Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman
(Universal Pictures; US theatrical: 31 Jul 2009 (General release); 2009)
Judd Apatow drops the frat house funny business—mostly—and goes semi-serious with this tale of a stand-up legend (Sandler) who discovers he is dying. He then hires a wannabe up and comer (Rogen) to be his personal assistant and friend. Together, they learn how to prioritize life before a last minute “reprieve” changes everything. Though many fear that the mind behind The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up might not be capable of meshing the scatological with the somber, but the teaser trailer offered a while back seems to support the genial genre clash. It will be interesting to see how Sandler and Rogen play off each other, since both seem derived from the same school of slovenly loser likeability. Equally intriguing will be the final box office results. Will they push Apatow toward more considered fare, or will he have to revert to the repugnant to maintain his current king of comedy tenure?
They Came From Upstairs
Robert Hoffman, Ashley Tisdale, Carter Jenkins, Austin Butler
(Fox; US theatrical: 31 Jul 2009 (General release); 2009)
They Came from Upstairs
The original publicity material promised something a little more…dark. Then the official website went live, and it was clear that any sort of fear factoring from the story of a family tormented by a group of evil aliens in their attics was being completely undermined by a cloying, kid vid sense of spectacle. Now, the jury is official out on John Schultz late Summer family film. This is the man who made Like Mike and the horrific Honeymooner‘s remake, after all. Still, there is some clever material in the trailer, including a sequence where Everyone Loves Raymond‘s Doris Roberts becomes a mind controlled ET butt kicker. If handled properly, without too much regressive humor, this could be a sleeper. Somewhere, Joe Dante is wondering why he didn’t get this call.
Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne, Peter Gallagher, Amy Irving, Frankie Faison
(Fox Searchlight; US theatrical: 31 Jul 2009; 2008)
Beth is a writer. Adam is her downstairs neighbor. She has a damaged past. He has Asperger’s Syndrome—a kind of high functioning autism. Together, they explore a friendship that made this Sundance entry a fan favorite. How it hopes to find an audience in between all the popcorn histrionics remains to be seen. Maybe there’s a demo during the balmy months of Summer looking for a quirky indie romance. Then again, maybe not.