With movie theatres reopening, and then closing, and then who-knows-what, there is comfort in knowing that, thanks to streaming and video-on-demand, we can all program our own double (or triple, or quadruple) bills at home. Here are this weekend’s best at-home cinema bets for a few much-needed laughs.
Get Him to the Greek, Crave with Starz If there is one truth in today’s Hollywood, aside from the maxim “PANIC!” then it’s the fact that studios have walked away from the comedy game. The producers of this year’s only big-ish comedy, Judd Apatow’s The King of Staten Island, didn’t even bother to wait until theatres might be open next year – they just plunked the movie straight on VOD this spring. So it’s nice to remember a time when studios actually wanted people to laugh out loud in a crowded theatre, which is where Get Him to the Greek comes in. The 2010 Jonah Hill and Russell Brand vehicle, a loose spinoff of 2008′s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, is one of the most purely funny films of this young century: a genuine and determined effort to pack as much laughter into its 109 charming minutes as possible. Even for those who cannot stand the British bad-boy Brand will find something to love here – in particular one scene involving a hotel room, opium and an adrenalin needle.
The Dictator, Netflix Before Sacha Baron Cohen unleashes his filmed-in-secret Borat sequel upon the world later this month on Amazon Prime Video, revisit the comic provocateur’s second-most overlooked effort (after the truly gross, but very funny, The Brothers Grimsby). Released in 2012, this political satire disappointed those hoping for more of Cohen’s real-world antics, even though the scripted comedy is sharper and more vicious than most of his Ali G shtick. Once again working with his Borat and Bruno director Larry Charles, Cohen crafts a hilarious sucker-punch of a movie, one that will upend any moviegoer who thinks they might have a handle on either America or the Middle East.
They Came Together, Amazon Prime Video Director David Wain has been keeping extremely busy helping Netflix keep its absurd-comedy niche alive and humming (Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later, Medical Police, A Futile and Stupid Gesture). But it is on Amazon where the filmmaker’s masterpiece can currently be found: 2014′s They Came Together, a send up of rom-com tropes that doesn’t so much satirize the genre as twist it inside out until it’s unrecognizable. Regular Wain conspirators Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler and, memorably, Michael Shannon turn an indescribable concept into something unforgettable.
Faith Based, VOD Speaking of complicated comedy: How do you satirize something that seems impervious to self-awareness? That’s the challenge facing Vincent Masciale’s new showbiz comedy Faith Based, which takes aim at the subgenre of evangelical movies where no problem is too big for the healing power of Jesus, unbelievers be damned. But instead of preaching to the secular choir, Masciale and writer/star Luke Barnett poke equal fun at the mainstream industry’s ambitions and pretensions. Clever without being condescending and featuring solid turns from David Koechner, Jason Alexander and even The Wire’s secret comedy weapon Lance Reddick, Faith Based is salvation-on-demand.
Plan your screen time with the weekly What to Watch newsletter. Sign up today.