Tag Archives: Amy Schumer

Battle In Battle Creek


by George Wolf

Boy, Jerry Seinfeld knows how to get clicks before a new movie drop, doesn’t he?

In case you missed his recent impression of Grandpa Simpson yelling at a cloud, Seinfeld has taken his talents from the stifling confines of sitcoms to Netflix for Unfrosted, his debut as a feature director.

Also writing the script with regular contributors from both Seinfeld and Bee Movie, Jerry returns to the familiar ground of cereal for a silly and star-studded riff on the 1960s space race.

Jerry plays Bob Cabana, top exec at Kellogg’s during their reign as the kings of breakfast. But Bob and his boss Edsel Kellogg III (Jim Gaffigan) are worried about what Marjorie Post (Amy Schumer) and her crew are suddenly cooking up: a breakfast pastry.

As quickly as Jerry can say “xanthan gum!” exactly like “Newman!,” Bob is back together with old partner Donna Stankowski (Melissa McCarthy) for a mission to launch their own handheld breakfast innovation (“Fruit Magoos”? “Heat ’em and Eat Ums?”) before Post can.

Some snappy production design adds to the inspired concept of this Battle Creek, Michigan battleground, which takes off on a Forrest Gump-like history lesson littered with famous faces and absurd antics.

One of the best is Hugh Grant playing Thurl Ravenscroft (voice of Tony the Tiger) as a snobbish master thespian ready to lead his fellow mascots in revolt. But there’s also Christian Slater and Peter Dinklage as members of an “organized milk” syndicate, a group of Taste Pilots that includes Chef Boyardee (Bobby Moynihan) and Jack LaLanne (James Marsden), and a visit from two very well-known TV characters that is better left unspoiled.

And somehow, a couple of dumpster-diving pre teens (Bailey Sheetz and Eleanor Sweeney) nearly steal the whole show.

The Boomer-centric nuttiness comes fast and furious (yes, that is Toucan Sam singing “Ave Maria” at a funeral with Full Cereal honors), and, as you might guess, not all of it lands.

As an actor, Jerry’s still playing Jerry. And as a director, he seems most comfortable with sitcom pacing that’s well-suited for streaming. But Jerry takes a rule that Seinfeld perfected – surround your star with a group of more memorable characters – and pops it in a toaster set to ten. What doesn’t work is quickly erased by another absurd opportunity, and then wrapped with a full song-and-dance finale.

I wouldn’t call it well-rounded, healthy or even balanced, but Unfrosted is eventually able to serve up just enough real laughs for a satisfying plate of silly.

The Screening Room: Pretty, Dumb and Powerful

Join us in the Screening Room where we discuss I Feel Pretty, Super Troopers 2, Traffik, You Were Never Really Here and everything fit to watch on home entertainment.

Listen to the full podcast HERE.

Me Be Pretty One Day

I Feel Pretty

by Hope Madden

Trainwreck, the 2015 big-screen break out for comic Amy Schumer (and LeBron James and John Cena) offered a wise about-face for the rom-com.

Written by Schumer, the film simultaneously embraced and subverted tradition by basically casting a female in the traditionally male role of eternal adolescent who accidentally finds love and, therefore, adulthood.

She returns to the romantic comedy with I Feel Pretty, film that is neither romantic nor comedic, unfortunately.

Schumer plays Renee Bennett, a perfectly attractive woman.

So there’s your first problem.

I will give writers/directors Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein credit for one thing. When Bennett hits her head at a spinning class and wakes up believing she’s traffic-stopping gorgeous, at least the film does not stoop to showing us the flawless physical image Renee sees in the mirror. Thanks for that.

So, it’s only after a traumatic brain injury that Amy Schumer can consider herself attractive.

Now she has all the confidence she needs to go after that receptionist gig at the big cosmetics firm. (Wait! A romantic comedy where a receptionist can afford a small but cool NYC apartment? Yes, that checks out.)

Things take a turn for the better whenever CEO Avery LeClair (Michelle Williams) appears onscreen. Her weirdly spot-on performance as the baby-voiced heiress is a riot—and the only unpredictable moments in the film belong to her.

Schumer does what she can with this superficial, blandly rote script. She has excellent chemistry with her co-stars (Busy Phillips, Aidy Bryant, Rory Scovel), regardless of their underwritten roles. But when you have a comic talent like Schumer on the bill and you still cannot think of anything funnier than seeing a pretty woman fall down, your writing is weak.

Let’s not even address the fact that all Renee wants in life is to work for a cosmetics company and maybe, if we all dream big enough, she might be the new face of a cosmetics line!


In summation, I Feel Pretty is Big meets Shallow Hal, if those films suggested that all Tom Hanks needed was confidence enough to believe he should be objectified, then all would be well.

Can Amy Schumer just write the next Amy Schumer movie? Please?

Guilt Trip


by George Wolf

In the opening few minutes of Snatched, we see inside a photo album with various shots of an unforgettable face.  It’s a younger Goldie Hawn, and all the snapshots bring a warm reminder of just how long she’s been an effortlessly likable piece of pop culture. Making her a big part of  Amy Schumer’s follow-up to the hilarious Trainwreck seems like a fine idea.

Check that, it is a fine idea, and a missed opportunity.

The photos remind Emily (Schumer) how fun and adventurous her mom Linda (Hawn) used to be, so she coaxes Mom into joining her on a trip to Ecuador, where they’ll “put the fun in non-refundable!”

They’re promptly kidnapped, manage to escape, and director Jonathan Levine (The Wackness, 50/50, Warm Bodies) fills the rest of the film with Goldie and Amy running from the bad guys and doing what they can with contrivance, obvious gags and a lackluster screenplay that Schumer unfortunately did not write. The Trainwreck script, plus her TV work, have shown Schumer can bring both laughs and smarts, and Snatched could use more of both.

Instead, the script from Katie Dippold (The Heat, last year’s Ghostbusters – both underrated) finds more solid footing with supporting characters, such as Ike Barinholtz as Emily’s brother, Wanda Sykes as a nosy fellow traveler, and Christopher Meloni as a wannabe hero.

These two leads deserve better than a by-the-numbers romp with only scattershot giggles. Where’s that confident, “take some chances” attitude that Emily wants Linda to re-discover?

Still missing, apparently.


Of Vice and Men


by Hope Madden

Ten years ago, The 40-Year-Old Virgin introduced the new voice of cinematic comedy. A decade later, 40 writer/director Judd Apatow is – for the first time – directing a film he didn’t write. Why? Because there’s a new sheriff in town and Apatow has the clout to ensure that the next voice in cinematic comedy gets heard.

Trainwreck is the bawdy, wise, hilarious, about-fucking-time romantic comedy written by and starring Amy Schumer. Startlingly honest and utterly lacking in pretension, she followed up years of refreshingly raw stand-up comedy by destroying cable TV with her brilliant Inside Amy Schumer. (YouTube 12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer immediately to see just how savvy a writer she is.)

She and Apatow collaborate on this sometimes touching, boisterously funny upending of rom-com clichés. (As Amy narrates the lovey-dovey montage backdropped by the Manhattan skyline, even she finds it cloying, quipping, “I hope this love montage ends like Jonestown.”)

Schumer plays Amy, a heavy drinking, sexually active (very active) writer for a magazine that runs stories like “How Does Eating Garlic Change the Taste of Semen?” and “You’re Not Gay, She’s Boring.” Her editor – the ever glorious Tilda Swinton – assigns her a piece on a sports doctor (Bill Hader), and Amy is reluctantly pulled into the world of monogamy.

The screenwriting is ingenious. This is a role reversal romantic comedy, basically, but it’s far too crafty to rely on that as a gimmick. On the surface, Amy’s the same protagonist trapped in an extended adolescence that has become commonplace in Apatow’s filmography, but there is no denying Schumer’s ability to find something new and authentic to bring to the mix.

She’s aided by an impeccable cast. Bill Hader has quickly become one of the most versatile and authentic actors of the SNL alum. Swinton’s magnificent, LeBron James is deadpan hilarious and a very good sport, as is John Cena, and Dave Attell is a hoot. Cameos galore draw belly laughs in a comedy that has something to say underneath hundreds of well-aimed gags.

Trainwreck might be the best romantic comedy since Bull Durham.


Don’t Cry, Sad Clown

Misery Loves Comedy

by Hope Madden

Is every clown really a sad clown? In his debut as a documentarian, actor Kevin Pollak seeks to find the answer to that question by asking it (or variations of it) to 50 or so of the brightest comic minds of the day.

Who? Tom Hanks, Amy Schumer, Martin Short, Jimmy Fallon, Janeane Garofalo, Judd Apatow and dozens of other stand-up comics and comedic writers and performers. What Pollak wants in return is a glimpse into the shared psyche of the funnyman.

Who were their influences? When did they realize they were funny? What’s it like to bomb onstage? To kill? They’re interesting enough questions and sometimes the answers are fun to watch, but the sheer volume of responses almost requires that the film remain superficial.

His doc would have benefitted had Pollak narrowed down the interviewees, perhaps focusing solely on stand-up comics. We also hear from film directors, sit-com actors and one radio morning show. The breadth only draws attention to the lack of depth.

And yet, there are ways in which the cast feels very narrow. The group is – whether inadvertently or not – pretty white and male. Pollak may simply have raided his own personal phone book, calling in favors from friends for the film, but the result is breathtakingly one sided. He talks with 5 or 6 women, one of whom (Whoopi Goldberg) is not white. He also talks to one male (Kumail Nanjani) who isn’t white.

So, 40+ white guys tell us about the context of being funny. Presumably this is not because of some deeply held belief of Pollak’s, but that doesn’t excuse it. Forget that whatever thesis he may be trying to put forward is irredeemably skewed by this, the fact that anyone could direct a documentary about stand-up comedy without including the point of view of one African American male – no Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Kevin Hart, Dave Chappelle, Tracy Morgan – is astonishing.

Plus, honestly, the film itself is almost never actually funny. He talks to fifty funny people about being funny yet catches almost no comedy on film. What?

In the end the film is dedicated to the memory of Robin Williams, and I’m sure Pollak’s heart was in the right place. It’s just that nothing else was.