Forget Mike Myers and Steve Carell. Two of the most promising comedies of the year head into theaters this August: Ben Stiller’s “Tropic Thunder” and Seth Rogen’s “Pineapple Express.” The two share an R rating and a willingness to tackle taboo subject matter — Robert Downey Jr. performs in blackface in “Thunder,” and Rogen and James Franco are stoned throughout their movie. Will Ferrell, Anna Faris and Eddie Murphy hope to bring the laughs as well, but their comedies are a bit more familiar.
Starring: Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Nick Nolte, Brandon Jackson, Steve CooganDirector: Ben StillerStory: In this comedy, an action-film director (Coogan) decides to dump his actors into the jungle and shoot them guerilla style, but when they encounter a real enemy, they’re forced to become the roles they portray. Stiller plays an action star who tried to legitimize his career with a “Rain Man”-like role. Black is a comedy star who must kick his drug habit while in the jungle. And Downey plays a four-time Oscar winner who changes his skin pigment in order to take on an African-American role. One to watch? Very promising. This is the first time Stiller’s directed a film since “Zoolander,” and he gets the added freedom that comes with an R rating. He explained his inspiration for the film to FirstShowing.net: “It seemed like there was a time when all actors were going away to fake boot camp and talking about these incredible experiences that they had and how it really changed their lives and there was something there that seemed funny to me.” Of his edgy role, Downey told Entertainment Weekly, “Done right, it could be the type of role you called Peter Sellers to do 35 years ago. If you don’t do it right, we’re going to hell.” Tom Cruise reportedly has a hilarious cameo (in a bald cap and fat suit) as a Sumner Redstone-type studio executive. Web site: http://www.tropicthunder.com/Release date: Aug. 15
Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Gary Cole, Rosie Perez, Danny R. McBrideDirector: David Gordon GreenStory: “Superbad” writers Rogen and Evan Goldberg are back with this comedy about a process server (Rogen) who accidentally witnesses a murder and runs to his pot dealer (Franco) to seek help escaping from the bad guys. One to watch? Definitely. Producer Judd Apatow calls the movie a “reefer action film,” and told ReelzChannel.com, “It’s this really demented movie that’s in the school of ‘Superbad,’ but also has an enormous amount of action and violence.” Franco reportedly watched “The Big Lebowski” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” to inspire his stoner character. Director Green is known for great indie dramas such as “All the Real Girls” and “George Washington.” After an early screening, Katey Rich of Cinemablend.com proclaimed the film “is just damn funny.”Web site: http://www.ridetheexpress.com/Release date: Aug 8
Starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Richard Jenkins, Mary SteenburgenDirector: Adam McKayStory: Two men (Ferrell, Reilly) who each live at home with a parent have their lives changed when those two parents (Jenkins, Steenburgen) get married and the men become stepbrothers. At first they hate each other, but when they realize how much they have in common, they see that they have the perfect living situation — until their parents demand they get jobs and move out. One to watch? Not likely. Ferrell, Reilly and McKay previously worked together on “Talladega Nights,” but this concept of men who can’t grow up is starting to feel a wee bit tired (see also, “Knocked Up,” “Failure to Launch,” etc.). Of the film’s R rating, Ferrell told Chud.com, “It is great to not have to edit yourself in that way just because (on) ‘Anchorman’ and ‘Talladega’ we were always like, ‘Is that too much? Do we need to find an alt(ernative) for that?’ … We are like addicts who finally get to say bad words.” But even with that extra freedom, it’s hard to imagine Ferrell stretching beyond his usual sweet, stupid guy role.Web site: http://www.stepbrothers-movie.com/ Release date: July 25
“The House Bunny”
Starring: Anna Faris, Colin Hanks, Emma Stone, Kat Dennings, Dana GoodmanDirector: Fred WolfStory: A Playboy bunny (Faris) gets kicked out of Hef’s mansion for being too old and decides to become housemother to a group of misfit sorority sisters. They get an image makeover and she gets the education she’s been needing. One to watch? Maybe. This feels a bit like “Legally Blonde” meets ABC Family’s “Greek,” and “Blonde” screenwriters Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith did pen the screenplay. Director Wolf is known for writing classics such as “Without a Paddle,” “Joe Dirt” and “Strange Wilderness” (which he also directed). Look for former “American Idol” runner-up Katharine McPhee in a supporting role. Web site: http://www.thehousebunny.com/ Release date: Aug 22
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Elizabeth Banks, Gabrielle Union, Ed HelmsDirector: Brian RobbinsStory: Dave Ming Chang (Murphy) isn’t quite what he seems. He’s more than a new visitor to the city of New York — he’s actually a space ship being manned by tiny beings, and is new to the planet. Murphy also plays the ship’s pilot, who with some help from Union, helps him negotiate the strange city. Murphy (the space ship) becomes smitten with New Yorker Banks.One to watch? Probably not. Murphy reteams with “Norbit” director Robbins for yet another “high concept” comedy. The one saving grace could be that co-writer Bill Corbett comes from the wacky world of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” There are funny moments in the trailer, but it’s hard not to get the feeling that those may be the only ones in the movie. Web site: http://www.meetdavemovie.com/ Release date: July 11