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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Bridesmaids

What's the most overrated movie of 2011? (Updated)

December 30, 2011 |  9:49 am

Breakingda

[Updated, Monday, Jan. 2, 8:35 a.m.: Anti-Twihards formed the largest, or at least the most vocal, group of film contrarians in 2011. In a survey of more than 1,000 readers, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I" was ranked the most overrated movie of the year. More than 41% of people responding chose that film for the dubious distinction.

Some, however, pointed out on Twitter that since the movie was polarizing and tepidly reviewed at the time of release, "Breaking Dawn" should not be considered so much overrated as "bad but popular," like other Hollywood blockbusters.

Using that logic, the "most-overated" title would then go to "Bridesmaids," the R-rated cultural phenomenon about female friendship, with nearly 23% of readers choosing the Kristen Wiig comedy for the dishonor.  Smaller groups chose "The Help" (15%) as well as "Midnight in Paris (10%) and "The Descendants" (10%) as the most overrated move of 2011.]

Last year, a group of readers weighed in that "Inception" was the most overrated movie of 2010 -- the Christopher Nolan dream thriller, they said, didn't come close to earning the praise bestowed on it. What film deserves the ignoble title this year?

There's no shortage of choices, as our informal poll of colleagues and contacts suggests.

For some, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn" should jump to the top of the list, with the Bill Condon-directed vampire story continuing the franchise's pattern of buzz that outpaces quality.

For others, Kristen Wiig's "Bridesmaids" should take the crown -- it's a film that, whatever its comic charms, didn't merit the accolades and cultural significance heaped on it.

The summer's biggest dramatic phenomenon, "The Help," has its own group of skeptics amid the hype. And It's hard to avoid two awards hopefuls when posing the overrated question: "Midnight in Paris" and "The Descendants" elicit their share of naysayers.

Weigh in on your choice in the poll below, or suggest your own film on Facebook and Twitter. We'll reveal the results before the calendar turns to '12 -- when a new batch of movies is sure to inspire its own round-robin of hype and backlash.

 

RELATED:

Inception wins informal poll as most overrated movie of 2010 (Part 2)

What's the most underappreciated movie of 2011? (Part 1)

-- Steven Zeitchik

http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn." Credit: Summit Entertainment



SAG Awards: How have the nominees fared at the box office?

December 14, 2011 |  9:43 am

The Help is the top grossing film nominated for a SAG Awards
"The Help," the civil rights drama that earned the most SAG Award nominations Wednesday morning, is also the nominated film that has been most widely seen by moviegoers in theaters.

The movie -- which scored a best ensemble nomination as well as individual acting nods for Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain -- has sold about $170 million worth of tickets so far in the U.S. "Bridesmaids," which has grossed about as much as "The Help," earned two nominations. The other populist films in the race include "Moneyball," which has raked in around $75 million, and "Midnight in Paris," which has collected around $56 million.

But beyond those four films, the majority of the SAG nominees have only played to niche audiences at the box office. "The Artist," the silent black-and-white film that scored three nods -- the second-most of the day behind "The Help" -- has grossed just short of $1 million. The Weinstein Co. film, which opened in limited release on Thanksgiving, is currently playing in 16 theaters and will expand to 175 locations on Dec. 23. The movie will not reach a broader audience until late January, after the Academy Award nominations are announced.

"The Artist" is a front-runner for best picture at the Academy Awards, meaning it has the potential to become more than just an art-house hit. The only other independent film currently in release that seems to be crossing over into commercial territory is "The Descendants," the George Clooney drama that has already racked up over $24 million. The movie, for which Clooney and the ensemble cast were honored on Wednesday, is now in about 900 theaters and will expand nationwide in late January.

Nominated films little-seen by audiences that have already reached the end of their theatrical runs include "Warrior," ($13.7 million) "Beginners" ($5.8 million) and "A Better Life" ($1.8 million).

Meanwhile, some films that earned SAG nods have yet to hit theaters. Those include "Albert Nobbs," starring lead actress nominee Glenn Close and supporting actress nominee Janet McTeer, which will play in only a few locations next week. "We Need to Talk About Kevin" was released in one theater last weekend for a weeklong run to qualify it for Academy Awards consideration, but the film starring Tilda Swinton will not open wide until Jan. 27. Finally, the Margaret Thatcher biopic "The Iron Lady" will reach moviegoers nationwide on Jan 13.

RELATED:

SAG Awards: The complete list of nominees

SAG Awards: Who should win the ensemble honor? [Poll]

SAG Awards: 'The Help,' 'Bridesmaids' among cast nominees

--Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Jessica Chastain, left, and Octavia Spencer star in "The Help." Credit: DreamWorks.


SAG Awards: Does 'Bridesmaids' love up comedy's Oscar chances?

December 14, 2011 |  7:15 am

Bridesmaids
"Bridesmaids" producer Judd Apatow started banging the drum for an Oscar comedy category months ago, hoping the film could get some recognition beyond the populist love for it and its impressive box office gross. Perhaps with Wednesday's nomination of the film in SAG's best ensemble category, he can stop pushing so hard.

While the winner of the SAG ensemble has always coincided with an Oscar nomination for best picture, with the exception of "The Birdcage" in 1996, the nominations don't always line up as neatly. Still, Wednesday's nomination bodes well for this summer's R-rated comedy hit. (The nod to actress Melissa McCarthy in the best female supporting category doesn't hurt either.)

Photos: SAG Awards top nominees

The 2,100 actors who make up SAG's nominating committee have often been spot-on with their picks reflecting the Academy's best picture choices. Last year, the actors picked "The Social Network," "The King's Speech," "Black Swan," "The Kids are All Right" and "The Fighter" -- five films that made it into the 10-picture Academy race. Back in 2008, it chose "Slumdog Millionaire," "Benjamin Button," "Doubt," "Frost/Nixon," and "Milk" as its top five -- all Oscar nominees in the top race.

Other years there's been less overlap in the nominees, with SAG nominating films for its awards that didn't land Academy nominations for best picture, such as  "Nine" in 2009, "Hairspray" in 2007 and "Bobby" in 2006.

What may differentiate "Bridesmaids" from the outliers of the previous years, though, is the Kristen Wiig-starrer resonated with both critics and audiences and was regarded as a game-changer for   women in the industry, demonstrating that women can be as funny as men and lure a big audience. Whether that's enough to get the Academy's attention remains to be seen. But getting the support of the actors' branch -- which makes up the largest voting bloc of the Academy -- is a significant start.

RELATED:

SAG Awards: The full nominations list

'Bridesmaids': Judd Apatow wants an Oscar comedy category

SAG Awards: 'The Help,' 'Bridesmaids' among outstanding cast nominees

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Kirsten Wiig in "Bridesmaids." Credit: Universal Pictures


'Bridesmaids' star Melissa McCarthy digs another female-led film

December 7, 2011 |  5:59 pm

Melissa McCarthy
It’s been a whirlwind year for the actress Melissa McCarthy, who stole scenes in the raucous comedy “Bridesmaids,” won an Emmy for her work on the CBS series “Mike & Molly,” hosted “Saturday Night Live” and is working on her own plus-size clothing line.

Somewhere in there she managed to fit some movie watching into her schedule, and she recently told 24 Frames what film really grabbed her this year. Like “Bridesmaids,” McCarthy’s pick features a strong female cast:

“I loved ‘The Help.’ To start with, I loved the book, so I felt very protective of it, but Tate Taylor wrote and directed a beautiful movie, and those women just ripped it up. Octavia Spencer [as Minny] should be nominated. I’ve been friends with her a long time, and she’s always perfect. She can do anything, and it seems effortless.

“And Jessica Chastain about broke my heart. Allison Janney is a force of nature, and she’s always perfect. And Viola Davis — you can’t stop the list. For the love of God, what do you say about her performance? She made me cry in the opening scene. That’s Viola Davis. She’s completely exposed. I love that movie.”

The Southern drama tells the story of a young journalist in the 1960s (played by Emma Stone) whose decision to write a book about the black women who care for white families in Jackson, Miss., gets the whole town stirred up. Oscar handicappers have predicted nominations for both Davis and Spencer. “Bridesmaids,” meanwhile, could be a contender at the Golden Globes.

What do you think of “The Help” and “Bridesmaids” — are they worthy of awards gold? And what would you like to see next from McCarthy? Let us know in the comments below.

RELATED:

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Comedian Aziz Ansari on which movie cracked him up this year

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids." Credit: Suzanne Hanover / Universal Pictures


Comedian Aziz Ansari on which movie cracked him up this year

November 29, 2011 |  3:46 pm

Aziz Ansari
Although comedian and actor Aziz Ansari's popular blog is titled Aziz Is Bored, it seems unlikely he has much time for boredom these days. Earlier this year Ansari starred in the buddy bank robbery comedy "30 Minutes or Less" with Jesse Eisenberg, and he's a fixture on the small screen, playing Tom Haverford, a cocky government drone with big entrepreneurial dreams, on the NBC series "Parks and Recreation." He also performs stand-up and delivers a never-ending stream of funny tweets.

Occasionally, Ansari even finds himself on the receiving end of some good comedy. He recently told 24 Frames which movie had him laughing this year:

" 'Bridesmaids' was great. Kristen [Wiig] was incredible in that, showing such a range of attitudes. She's doing pretty well for herself. I remember when the movie first came out there were all those articles saying,  'It's your responsibility to go see "Bridesmaids" so there can be more female-centric comedies.' I wanted to write a joke that, what, it's everyone's responsibility to go see 'Fast Five' so there can be more movies with fast cars in them?"

Wiig also co-wrote the film, a likely contender for a Golden Globe nomination, in which she plays a maid of honor leading a colorful crew of bridesmaids on a wild ride. Like Ansari, Wiig is well known for her role on a comedy series, in her case "Saturday Night Live." Down the line, she will reunite with many of her "Bridesmaids" cast mates, including John Hamm, Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd, in the parenthood dramedy "Friends With Kids" (a release date has not been set).

What did you think of Wiig in "Bridesmaids," and what other comedies impressed you this year? And just what will it take to get more movies with fast cars in them? Let us know in the comments below.

RELATED:

Comedy 'Friends With Kids' recalls 'Bridesmaids'

Ralph Fiennes on which movie he can't wait to see next

'30 Minutes or Less': This time, Aziz Ansari has more than a cameo

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Comedian and actor Aziz Ansari. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times


'Bridesmaids': Maya Rudolph, filmmakers on the art of the improv

November 19, 2011 | 11:45 am

It's a dream come true for a comedic actress when she's asked to come to rehearsal ready to improvise. Maya Rudolph, costar of the summer blockbuster "Bridesmaids," was just the lucky lady who got to play with her close friend Kristen Wiig and a cast of talented comedic friends. The result was the "comic gold" that you get to see in the diner scene when the two pals are rehashing Wiig's character Annie's tragic love life.

In this snippet from the Envelope Screening Series, check out Rudolph discussing the improv process, what director Paul Feig got to work with and how producer Judd Apatow reminds audiences that improv only really works when you've got a strong script to serve as your road map.

RELATED:

'Bridesmaids': How they orchestrated the bridal shop scene

'Bridesmaids' filmmakers: Who says actresses aren't funny?

— Nicole Sperling


'Bridesmaids': Judd Apatow wants an Oscar comedy category

November 18, 2011 |  2:01 pm

According to "Bridesmaids" producer Judd Apatow, a comedy has won at the Oscars only five times in "a zillion years." He might be exaggerating a touch, but his point is apt that comedies are rarely thought of in the same category as the prestige dramas that usually rack up awards from the motion picture academy.

Apatow has a solution. He suggests the kind folks at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences consider establishing a comedy category in similar fashion to the animation category that began in 2001.

Check out this snippet from our Envelope screening series in which Apatow rants about the lack of respect given to today's Hollywood comedies.

RELATED:

'Bridesmaids': Who says women aren't funny?

'Bridesmaids': How they orchestrated the bridal shop scene

— Nicole Sperling


'Bridesmaids': How they orchestrated the bridal shop scene [video]

November 17, 2011 |  5:42 pm

Your 20s are not an easy decade to navigate when your friends have begun moving on with their lives yet you're left adrift.  "Bridesmaids" co-writer Annie Mumolo used those emotions as the core for her blockbuster comedy, which she co-wrote with the film's star, Kristen Wiig, over several years.

Mumolo and producer Judd Apatow discuss how in serving that emotional turmoil, they felt they needed to orchestrate a big transgression in order to splinter the deep friendship at the core of the film. That event? The now-iconic bridal shop scene.

In this clip from The Envelope Screening Series with the cast of "Bridesmaids," Apatow and Mumolo reveal the various versions of that scene that had been considered -- from an "explosive" ending to a slow slide of disgrace.

RELATED:

'Bridesmaids' filmmakers: Who says women aren't funny?

'The Descendants': George Clooney on the first day of filming

--Nicole Sperling


'Bridesmaids' filmmakers: Who says women aren't funny? [video]

November 16, 2011 |  5:30 pm

When "Bridesmaids" debuted to raucous reviews and audience raves in May, it was supposed to mean the end to the provincial belief held among Hollywood studio heads that women couldn't star in R-rated comedies.

We check back in with the "Bridesmaids" filmmakers during our Envelope Screening Series to see how they feel about that and whether the "Bridesmaids" effect has had any real impact on any upcoming projects.

Check out the clip above in which producer Judd Apatow, director Paul Feig and co-writer Annie Mumolo comment on the state of funny women in Hollywood.

RELATED:

'The Artist': Give it a try, you'll love the movie, cast promises

'Shame': Michael Fassbender's chameleon power [Video]

'The Descendants': George Clooney on the first day of filming

-- Nicole Sperling

 


Comedy: How deep will the R-rated renaissance run?

July 11, 2011 | 10:48 am

Bos
There have been very few surprise hits in this year of modest box office and relentless sequels. Topping the short list is "Bridesmaids," which has stormed its way to nearly $160 million in domestic receipts. While not nearly the same sort of phenomenon, "Bad Teacher" has been a sleeper in its own right, garnering $79 million to date. And this weekend, "Horrible Bosses" got off to a solid start, taking in a higher-than-expected $28 million to beat out Kevin James' "Zookeeper" as the weekend's biggest new release.

What these three films have in common is not only that they're comedies but that they also are, of course, bawdy and R-rated.  If "Bosses"  is able to hits the $75-million mark, it will make 2011 the first year ever that at least four R-rated comedies have topped that number (joining "The Hangover: Part 2").

All three of 2011's racy originals, it should be said, were jump-started and greenlighted after "The Hangover" became the most successful R-rated comedy of all time in 2009, and all three are, in a sense, the first fruits of the post-"Hangover" boom.

My colleague Ben Fritz wrote recently about the changing economics for Hollywood comedies. Studios are less willing to greenlight comedies at bigger budgets, he wrote -- a function, in part, of the growing power of the international box office, where American comedies typically don't play as well. But  this globalization may paradoxically be helping R-rated comedies. Movies in this genre are often made for a price and seen as a more niche play so don't need the same kind of worldwide receipts; it's the bigger budget, all-ages comedies that are taking a beating.

There's also an argument to be made that R-rated comedies are where much of the filmmaking talent has now gravitated. From a quality standpoint, "Bridesmaids," "Bad Teacher" and "Bosses" more than hold their own against the high-profile PG-13 comedies of 2011, "Just Go With It" and "Arthur" (although the R-rated comedy camp will have to live with "Hall Pass" and "Your Highness").

But if this trio of summer originals is born of the "The Hangover," what will these movies in turn generate in the next few years? Success tends to attract a crowd, which sometimes means pale knockoffs. "I think the quality will go down for a little while, because studios will be jumping all over these things, and that may just mean going as dirty as possible without actually making it original or comedic," "Horrible Bosses" co-writer Jonathan Goldstein told 24 Frames.

When you look at the history of the genre, he may have a point. The modern R-rated comedy was essentially born in 1978 with National Lampoon's "Animal House." John Landis' frat-house film became the second highest-grossing movie of that year and yielded a fertile period. In the four years that followed, we got a slew of R-rated classics: "Porky's," "Caddyshack," "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

But the period proved to be short-lived. Hollywood did turn out "Revenge of the Nerds" in 1984, but the R-rated comedy soon got bogged down in sequels and poor imitations like "Spring Break." The category then went into a lull before being reborn with "American Pie" more than a decade later (and then nearly disappeared again before the Apatow boom of the latter 2000s).

This all may seem like the normal cycle of the movie business, but R-rated comedies tend to move in periods of sharper boom and bust: filmmakers figure out how to break a taboo, then that gets tired, so they need to wait a few years for new taboos, and new ways to break them.

This year has seen new elements, such as the workplace and women, tossed into the mix, and it's given the R-rated comedy a certain freshness. We may yet see a few more movies cleverly riffing off these ideas. (Even before the release, there had already been some discussions of a "Horrible Bosses" sequel, Goldstein said.) And then, like any dirty prank, we may find that it just gets a little  old.

RELATED:

Box office: Newcomers Horrible Bosses and Zookeeper hold their own

Studio comedies are a tough sell in Hollywood

Horrible Bosses: The Freaks and Geeks connection

— Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: "Horrible Bosses." Credit: Warner Bros.


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