At the moment there are few greater clichés in the media than the freaking out single woman on the cusp of 30. Of course clichés are clichés for a reason worth exploring even through the lens of just one or two women as in Lola Versus. Unfortunately while the intention behind Lola Versus isn't that we should all be happily married by the age of 30 it still fits into the same rubric of all those "Why You're Not Married" books.
Lola (Greta Gerwig) has a gorgeous fiancé Luke (Joel Kinnaman) and they live in a giant loft together the kind of dreamy NYC real estate that seems to exist primarily in the movies. Just as they're planning their gluten-free wedding cake with a non-GMO rice milk-based frosting Luke dumps her. It's cruelly sudden — although Luke isn't a cruel man. Lola finds little comfort in the acerbic wit of her best friend the eternally single Alice (Zoe Lister-Jones) who is probably delighted to see her perfectly blonde best friend taken down a peg and into the murky world of New York coupling. Lola and Luke share a best friend Henry (Hamish Linklater) a messy-haired rumpled sweetheart who is kind and safe and the inevitable shelter for Lola's fallout. Her parents well-meaning and well-to-do hippie types feed her kombucha and try to figure out their iPads and give her irrelevant advice.
Lola Versus is slippery. Its tone careens between broad TV comedy and earnest dramedy almost as if Alice is in charge of the dirty zingers and Lola's job is to make supposedly introspective statements. Alice's vulgar non-sequiturs are tossed off without much relish and Lola's dialogue comes off too often as expository and plaintive. We don't need Lola to tell Henry "I'm vulnerable I'm not myself I'm easily persuaded" or "I'm slutty but I'm a good person!" (Which is by the way an asinine statement to make. One might even say she's not even that "slutty " she's just making dumb decisions that hurt those around her just as much as she's hurting herself.)
We know that she's a mess — that's the point of the story! It's not so much that a particularly acerbic woman wouldn't say to her best friend "Find your spirit animal and ride it until its d**k falls off " but that she wouldn't say it in the context of this movie. It's from some other movie over there one where everyone is as snarky and bitter as Alice. You can't have your black-hearted comedy and your introspective yoga classes. Is it really a stride forward for feminism that the clueless single woman has taken the place of the stoner man-child in media today? When Lola tells Luke "I'm taken by myself. I've gotta just do me for a while " it's true. But it doesn't sound true and it doesn't feel true.
In one scene Lola stumbles on the sidewalk and falls to the ground. No one asks her if she's okay or needs help; she simply gets up on her own and goes on her way. It's a moment that has happened to so many people. It's humiliating and so very public but of course you just gotta pick yourself up and get where you're going. In this movie it's a head-smackingly obvious metaphor. In one of the biggest missteps of the movie Jay Pharoah plays a bartender that makes the occasional joke while Lola is waiting tables at her mom's restaurant. His big line at the end is "And I'm your friend who's black!" It would have been better to leave his entire character on the cutting room floor than attempt such a half-hearted wink at the audience.
Lister-Jones and director Daryl Wein co-wrote the screenplay for Lola Versus as they did with 2009's Breaking Upwards. Both films deal with the ins and outs of their own romantic relationship in one way or another. Breaking Upwards a micro-budget indie about a rough patch in their relationship was much more successful in tone and direction. Lola Versus has its seeds in Lister-Jones' experience as a single woman in New York and is a little bit farther removed from their experiences. Lola Versus feels like a wasted opportunity. Relatively speaking there are so few movies getting made with a female writer or co-writer that it almost feels like a betrayal to see such a tone-deaf portrayal of women onscreen. What makes it even more disappointing is how smart and likable everyone involved is and knowing that they could have made a better movie.
This week’s horror-com Piranha 3DD promises horror, comedy, and lots of really big boobs, if the 3DD in the title is any indication. Plus: bizarre deaths. That latter element — and the prospect of David Hasselhoff being involved — is the main reason for our excitement, and it got us thinking about other unconventional deaths on the big screen. Read on to see our favorites — and watch the horrendous action go down! But note: Although most clips are of the very, very funny nature, some are actually disturbing, especially for fans of His Prettiness, Brad Pitt.
The Wicker Man: Bees
A Nic Cage scene would find its way onto any list of oddities, but we’re all fortunate that what might be his most bizarre scene ever just so happens to be of the death variety. The clip below must be watched in its entirety; there are unintentionally hilarious gifts bestowed throughout, including but not limited to his death by bees.
NEXT: An embarrassing way to go
Jurassic Park: On the Toilet
Everyone expects a little privacy in the bathroom, but worst-case scenario, someone opens the door and nothing more than pride is damaged. Not the case for Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero), who is picked up by a hungry, pissed-off, lawyer-hating T. Rex.
NEXT: Death, Farrelly brothers-style
Dumb & Dumber: Hot Peppers
This is one list the Farrelly brothers probably never thought they’d wind up on when they concocted a scene in which title dummies Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels) accidentally prank-kill a kidnapper (Mike Starr) with hot peppers and rat poison. They probably thought the other brothers, the Coens, would be more likely to wind up here. Well, gotcha!
NEXT: The obligatory Tarantino entry
Pulp Fiction: Accidental Gunshot
There aren’t too many conventional deaths in Quentin Tarantino movies: We probably won’t ever watch an elderly character die of natural causes in his sleep. The most bizarre for our money, though, happens in the writer-director’s masterpiece, when John Travolta’s Vincent accidentally shoots Marvin (Phil LaMarr) in the brain after Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) drives too fast over a bump. Oopsies! Hey, it happens to the best of us.
NEXT: Speaking of Sam Jackson...
Deep Blue Sea: Shark Attack
There are a ton of classic lines and scenes from Samuel L. Jackson’s ridiculously prolific career; it’s somewhat disappointing — but understandable — that “I have had it with these motherf**king snakes on this motherf**king plane!” and his ritualistic, bible-quoting monologue from Pulp Fiction continue to overshadow his laugh-out-loud ridiculous death scene in Deep Blue Sea, in which he gets eaten by a genetically engineered shark and screams gloriously. Well, let’s change that!
NEXT: The Brits do it better
Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Flying Bunny
Leave it to the Monty Python gang to inject death with a cocktail of slapstick, irreverence, and hilarity. It’s safe to say that no other movie character has ever been decapitated via flying bunny; it’s also safe to say that this is the funniest, if not most bizarre, death scene in cinematic history. See also: The Meaning of Life, in which Terry Jones fatally eats a mint.
NEXT: The great 'Alien' spoof
Spaceballs: Dancing Alien
Alien had the disturbing “chestburger” scene, in which a little monster springs from John Hurt’s chest and darts across the room. Its spoof, Spaceballs, has pretty much the same thing, with the same actor(!), only this alien throws on a top hat and performs the hell out of “Hello, My Baby.” Both work on this list, but comedy wins out, at least for us. A very close runner-up in the otherworldly-lifeforms-popping-out-of-chests department is Kuato from Total Recall.
NEXT: Brad Pitt gets hit
Meet Joe Black: Cars
Brad Pitt plays Death, and cars play Ping-Pong with his body in what many consider to be the best scene of Meet Joe Black. Which isn’t meant as a compliment. It’s worth noting that this scene might not be considered so bizarre if it wasn’t the umpteen-time Sexiest Man Alive getting run over in uber-violent fashion and/or it wasn’t preceded by said pretty A-lister daydreaming in the middle of a city street with a “romantic longing” score playing in the background. But it is.
NEXT: The franchise ABOUT bizarre deaths
Final Destination Franchise: Any Death
By nature, virtually every death throughout the entire Final Destination series must be of the bizarre persuasion; otherwise, the movies would be utterly unwatchable instead of just laughably awful. One of our recent faves? Nick Zano’s disembowelment at the, uh, hands of a pool drain in 2009’s The Final Destination. If we had a nickel for every time we've heard one of those stories…
NEXT: Humans aren't the only creatures to die in bizarre fashion
Nonhumans aren’t immune to dying bizarrely on the big screen, as we saw in this 1984 Steven Spielberg-produced blockbuster — in which the titular monsters are fatally stabbed, pureed, and, most awesomely, microwaved… in the same scene.
NEXT: Rose McGowan's gonna need a bigger dog door.
Scream: Garage Door
We all knew Wes Craven’s meta-horror comedy would serve up at least one bizarre death scene. Ultimately, there were several, but our favorite is the one in which Rose McGowan’s unsuspecting bombshell Tatum Riley is snuffed out by the garage door — courtesy of “Mr. Ghostface.” And the dog flap.
Piranha 3DD Star Katrina Bowden Talks Gross-Out Scenes and David Hasselhoff Cameo
Just in time for today's release of the one of the summer's best comedies, Bridesmaids, we caught up with one of the stars of the film, Wendi McLendon-Covey. She took a few minutes away from working on set for her upcoming arc on CBS' Rules of Engagement to tell us about her pistol of a character, Rita, and share a little about her longtime friend and costar Melissa McCarthy in light of recent Emmy win.
It’s kind of an incredible cast put together here. How did you fit into that? How did you get involved [with Bridesmaids]?
They wrote—this is what they said; they keep saying it, so I believe them now—they said they wrote the roll with me in mind. I knew Annie [Mumolo] and Kristen [Wiig] from the Groundlings. In fact, I met Kristen and Maya [Rudolph] and Melissa at a wedding shower, of all things, ten years ago because of the Groundlings. So that was weird.
Yeah, right? So, they wrote it. And five years ago, I went to the table read and I read this character. So, it was really fun. And then the movie was on, and then it was off, and blah, blah, blah. Then, last year, I was called into audition for it. And I thought, “Oh my gosh, it’s so nice that they’re even bringing me in.” You know? Because I’m not an A-lister, and obviously with Judd Apatow, you can get A-listers. I came in and read for it a couple of times. Every time I went in, there was someone else more famous in the waiting room. But I kept coming back, and eventually it was mine. I was thrilled. And it was great, because I got to work with a lot of my friends, and I know how they work, and we can all improvise really well together. It was such a blessing.
Did anything from that original wedding shower make it in, as some sort of inside joke, to the Bridesmaids wedding shower?
No. All of that was completely fresh!
Your character is one of the most interesting characters—well, they’re all incredibly interesting. She’s very unique. What was your favorite thing about playing Rita?
My favorite thing is that I’m not a mom myself. So all I did was listen to other people, eavesdrop; some people say such horrible things about their kids. And then they wonder, “Why do my kids hate me?” It’s like, “Well, I hate you just listening to you now. You’re awful. You’re an awful person.” But I like that as a character to play because we all know someone like that who complains and complains and complains. And there’s nothing really wrong, you know? She’s got a perfectly nice husband. She’s rich. She’s got kids that could be under control if she would do something about it. And all she wants to do is complain about how bad her life is. Like one of the Real Housewives of Orange County. I took a lot of attitude from that.
You watch a lot of Bravo?
Oh yes. Oh yes I do. So, that was really fun.
There’s a part on the DVD where there’s a sort of Line-a-rama. It’s largely yours. It’s the different ways of describing the smell in Rita’s house.
Oh yeah. [Laughs].
For someone who’s not a mother of three boys, there’s quite a world of descriptions in there. Where did you get those from?
Well, you know how sometimes you go to someone’s house and they can’t smell it anymore, but there’s a lot of weird smells that converge? And maybe you haven’t had the wherewithal to break them down, but I do that. “Ew, it smells like mascara and frozen peas!” You know what I mean? And I spend time thinking about these things. So that’s why I had all these things at the ready. Different people’s houses smell like different weird things. God forbid someone should come and nail down what my house smells like. It’d probably be a litter box…sweaty socks…and burnt bacon. That probably is what it smells like.
It sounds like onset you guys were pretty free to ad lib at will.
Oh yeah. Totally.
Was there anything that you were particularly proud of—or something someone else said—but that didn’t make it in, and that you were just dying to see again?
Oh, yeah. There was a whole run of mine and Ellie’s [Kemper] characters on the plane when we were ramping up to that kiss of ours. It got so ugly and stupid and drunk and…just crying, and snot flying, and I thought, “Oh, this is gonna be hilarious.” And I don’t think it made it even onto the DVD, which breaks my heart, because it sure did feel hilarious. And we got a lot of compliments on it the next day, so I thought, “Oh! This is gonna be it!” But it was funny.
Maybe you could use that for inspiration for the sequel.
Maybe so! Oh, I hope there’s a sequel! I really hope there is. I want to work with those girls again. But who knows what’s going to happen?
Have you thought of what you’d want the sequel to be about?
Oh, I’ve got nothing but ideas for a sequel, but you know what? I’ll wait ‘til someone actually asks me. But listen, I’ve got Rita’s character all mapped out. There’s a deep well—for such a shallow lady—of ideas.
As a viewer—you were obviously on the other side when you were making it—but when you finally got to sit down and see the final product, what was your favorite part?
Let’s see…I thought that the whole introduction, the whole engagement party bit, was pretty well put together. I didn’t miss a lot from that. I thought the whole scene was pretty great. From our introductions to the toasts, I thought was pretty great. I would say, the bridal shop scene was pretty good. I was pretty fond of that. But a lot of other stuff that was cut out that I was bummed about was the stuff with her roommates, Kristen’s roommates. The brother and sister. Because they were so weird. But I guess they were just too weird for American audiences. They just didn’t get them? But I love Matt Lucas, and I love Rebel [Wilson]. I was wishing there was more.
Maybe they’ll get their own spinoff.
Maybe so! Maybe.
Were you terrified when you found out about the bridal shop scene?
I wasn’t terrified, but I thought, “Ohh, really? I don’t know…” But then, it was fun! I gotta say, I had fun doing it. I really thought I was gonna hate it, but I loved it. Because I knew it would be funny. It felt funny when it was happening, so…
You were in a tough spot, too, because you were the recipient of someone else’s…illness?
Exactly. But you know what? If that has to happen? Might as well be Ellie.
That was a pretty hilarious combination. Of all the people. Moving onto the bigger picture of what Bridesmaids offers as far as women’s comedy, a lot of people are pegging it as breaking ground in this barrier between male comedy and female comedy. Where do you think it fits in that sort of spectrum?
You know what? At the end of the day, funny is funny. I hope to see the end of all the female clichés that are written in a lot of comedies that are named chick flicks. I even hate that distinction. But to say…there were a lot of discussions like, “Wow, it looks like women really are funny,” blah, blah, blah. Oh, come on! That’s an insult! Tell that to Mary Tyler Moore and Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams. Mae West, Carol Lombard. There’s been plenty—oh, tell it to the cast of Sex & the City. They managed to do very well. It’s just ridiculous. It’s like…I don’t know who’s sitting there figuring out these things, but hopefully what it means is that there will be more interesting casting choices made. I think that’s where Bridesmaids hit the nail right on the head. They went to the unexpected placed with their casting, and it really paid off.
You’ve seen everybody before, but not so much that you were sick of them. Not like, “Oh, I know who she’s sleeping with,” or, “She’s married to so-and-so…” There’s not a big tabloid following of any of those girls. You could just enjoy the story and get lost in the characters. I think that’s the biggest thing that Bridesmaids did.
Definitely. Some of your cast mates recently shot up in popularity. Last night, Melissa McCarthy got her Emmy. Did you predict that? Did you see that coming?
Well, Melissa—you know what’s weird? I’ve only seen her play characters like Megan. We came from the Groundlings together, so I’ve seen the freaky side of Melissa for years! So the weird thing for me is seeing her play a normal person. So now it’s like, great! Now you people can see what she is willing to do. She is fearless. We were all fearless. I think they saw a different side to Rose Byrne, definitely, who only did drama before. And a different side to Kristen [Wiig], a different side to me…I think, you know, Bridesmaids: thank God for it. Thank God they let us do what we do. They were very collaborative with us. Judd Apatow and Paul Feig. They were very gracious about listening to us when we said, “No! Girls don’t do that! Girls would do this! We’re telling you! We have more experience being girls than you do!” And they said okay! It’s been good for all of us.
Would you say that working with Paul, there’s a unique aspect to it? Was it collaborative?
Oh my gosh. Working with Paul? It was just a dream. Because he’s an improviser, too. And he has an acting background. He understands. Sometimes, you’ve got to get into it a little bit. You can’t just say action and expect it all to show up. Especially when you’re improvising. You’ve got to gear up to it. And he’s really good with women, and women are really good with him. He understands girls and he understands actors. Whatever he’s doing, I want to do it. I’ll do an unpaid web series with Paul. Whatever he wants, I’ll show up for it.
I’m sure everyone would love to see that. Get that in the works! Get that going!
Well, I’ve said it, and now it will manifest!
We also chatted with Covey about her upcoming arc on Rules of Engagement and her guest spot on Fox's new series I Hate My Teenage Daughter. Check back next week for the second half of our interview.