Thursday, August 21, 2008

Poster Critique - Sex Drive and College

I just saw the red band trailer for Sex Drive this past lunch (halal cart at Union Square North, not quite as good at midtown but hey take what you can get for 5 bucks). Although some people might think of this, as well as College which comes out Labor Day weekend, as something from the Apatow clan, it's not. Thus has begun the wave of probable imitators who are no doubt admirable in their attempt to grab hold of the adolescent experience and the sexual misgivings and mistakes and turn it into comedy/box-office gold.

However, one has to be skeptical; Apatow isn't perfect (diversions like Walk Hard and Fun With Dick and Jane) and neither are his cohorts when less than what 4 of them are in the same film. Yet with a wave of R-rated comedies that started with the American Pie series and got a jolt during the '05 summer with Wedding Crashers grossing over 200 million and The 40 Year Old Virgin over 100 million, we come to something like Sex Drive which is planted nicely in the fall slate just shy of awards movies but after the dead late August-September area.

So assuming that I haven't seen the trailer, the first thing that I'm thinking about this poster (there's another one with his donut mascot suit, and it just kind of sucks) is that it's something to do with driving or a road trip of some sort, probably to a girl's house or va-jay-jay. Even though it's a fairly minimal poster, it's got so much sexual innuendo to the point where, it's kind of just trying too hard. The tag line referring to the character's member, the "coming soon" in place of the odometer right in the center is pretty blatant. The reason why it's trying too hard is the character is lying down for no real reason other than to work another angle by having the speedometer reading at a fairly fast speed and the pointer in place of the erection of course.

I don't particularly like the plain background; I think that couple with the character laying down just makes for a really boring piece, as if they were focusing so hard on the puns that when you do watch the trailer, yes it's about driving a muscle car but I feel like the funnier aspect is that the "sex drive" is more a computer reference than anything else, as the main dude is using his computer/internet to score with an exaggerated profile.

What I feel is odd is the font choice as well. The red is supposed to indicate passion or lust, but the depth of the red against the white coupled with a somewhat no-nonsense dramatic all-caps type would be better off in some thriller. Even muting the top billing in gray just seems so chic and serious. I think the College poster is far better with a very similar approach:

If I had to choose from the information given to me which movie to see, it'd be dead even, because James Marsden is in the "and" role which means he's supposed to be the scene stealer or the veteran actor, which he arguably is (although Seth Green has been in his fair share of films as well), and although college films have been done to death, and Waiting wasn't that good, it's got the better poster.
There's so much more solid material. The tagline isn't cheesy, it's goofy: you can sense how a high school kid would say it, so pronounced and enthused. Maybe the period pauses are ironic, as if the kid hovered around the toilet is saying it between vomits.
It's not just that he's in the toilet, which kind of makes you cringe, it's the small things the picture gives out that puts it ahead: the crooked glasses, probably signaling a sort of geeky or nerdy or socially awkward character, and the shoelace dangled off the shoe which is dangling off of the foot. It's such a nice haphazard looking touch to go along with the back sweat and the boxers bunched up. The white background makes the off white of the toilet look dirty, so even that has a good effect. The anonymous, back turn gives an everyman feel so that a lot of people can see themselves having one of those kinds of weekends.

Finally the font color matches the character's shirt, not jarring like the SD poster. And the font type is classic what you would find in college sports on cheerleader cones. All in all a solid poster.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The House Bunny - Why I'm Going To See It

Nope it's not a joke. There's a couple reasons why I'm going to see this end-of-summer probable filth from the Happy Madison camp, and there's probably no real good one, but I'll try.

First let's talk about the second poster for the film, which borrows heavily from the 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up routine of catching a goofy lead actor in an embarrassing expression and tacking a solid tag line to it.

Going off that, the main reason I want to see HB is Anna Faris. I thought she was the best thing about Scary Movie, and the subsequent ones really diminished and now the whole spoof franchise has really made strides to be bottom of the barrel (at least Leslie Nielsen is IN Superhero Movie). What's cool about Faris is that beyond that she managed to make appearances in Lost in Translation and Brokeback Mountain providing comic relief that rounded out and lightened up each film without going overboard. It was a great fit for her as well, being able to use some real comic timing. Who knows; if she were to do that often, playing a small but vibrant supporting role in larger movies, she could be a younger female version of Alec Baldwin (alright don't worry nobody comes close to Baldwin, I'm just sayin'). Or a Madeline Kahn (alright now I'm really pushing it).
What really makes me think that i could at least be mildly amusing when Faris is on screen is Just Friends. I thought she was terrific in that, and matched Ryan Reynolds (yes, I'm a fan) tick for tick. Of course her character was barely written but she really was entertaining I thought, with just a massive dose of creepiness mixed with her charming baby face. I think when you take that into account, she has enough comic energy to carry a high concept film certainly.
It doesn't hurt that off screen she seems very humble and dedicated to her performances.

HB is from the writers of Legally Blonde, and while that really wasn't that terrible (for some reason seeing bad movies with my parents and at least hearing them laugh makes it a little easier to take, with the exception of How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, man I hated that movie, I'm not even going to put it in italics because I hated it so much). It's the same formula, taking a dumb blonde who naively and incredibly makes her way through a fish out of water story. I think with Faris the screenwriters have a more able comic talent on their hands, and also, Happy Madison was excited to have their first female-led production. Yeah you have Reese Witherspoon and Cameron Diaz and Kate Hudson, but I think Faris actually trumps them all by just going the extra mile and being able to play insane characters that are more ripe with comic situations and more zany. I get a sense that she doesn't mind if she doesn't look pretty; funny is funny and that's what she's after. I think what looks to be her bewilderment through the entirety of HB will at least make me laugh if not anyone else. It's just rare to see broad comedy done with a female lead who has the potential to have real comic timing in a film and push herself to equal lengths if not more than a male lead would in the same thing, not something like Sex And The City (which I won't italicize either because that movie blew donkey balls, don't ask me why I saw it). I think it would be cool to see a female Will Ferrell in the movies churning out consistent work.

So enough about Faris. The rest of the girls are hot (Kat Dennings, Emma Stone) and so far, both have been in funny films from the Apatow clan. Colin Hanks is cool (Orange County could have been better but it was fairly unpredictable) and goes to Kettle of Fish, so points there. Beverly D'Angelo is bank, and who doesn't like Christopher "Don't Call Me Shooter" McDonald? My question is using the lead singer from All American Rejects as one of the love interests for the sisters. That just sucks, and from this clip at Ropes of Silicon it seems like he'll be the weak link:

Yeah he's gonna suck big time.

Obviously there aren't really high hopes for this movie, and with Mamma Mia still doing well and Sisterhood just coming out there's competition from female-centric movies. However, I'll be paying for it, and hoping it's worth my while.

The House Bunny is directed by Fred Wolf, not the animation guy, but the writer/director and former head writer of SNL, and also wrote the somewhat enjoyable Without A Paddle.

Check out the trailer:

The House Bunny

Friday, August 15, 2008

Static Radio NJ - Doing Lifetime Proud

One of the first things that me and one of my colleagues at work got into good conversations about was bands that we both liked; an unpretentious roll call of all sorts of punk bands from old to new, and it's always refreshing to go back to basics and discuss music not in an elitist sort of way, but just a natural "hey I think they are pretty good too" sort of way.

As a big fan of Lifetime/Kid Dynamite, old Saves the Day, the Bouncing Souls, any sort of New Brunswick cut time-change tempo-pick it back up mode of catchy, scrappy, crunchy hardcore punk with big sing alongs, my colleague has now turned me on to Static Radio NJ, who have been around for a few years but me missing the boat almost all the time because I can't keep up with music and stick to old standards, I just gave them a first listen from their new effort An Evening of Bad Decisions which comes out September 9th and is streaming on here.

There's always something to be said for bands that simply fuse an high energy emotional level with pummeling fast punk. There's no frills about it, but there's a genuine empathy with this particular brand, Lifetime had it as well and so do a plethora of other bands but you can never have too much. It could be macho but the quickness of the songs and slightly shimmery melodies drenched in distortion make it as I stated before, rather scrappy, not over the top. There's humor and self-deprecation in the lyrics, which makes for down to earth listening, even if that literally means floorpunching.

They are playing at Lost & Found bar in Greenpoint next Tuesday, August 19th, check them out if you can!

Check out their MySpace page.