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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Jonah Hill

Fox alters 'Neighborhood Watch' campaign after Trayvon Martin death

March 27, 2012 |  2:48 pm

Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, stars of the upcoming summer comedy "Neighborhood Watch," at an NBA basketball game

Twentieth Century Fox has pulled its teaser trailer and in-theater posters for the upcoming Ben Stiller-Vince Vaughn comedy "Neighborhood Watch" in light of the Trayvon Martin shooting that has sparked national protests. The film is set for release in July.

Starring Stiller, Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade as four suburban dads who form a neighborhood watch to get away from their families and wind up having to battle aliens, "Neighborhood Watch" couldn't be further from the tragic circumstances of the Martin case in Florida, in which an unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Yet in the minute-long trailer, which debuted in theaters ahead of "21 Jump Street" and online just three days after the shooting, the four actors are seen cruising their leafy neighborhood in a minivan with Hill's character making a gun motion out the window. 

The in-theater promotional display shows a bullet-riddled street sign dripping with green goo. According to a Fox spokesperson, the materials were taken out of Florida theaters over the past week and will be removed from other theaters around the country in the coming days. Online, the trailer can still be found.

The studio wants to assure audiences that the film is in no way connected to the Martin case and will therefore accelerate to the second stage of its marketing campaign, one that focuses more on the alien invasion component of the film.

"We are very sensitive to the Trayvon Martin case, but our film is a broad alien invasion comedy and bears absolutely no relation to the tragic events in Florida," said a statement released by the studio. "The movie, which is not scheduled for release for several months, was made and these initial marketing materials were released before this incident ever came to light. The teaser materials were part of an early phase of our marketing and were never planned for longterm use."

The in-theater materials will be replaced with posters of the cast. Fox has not yet determined when a new trailer will debut.

This is not the first time a real-world event has coincided with a theatrical motion picture on a similar topic. Warner Bros. pulled Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter" -- which featured a deadly tsunami -- from the Japanese market after Japan's earthquake and tsunami hit last year. The British release for Warners' "V for Vendetta" was delayed in 2005 after the London subway bombings eerily echoed a key plot point in the vigilante-themed film.


Ben Stiller's 'Neighborhood Watch' begins to attract a crowd

Weinstein Co. to release 'Bully' documentary without MPAA rating

Summer showdown: Is there room for 2 action movies on the same day?

--Nicole Sperling

Photo: Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, stars of the upcoming summer comedy "Neighborhood Watch," at an NBA basketball game in January. Credit: John Bazemore/AP

Box Office: '21 Jump Street' marks another hit for Tatum, Hill [Video]

March 19, 2012 | 12:10 pm

21 Jump Street was the No 1 film at the box office this weekend
Both Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill continued their box office hot streaks this weekend, as "21 Jump Street" hit the No. 1 position with $35 million worth of ticket sales.

Tatum, 31, proved to be a box office draw in February, when he lured young females to the multiplex in droves to see his romantic tear-jerker "The Vow." Hill, who has had plenty of success with comedies like "Superbad" and "Get Him to the Greek," also did well with more dramatic fare in last fall's "Moneyball."

But the film's stars weren't the only reasons for its success. Check out this week's box office video report for more on why "21 Jump Street" resonated with moviegoers.


'21 Jump Street' tops weekend box office

Does '21 Jump Street' prove the '80s naysayers wrong?

"21 Jump Street:" Channing Tatum-Jonah Hill bromance disarms critics

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: Channing Tatum, left, stars with Jonah Hill in "21 Jump Street." Credit: Sony Pictures.

'21 Jump Street': Channing Tatum-Jonah Hill bromance disarms critics

March 16, 2012 |  2:31 pm

Though ostensibly based on the '80s cult TV series of the same name, the new action-comedy "21 Jump Street" also draws heavily on buddy-cop conventions, "Superbad"-style high-school high jinks and the grand tradition of the stoner bromance (see also: the "Harold & Kumar" films, "Pineapple Express"). For all its raunchy familiarity, the film, which stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as rookie cops going undercover to bust a drug ring in their old high school, is charming critics.

Times film critic Betsy Sharkey writes that "21 Jump Street" has "an endearing, punch-you-in-the-arm-because-I-like-you-man charm" and that Hill and Tatum display "great goofball gusto." Both actors — "rock hard" Tatum and "squishy soft" Hill — "bring a kind of vulnerability to their characters that makes whatever mayhem they are up to OK." Sharkey notes that the film is not only about but also created by a buddy pair: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller ("Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs"), who "clearly understand the push-and-pull and hyper-competitiveness that make guy friendships both complex and stupid."

Continue reading »

SXSW 2012: '21 Jump Street' star Channing Tatum keeps his shirt on

March 13, 2012 | 11:04 am

"21 Jump Street" premieres at SXSW

Actor Channing Tatum proved the main attraction Monday night for the high percentage of very young women who turned up at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas, for the premiere of "21 Jump Street" — the comedic re-imagining of the 1980s-era television show. Cheers filled the auditorium as the cast and filmmakers took the stage following the screening, with Tatum and costar Jonah Hill dressed in the same ill-fitting bicycle cop uniforms they wear in the movie.

"It's a bromance," said Tatum, when asked about making the shift to comedy following his streak of romantic roles in films such as the recent "The Vow." Tatum was also asked by one questioner why he didn't take his shirt off in "Jump Street" and could he do so right there. Mentioning the amount of salty food and beer in both New Orleans, where the film was shot, and Austin, he declined.

"21 Jump Street" casts Hill as the brainy Schmidt and Tatum as his brawny partner Jenko, two fairly inept cops who are sent back to high school as part of an undercover effort to stop a drug ring. The mission puts them in the orbit of the cool clique, headed up by Dave Franco's ecologically minded Eric (the actor is James Franco's younger brother). Much of the comedy derives from how much has changed since Schmidt and Jenko were students — with Schmidt finding his geeky stride and Jenko spending some quality time with the misfit kids in the AV club.

Hill, who, along with Tatum, is also an executive producer on the film, seemed particularly excited about the uproarious response the R-rated film received from the crowd.

"No matter what happens next week," Hill said, "all the concerns of what happens to it, what happens when it goes in the world, we'll have this night forever."

Hill and Tatum were joined onstage by directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, screenwriter Michael Bacall, actors Franco and Rob Riggle and the festival's Rebecca Feferman. Hill busted on Franco for his role in "Charlie St. Cloud," or, as HIll called it, the "Zac Efron ghost brother movie," while celebrating Riggle for an outrageously vulgar improvised stunt.

Those onstage also all discussed the not-to-be-spoiled-here surprise cameo in the film, which included years of legwork to pull of.

Hill joked throughout the Q&A about the possibility of a sequel and how any of them could potentially be replaced by Ryan Gosling. Getting serious for a moment, Hill noted, "All of us up here would love to do a sequel, but it's no longer in our hands. So if you tell your friends that the movie was great and they go watch it and it makes a bunch of money, then we will all be making a sequel very soon. If not, you will never see us ever again. It's in your hands, no longer ours."


SXSW 2012: Sarcasm, romanticism in 'Somebody Up There Likes Me'

SXSW 2012: Unusual buzz-building with 'frankie go boom'

SXSW 2012: A vision of nocturnal New Orleans in 'Tchoupitoulas'

— Mark Olsen, reporting from Austin, Texas


Photo: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in "21 Jump Street." Credit: Scott Garfield/Columbia Pictures.

SXSW: '21 Jump St.,' 'Cabin in the Woods' eye 'Bridesmaids' bouquet

March 8, 2012 |  3:41 pm

21 Jump Street

At one point while putting together the program for this year’s South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival, the event’s producer, Janet Pierson, almost had to stop inviting films because she was concerned there wouldn’t be anywhere for the writers, director and actors to stay. Hotel bookings were up in 2011 from the year before, and finding rooms in Austin, Texas, for this year has been even tougher.

One might think becoming too popular is just the kind of problem the organizer of any event would want.

“People say they are good problems to have,” said Pierson during a recent phone call from Austin. “It’s certainly a problem of success, but it’s not a problem you want, to be clear.”

The festival, commonly known as SXSW, starts Friday with the opening night world premiere of the inside-out genre film “The Cabin in the Woods,” the directorial debut of Drew Goddard, who cowrote the film with Joss Whedon. The festival will show 130 features over its nine-day run in 10 venues ranging from the 1,200-seat Paramount Theater to a 39-seat room at the festival’s newest venue, the local arthouse Violet Crown Cinema.

This year’s edition opens to heightened expectations because of its steadily rising profile and attendance, and the success of last year’s festival, which featured the premiere of “Bridesmaids” before it became a cultural talking-point, box-office sensation and double-Oscar nominee. Last year also had “Undefeated,” which became the first film to world premiere at SXSW and go on to win an Oscar, for documentary.

“Those aren’t the markers,” said Pierson of living up to such successes. “For me, while that stuff is great and I’m super happy about it, to me the success of a film like ‘Weekend’” — filmmaker Andrew Haigh’s gay-themed romance that was an unexpected festival hit — “that’s life-changing in a way. That’s the thing you keep in the back of your head when you’re programming: How can we help completely undiscovered, unknown talent connect with the rest of the world?”

Among the films looking to break-out this year are “Jeff,” a hybrid documentary by Chris James Thompson that explores the effect of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer on the people of Milwaukee, and “Tchoupitoulas,” the vivid exploration of nighttime New Orleans by documentarians Bill and Turner Ross.

On the narrative side, there is the freewheeling graffiti-culture comedy “Gimme the Loot,” the first feature from Adam Leon; “Leave Me Like You Found Me,” the directing debut of indie producer Adele Romanski; and Austin-based filmmaker Bob Byington’s oddball fable “Somebody Up There Likes Me.”

Although SXSW may be known for its extremely indie fare, having a key role in launching the micro-budget “mumblecore” movement, organizers also have carefully cultivated a relationship to Hollywood. This year will feature the premiere of the movie adaptation/update of the television show “21 Jump Street,” with the film likely benefiting as much from the imprint of SXSW as the festival does from having stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum on its red carpet.

“It just says there might be more to this than what you expect,” said Chris Miller, codirector with Phil Lord, of premiering their roughhouse comedy at a film festival. “A ‘21 Jump Street’ movie should be met with some healthy skepticism, but I think that we’ve made something that is smarter than what you would expect and funnier than you might expect, and that South by Southwest wanted to incorporate it as part of its festival speaks to that.”

With its mix of outsider indies and smartly chosen studio films, South by Southwest has carved out a unique space in the festival landscape, with a bigger presence than smaller regional fests yet still apart from the industry-driven markets at the film festivals in Cannes, Toronto or even Sundance.

For Arianna Bocco, senior vice president of acquisitions and productions at Sundance Selects/IFC Films, the distributor who has picked up films such as “Tiny Furniture” and “Weekend” out of SXSW, it was losing out on the opportunity to distribute a low-budget genre film to a competitor that made her realize the fest had come into its own.

“I didn’t go for a couple of years,” said Bocco, who first attended more than 15 years ago, “and then I remember the year that Magnolia bought ‘Monsters’ right after the screening and I was like, ‘I can’t not be there.’ It’s reached that point where it’s competitive on all fronts.”


'21 Jump Street,' Bob Marley documentary to premiere at SXSW

Jessica Biel, Nazis top SXSW midnight movies lineup

— Mark Olsen

Photo: Jonah Hill, left, and Channing Tatum in "21 Jump Street" Credit: Scott Garfield/Columbia TriStar

Oscar nominations 2012: Jonah Hill, 'I should do more dramas'

January 24, 2012 | 11:46 am

Click here for complete coverage of the Oscar nominations

Now that Jonah Hill has been nominated for an Academy Award for his first major dramatic role, the 28-year-old says he’s planning to move away from comedy for the immediate future.

“I’m making that the focus of my next couple of years. I mean, wouldn’t you?” Hill said Tuesday morning, his voice hoarse after staying up all night fretting over the impending nominations.

The actor said he was grateful that audiences have been able to accept him in more serious roles after he rose to fame in such bawdy comedies as “Superbad” and “Get Him to the Greek.”

PHOTOS: Oscar nominees react

“I came out in comedies when I was first introduced to people, and very few people, like Tom Hanks and Robin Williams, have been able to transition,” he said. “To have this kind of recognition -– it means I should do more dramas. I don’t know if there could be a bigger sign.”

Hill said his work in “Moneyball” led to him being offered a role in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” recently, but he had to turn it down due to scheduling.

“I was thrilled that he wanted me to be in it, and I’ve been offered a lot of dramas since,” he said. “As I mature, my sensibilities have changed. I think once you get to a certain place, your career is all about delegating time and what you want to spend your time doing. I’ve made a lot of comedies in a really short amount of time, and they’ve been ripped off every which way to Sunday. So it’s not as exciting to do those anymore.”

 Asked whether he felt he’d be able to abandon his nerves and enjoy the Oscar telecast, Hill joked it may be dependent on the timing of the awards.

 “I was nervous at the Golden Globes, but my category was [early], so I lost right away and then I was able to have a great time,” he said. “So, hopefully, I can just lose right away again.”


And the nominees are...

PHOTOS: 84th Academy Awards nominees

Pals Clooney, Pitt are rivals; ‘Artist,’ ‘Hugo’ dominate

 -- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Jonah Hill. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

SAG Awards: Jonah Hill is 'doing well as dramatic actor'

December 14, 2011 | 12:05 pm

Jonah Hill was nominated for a SAG Award on Wednesday

It was his serious turn in “Moneyball” that earned Jonah Hill his first-ever SAG Award nod Wednesday, but hours after receiving the news, the actor couldn’t stop laughing in astonishment over the nomination.

“This has been the most overwhelming day of my life,” the 27-year-old gushed. “To be nominated for this award is so mind-blowingly pleasing on so many levels. I can’t believe I’m actually nominated. I can’t believe I’m having this conversation right now. I’m so honored that they recognized me. It doesn’t seem real.”

Hill, best known for his roles in raunchy comedies such as “Superbad” and “Get Him to the Greek,” showed he had serious acting chops opposite Brad Pitt in the fall baseball drama “Moneyball.” The actor said his phone had been ringing off the hook as he exchanged calls and e-mails with Pitt, director Bennett Miller, producer Scott Rudin and actress Catherine Keener, who suggested him for the “Moneyball” role. His relatives had also reached out, hoping to score a date invite to the telecast.

And the congratulations didn’t stop there. The actor is currently on set filming “Neighborhood Watch” in New Orleans, where his costar Ben Stiller made sure everyone knew about Hill’s nomination. “He made an announcement saying ‘Everyone say congrats to Jonah on his SAG award nomination,' and I was embarrassed,” he said.

The actor seemed genuinely floored over scoring a nod and said he felt it served as proof that he has what it takes to be more than just a funny guy on the big screen.

"It’s totally validating, because in comedy, the money is usually the validation,” he said, referring to box-office ticket sales. "Generally comedies aren’t recognized with awards. That being said, I feel so prideful in ‘Moneyball.’ I’m getting to make a shift to an actor who does both comedies and dramas. And this is definitely a sign that I’m doing well as a dramatic actor.”


SAG Awards: Oscars' best-picture race now in focus — or is it?

SAG Awards: 'Artist' star Bérénice Bejo on hectic awards season

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

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Jonah Hill in "Moneyball." Credit: Sony

SAG Awards: Demián Bichir, Armie Hammer among surprise nominees

December 14, 2011 |  6:55 am

Demian Bichir was suprisingly nominated for a best actor award at the SAGs
Demián Bichir, a 48-year-old Mexican actor little-known to American moviegoers, scored a surprise best actor nomination at the SAG Awards on Wednesday morning.

Bichir, who plays an illegal immigrant pursuing the American dream in "A Better Life," beat out a couple of projected favorites in the category, including "Shame's" Michael Fassbender and Gary Oldman from "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." Directed by Chris Weitz, "A Better Life" has only grossed $1.8 million at the U.S. box office.

The foreign star was only one of a handful of actors to receive a nomination who had not graced the lists of awards prognosticators. In the lead actress category, nearly all of the nominees were considered shoo-ins, namely Meryl Streep for "The Iron Lady" and Michelle Williams from "My Week with Marilyn," though it was slightly unexpected that Glenn Close earned a nod for her cross-dressing turn in "Albert Nobbs."

Photos: SAG Awards top nominees

In the supporting actor group, 25-year-old Armie Hammer garnered a nomination for his role as J. Edgar Hoover's rumored lover Clyde Tolson in "J. Edgar. His co-star Leonardo DiCaprio had been widely considered a front-runner for a best actor nod, but Hammer had not been mentioned as frequently. Meanwhile, 27-year-old Jonah Hill was also nominated in the category for his first serious part in "Moneyball." Nick Nolte, who plays an alcoholic father to two mixed martial arts fighters in "Warrior," also earned a unforseen nomination. The three actors beat out favorites like "Drive's" Albert Brooks, who picked up a slew of critics' awards over the last week, as well as Sir Ben Kingsley from "Hugo."

The supporting actress category did not have as many unexpected turns, as Shailene Woodley -- the 20-year-old who plays the daughter of George Clooney's character in "The Descendants" -- was the only performer to be snubbed. Instead, Jessica Chastain -- who starred in a half-dozen movies this year -- was nominated for playing a ditzy Southern woman in "The Help."


The complete list of nominees

Movie Review: 'A Better Life'

Demián Bichir is feeling playful

'A Better Life's' Demian Bichir: Time for his moment in Oscar spotlight

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: Demián Bichir stars in "A Better Life." Credit: Summit Entertainment

'The Sitter' star: Don't compare us to 'Adventures in Babysitting'

October 10, 2011 |  4:06 pm

"The Sitter" star Jonah Hill

The new David Gordon Green comedy "The Sitter" has a memorable marketing campaign, with a phone number that Jonah Hill may or may not answer.

But will the film be as good as the movie that inspired it, the 1987 Elisabeth Shue classic "Adventures in Babysitting"?

Ari Graynor, who plays the female lead in the December 9 release, says yes -- though not because "The Sitter" has much do to with its predecessor. "The conceit of the film is similar in its bones -- it's a babysitter and kids and a crazy night -- but the meat of it is very different," Graynor told 24 Frames.

Graynor plays Hill's reluctant girlfriend, and the reason he has to interrupt his babysititng duties, when she calls him to pick her up at a party. (In the original, Shue and the kids were sent into the streets when she had to pick up her runaway friend, played by Penelope Ann Miller, at a bus station.)

Calling "Sitter" "both very current and very classic," Graynor said that unlike some other remakes, the new film shouldn't be compared to the first go-round. "One really had nothing to do with the other -- ["Babysitting"] didn't inform how I prepared for this film at all," she said, in part because Hill and Green have a "[filmmaking] style that's so specific."

(Green, of course, is the indie film wunderkind who's recently made a run of studio-based comedies including "Your Highness" and "Pineapple Express." Hill, now starring opposite Brad Pitt in "Moneyball," is extending his foray into '80s nostalgia territory with an action-comedy reinvention of the TV series "21 Jump Street.")

Graynor returns to Broadway this week in the Woody Allen-written portion of the much-ballyhooed  "Relatively Speaking," and she's also currently starring on the big screen in the Anna Faris romantic comedy "What's Your Number?" The actress says she similarly resists how that movie has been compared to another on-screen phenomenon, "Bridesmaids." 

"I'm excited that 'Bridesmaids' helped create a Hollywood trend for comedies with women," Graynor said. "But ['Number'] was always supposed to be more of a romantic comedy than just a comedy. It was never supposed to be this big, raucous comedy like 'Bridesmaids.'"


Jonah Hill and Mark Wahlberg look to become a 21st-century Murtaugh and Riggs

What's Your Number writers on sex, comedy and slacker heroines

Jonah hill in Moneyball: Betsy Sharkey's pick of the week

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "The Sitter." Credit: 20th Century Fox

Jonah Hill in 'Moneyball': Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week

October 5, 2011 |  1:50 pm

Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in 'Moneyball'
Besides baseball and Brad Pitt, there’s another reason to see "Moneyball": Jonah Hill. As the pin-striped statistical wizard helping Pitt’s Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane refine his game, Hill steps to the plate, shifting from slacker comic to serious actor.

I wondered whether he would be able to make the leap. There weren’t many clues in his early work -– "Knocked Up," "Superbad" and the like. Instead, Hill seemed destined to be relegated to slacker sidekicks.

Even in "Cyrus," as a man-child trying to derail his mom's latest romance, Hill still seemed like he was playing a variation on that "type." There were hints there might be something more when the actor played straight man to Russell Brand's comic outrages in "Get Him to the Greek," but it is with “Moneyball” that something fundamental has changed.

In this very appealing sports drama, Hill is three-piece-suit smart, going toe to toe with Beane and turning baseball's conventional wisdom on its head. Pitt is terrific. Baseball is always good for a few innings on screen. As for Hill, the new look fits him like a glove.



Albert Brooks in "Drive": Betsy Sharkey's film pick

Toronto: Betsy Sharkey on U2, Clooney and Pitt

Toronto: Betsy Sharkey on "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen"

-- Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo caption: Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in "Moneyball." Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon / Columbia Pictures-Sony / Associated Press


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