Saturday, June 19, 2010

Toys, Duplasses: Make me smile

I'm pretty glum today.

You probably know by now that I've been heavily invested in the basketball playoffs, and last night, that heavy investment ended in heartache: My Boston Celtics lost a 13-point third quarter lead, and the NBA Finals, to the hated Los Angeles Lakers. Who, unfortunately, reside in the same city as I do, meaning their fans are all around me. At least my neighborhood last night was relatively quiet -- just a few fireworks. No cars were burned or newsstands upended.

Strangely, I slept better after last night's Game 7 than I did after Game 6. I guess the brain has no choice but to reach some state of resolution after the series is over. No unknowns left to fear, anyway -- no worst possible outcomes still lying ahead. The only unknowns now are which players and coaches will be back, but that won't take shape for another couple weeks, at which point I'll have some much-needed distance from it.

So yeah, I'm glum. Even though I went with my wife to her doctor's appointment, and got a really cute picture of my 28-week-old baby in her stomach, I'm still a bit glum. It'll take some time.

So, Toy Story 3 and Cyrus couldn't come along soon enough. I need to laugh this weekend.

Everyone knows that Toy Story 3 is coming out today. The only reason we probably haven't seen more ads on TV is this: Not only is it Pixar, but it's a Toy Story movie. For both reasons, it sells itself.

But Cyrus is the one we will probably actually see this weekend. It won't be as laugh-out-loud funny as Toy Story 3 has the potential to be, though I should say, you go to a Toy Story movie more to smile than to laugh. Or maybe what I really should say is, Cyrus could be laugh-out-loud funny, but the laughter will be laced with bitterness, and almost certainly at someone's expense. Light, kid-friendly laughter seems like it would be more healing than awkward, cringe-worthy, you're-banging-my-mother laughter.

Then again, I'll take either in a pinch.

For those of you who haven't heard of Cyrus, it's the latest and most mainstream film from writer-directors Mark and Jay Duplass, the former of whom is also an actor, appearing in such films as Humpday and Greenberg. They're two of the biggest names in the mumblecore movement, known for such films as The Puffy Chair and Baghead. What's mumblecore? It's a movement of films using mostly non-professional actors and heavily improvised scripts, which has almost a documentary-style sense of heightened realism. (If those non-professional actors can act worth a damn, that is -- and they usually can.) The movement is starting to encroach into the mainstream more and more, as both Mark Duplass and Baghead's Greta Gerwig appeared in Greenberg. I'm excited to see what Mark and Jay can do with a Judd Apatow-style comedy with four major stars: John C. Reilly as a divorced man still pining after his ex; Catherine Keener as that ex; Marisa Tomei as the new woman he meets; and Jonah Hill as that woman's grown, overprotective son. The naturalism the Duplasses aspire to seems on display in the ads, and though I'm sure there promises to be plenty of broad comedy, I bet it will arise organically from the circumstances.

As for Toy Story 3 ... well, what can I say that hasn't been said? The first two movies are among my top 50 movies of all time, so Toy Story 3 has some pretty big shoes to fill. At first I was unsure if it could do so. The first images I saw of the movie gave me a "more of the same" vibe, the kind of vibe I might get a lot sooner if I saw another movie starring Wall-E or the rat from Ratatouille. But as time has gone on and I've admired the larger-than life outdoor advertisements they've been hanging around town (such as the one you see above), I feel more and more sure that any time spent with the Toy Story gang will be a good time.

And there you have it. The corner of my mouth went up a little bit just thinking about it.

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