Saturday, July 19, 2014

Have studio comedies really sunk THIS low?

Seriously? In a trailer yet? With so-called "movie stars?"

WARNING:  THIS POST CONTAINS DISGUSTING MATERIAL -- all from the studio approved trailer.

There's a segment in this preview of HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 not to be believed. Jason Bateman tells "movie star" Jennifer Aniston that he has to go to the bathroom. She says, "You're welcome to do that on me." He signals that it's number two. And she says "And?" In other words, unless I missed the subtlety, "movie star" Jennifer Aniston is telling Jason Bateman she's okay if he takes a shit on her. Class-eee.    And oh so hilarious. 

Remember, the best jokes are usually in the trailer.

Now I don't want to sound like I'm a hundred but has American screen comedy really sunk to that level?   Those are the best and funniest comedy writers Hollywood can employ?    Any twelve year old on the playground can write that joke.

The original HORRIBLE BOSSES was a spec screenplay by Michael Markowitz that sold.  His script was sharp, sophisticated, and hilarious.  The studio thanked him and hired other writers.  Any resemblance to his vision and characters in both films have been completely obliterated by different writers, studio notes, directors, actors, etc.  Such is the studio "process" of improving a comedy. 

I guess I won't be writing any mainstream Hollywood comedies in the near future.  I have no desire to write for children.  I have no desire to have my name associated with Jennifer Aniston defecation jokes.   And the fact that she does, is to me even more appalling.  Some "movie star." 

51 comments:

Gary said...

Has Jennifer turned down ANY movie since Friends ended?

Ray Richmond said...

I forget who it was who said, "If you build shit, they will come." But oh my God, this is pretty frightening.

gottacook said...

Sorry, one thing's unclear here: "The original HORRIBLE BOSSES was a spec screenplay by Michael Markowitz that sold. His script was sharp, sophisticated, and hilarious. Any resemblance to it has been completely obliterated by different writers, studio notes, directors, actors, etc. Such is the studio 'process' of improving a comedy." Are you saying that the original HORRIBLE BOSSES of several years ago was badly compromised, or is this about what you anticipate for the sequel? (I have no idea who the credited writers are for the sequel, but I thought the original - which I saw on a hotel room TV - was reasonably diverting and certainly funnier than, for example, THE HANGOVER.)

Chris said...

Friday question: I'm just watching the iTunes version of Cheers (stunning in HD by the way, remastered from the original 35mm film) and at the end of season one, in the kiss scene between sam and diane, the crazy audience applause is cut, was this the case when you originally edited the show and if so, why?

Anonymous said...

No wonder Brad left...

Frank Paradise said...

Jennifer must take any crap role offered without bothering to read the stinking script these days. I smell a stink bomb.

Bob B. said...

I've said it before but it bears repeating. Aniston is currently just like Paris Hilton -- she is famous for being famous.

Steve said...

Ken, don't surprised in five years when they're depicting this kind of stuff instead of just talking about it. Mike Judge's Idiocracy, anyone?

Alan C said...

Based on that trailer in general I'm not motivated to see it even though I enjoyed the first one. Based on the "number 2" scene, if I were any of the actors involved I'd be embarrassed to be connected with it.

Jim Freedman said...

Get over it people, it's just a "clever" comeback between friends. You'd be laughing your asses off if you had a friend of the opposite sex with that kind of comeback, just like you would if you had a same sex friend with the same kind of smart-ass comeback. Don't read too much into it all. I have no idea if this movie sucks (although I think I know the answer), but dissing it for that line - out of context - is just going along with the crowd.

Anonymous said...

It's Charlie from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"

DrBOP said...

Considering that she first REALLY came to the attention of show runners and producers with her playing a topless model in a 20-minute early-1980s satirical "making of" tanning lotion commercial, whereby she pulled-off "self-deprecation while half-dressed" (it's on YT somewhere): she's never been seen as a serious comedienne.
However, wouldn't it also be the case where they would have filmed numerous bits at the same time, which then appeared in the cut at the discretion of the director/editor? No excuse for the the issue as you have framed it, but certainly not her choice of inclusion.
And although none of the above is necessarily in defense of Ms. Aniston, the following statement is:

SHE"S GOT A BODY THAT JUST WON'T QUIT!!!

Or, as an old baseball coach used to say about supremely good-looking women :
"She shits cotton candy, and pisses soda water."

donald said...

If you think that chain Smoking Jennifer Anniston is truly hit, you have never been to The southeastern United States.

donald said...

Hot. Truly hot. Sorry.

Largo161 said...

I'm distressed that this thread is mostly Jennifer Aniston-bashing, as if she were the "auteur" of this movie.

Becca in Seattle said...

Hi Ken, Did you watch the first movie? This line actually plays very well based on her character. And, I agree with Jim Freedman on this one, I can see my friends and I cracking this same kind of joke and laughing out asses off, it doesn't mean would take it literally.

Anonymous said...

You sound like you're 100. How far have you come from being the guy in the room with no boundaries? Sad.

Anonymous said...

this IS weak but I guess I"m not as surprised as you are, Ken.
I never considered Aniston a movie star.
she's a (rapidly) aging TV actress who was really cute about 15 years ago.
nothing more.

Matt said...

I think the real point is that this is the best joke in the movie. It is not funny. This is a comedy and if this is all they have, I am not watching it.

Mark Legan said...

I have to say,I saw the first one on a plane and really enjoyed it. I thought Spacey was terrific. Not sure it deserved a sequel but the machine will squeeze out any "franchise" material if it thinks for a sec it might make money.

Cap'n Bob said...

As the man said, without seeing the entire scene we can't yet judge if it's as juvenile as it seems or not. That said, it's really idiotic trailer material as it stands.

Dennis said...

There have always been bad comedies. You can't judge this as a real movie, everyone understands that it's crap. You also can't exactly call Jennifer Aniston a movie star. she's a former television star, and she wasn't exactly what I'd call a great actress.

Jon88 said...

I'm sure it's not the best joke in the movie, and I suspect it's not being presented in the trailer as anything other than an implied caveat to the viewer: "This is how vulgar this movie is. You've been warned."

Terrence Moss said...

I saw the first movie and while her character is obnoxious, a line like this does nothing but debase the character instead of build upon it. To Ken's point, why wouldn't an movie star of Aniston's stature demand better? It may funny in or out of context to some viewers, but from a writing standpoint, there are better ways to build upon her character.

Anonymous said...

If you're this upset, please don't watch the Dumb & Dumber To red band trailer

Izzy Diamond said...

Wait till Horrible Bosses 3, when she asks Jason Sudeikis to vomit on her while she masturbates.

Joe Gillis said...

Ken:

Have you forgotten the explosive diarrhea scene in SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS? Or the enema-gone-wrong scene in MY MAN GODFREY? Or the bestiality subplot in TROUBLE IN PARADISE, handled so deftly with the "Lubitsch touch"?

Think twice next time you dare accuse Brett Ratner of producing anything in bad taste.

Katherine Gill said...

Obviously this movie is dumb, but I don't see how that's Jennifer Aniston's fault. Jason Sudeikis and Jason Bateman agreed to be in this movie and say that stupid dialogue as well, so I don't see why this is an issue of Jennifer Aniston not living up to the standards of a "true movie star."

CarolMR said...

Jason Sudeikis? Isn't he George Wendt's nephew?

Lisa said...

First, I'm thrilled I found this blog--you've provided us with copious amounts of much-needed laughter.
As some today would say, "Kadooz!" ....but I digress.
I saw the original HB and was stunned that even one person thought it wasn't absolutely terrible. I can't believe the theaters that offer it, the distributors that sold it, the studio greenlighted it, etc, all the way back to the merging of sperm and egg of the parents of the person who came up with the idea. The only thing I do believe is the actors who were paid millions for it--greed is good (for them).
Lisa, Jacksonville FL

Johnny Walker said...

By far the most baffling thing about all this is Jennifer Anniston getting flack for it... So, in an ideal world, she should have flat out refused to say that line? Is that really professional behaviour?

And what about Jason Bateman? Why isn't he to blame?

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Johnny: thank you. That was exactly what I was wondering. (And isn't it possible that the line was added after the actors were already committed to the project?)

wg

writerjoel said...

Man, I'm a bit baffled. Has anyone seen THE ARISTOCRATS?? Blue humor isn't new. The fact that the internet removes filters from movie trailers is, however. So: Is the complaint here that blue humor is in a trailer?? It's an internet trailer. Two clicks away, I can watch actual coprophilia. Oh, did no one realize that was an actual thing, deserving of jokes?

I don't get this. At all. It's a good joke. Just on joke math, it's a good joke.

And let's look at the rest of the trailer: The bits with Spacey's wife, and Jason Sudeikis making awkward hellos to her: Funny!

Look, a trailer isn't a whole movie. The actual movie could be terrible. And lord knows I've seen bad trailers where I've been left wondering, "This is funny???"

But, flat out, Ken: If an R-rated movie hired you into a room as a consultant, and someone pitched a coprophilia joke, would you reject it because it may make it into the internet trailer?

DON'T GET THIS AT ALL.

Ken Levine said...

Y'know, I'm real lucky. I've never had to work on a project that was so crude I was embarrassed to be a part of it. I would say to them hire someone else.

As for Jennifer saying the line, I'm sorry but actors balk at saying lines all the time. They're uncomfortable saying it, they don't think their character would say it, they just don't find it funny. That's a fact of life. Writers adjust lines that actors object to. And it's fair. Why? Because the actors are the ones whose faces are out there. Jennifer Aniston is on the big screen saying it's okay for someone to take a shit on her.

I guarantee you writers don't say to Jennifer Aniston you have to say this line whether you like it or not. That's not the way it works. So the fact that she said it, she's okay with it. And hey -- it's her career, her image.

VP81955 said...

The lady in my avatar was infamous for her blue language (in adult, generally male company), but I doubt Carole would have said what Aniston said, even in outtakes -- certainly not in the finished script.

That noted, Ken's real complaint is with a system that winnows out all the wit and reduces comedy to sheer vulgarity. Are studios really that afraid the frat-boy multiplex crowd won't show up without toilet "humor"?

writerjoel said...

Can I add: I LOVE Cheers and Frasier? I mean, "they're my bible" love? They are joke perfection. No hyperbole. In particular, nothing EVER has been achieved than the first season of Cheers.

Now, can I also add: One of my favorite movie jokes, now 30 years old, is from Police Academy (which appeared in the trailer), where the hard-ass cop character is thrown from his motorcycle so that his head enters a horse's ass.

All I'm saying is…blue humor IS valid. We ALL tell these jokes. Saying you never had to do it is like saying you never had to use swear words. Um, okay, but my favorite comedies have used them for half a century, so the brag seems weirdly defensive???

And the dodge that actors SHOULD refuse blue humor is weirder still!!

There was a time when actors LED the charge in what was considered beyond the pale! Like, say, playing a gay character??

So is Jennifer Anniston promoting freedom with a coprophilia joke? In her mind at least, probably, no: But she is pushing the same boundary which a certain TV writer pushed when he forced a certain standards and practices peon to read aloud a bunch of naughty words with the goal of getting certain before-verboten words on TV.

This sounds so hostile! Ken, I love you. But rated R movies have these jokes! And on the internet, all's fair!

I DON'T GET THIS AT ALL.

Ken Levine said...

I love R rated jokes. I love X rated jokes. As long as they're really funny. When they're not they're just crude. I've never been one who believes a groan is as good as a laugh.

But that's me. If this joke makes you laugh go see the movie. You'll probably have a great time.

writerjoel said...

Final note: I have poked and prodded. You have remained a mensch. If nothing else, let this be a lesson in how to run a blog!!!!!

My admiration for you could not go higher. Unless you were to go blue.

Thad said...

Silver lining: SEX TAPE tanked.

jbryant said...

In fairness, Jennifer Aniston isn't saying it's okay to do a number two on her -- her character is. She's playing a sex-crazed sociopath. It's a one-dimensional role, but she had a lot of fun with it in the first movie and made it work. Seems like they're upping the ante on her inappropriateness in the second, which is par for the course I guess. But it's kind of amusing that this doo-doo joke is causing more outrage than the actual premise of the film, which is three "normal" guys plotting to commit murder. I thought the film managed a number of laughs, but the premise is outlandish, and the plot twists allow the protagonists to skirt some of the thornier ethical issues in the homestretch. It's not remotely believable, but Aniston and especially Kevin Spacey made it worth a look. I'd love to see that original script though -- sounds like maybe it's closer to a murder comedy that DID work beautifully: KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS.

Anonymous said...

She could take a dump on me anytime she wants. I love that sexy Jen.

Greg Ehrbar said...

Jennifer Aniston is a "brand." There are Excel spread sheets about her profit and loss potential. Such a brand does not do anything without detailed scrutiny and meticulous calculation.

Saying the line could be a strategic goal in freshening her brand, making it a little more edgy, helping her brand play more competitively against today's attention-getting brands -- perhaps Melissa McCarthy and Lena Dunham.

This is not a moral or creative judgement. This is marketing in a very crowded and highly aggressive marketplace.

Jeff S. said...

Many of you are completely missing the point. Here is a select list of women who have starred in comedies since the invention of the movie camera: Claudette Colbert, Katharine Hepburn, Veronica Lake, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Diane Keaton, Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock, Carole Lombard, Natalie Wood, Kristen Wiig, Rosalind Russell, Jessica Lange, and -- as long as we're at it -- Edna Purviance.

Somehow all these women had flourishing movie careers without asking their on-screen counterparts to defecate on them.

It doesn't matter if the joke is "in character." It doesn't matter if it "matches the tone of the first Horrible Bosses." What matters is it's a lazy joke. Not worthy of third-grade recess. And yet the producers are showcasing this joke as the gold standard of the movie.

That's what's truly disgusting.

Anonymous said...

"A strange man defecated on my sister" is a great joke from the greatest movie of all time. Everyone who's reaching for the smelling salts needs to stay the hell away from comedy.

Not Brett Ratner said...

"A strange man defecated on my sister" -- which follows a scene where the actor/director/writer saying it reacts with DISGUST to the situation...

... versus...

... a woman inviting a man to defecate on her.

Anyone who can't see the difference needs to stay the hell away from comedy.

Anonymous said...

That line is not a joke between friends. It is not taken out of context.

That is how they are showing Jennifer's character, which is in line with the first movie.

Strangely, I thought the first movie's character was pretty similar to Rachel Greene.

jbryant said...

Jeff S.: With all due respect, I think you're the one missing the point. Context is key when it comes to jokes. OF COURSE character matters. Aniston is playing a truly disturbed sociopath who is comically oversexed. The whole point of her character is that she's outrageously kinky. Regardless of whether the joke makes you laugh, it's absolutely in character for her to say such a thing. Bringing Hepburn, Garbo, Lombard, etc., into it is disingenuous, since it would have been literally impossible to get such a joke past the censors in their day. As for Kristen Wiig, given BRIDESMAIDS I'm not sure why you think such a joke might be out of bounds for her.

I'm not sure why this joke is being used as some sort of sign of the death of sophisticated comedy -- it may not even be a sign of the film's overall quality. It may well be a "lazy joke" "not worthy of third grade recess," but that's a matter of opinion. A lot of people (and not necessarily only mouth-breathers) will laugh at that line for what it suggests about Aniston's character more than on its merits as a joke per se.

We should also perhaps remember that the trailers for comedies such as this often include lines that never make it into the final cut.

chuckcd said...

I'll try anything once...twice if I like it.

MuffinMan21571 said...

Wow, this blog seems to breed so much misogyny, I'm surprised Jezebel hasn't call it our yet (they should); see also- comments made re. Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, (yes, even) Roseanne Barr, etc,etc...

Michael Markowitz said...

While I appreciate the praise for my original HORRIBLE BOSSES spec, the idea that "the studio thanked [me] and hired other writers" is bizarre and totally fabricated. It happens to a lot of writers but it did not happen to me. I was fortunate enough to be the only writer on the project for six years, and the only draft I did not write alone was the last one. I am unbelievably proud of HORRIBLE BOSSES and I'm grateful for the contributions of all those (including the director and actors) who helped brilliantly realize my vision for my characters. And I think the trailer for HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 is very funny.

JediJones said...

I thought the first Horrible Bosses was one of the funnier and fresher comedy films I've seen in recent years. This trailer for the sequel, however, does have stink all over it, even beyond the stinky joke at issue here. None of the trailer's jokes were funny. Most were barely recognizable as jokes at all. The trailer gives little idea of what the story is actually about, beyond some vague hints that it's repeating the plot of the original, which tends to kill the sense of spontaneity that comedy thrives on. We can also see that they have changed directors and writers. This does not look like a comedy sequel that will break the comedy sequel curse.