrews
MPAA Rating: R for language including sexual references.
Studio: New Line Cinema
Release Date: July 2, 2014
Kevin Hart and Ice Cube lead the lineup in Ride Along, from the director and the producer of the blockbuster comedy Think Like a Man. When a fast-talking guy joins his girlfriend’s brother—a hot-tempered cop—to patrol the streets of Atlanta, he gets entangled in the officer’s latest case. Now, in order to prove that he deserves his future bride, he must survive the most insane 24 hours of his life.
For the past two years, high-school security guard Ben (Hart) has been trying to show decorated APD detective James (Cube) that he’s more than just a video-game junkie who’s unworthy of James’ sister, Angela (Tika Sumpter). When Ben finally gets accepted into the academy, he thinks he’s earned the seasoned policeman’s respect and asks for his blessing to marry Angela.
Knowing that a ride along will demonstrate if Ben has what it takes to take care of his sister, James invites him on a shift designed to scare the hell out of the trainee. But when the wild night leads them to the most notorious criminal in the city, James will find that his new partner’s rapid-fire mouth is just as dangerous as the bullets speeding at it.
Ride Along is an American action comedy film directed by Tim Story and written by Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, and Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi. The film stars Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Ice Cube, Bruce McGill, Bryan Callen and Tika Sumpter. The film is scheduled to be released on January 17, 2014 and is being produced by Ice Cube’s Cube Vision Productions.
Directed by: Tim Story
Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, Bryan Callen, Tika Sumpter, Julisita Salcedo
Screenplay by: Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas
Production Design by: Chris Cornwell
Cinematography by: Larry Blanford
Film Editing by: Craig Alpert
Costume Design by: Sekinah Brown
Set Decoration by: Amy McGary
Music by: Christopher Lennertz
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence, sexual content and brief strong language.
Studio: New Line Cinema
Release Date: January 17, 2014