Filmhash List: Steve Carell’s Career

With Crazy, Stupid, Love. out today, we thought we’d take a look at Steve Carell’s career to date, and review some of the highs and lows on his path to being one of the most in-demand comedy stars around.

Bruce Amighty (2003)
Like many people, this was my first exposure to Carell, and he basically stole the show right out from under Jim Carey in one scene. Here is the clip, where Jim Carey (with the powers of God) messes with Carell’s newscaster character. However, many knew him from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and in both of his first two big breaks, he is largely treading familiar ground.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Carell didn’t stray far from his first major film role when joining his next film. He plays Brick Tamland, the idiot weatherman, and provides the film with some of the best non-sequitors in one of the funniest films of the aughts.

The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)

The first starring role for Carell came with Judd Apatow’s first directing job (Carell also got a writing credit). It was a smash success, and made it onto a lot of critics top ten lists for the year. The film broke him out of the newscaster role, and into playing a more fully realized character.

The Office (2005-2011)
That fall, the British hit series The Office was brought to American shores, and the character of Michael Scott was born. While obviously based on Ricky Gervais’ David Brent, Carell brought his own brand of comedy to the role, and made Michael Scott the most beloved boss in TV history (OK, maybe after Lou Grant).

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
At the time of shooting LMS, Carell was a virtual unknown in Hollywood, as this was prior to The 40 Year Old Virgin. The role of Frank was written with Bill Murray or Robin Williams in mind, but Steve Carell was chosen for the role a few months before filming began. The directors said, “When we met with Steve Carell, we didn’t know he could do this based upon what he had done. But when we met with him and talked to him about the character, the tone of the movie and the way we were approaching it, he was right on the same page with us.”

Evan Almighty/Dan in Real Life (2007)
Evan Almighty, at the time of release, was the most expensive comedy ever made. It was a financial flop, failing to bring in fans of the original, families, Christians, greenies, or any other conceivable demographic. However, Carell’s performance was one of the few things praised about the film.

The same year, he also starred in an indie comedy, Dan in Real Life, whose premise seems a tad similar to that of this weekend’s release. It’s regarded pretty highly, but I found it only to be moderately successful.

Get Smart (2008)
Steve Carell is the obvious choice to take over the role Don Adams originated, and there may be no one else alive who could have done as good of a job. One of the better TV-to-movie adaptations, it maintains the style and humor of the source material, while updating the attitude and adding some solid action scenes.


Date Night, Dinner for Schmucks (2010)
Last year brought Carell together with NBC Thursday Night Comedy co-star Tina Fey, a dream pairing, and they did make a delightful on screen couple. The film overall felt safe, but Carell and Fey playing to their strengths isn’t something to complain about.

Dinner for Schmucks isn’t a great film, but Carell’s performance might be what saves it. He brings a sincerity and honesty to the role that others would just play as the butt of every joke (see: Zack Galifianakis). Carell’s performance alone is enough to watch this film.

Filmhash List: 10+ Heat Wave Busters

A list from the esoteric brains behind Filmhash. If you have a list topic, let us know, and we’ll…come up with something!

Rather than spending all weekend in this record heat wave wishing we could be outside, our antidote to the swelter is to put on a movie, crank the AC and try to feel as chilly as possible. Here is our 10+ film guide to doing so. Bonus points awarded for being cold enough to be under a blanket with hot chocolate!

1. Fargo (1996)

The quintessential Coen Brothers film, Fargo captures their knack for dark comedy and fascination with crime tales in their purest fusion. The Coens always manage to bring our the best in the top-notch character actors they so often work with, and Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, and Steve Buscemi are at the height of their game in this one.

2. The Thing (1992)

What could be colder than Antarctica? Especially when being stalked by a violent alien. Ebert called the special effects “among the most elaborate, nauseating, and horrifying sights yet achieved by Hollywood’s new generation of visual magicians”, and noted it as “a great barf-bag movie.”

3. Airport (1970)

This movie was one of the first films to make over $100 million at the box office, and in doing so launched the entire disaster movie genre (pun not intended!). The film revolves around an airport manager trying to keep his airport open during an intense snow storm, while a terrorist plans to blow up a plane mid-flight. The story is fleshed out by focusing on ordinary people and their reactions and relationships as these events unfold. It features stars Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, and a host of other Hollywood heavyweights you may not recognize if you’re under the age of 40.

4. Titanic (1997)

I included this film simply because it was the 1990s version of Airport, except that an iceberg is the terrorist. Just imagine yourself in the freezing cold North Atlantic, and you cool down in no time!

5. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Nature disaster movies became all the rage in the late 90s, and this latter entry into the genre by Roland Emmerich is pretty silly. But a frozen New York City is damn cool looking (pun intended, of course).

6. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

The best installment in the Star Wars franchise is also the coolest, with the opening sequence on Hoth providing some of the best mix of action and character moments in any film. Here, we find Han Solo being a supreme badass:

Echo Base Officer: Your Tauntaun will freeze before you reach the first marker!

Han SoloThen I’ll see you in Hell!

And that’s why Harrison Ford is the best there is.

7. Alive (1993)

This hard-to-watch film is an adaptation of Piers Paul Read’s 1974 book Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, which is a narrative telling the true story of the Uruguayan rugby team who crashed into the Andes mountains on October 13, 1972. Perhaps the true achievement of this film is that it mostly manages to show what happened without over-sensationalizing it.

8. Frozen (2010)

A tense ‘horror’ film about a bunch of teens who get stuck on a ski lift after the park closes, and have to do everything they can to try and not die of exposure. The actors and script aren’t quite up to the premise, but director Adam Green imbues the film with an inherit watchability.

9. March of the Penguins (2005)

This film follows a year in the lives of Emperor Penguins as they journey into the heart of the frozen Antarctic continent. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and is one of the few documentaries to ever capture the imagination of American audiences.

10. Cool Runnings (1993)

A Jamaican bobsled team. What more do you need for relief on a hot summer’s day?

Bonus: My most likely impulse is just to watch clips of skiing scenes from James Bond films. Here is my favorite:

From The Spy Who Loved Me:

Filmhash List: The Year in Review…So Far

It’s hard to believe the year is halfway over! 2011 has been a pretty good year for film, and the best is yet to come. But let’s take a look back at the last 6 months, and our favorite films so far. Enjoy!

Super 8

This film had ample opportunity to derail under the weight of audience expectations, but to our delight it toes the line between nostalgia and modernity very well. Director J.J. Abrams brings his sci-fi sensibilities to the screen alongside gifted young actors to make Super 8 both an entertaining and compelling film.

Bridesmaids

Make ’em laugh, Make ’em laugh, Don’t you know everyone wants to laugh? They said it could be done, but it would be a hard sell, and I think it’s safe to say that the ladies of Bridesmaids got the job done. A smart, funny film that spoke directly to women, yet even appealed to some enlightened men out there. It was a great first step for the future of female-driven comedies.

Attack the Block

This film was an awesome surprise and a fantastic viewing experience that we were lucky to be apart of. The film is on limited release at the moment, slowly gaining momentum and vying for an even wider release on July 29th. Attack the Block is relying heavily on word-of-mouth to get people in theaters, and we here at filmhash wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t say: GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!! You can read our review of it here.

Hanna

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this thriller, but Hanna scores on every level-from the acting to the energizing score, I loved every minute of it. Although not the first film to do so recently, Hanna stirred up a little controversy with its use of a violent young female character in the lead role. I feel the use of violent women in film, although sometimes sexualized by Hollywood, allows filmmakers to explore the paradigms of innocence and darkness more throughly than if they were to use male characters. It certainly makes Hanna a visceral and stylistic adventure worth seeing.

Midnight in Paris

A wonderful, lighthearted film that nonetheless has volumes to say about our culture’s penchant for glamorizing days gone by. In fact, writer/director Woody Allen couldn’t have picked a more opportune release date amidst the sea of nostalgia films in theaters this season. There’s nothing wrong with looking back, as long as you don’t loose the strength to move forward.

Will any of these movies make it to our top ten at the end of the year? We’ll wait and see!

The Space Shuttle: A Film History

Today is the last launch of NASA’s Space Shuttle, the only true exit and return vehicle ever to be flown by mankind (so far). Not only has it had 30 years of service and over 130 launches, but you may not realize the shuttle has also enjoyed an illustrious film career.

The shuttle’s film debut came in the 1979 Bond film, Moonraker, years before any actual test flights. One of the goofier Bond films, the shuttle is one of the least odd things about it. Overall, it is a fun, lighthearted movie, the kind best watched on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

The first official appearance of a named shuttle came in 1986’s comedy Space Camp. Sadly, the film was released in the wake of the Challenger disaster, making a comedy about kids accidentally sent into space a very tough sell. Despite having an overly silly robot befriend Joaquin Phoenix, it’s a pretty decent film despite it’s awful release timing.

The next film to feature the shuttle is Michael Bay’s blockbuster Armageddon. The ultimate blue collar fantasy, this is the film where a bunch of oil drillers are sent to space to use nuclear weapons to break apart an asteroid and save the world. Although the film is now used by NASA as a training exercise in spotting scientific inaccuracies, it’s a great ride, and the shuttle (with a few choice modifications) plays a very prominent role.

Shortly thereafter, Clint Eastwood’s Space Cowboys took a bunch of retirees into space on a mission to reprogram an obsolete Soviet satellite with a secret. It’s a very formulaic film, and as such the tension doesn’t feel so high. Fittingly, the older space jockeys also make an appearance on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. All of the lead performances are excellent, and overall it makes for one of Eastwood’s most fun efforts.

And finally, perhaps, the shuttle makes a brief appearance in the newest Transformers film, also directed by Bay. Unfortunately, it does not transform. That would have been awesome.

“She sure was a good ship. Farewell, Aquarius, and we thank you.” – from Apollo 13

Filmhash List: Rating Fourth of July Blockbusters

In honor of July 4th being one of the ‘big four’ movie weekends, we’re going back over the last 16 years and rating the release from that year, starting in 1995!

Apollo 13 (1995)

This is one of the best movies of all time, hands down.
Grade: A

Independence Day (1996)

This not only started a chain of Will Smith vehicles coming out on July 4th weekend, but also the new disaster movie trend. Still a great movie.
Grade: B-

Men in Black (1997)

One of the all-time great sci-fi comedies. I find myself quoting it often. Jill: And there’s a pug!
Grade:  A-

Armageddon (1998)

The other major trend on this list is Michael Bay, and this is one of his most enjoyable. It’s also appropriate: if there’s anything Michael Bay loves more than explosions and underwear models, it’s America.
Grade: B

Wild Wild West (1999)

Sadly this film is awful, despite how bad I wanted it to be good.
Grade: D

The Patriot / The Perfect Storm (2000)

I really enjoy The Patriot, it’s a great epic. The Perfect Storm didn’t really do anything for me, but it’s decent. Jill: I actually loved Storm…Mark Wahlberg.
Grade: Patriot: B, Storm: C    Jill: Storm: A+++++++++++

Men in Black II (2002)

I’ve actually done everything I can to forget I ever saw this movie. There is no good here. Jill: There’s a pug!
Grade: F

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

Actually pretty decent, all things considered. The ending completely took me by surprise, which was welcome.
Grade: C+

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

The best film in the trilogy, and one of my favorite superhero movies.
Grade: A-

War of the Worlds (2005)

Haven’t seen it. Spielberg + Aliens does not overcome the Tom Cruise factor for me.
Grade: N/A

Superman Returns (2006)

This film is better than its reputation might lead you to believe. It’s a loving tribute to the Donner Superman films.
Grade: B-

Transformers (2007)

The best film in this franchise.
Grade: B-

Hancock (2008)

The first half of this movie is solid, the second half is abysmal.
Grade: D+

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)

I actually haven’t seen any of the films in this franchise.
Grade: N/A

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)

Not the most interesting film in the franchise visually, but the story was not as mind-numbing.
Grade: C+

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

Read my review!
Grade:  B-

Happy 4th of July everyone!!!!!!

Filmhash List: 15 Film Teachers We Wish We Had In School

A list from the esoteric brains behind Filmhash. If you have a list topic, let us know, and we’ll…come up with something!

In honor of Bad Teacher coming out this weekend, we thought we’d run down the teachers in various films we wish had been ours in school, and what we would have learned from them! (in no particular order)

1. John Keating (Robin Williams), Dead Poet’s Society

What we learned: Real men write poetry.

(John Keating): Language was developed for one endeavor, and that is…

(Neil): To communicate?

(John Keating): No! To woo women!

2. Mr. Hand (Ray Walston), Fast Times at Ridgemont High

What we learned: Strict teachers still care about their students, and want them to succeed.

3. Ms. Norbury (Tina Fey), Mean Girls

What we learned: Ladies, let’s keep the claws retracted.

4. Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris, Michael Gambon), Harry Potter series

What we learned: It is our choices that show us who we really are, far more than our abilities.

5. Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), The Karate Kid

What we learned: That karate, and life requires balance. And that you must, “First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule, Daniel-san, not mine.”

6. Dewey Finn (Jack Black), School of Rock

What we learned: Sometimes, you just have to rock. And that not all school learning needs to happen in ‘traditional’ classes.

7. Mr. Griffith (Thomas Haden Church), Easy A

What we learned: You can be a ‘cool’ teacher who talks to kids…without trying to ‘keep it real,” Phil Dunphy style. The world according to Mr Griffith:

“I don’t know what your generation’s fascination is with documenting your every thought… but I can assure you, they’re not all diamonds. ‘Roman is having an OK day, and bought a Coke Zero at the gas station. Raise the roof.’ Who gives a rat’s ass?”

now that's a name I haven't heard in a long time...
8/9. Yoda/Obi-Wan (Frank Oz, Alec Guinness), Star Wars

What we learned: Fear, anger, and hate are the ingredients of galactic disaster. Also, if you’re going to do something, do it, or don’t do it. There’s no A for effort in this galaxy far far away.

10. Mr. Vernon (Paul Gleason), The Breakfast Club

What we learned: Don’t mess with the bull.

11. Det. John Kimble (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Kindergarten Cop

What we learned: Basic human anatomy and there is such a thing as TMI on Career Day:

(Mr. Kimble): We’re going to play a wonderful game called…”Who is my daddy and what does he do?”

(Rina, Tina): Our mom says our dad is a real sex machine.

(Joseph): My dad’s a gynecologist. He looks at vaginas all day long.

12. William Forrester (Sean Connery), Finding Forrester

What we learned: That talents are made to be shared with the world, not hidden away.

13. Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. (Harrison Ford), Raiders of the Lost Ark, Last Crusade

What we learned: Firsthand knowledge is a valuable thing. Oh, and ‘X’ never marks the spot.

14. Phil (Bradley Cooper), The Hangover

What we learned: Teachers are people too. Sometimes they are bad people, and sometimes they will steal your parents’ field trip money for a wild weekend in Vegas.

15. Mr. Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss), Mr. Holland’s Opus

What we learned: Just because you may not be living your dream doesn’t mean you aren’t doing something extremely worthwhile.

Who are your favorite fictional teachers?

Filmhash List: 8 Great Children’s Fantasy Book Adaptations

A list from the esoteric brains behind Filmhash. If you have a list topic, let us know, and we’ll…come up with something!

With Mr. Popper’s Penguins as the big family film release this week, we’re running down 8 of the best children’s fantasy books made into films. For the purpose of this list, we’re ignoring anything that is part of a series. Because this would be a much, much longer list.

Babe (1995)

This is a tale of epic proportions. About a pig. I don’t know how to better describe this movie. I mean, it’s a movie about talking animals that got nominated for Best Picture! When there were only five nominees (it lost to Braveheart)! This is just an exquisitely made film. At the end of the day, “That’ll do, Pig. That’ll do.”

Coraline (2009)

This stop motion film is based on the novella by the acclaimed fantasy author Neil Gaiman. It follows the story of Coraline, a blue haired girl, and her family’s move from Ann Arbor to Oregon. The film chronicles her adventures with her strange new neighbors and an alternate reality called the “Other” World. While some children’s films move at an almost blinding pace in order to keep their intended audience pacified, like the other great films, this one takes the time to fully allow the audience to take in their surroundings. The lovingly-crafted stop motion is also one of the best 3D experiences ever.

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name, this stop motion film by auteur director Wes Anderson, this is one of my absolutely favorite films. Anderson and writing partner Noah Baumbach make the smart move of taking the original work and writing a new beginning and new ending, deeping Dahl’s characters, and giving the film a more satisfying climax. It also features a stellar voice cast wit George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jascon Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, and more.

Holes (2003)

Based on the novel by Louis Sachar, Holes is a great stylized film starring a very young Shia LeBeouf. Directed by Andrew Davis, director of The Fugitive, Holes is a wonderfully stylized film fusing the feel of Cool Hand Luke with a child’s adventure tale, but is never condescending. All of the characters feel three-dimensional, adding yet another layer of depth to this wonderful movie.

Jumanji (1995)

Perhaps the best movie centered around a board game (so far), this has Robin Williams at his best manic children’s entertainment. Directed by Joe Johnson, the film effects still hold up today, and this is one of those films I watch every time I come across it on TV.

Mary Poppins (1964)

One of my favorite Disney films, Mary Poppins is “practically perfect in every way.” ‘Nuff said.

Night at the Museum (2006)

This is a fun adventure that mostly takes place within the confines of the American Museum of Natural History. Featuring Ben Stiller as a down-on-his-luck night watchmen, it features an all-star cast as the living inhabitants of the Museum, who only come alive at night. Especially notable is Robin Williams as the statue of Theodore Roosevelt. One of the better recent live action kids movies, with an emphasis on fun and imagination over jokes about bodily functions.

Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

This is a rare children’s film that is almost purely a drama. Every other film on this list has a strong comedic element, but this adaptation of the Maurice Sendak book pulls no punches. The film focuses on Max and his journey of emotional escape to the land of the Wild Things. It’s a voyage of self-discovery, and Max learns valuable lessons about life. Part of this film’s beauty is that it shows rather than tells the audience’s lessons. It’s not subtle, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with cute sayings to bring the message to the audience.