Screen Junkies » Comedies Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Wed, 06 Aug 2014 00:58:01 +0000 en hourly 1 The Screen Junkies Q&A: Dan Beers, Director of ‘Premature’ Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:54:41 +0000 JasonIannone If you loved Groundhog Day but felt there were too few jokes about Bill Murray's penis, then Premature is the film for you.

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By Jason Iannone

In real life, if you screw up, you’re stuck with your screw-up. There are no do-overs, no second chances, no nothing. If you met the most beautiful girl in the world and the first thing that comes out of your mouth is a literal puddle of drool, good luck taking that back ever. You’re forever known as Drooly to her, her friends, and anybody who watched you make a fool of yourself that day.

That’s the beauty of a movie like Premature, the story of a high school kid who just can’t get that all-important loss of virginity down pat. Luckily for him, whenever he doesn’t deposit in the right place at the right time, the Universe resets itself, sending him back to bed to start the day again until he gets it right. If you loved Groundhog Day but felt there were too few jokes about Bill Murray‘s penis, then Premature is the film for you.

To learn more about the film, we sat down with director Dan Beers for a fun-filled and family-friendly Q&A. Namely, this one:

ScreenJunkies: Did you have any concerns about re-using a concept from such a famously unique film like Groundhog Day?

Dan Beers: We did, especially since that movie is an all-time favorite of mine. What happened was, there was another movie I was in the process of making, but that didn’t pan out. That film’s producer, Film Nation, invited me to pitch any new ideas, so my writing partner, Mathew Harawitz, and I were brainstorming what to do, and we came across this idea of doing a time loop movie a la Groundhog Day. Plus, I’m a huge fan of ‘80s-style teen comedies like Porky’s. Finally, we settled on the idea of a movie where a kid is forever being stuck in the worst possible time: trying to have sex for the first time.

SJ: What made you decide to add an explanation for the time loop, instead of keeping it vague?

DB: In early drafts, we had a more concrete explanation: a curse (much like in the original draft for Groundhog Day). But ultimately, we decided to give Rob the idea that he was making choices not for himself, but for his parents and his friends, and he wasn’t being true to himself. And we liked the idea of the universe kind of giving him a little nudge, giving him the opportunity to do over things he was doing wrong.

The idea for the trigger for the day, that being the orgasm, we had fun with the idea. It’s kind of like those movies where there’s a bomb under the table, and you know it’s going to go off, you just don’t know when. And for us, that was a lot of fun, the idea that the orgasm is the bomb, and every day it will happen, you just don’t know when.

SJ: Right, like the point where the cops are coming and he’s trying to jerk off in the locker room, but he might have hurt something down there.

DB: I think it was Day 5 when he realized what he could do, when he was trapped in the classroom with the bullies and he realizes he’s trapped but he can escape by just …

SJ: “Yep, I can just jerk off.”

DB: Right, it’s like a little bit of an action movie scene: are the bullies going to break in, or will he have an orgasm?

SJ: Ever come across an interviewer as damaged as the Georgetown recruiter guy?

DB: I have never come across anyone as damaged as that, thankfully. But we were trying to think of something like: you’re in an interview, what would be one of the worst things that could happen? You prepare for the day, you go through everything, all the questions memorized in your head, but the one thing you’re not prepared for is for this person to be just a well of emotions, a guy who came back to work a little too soon after this tragedy in his life. But thankfully, I’ve never come across anyone nearly that damaged for real.

SJ: Well, that’s good.

DB: What’s funny about the actor who plays him, Alan Turyk, we were shooting in Atlanta and he was already down there shooting 42, and he was playing this really awful, mean, racist character, and Alan was having a really hard time playing this person as long as he was. So he came in to read for the role and he was in such a dark place that he was just able to cry instantaneously.

(‘Premature’ official red-band trailer, via JoBlo)

SJ: Did you ever reach out to Bill Murray to cast him in the lead role, or was the idea of filming Bill with cum in his pants kind of a turn-off?

DB: *laughs* Actually, the role that Alan played (the Georgetown recruiter) was originally something I was hoping to approach Bill about. I actually know him, because I worked with Wes Anderson for about five years, and so I know Bill through him. He actually acted in the short film I had made, but I think he had already done me my one favor, so I don’t think he was going to come back and do it again.

SJ: You also did a TV series (FCU: Fact Checkers Unit). What’s more enjoyable and fulfilling for you: movies or TV?

DB: They both offer you different challenges. Movies are my first love though, because there’s just something nice about crafting a whole story over a set period.

For TV it’s something very different, and even though every episode of my series had its own little story, if I had to go back and do something again for TV, I would provide a longer arc for the characters. But that’s what’s so great about TV: letting a character really live and breathe for a long time, instead of knowing by the end of Act 1 they have to have that one moment. Because in movies there’s a formula: there’s an Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3, and all these little beats they have to hit. It’s nice to have a season or five for a character to really find his or herself.

Another good thing about TV is that it’s so fast, and the shoots are so quick, you don’t have time to think. You have to move and meet your five-day deadline. It presents a fun challenge, but movies are still definitely my first love.

SJ: Would you ever want to do something more mainstream, or is indie comedy your thing?

DB: Well, yeah. I think my dream is to make movies that people will see. I think that’s everyone’s dream, right? The next thing I’m working on is a little bigger in scope, a little bit less orgasmic. But IFC has done a fantastic job with this one — when they came on board, I was really excited because they had a clear vision on how to sell the movie, and I’m really thrilled with what they’ve done.

I grew up during the indie craze of the ‘90s, when tons of films were coming out in arthouse theaters all the time. Now things are very different, and the new arthouse theaters are TVs and VOD’s, and digital with iTunes. So how do you reach an audience now with all these movies that want to be seen? It’s a new format, so I was thrilled with how IFC handled it.

But I think if I get bigger and if I move into the studio role, I’d be looking for that ideal mix.

SJ: Yeah, that happy medium where a lot of people know of your film and go see it in theaters all across the country, but also having the freedom to craft something the way you would want. As opposed to writing something and having 15 different producers turn it into something totally different.

DB: Exactly. I was lucky I got to make the movie that I wanted to make, and the producers were great and let me do what I wanted for the most part. I was pretty clear about what I wanted to do and they were on board, thankfully.

Download Premature on iTunes here!

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The Film Cult Presents: Death Becomes Her Fri, 21 Mar 2014 17:03:48 +0000 Philip Harris “Now a warning!?” Obviously Meryl Streep is a genius. Within my lifetime I think she may break Katharine Hepburn’s record for most best actress Oscars. The Great Kate has four,...

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“Now a warning!?”

Obviously Meryl Streep is a genius. Within my lifetime I think she may break Katharine Hepburn’s record for most best actress Oscars. The Great Kate has four, her first in 1934 and her last in 1982. Poor Meryl only has three, her first in 1979 and her most recent in 2011 for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher. If only Meryl had been nominated for her consummate portrayal of Madeline Ashton in Death Becomes Her. If only the Academy had realized her true artistic acuity. Then again, they didn’t nominate her for her work in She Devil, so I guess it makes sense they’d overlook Death Becomes Her.

Death Becomes Her is not a great movie. It may not even be a good movie. Still, it’s pretty freakin’ awesome. With only a 43% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it remains one of those strange, one-off films by cinema greats that becomes a cult to its most ardent fans. With material so wacky and a plot line that sort of dissipates half way through, it’s the star power of Meryl, Goldie Hawn, and Bruce Willis, along with some amazing, if not a tad dated, special effects that make this movie a gem.

The premise is simple: a love triangle complicated by a pink potion that reinstates a person’s optimum beauty and renders the drinker immortal. Streep, Hawn, and Willis are the love triangle, and their chemistry throughout the movie is not only believable but hilarious. For some reason you believe Streep and Hawn are former best friends. I can see them right now having lunch in Santa Monica, gossiping while their salads go untouched. And Willis is just attractive enough as a the dorky Dr. Menville to make him worth fighting over. When the elixir of life is thrown into the mix, all hell (and bone density) breaks loose.

This film is most famous for its special effects and one liners. When the tensions of the love triangle reach their crescendo, physical fights break out in absurdly delectable ways. And yet, there they are, happening right before your very eyes. They shoot each other through the stomach (“And I can see right through you!”) They push each other down the stairs (“You’re in the shit house now pal!”) And they bash each other in the bean with shovels (“Will you please put your head on straight so I can talk to you?”) The scene where Streep’s body adjusts back to its former glory is still believable some twenty-odd years later.

Let’s talk about cameos. I’m not sure you could call Isabella Rossellini’s role a cameo, as she’s pretty fundamental to the story. But, I just can’t believe they got her to do it. She’s the forever young Lisle Von Rhuman, living in a Gothic palace somewhere above Sunset Boulevard. She’s wears necklaces as blouses, and yes, that’s Fabio as her body guard. Her acting is so deliciously over the top that every time she appears, you just hope for more. When she reappears in the third act, stepping out of a pool completely nude, you almost cheer. Other notable cameos are Sydney Pollack as the uncredited doctor, who examines Streep’s living dead body, and the late great Alaina Reed-Hall who turns in a great performance as Hawn’s long-suffering psychologist.

Turning in another uncredited performance is Los Angeles itself. Without ever really saying it, the only way any of this seems plausible is the fact that it’s all going down in LA. Only in LA is Greta Garbo still hiding out after drinking Rossellini’s potion. Only in LA are we willing to give up everything to live forever in perfect beauty, always remembered as the stars we once were. LA is the gilded lint trap for the rest of the country, catching all the once-beautifuls and the gorgeous dreamers in its palm fronds. Here, no one notices if your skin needs a touch-up because it’s starting to crack and reveal the dead gray beneath. Everyone is too busy hustling their own dream to notice the dead bodies in the back of the church or the car being pushed over Mulholland Drive. No one will notice you shot your best friend through the stomach, for as Streep confidently declares after Willis is worried about people hearing the gunshot, “Neighbors? In twelve years in Los Angeles, have you ever seen a neighbor?”

Like I said, Death Becomes Her is not a great movie, but it’s indelible kook is irresistible. It still plays on the premium channels all the time, and everyone I know can quote it for hours (“Make some room from for my friend for Christ’s sake. But, keep your ass handy.”) And, did I mention it won an oscar for best special effects? It did, and rightly so. While maybe not a critically acclaimed classic, it’s a comedy cult classic that I, and millions of others (mostly gay men, sure) are proud to call a favorite.

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College Movies That Never Get Old Tue, 12 Jul 2011 20:01:45 +0000 Breakstudios Your were not nearly as cool as you think you were during those 4.5 years you spent at junior college, which is why these college movies that never get old.

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Higher education arouses deep nostalgia, particularly for those youthful transgressions you just can’t get away with now.  Your were not nearly as cool as you think you were during those 4.5 years you spent at junior college, which is why these college movies that never get old. Gather some great material for your own upcoming collegiate hijinks or revel in the sweet memories of those ridiculous times as that evil grin belonging to your 19-year-old self resurfaces Break out your college sweaters, grab some libations and submerge yourself in the funniness of the cinematic college experience.



Jeremy Piven destroys anything that comes into view with a sarcastic wit that is timeless and perfect for a college movie. Teamed up with a larger Jon Favreau, Piven gives lessons in college etiquette along with an enlightened and useful view of classes to take as a freshman that are the Rosetta Stone of education. PCU takes no hostages among the various factions at their school, demystifying the higher education experience with an almost religious fervor. Roll around in the genius of this movie until you stink of old sheets and older pizza crusts. Pay particular attention to Piven’s advice about overcoming the lack of a car.


Road Trip

Tom Green with a snake in Road Trip

Surpassing adolescence as the premier rite of passage into adulthood is the cross-country car trip with your buds. Road Trip tosses together an unlikely group of friends and acquaintances and sends them across America to take care of a certain mistakenly sent package to one of their girlfriends. An amusing college movie that shows off a deep love for the buddy travel genre, Road Trip bookends the journey with the universally dreaded end of term finals—the heart of the movie is the companions realizing they need to be freed from from thei high school past in order to experience the present.


Old School

Will Ferrell partying in Old School

A soul check of a movie because if you’re not dying of laughter by the time a certain flying tackle into a fountain that takes place, then there’s a probably a good chance you spent your childhood torturing small animals. The college frat gets a remodel when a bunch of guys well past their prime decide they can start up their own—and it steam rolls into the land of belly laughs and snorts from there. The inability to let go of their early twenties is the main center of focus here, but it’ buried under a surface of the classic bonding of miscreants and weirdoes who form the same bonds that a typical fraternity would produce. Will Ferrell is on point in Old School with Vince Vaughn flanking him as they combine into a Voltron of awesomeness making this a college movie you can watch again and again.



Justin Long and Jonah Hill in Accepted

Ingenious in its concept about a fake college acceptance letter that snowballs into the need to actually build a fake university to perpetuate the lie, Accepted makes your adolescent fears of not getting in anywhere a reality and then pushes it off a cliff. Timeless is the fear of rejection and the necessity is the mother of invention and all that jazz. Seeing Lewis Black play a dean and eventual professor alone is worth seeing, not to mention you’ll garner some valuable insight into the sheep-like pursuit of higher education. Whaddaya know, you might just learn something.


Back to School

Rodney Dangerfield throwing a football in Back To School

Back to School doesn’t even bother saying hello before it tears into the sanctity of college with wild abandon. Rodney Dangerfield is at his peak as a father who feels out of touch with his son and chooses to attend school with him so they can share the experience. The problem being that Dangerfield plays a rich businessman and therefore knows how money makes the world go round and applies it to his classes and his free time. Quips and one-liners bounce off the scenery with enough slapstick to satisfy any type of comedy lover. Without any need for a moral anchor, this film strives to deliver as much laughter as possible while carrying along a story that’s built on a foundation of the love between a dad and his son.

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]]> 4 jeremy_piven_david_spade_pcu David Spade and Jeremy Piven in PCU tom_green_road_trip Tom Green with a snake in Road Trip will_ferrell_old_school Will Ferrell partying in Old School accepted Justin Long and Jonah Hill in Accepted back_to_school Rodney Dangerfield throwing a football in Back To School
Summer Movies Like “American Pie” Fri, 08 Jul 2011 17:48:22 +0000 Breakstudios If you look hard enough, you can find few summer movies that will appease your need to laugh at the misfortunes of teenagers.

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Summer movies like American Pie are not terribly easy to come by. This is probably because raunchy teen comedies aren’t usually commercially successful enough to qualify as summer blockbusters like American Pie did. But that doesn’t stop the studios from trying, which means that if you look hard enough, you can find few that will appease your need to laugh at the misfortunes of teenagers. We all need to beat the heat somehow right?


The American Pie sequels

It may seem obvious, but the best way to get your fix of summer movies like American Pie is to go straight to the source. That is, check out the sequels. Both of the sequels in the “official series,” American Pie 2 and American Wedding, have the same sensibility as the first American Pie movie (duh), and they were released in the summer too. Why settle for an imitation when you can get authentic-Jason-Biggs-sexually-humiliating-himself action?



Alicia Silverstone getting mugged in Clueless

While it may not have the same level of raunchiness as American Pie, Clueless qualifies due to their similarly comedic approaches to life as an American teenager. If you’re looking for scenes of apple pies getting penetrated, look elsewhere. But if you just want to laugh at teenagers in a sunny outdoor milieu—i.e. teenagers being stupid in Southern California—you’ve come to the right place!


Bring It On

Kirsten Dunst's "naked" dream in Bring It On

Hey, not all summer movies like American Pie are masterpieces. But Bring It On is high school movie that came out in the summer—what else do you want? Bring It On is a little more by-the-book than American Pie, focusing on a climactic cheer leading competition and all, but it still shares a certain sensibility with it—which is again, laughing at teenagers as they struggle with their “problems”. It also follows in the grand American Pie tradition of having a ton of direct-to-video sequels that have almost nothing to do with the original. Not to mention, it features Hottie McHotkins (AKA Eliza Dusku) and Kirsten Dunst back when she was still cute.



McLovin' dancing in Superbad

Finally, a summer movie like American Pie that actually comes close to matching its raunchiness factor. In the language-and-crudely-drawn-penises department, anyway. Its plot, involving two teenagers on a mad quest to get laid makes it similar to American Pie, and as an added bonus, most would agree that Superbad is a funnier, better, and more authentic depiction of teenage life than American Pie. So what we’re really trying to say is that what you should be looking for is “summer movies like Superbad.”


The House Bunny

Girls post makeover in House Bunny

If this list is any indication, a good chunk of summer movies like American Pie are targeted at the fairer sex. The House Bunny is no different, featuring Anna Farris as a former Playboy bunny who becomes a sorority house mother. And unlike a lot of teen  comedies, it actually got a fair amount of critical praise, albeit praise that singled out Anna Farris’ performance as being somewhat too good for the material. Still, it counts.


Your search for summer movies like American Pie might last until your dying breath, but this list should make your quest a little easier. If nothing else, the movies on this list will make remembering YOUR awkward teenage years that much easier/funnier. And if you’re still in your teenage years now, uh, sorry?

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]]> 0 jason_biggs_american_pie_2 Jason Biggs with his hand down his pants in American Pie 2 clueless Alicia Silverstone getting mugged in Clueless Bring_It_On Kirsten Dunst's "naked" dream in Bring It On Superbad McLovin' dancing in Superbad House-Bunny Girls post makeover in House Bunny