“50/50 is a comedy that is not all about the jokes,” Gordon-Levitt explains, on the phone from Boston recently. “The humor comes from the people in the story, the characters, the human beings. “And then I thought of trying to tell this story in that tone, finding the humor in what could be seen as a dark situation, and I started thinking of this version of a contemporary Don Juan character.” He adds: “The idea of me playing this guy with the gym body and shiny hair made me laugh. . . . It felt like a challenge, and it felt funny.” And the idea of directing himself? How did that feel? Daunting? “There’s no room for doubt,” he insists, conceding that he did have his doubts earlier in the writing process. “You know, those voices in your head: ‘Maybe this isn’t the one I should do.
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Its a big test for MacFarlane, since it takes him deeper into a new territory and much further from the Family Guy-esque comedy hes known for on TV and was able to smuggle into Ted. Having a strike against you leading up to that film won’t help the cause. FALL TV 2013: Watch the trailers Indeed, the biggest problem for MacFarlane on Dads isnt the offensiveness its that, so far, its not bringing the laughs. Regardless of what you think of the so-called edginess the Hitler video-game jokes, the cancer jokes, the Asian-school-girl jokes that will matter a lot more than whether the show sets off taste alarm bells. As Mother Jones said , The real problem does not lie with any ethnic or racial stereotypes, but with the fact that it is unoriginal and often a painfully unfunny, lazy waste of production space.” Or as the Associated Press put it , “The truth is, viewers who celebrate MacFarlane as well as those who revile him should be equally dismayed by ‘Dads.’ It’s just a mediocre multicamera sitcom, complete with formula humor and unearned laughtrack. FULL COVERAGE: Fall TV preview 2013 The fact is, MacFarlanes yet to prove he can pull off true live-action without quippy computer-generated people or animals. As my colleague Scott Collins asked, “Is Seth MacFarlanes Dads the worst-reviewed show of the season?” But heres why the movies probably won’t take a hit. While TV types like to tout the open-ended advantages of the form compared to the constraints of film, in this case MacFarlane will have a lot more freedom working in cinema. Hes one of the rare commercial directors with heavy sway over the final cut. And the 22-minute multicamera sitcom is about as restrictive as it gets; compared to it, a 100-minute feature offers the malleability and creative freedom of a Tolstoy novel. Hes also directing the films, which usually means a more hands-on involvement than executive-producing a TV show. So West may yet be a more interesting effort than Dads. And even if its not, hes heard it before, and yet…. The 2013 Oscars were the highest-rated telecast in several years. The “Dads” pilot drew a solid 5.6 million viewers. Its not clear if Dads will get any funnier.
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Despite the occassional interjection of ominous music (shut up Johannsson … there’s plenty of time for your score later!) and an initially drab grey color palette, things seem realistically jovial at this get together. The Dovers (Hugh Jackman + Maria Bello) are celebrating the holiday at the home of the Birches (Terrence Howard + Viola Davis) just down the street — close enough to walk — as they clearly do every year (or perhaps they trade off). The parents are realistically both amused and vaguely annoyed by their children, attentive but ‘don’t bother me’ tired. It’s only when the film leave the homes of the Dovers or Birches that there’s trouble brewing… somethings just off. Why did the movie open with a father/son hunting trip? Why is that strange RV parked on the road? Where did Anna’s (Hugh’s daughter) red emergency whistle go? Are Joy and Anna back yet? The two youngest children just went back to the Dovers to grab that red emergency whistle they wanted to p… ohmygod where are Joy and Anna? MORE, AFTER THE JUMP … The red whistle is not a red herring. Instead, that damn missing whistle acts as a perfect talisman for the movie itself.