The Hangover Part 3 (2013) - by Todd Phillips, starring Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, John Goodman
At the point of its conclusion, the Hangover trilogy closes itself out on a high note, solidifying its legacy in a similar way to Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s films. In proper pattern, the first of the series is strongest and most beloved, part two is generally disliked despite having its moments, and the third and final portion ended up being strangely good and likable. Despite the eyebrow raising rehashing of a plot that was The Hangover Part 2, Part 3 actually finds itself capturing a lot of the elements of what made the first film so special, along with other aspects that help it stand out on its own, in really impressive ways.
Working with a strange action thriller plot, and story devices from the preceding two films, Todd Phillips manages to make some good on these storied characters. With the franchise already having jumped various sharks, I suppose going in, there really was no holding back. And yet Phillips and gang manage to manage to sidestep the issue film number 2 had. For the record, that issue is just a big, glaring piece of laziness, which is reusing structure. In, you know, not doing that, they actually manage to make an entertaining and properly developed action-thriller. The same level of intrigue had in the first film feels fresh once again in discovering absurdist twists and turns throughout the adventure. This is more of a proper sequel than part two was, as it feels like it really went somewhere.
Mud (2012) - by Jeff Nichols, starring Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, and Jacob Lofland
Mud is a small film that shows the softer side of recently acclaimed drama director Jeff Nichols. That said, in succeeding while telling a uniquely tall, humanistic tale that isn’t as harsh as his two previous films, Take Shelter and Shotgun Stories, Mud doesn’t find Nichols holding back on his truly talented, under spoken brand of filmmaking and storytelling. It’s the nature filled scenery, meditative, amorphous score, and damn-near-real setting that reminds you who made this, or at the very least reminds you how down to earth this tale is- it helps keep you sucked in. In fact, it helps heighten the special air of his voice and brand, amplifying its effects in the process. The story he tells is that of love and the mistakes that come as a result of it, between adults and children alike, and thanks to his appropriately assembled cast, Nichols managed to make his most real film yet. Mud has an adventurous edge to it, to the point of it having a sort of Spielberg feel to a good majority of it. But as a result, when the film’s jabs hit harder, Nichols does not back down, keeping the tale and tone at an appropriately believable base, which keeps you consistently interested in such an intriguingly simple, yet out of left-field tale. With focused framework and filmmaking capturing such demanding, yet perfectly natural performances, Nichols made Mud all that it absolutely should be, leaving it as a story with strong, sweet legs.
The Modest Absurdity of Comedic Genius Adam Scott
Adam Scott has become a welcome presence to the world of comedy. A friendly guy who not only gives good performances when need be, but can deliver on the laughs in subtle and blatant ways. His appearances on the likes of Comedy Bang! Bang! and more recently Call Chelsea Peretti have revealed the more immediate side of Adam Scott. When in his element with funny people to bounce off of, Adam Scott turns out to be somewhat of a weirdo comedic genius.
When working with “characters” and improvisation on bits and chemistry, Scott has a weirdo sensibility that strays toward humanity. Fake confidence is a delicate art that Adam has down to a pat, wherein he sells all things as true without getting too goofy. His delivery of underhanded bragging and slight digs at being better than others hits hard despite a certain sense of quietness to it. Granted, Scott can also be somewhat of a cartoony fellow, as he also loves to dabble in pure confusion and boldness, especially when it isn’t warranted at all. The character of Ben Wyatt on Parks and Recreation treads a fine line of sanity and manic passion, which Scott balances with ease. Party Down was a fine example of what he can really do in combining great character comedy and drama. Devotees will remember his roles in films like Step Brothers and Two Days, which require an amount of craziness from him, which again, he delivers upon expertly. Though it’s what Scott brings to the table on his own which dazzles myself, and many others alike.
His adoration of repetition in unsure nature is a mastery of timing and tone, which he utilizes beautifully in the short sketch he directed “The First AD.” Pauses followed by harsh, matter-of-fact statements are executed as if he’s scolding someone who has been at the end of his rope time and time again. It’s this kind of weird piece of modest humanity that he drives home every time, but with constantly more mind-boggling material. The Comedy Bang! Bang! episode “A Worthy Uhh…” with James Adomian finds Scott playing with his status as an actor as if it were a super secret VIP badge. Later on in the episode, he connects mentally with fellow guest James Adomian for a bit so brilliant and legendary that one can’t only applaud Adomian’s quick-witted resilience without applauding Scott’s catching of opportunity, and exploiting of such to the appropriate extremities. Scott can work with a situation that deals in absurdities big and small, but bring it down to Earth on such a level of self-awareness and unbelieving that he crafts with such a unique, untapped tone of comedy.
Therein lies where I think Adam Scott can skyrocket his career into something even more amazing than it is currently. I absolutely feel like he should keep acting- he’s great at it and can show us something special soon enough, I’m sure. But I really feel like he needs to direct more as well, be it comedy or drama. The two glowing examples of Scott’s directorial work come from The First AD and The Greatest Event in Television History. The First AD combines Scott’s ideals of being out of one’s element in the character of Mark Duplass (as played by Mark Duplass), as well as overdone aggression in the perfectly cast Ken Marino, who worked with Scott on Party Down (wherein both of them turned in some of their best performances to date.) Marino’s character emphasizes insanity in the weirdest ways, by firing a woman so she could go “jerk off to Mark Duplass”, forcing his actor into an action sequence without preparation, and considering every single bit of rational logic as the babblings of a baby. Marino does what he does best in selling the character’s confidence in being so absolutely wise and right with psychopathic tendencies. Duplass’ character eventually witnesses Marino’s incredibly gruesome and well-timed death (with his last words being “I want you to eat me out!” and “I’D LIKE TO SEE YOUR PENIS, PLEASE!”), and in response and out of shock, repeats the word “What” to no one in particular. It’s a small touch that kills every time purely out of the applied vision of not being able to believe what the hell just happened and in connecting that to the viewer. Scott’s voice is one that tends to step lightly when cooperating, but when in charge, he can be a monster of the absurd, as made obvious in this short’s ending with Marino EXPLODING OUT OF THE EARTH, and quickly utter the statement “Fuck you, Earth!”
Let’s take a quick look at the entire premise of the Adult Swim aired short that is The Greatest Event in Television History (co-directed by Lance Bangs, but ultimate brain-child of Adam Scott.) It’s a ten minute countdown to a one minute special: the reboot of the opening credit sequence of Simon & Simon. Treated like a prime-time special, hosted by fucking Jeff Probst, the format of the piece works like your standard celebrity news mini-doc feature, with interviews and a glimpse into the “incredible” process. Scott’s build up of this being so important and big for, well, television history, is hilarious on its own, and it carries over to how seriously everyone involved takes this project, including “director” Paul Rudd and co-star Jon Hamm. The ambition behind the piece within the piece is overdone to such a perfect degree, involving everyone’s disturbed egos and pride clashing to such unnecessary ends. In playing upon Scott’s tendency and dedication to ridiculousness, the piece results in Paul Rudd’s mental breakdown, and the tragic and yet brilliantly underplayed death of Jon Hamm. All of this happens just for a barely minute long remake of the Simon and Simon opening. Adam Scott’s absurdist ideals stay strong and are sold just about right in this filtered sense of importance, heightening just how hilarious it is.
It’s a blending of sensibilities that seems almost contradictory, unless under spoken like in most brands of comedy. Adam Scott lives and breathes this divide comedically, and smashes the two together for a tonal shift that actually quite brilliant. Both shorts that he’s directed have had consistent style and tone, with his voice driving the comedic nail home at a constant basis. He’s become a trustworthy, reliably hilarious presence and mind that adapts well to apparent directorial abilities. The guy has really harnessed his talent well, and with casual heart and mind, he’s absolutely one of the most interesting funny-men working today. I hope he’ll start to do more of the latter, because he shows great promise with bigger things. It’s a great sign that his career has been sky-rocketing quite nicely from an already steady pace into something really special. Be it acting, improvising, or even writing or directing, there’s no doubt that Adam Scott is a force to reckon with. He’s definitely a worthy uhh… a worthy uhh… a worthy uhh… a worthy uhh… a worthy uhh…