After “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” broke in audiences and “Knocked Up” left ‘em pregnant with anticipation, “Superbad” has millions McLovin the Judd Apatow-powered R-rated-comedy renaissance. But, as Andy Stitzer once suspected, if you don’t use it, you could lose it. With that in mind, here’s a peek at some of the rude, lewd, attitude-fueled contenders — with or without Apatow’s seal of approval — that hope to maintain the raunchy momentum in the months to come.
“The Pineapple Express“: An heir apparent to Apatow’s current streak, the August 2008 release will bring back regulars Seth Rogen, Bill Hader and Craig Robinson while mixing in newcomers like Gary Cole and Rosie Perez (!). The comedy super-producer will also lean on his “Freaks and Geeks” protégé-turned-star James Franco for his most comedic role yet, opposite Rogen’s first action-film role. Yep, you read that right: The plot has Rogen and Franco as two stoners on the run and is inspired by explosive ’80s classics “Midnight Run,” “They Live” and “The Last Boy Scout.” Factor in the daring selection of art-house visionary David Gordon Green as director, and this “Pineapple” could be a juicy treat.
“The Heartbreak Kid“: The last time Bobby and Peter Farrelly got R-rated with Ben Stiller, audiences found themselves in a sticky situation with “There’s Something About Mary.” Now, the three masterminds have returned for this October 5 tale of a newlywed who falls in love on his honeymoon — with a woman who’s not his wife. In two minutes and 26 seconds, the film’s trailer squeezes in gags about a deviated septum, sunburns, violent sex and a mariachi band, as well as an obligatory fart joke. Not a bad start.
“Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story“: Diverging a bit from his typical formula, Apatow will also produce this December 21 comedy starring John C. Reilly and Jenna Fischer. With any luck, the flick will go beyond the uninspired “Scary Movie” and “Date Movie” rut that’s plagued the spoof genre for the past decade, and use its biopic concept to create an ” ‘Airplane’-meets-Apatow” humor hybrid. The recently unveiled first trailer suggests something special is going on with this “Walk the Line” parody.
“Porky’s“: It may be the most speculative film on this list, but it shouldn’t be ignored. For years, Howard Stern has been planning to remake the ’80s classic that might just be the closest inspiration to the current wave of R-rated comedy, and recent reports indicate that the cameras could be rolling sooner than later. With any luck, the shock jock will once again capture the naughty nature of the tale of ’50s teens battling a sleazy strip-club owner, bringing the new wave of raunchiness full circle. At least we know this much: With Howard steering the ship, it’s unlikely to be PG-13.
“Semi-Pro“: Will Ferrell in an afro playing basketball alongside Andre 3000 in a flick due February 29. What more do you need to know?
“Zack and Miri Make a Porno“: For years, Kevin Smith has made raunchy movies for his small, niche audience. Now, those sorts of films are opening with $30 million weekends. Could the time finally be right for this Jersey-born master of dialogue to hit the mainstream? Rumor has it that Smith’s twisted “Porno” script is one of the best to ever emerge from his nicotine-fueled imagination, and the timing for a sex-tape comedy couldn’t seem any more appropriate. Smith is currently lining up his cast and will begin shooting soon.
“Tropic Thunder“: The next true “Frat Pack” flick coming down the pike is this Ben Stiller-directed effort about a group of actors forced to become action stars for real — think “Galaxy Quest” for the Michael Bay set. Mixing Stiller, Owen Wilson, Jack Black and the other usual suspects with the likes of Robert Downey Jr. and Nick Nolte, everything we hear about this film sounds funnier than the rumor before it — and the latest is a supposed Tom Cruise cameo. Either way, this summer ’08 release is thinking outside the box.
“Forgetting Sarah Marshall“: We haven’t seen so many comedies turned around so quickly since the heyday of Ernest P. Worrell — but Judd Apatow’s production track record is running slightly better. With “Marshall,” Jason Segel follows up his “Knocked Up” role with an opportunity to shine as Peter — the overlooked boyfriend of a TV star (Kristen Bell) who goes to Hawaii after their difficult breakup. When he encounters his ex (and her new boyfriend) on the island, Peter’s time in paradise turns into anything but. Co-starring Mila Kunis and Apatow vets Jonah Hill, Hader, Paul Rudd and Kristen Wiig, the flick is expected in theaters May 30.
“Smiley Face“: It’s a foulmouthed, sweet-natured movie portraying one very long day spent avoiding the police, encountering eccentric characters and trying to secure an inhibition-lowering illegal substance. Sound familiar? “Smiley” was one of our favorite films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and we can’t imagine Anna Faris’ outrageous adventures with her pot-brownie stash receiving anything less than a hard “R” rating. The indie flick is still currently searching for a release date, but don’t be surprised if it finally puts a spotlight on a female improv star — something that would definitely put a smile on all our faces (see “Steve Carell, Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, Others Reveal Magic Behind Improv Comedy” ).
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