I don't know how they did it, but the British are the top purveyors of comedy. They have a knack for turning anything—be it daily office work, life as a political aid or growing up as an only child—into a hilarious romp.
And as far as the British go, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are two of the grandmasters. Need proof? Check out this exclusive clip from their movie The Trip (a film that's been impressing everyone since it premiered as a TV series in their home country and ran the festival circuit in America), which sees the pair zipping around the country on a restaurant tour. Eating, drinking and chatting it up—think My Dinner with Andre with even more hilarity.
The Trip is currently available on SundaceNow on demand and Netflix Watch Instantly!
The Trainspotting star, who is a keen motorcyclist, decided to make a grand entrance for his interview with host Jonathan Ross.
The other guests on the show - Coogan, Barlow and the Take That star's The X Factor co-judge Tulisa Contostavlos - were asked to lie flat on the studio floor next to each other while McGregor clambered onto a motorbike.
The audience members were then left aghast as McGregor sped towards a ramp and jumped over the three stars.
The actor then stripped off his protective biking gear and threw it into the crowd, before taking a seat opposite Ross on the interview sofa.
And it's not the only stunt McGregor carried out on the night - he also shocked viewers as he puckered up in red lipstick, before smooching with the host after asking him if he'd ever kissed a man before.
McGregor asked Ross, "Have you ever kissed a man? Do you want to kiss me now?" The pair then locked lips twice before ending the interview.
The Tropic Thunder star launched legal action against the editors of now-defunct U.K. tabloid the News of the World over claims his voice mail messages were improperly accessed.
The publication, which was run by embattled mogul Rupert Murdoch, closed in July (11) after 168 years in print, but Coogan refuses to let those responsible for hacking off the hook.
He tells Britain's Guardian newspaper, "Because I'm a more populist person and I reach a more generalised audience that goes beyond broadsheets I can help keep it in the popular imagination and I will do everything in my power to keep it in the popular imagination."
The comic also reveals he has snubbed an offer from lawyers for News Group, the subsidiary that owned News of the World, to settle the case. He estimates the battle has cost him more than $160,000 (£100,000) so far.
He adds, "It (the settlement) wouldn't have covered the costs but it would have taken the sting out of what I'd spent."
Liam Hooper is shooting a $1,600 (£1,000) film for his A-Level exams in the U.K., and tried his luck by sending off the script to the Night at the Museum star.
And the 17 year old was stunned when Coogan replied, asking for a cameo in the project.
Hooper tells Britain's Daily Mirror, "I thought he might like my tongue-in-cheek script. But I never thought he'd agree to take part. All I can say is he appears at a pivotal moment."
The man-child: a staple character for modern comedy and notoriously known for being played one-note. They get the laugh they get out.
But turning the lovable goofball or zoned-out knucklehead into something more is no easy task—which makes Paul Rudd's work in Our Idiot Brother that much more impressive. Rudd's Earth-friendly farmer Ned (the closest thing to a new Lebowski we've seen since the original) finds himself down on his luck after being entrapped by a police officer looking for pot. After a stint in jail he abandons his rural hippie commune for the big city to take shelter with his three sisters. Unfortunately for Ned his three siblings Liz (Emily Mortimer) Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) are as equally displaced and confused from the ebb and flow of life—albeit with severely different perspectives of the world.
Liz struggles to put her kid in private school and keep her marriage to documentary filmmaker/scumbag Dylan (Steve Coogan) intact. Miranda claws her way to the top of Vanity Fair's editorial staff and shuns her flirtatious neighbor (Adam Scott). Natalie stresses over her commitment issues with girlfriend Cindy (Rashida Jones) leaving little time or patience for Ned's bumbling antics. Sound like a lot of plot? While the manic lives of Ned's sisters click symbolically with his journey to get back on his feet it makes for one sporadic narrative.
Like a series of vignettes Our Idiot Brother never gels but when director Jesse Peretz finds a moment of unadulterated Nedisms to throw up on screen the movie hits big. Whether it's Ned teaching his nephew how to fight accidentally romancing his sister's interview subject or infiltrating his ex-girlfriend's house to steal his dog Willie Nelson the movie relies heavily on Ned's antics and its smart to do so. But thin throughlines for its supporting don't hold a candle to Rudd doing his thing.
And its a testament to Rudd's versatility—the man has done everything from Shakespeare and raunchy Judd Apatow comedies after all—that makes the movie watchable. Rudd gives dimensionality to his nincompoop character allowing darker emotions to creep in when necessary. There's a point in the film when Ned gives up fighting for his type-A sisters' affection and it's some of the best material Rudd's ever delivered. But like one of Ned's lit joints Our Idiot Brother can quickly fizzle out leading to plodding plot twists and sentimental conclusions. Mortimer Banks and Deschanel are great actresses—here they drift through their scenes and come out in the end changed. Because they have to.
Our Idiot Brother tries to take the Apatow model to the indie scene and comes through with so-so results. Only Rudd's able to find something to latch on to to build upon to warm up to. In an unexpected twist it's the man-child who seems the most grown up.
Hooley was branded the godfather of the Belfast punk scene after setting up a record shop in the 1970s and discovering Teenage Kicks hitmakers The Undertones.
Now his story is to be told in a full-length feature film, co-produced by Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. Northern Irish actor Richard Dormer will take the lead role.
Lightbody tells Mojo magazine, "He lived a crazy life. A really f**king dark, hilarious, wasted life... Terri's an unsung hero. Despite discovering The Undertones, he never sold out... The story is hilarious and touching."
The directors of Little Miss Sunshine are redelivering cinematic glory with the upcoming He Loves Me, about the most despicably relatable frenzy for people in my line of work: writer’s block. Aside from an already compelling theme and winning directorial team of Valeria Faris and Jonathan Dayton, this movie has brought in a pretty impressive cast:
Paul Dano, Little Miss Sunshine’s silent nihilist will lead the way, along with Annette Bening (last year’s Best Actress contender for The Kids Are All Right), Elliott Gould (for the older crowd: M*A*S*H; for the younger: Monica’s and Ross’ dad), Zoe Kazan (It's Complicated), Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood), Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge), Chris Messina (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and Antonio Banderas (you know who that is). Word has it that The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi is in consideration for a part as well.
So, this movie seems to have something for everyone: the old, the young, the hip, the romantic, the nihilistic, the vampirious, the British... and with the duo that cranked out the shockingly good Little Miss Sunshine at the wheel, I'd call this a project with incredible promise.
On Friday, the much-anticipated Super 8 hits theaters and, well honestly, we're still not quite sure what it's about (this is a J.J. Abrams film, after all). But what we do know is that in the film, some kids make a movie that tells a story within the frame of the film's overarching story. That got us thinking, "what other stories use this type of narrative device? And more importantly, what are some of our favorites? Read on for a brief rundown of our favorite stories within stories.
Okay, this film may not have a "story within a story" specifically, but it plays with the idea well enough to be considered. From the brilliant mind of Charlie Kaufman, it follows a protagonist named "Charlie Kaufman" as he attempts to adapt a book called The Orchid Thief. Before he knows it, the story within the book becomes real -- kind of -- and he's lost in a world where he can't even really tell what exactly he's adapting.
One of Mel Brooks' greatest achievements (and that's saying something, considering he's Mel Brooks) plays around with the story-within-a-story concept. In the third act, the climatic fight spills onto an adjacent movie set, and then another, and then finally, the street -- reminding all of those concerned mothers everywhere that this is comedy, not racism.
Any movie with a song called "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" at its forefront is one that deserves some recognition. Steve Coogan's Hamlet 2 may not be as subtle with its "story within a story," but it's still awesome because, well, it kind of makes you want to party with Jesus, and who the heck wouldn't want to party with Jesus?
Men In Black
True, Men In Black doesn't necessarily scream "awesome storytelling" but it's still a fun, entertaining ride that's led by two charming men in Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. But where's the story within a story? At the end of the film, the camera pulls back, back and back some more until it's revealed that the galaxies we all live in (which held the story we just watched) are just an alien's marbles; a small part of a much larger game of life.
Synecdoche, New York
Oh, hey, another Charlie Kaufman film, but that's not too surprising considering he's pretty much the king of meta. In Synecdoche, New York -- in the same vein as Adaptation -- an artist gets lost in his own world. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a theater director who surprisingly lands the MacArthur Fellowship, giving him all the financial means to pursue his art the way he's always wanted - resulting in a play within a play within a play within a play within a--well, you get it.
Waiting For Guffman
Christopher Guest -- the king of mockumentaries -- might have his best one in Waiting for Guffman. Granted, the film does play with a lot of inside jokes that only those weird theater kids from college might get, but it also does a pretty great job at making fun of all those weird theater kids from college. Centering on a community theater in small town Missouri, Guest plays Corky St. Clair -- an "artiste" -- as he puts together a musical for the community called Red, White and Blaine, a musical that may not be quite as good as he thinks.
The vastly underrated comedy Galaxy Quest does a wonderful job playing with the concept of a story within a story. The film centers on the cast of a cult television show similar to Star Trek as they're abducted by real aliens in order to fight some other ET's. Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman manage to mock themselves, their fictional doppelgangers and save the world all at the same time.
Shutter Island is no Mean Streets or Raging Bull, but it's still a Martin Scorsese film led by Leonardo DiCaprio so it's probably better than most. Following a US Marshal named Teddy Daniels as he investigates the weird happenings of an island used to house the criminally insane just off the shore in Boston Harbor, Things get weirder and weird, until it's finally revealed that (SPOILER) the events happening are all just in his head (END SPOILER).
Coogan will reportedly play the London strip club tycoon in Raymond in Paul Raymond's Wonderful World Of Erotica.
Winterbottom and the actor also teamed up to make quirky comedy A Cock And Bull Story.
The Raymond film is an adaptation of Paul Willet's biography Members Only: The Life And Times Of Paul Raymond.
Raymond opened the U.K.'s first strip club, Raymond Revue Bar, in 1958. He also published the magazines Razzle, Mayfair and Men Only. He died in 2008.
The Love Actually star was named Best Supporting Actor for his role as Dr. Watson in U.K. TV series Sherlock, which was also voted the Best Drama Series at the London ceremony.
Accepting his prize, Freeman told the audience, "I know it's very fashionable to say you don't care about this stuff but I'm very chuffed (happy)."
The actor flew in for the ceremony from New Zealand where he's filming the Lord of The Rings prequel, The Hobbit.
Other big winners at the prizegiving included funnyman Steve Coogan, who accepted Best Male Comic Performance for The Trip, and comedienne Jo Brand who won the female equivalent for hospital sitcom Getting On.
The BAFTA TV Awards, held at the Grosvenor House in the British capital, celebrate the best in TV programmes.