Ben Stiller

The 10 Oddest Elvis-Inspired Movies Of All Time

Into the barren wasteland of late August and early September comes this week’s sole new wide movie release, and you’re forgiven for knowing nothing about it. It’s called The Identical, and it is kinda sorta weirdly about Elvis, except not! There’s a long tradition of this sort of thing — few pop culture figures have inspired more cinematic hypotheticals, dramatizations, and all-out fictions. Here are a few of the weirder ones. … Read More

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10 Wildly Unsuccessful Movie Reunions

Buried among this week’s DVD and Blu-ray releases is a movie that, by the looks of it, was supposed to be one of the summer’s big hits: Blended, the third onscreen teaming of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Their first film, 1998’s The Wedding Singer, reshaped Sandler into a romantic lead and got him less-vicious-than-usual reviews, while grossing $80 million domestic; its follow-up, 2004’s 50 First Dates, did $120 million. But stars can fall over a decade, and Sandler and Barrymore’s big reunion was a big disappointment, only pulling $46 million total (barely more than First Dates’ first weekend). In other words, lightning doesn’t always strike twice, and for every Hope and Crosby or Redford and Newman, there are plenty of cinematic reunions that didn’t quite pan out. … Read More

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The 25 Best Sports Comedies Ever Made

These kinds of things are always hard to say definitively, due to rampant deterioration and poor documentation, but Harold Lloyd’s 1925 masterpiece The Freshman may well have been the cinema’s first sports comedy. It was certainly the first sports comedy to prove a monster hit, setting up nearly 90 years of athletics-related laughs at the movies. In celebration of The Freshman’s Blu-ray and DVD release today (thanks to our good friends over at the Criterion Collection), here’s a look at some of the finest and funniest sports comedies ever made. … Read More

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‘Reality Bites’ vs. ‘Singles': Which ’90s Comedy Is the Quintessential Gen-X Film?

There are two groundbreaking early-’90s movies that defined Gen X’s sensibilities, but which is the generation’s seminal romantic comedy? On the one hand, there’s Cameron Crowe’s Singles: released in 1992 to moderate success, the film followed a group of single people in Seattle set against the burgeoning grunge movement (Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell both turn up in cameo roles). Then there’s Reality Bites: Ben Stiller directorial debut, which premiered 20 years ago this week, offers a love triangle between three young Houstonites featuring quintessential ’90s icon Winona Ryder at the center. (It also includes some recognizable cameos: Dave Pirner and Evan Dando play bit parts, as do Andy Dick and David Spade). In commemoration of the latter’s anniversary, I asked my friend and freelance writer Ryan Creed to join me in a very important cinematic debate: which is better, Singles or Reality Bites? … Read More

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An Oral History of ‘Reality Bites’

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20 Overlooked Romantic Comedies From the Last Two Decades

Earlier this week, New York magazine’s Bilge Ebiri and David Edelstein ranked the top 25 romantic comedies that have come out since 1989’s When Harry Met Sally…, which, one could argue, set the standard for contemporary romantic comedies. Since every list of this sort inspires arguments and nitpicks, I thought I’d go ahead and take the bait. Here are 20 great films that were sadly… Read More

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13 Great Anti-Valentine’s Day Movies You Can Stream Right Now

If you’re dating or married, Valentine’s Day can be a high-stress holiday: figuring out what to get your partner, how much is trying too hard, how much isn’t trying enough, where to go, what to do, what not to do, and whether this really is the right night to bring up that previously unmentioned lovechild. But if you’re, shall we say, between partners, February 14 is a miserable day indeed, an interminable blizzard of flowers and candy and bullshit. Who needs it? So if you’d like to shy away from the syrupy romantic fare typical of Valentine’s Day movie-watching, fear not; here are a baker’s dozen anti-romantic movies for your weekend… Read More

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20 Years Later, ‘Reality Bites’ Is Still a Perfect Portrait of Aimless Early Adulthood

If you think the current zeitgeist is oversaturated with millennials and listless, post-graduate 20-somethings of the Hannah Horvath ilk, just turn your nostalgia dial back two decades to February 1994, when Ben Stiller’s directorial debut, Reality Bites, premiered. Slackers and Generation X were a full-on obsession in the early ’90s, and no other movie of the decade depicts the culture so well — the characters’ meandering through professional and romantic disasters, their all-consuming nostalgia for the pop-cultural items of their childhoods, and, most importantly, the eclectic range of music they listened to, fueled by the cable music network boom (parodied in the film with In Your Face TV). It’s those elements that not only encapsulate the generation the characters represent, but make Reality Bites just as relevant 20 years later.  … Read More

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Ben Stiller on ‘Zoolander': Its Origins, Its Appeal, and Its (Possible) Sequel

Over the weekend, tied to the upcoming release of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the Film Society of Lincoln Center presented “Ben Stiller Directs,” a survey of the actor/filmmaker’s work behind the camera. After appearing at Saturday night’s Mitty screening, Stiller stuck around to introduce what is possibly his most beloved film, the male-model cult comedy classic, Zoolander. … Read More

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Ben Stiller’s ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ Is Sweet, Warm, But Not Quite Great

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which made its world premiere at the New York Film Festival Saturday, is one of those projects that’s been knocking around Hollywood for a while. It began as a slender story by James Thurber way back in 1939, first adapted (very loosely) for Danny Kaye in 1947. This current iteration has been in development since 1994; Jim Carrey, Owen Wilson, Mike Myers, Zach Braff, and Sacha Baron Cohen have all been attached to star, while Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Chuck Russell, and Gore Verbinski (among others) were slotted to direct. Now, at long last, here is the film, directed by and starring Ben Stiller, whose take on the material neither remakes Kaye nor returns to Thurber. This script, Stiller said after the media screening Saturday afternoon, “didn’t try to redo what had already been done very well by Danny Kaye. And obviously I didn’t want to do that; nobody would want to see me attempt to do that.” … Read More

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