The fall is typically a slow time for big screen comedies, with Oscar-baity dramas and smaller releases filling multiplexes during the autumnal months. This year, however, we have a pair of highly-anticipated blockbuster comedies closing out the year around Christmastime: Ben Stiller’s latest as a director, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; and Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s long-awaited Anchorman sequel. In addition to those big releases, there’s other stuff to look forward to like Johnny Knoxville’s Borat-style Jackass spinoff Bad Grandpa, a movie where Ken Marino has a monster up his butt, and Will Forte’s dramatic debut.
Kicking off the fall movie season this week is the directorial debut of The State/Reno 911! duo Tom Lennon and Ben Garant with the horror-comedy Hell Baby. The film, which has already been released on VOD ahead of its theatrical release, stars Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb as an expectant couple whose baby becomes possessed after they move into a haunted house. Hell Baby’s supporting cast is loaded up with comedy heavyweights, including Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer, Keegan Michael Key, Riki Lindhome, Alex Berg, Kumail Nanjiai, David Pasquesi, David Wain, Michael Ian Black, and Lennon and Garant themselves.
James Gandolfini performed his final leading role in Enough Said, a romantic comedy from writer/director Nicole Holofcener (Please Give, Lovely & Amazing). The films stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a divorcée who starts dating a new guy (Gandolfini), only to find that her new friend (Catherine Keener) is his ex-wife and has terrible things to say about him. Nicole Holofcenere’s movies are usually the subject of much critical acclaim, so this should be one to look out for.
A.C.O.D. finds Adam Scott in his first leading role in a big studio movie, starring as a man who’s thrown for a loop when he finds out he was the subject of a study on children of divorce. The movie marks the directorial debut of Stu Zicherman, who co-wrote the script with longtime Daily Show head writer Ben Karlin. The impressive supporting cast includes Richard Jenkins, Catherine O’Hara, Amy Poehler, Clark Duke, Jessica Alba, and Jane Lynch.
Released last week via VOD, horror-comedy Bad Milo hits theaters this October. Party Down/Childrens Hospital actor Ken Marino stars as a guy with a demon living up his butt. I think it’s fair to say this the first movie to tackle that subject.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Johnny Knoxville spins his profane 86-year-old Jackass character Irving Zisman off into his own film, a narrative/prank hybrid a la Borat or Brüno. Written by Jackass creators Knoxville, Spike Jonze, and Jeff Tremaine and directed by Tremaine, the movie finds Zisman traveling the country with his 8-year-old nephew (Jackson Nicoll, Fun Size).
Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline star in this geriatric riff on The Hangover written by Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love) and directed by Jon Turteltaub (the National Treasure movies). The trailer is surprisingly devoid of Viagra jokes.
A remake of the French-Canadian comedy Starbuck, Delivery Man is a rarity in that its original writer/director, Ken Scott, also wrote and directed the American version. Vince Vaughn stars as a fast-talking slob who fathered 533 children via sperm donation 20 years ago, and must decide whether to come forward when 142 of them file a lawsuit requesting he reveals his identity. The cast includes Colbie Smulders, Bobby Moynihan, and Chris Pratt, who seriously gained 65 pounds for his role.
The only drama on this list, Nebraska is included here because it marks the dramatic acting debut of one Will Forte. From two-time Oscar-winning writer/director Alexander Payne (The Descendants, Sideways, tons more), Nebraska is shot in black-and-white and it follows an alcoholic father (Bruce Dern) and his estranged son (Forte), who travel across the country together to pick up a million dollar sweepstakes prize. Bob Odenkirk also has a supporting role.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Anchorman turns a decade old next year, and the movie’s long-awaited sequel is arriving just a few months prior to the 10-year anniversary. Everyone is back for the sequel, including the news team (Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner), producer Judd Apatow, and director Adam McKay, who co-scripted Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues with Will Ferrell, just like the original. Plot details are scarce, but the movie follows the news team reuniting in the 1980s, after having fallen on hard times, to work for a 24-hour news channel. There are also some new cast additions, including Kristen Wiig as Brick Tamland’s love interest, James Marsden as a rival anchorman, and Harrison Ford as a Tom Brokaw-esque veteran newscaster.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Boasting one of the most visually impressive trailers for a comedy in recent years, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has some meaningless Oscar buzz behind it in advance of the film’s holiday release. Based on the 1939 James Thurber short story of the same name, Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the first movie Ben Stiller has directed since 2008’s Tropic Thunder, and he’s backed up here by a supporting cast that includes Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Shirley MacLaine, and Patton Oswalt. This project has been jumping around Hollywood since the mid-’90s with Jim Carrey originally attached to star, but he dropped out and was replaced with Owen Wilson, who was followed by Mike Myers, who was followed by Will Ferrell, who was followed by Sacha Baron Cohen, who was followed by Stiller, who actually ended up making the movie.
For more, check out our preview of the fall’s new TV comedies.