Tag Archives: Will Ferrell

Interview: Linda Cardellini talks ‘Daddy’s Home’ on Blu-ray, DVD

Paramount Pictures

By Tim Lammers

There’s no such thing as a sure thing in the movie business. But there’s no question that acclaimed actress Linda Cardellini took a certain amount of comfort from joining the cast of “Daddy’s Home,” given her co-stars, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, had clearly established some comedic chemistry on their hit comedy “The Other Guys.”

“The chemistry worked so well,” Cardellini told me in a recent phone conversation from Los Angeles. “Even hearing the pitch of what the movie was about, I immediately imagined how funny it would be and how perfect the both of them would be for their roles. I knew being in the middle of that would be so much fun.”

New on Blu-ray and DVD (Paramount Home Media Distribution) on Tuesday, “Daddy’s Home” tells the story of Brad Whitaker (Ferrell), a well-intentioned stepfather who goes to extreme lengths to become a father figure to his wife Sara’s (Cardellini) two young children. And while Brad has made minor strides, all his efforts to go hell in a handbasket fast when the kids’ super-cool biological father, Dusty Mayron (Wahlberg), comes back into their lives — creating an intense game of one-upmanship between the two to vie for the children’s love and respect.

Cardellini said she loved how the script and director Sean Anders took her character seriously and made her the voice of reason in the story, instead of giving her a stereotypical role to work with.

“I got to be the sane one, instead of a woman who was an hysterical, airheaded person,” Cardellini said. “Sara is the one holding the family together. She’s at the center of it, trying to keep everybody grounded while all this craziness is going on around her.”

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Cardellini said giving her character that sense of realism was important because, while “Daddy’s Home” is a comedy, it’s still a story that families everywhere live for real every day. There’s no question that the film was a hit in theaters because it’s a tale that’s relatable to its audiences, because if you’re not like Brad, Sara and Dusty already, you know people like them.

“The movie has a lot of heart,” Cardellini said. “What happens in the movie happens for real, with families changing and love changing. For my character, she wants to love somebody and have children with him, and as it turns out, he’s not the right person for her and she finds somebody else who’s better for her. She loves him as well, but then the question is, ‘How do you put all those pieces together and make them work best for the children?'”

Cardellini, 40, said it’s just happenstance that she’s been in the middle of so many family-oriented projects lately. She supplied the voice of Wendy Corduroy in the hit Disney XD animated series “Gravity Falls,” which recently wrapped up, and also made a surprise appearance as Laura Barton, the wife of Marvel superhero Hawkeye, (Jeremy Renner) in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Even her acclaimed Netflix series, “Bloodline,” which enters its second season at the end of May, has a family angle to it, albeit far from the comedic tone of “Daddy’s Home.”

Cardellini said no matter the subject matter, she’s happy to continue to have the opportunities to work with talented people.

“What I love about being an actress is that you can move from project to project and do different things, and that’s always what’s appealed to me about the work,” Cardellini said. “It’s fun to work on a drama like ‘Bloodline,’ and then on my hiatus I get to work on a broad comedy like ‘Daddy’s Home.’ As an actress, that’s one of my goals. Plus, I get to work with incredibly talented people. That’s what I look for, the chance to surround myself with people that can inspire me. For the finite number of my days here, I want to do what I love and be around people I enjoy and admire, and I’ve been fortunate to do that.”

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Movie reviews: ‘Deadpool,’ ‘Zoolander No. 2’

20th Century Fox
By Tim Lammers

“Deadpool” (R) 4 stars (out of 4)

The Marvel Comics superhero movie genre has turned a big page with “Deadpool,” an insanely entertaining origins story of the anti-hero superhero that erases the stained memories of the character’s big-screen debut in “X-Men Origins” in 2009. Oddly enough, “Deadpool” star Ryan Reynolds also played the “Merc with a Mouth” in that film — which was trashed by fans – but makes things right with this gritty, F-bomb-laden, ultra-violent and hilarious R-rated adaptation of the comic book icon.

Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, an ex-Special Forces op who, after meeting and falling in love with former call girl Vanessa Carlysle (a stunning Morena Baccarin), is diagnosed with terminal cancer. But through a mysterious invitation, Wade is given a chance at a cure that involves a sadistic experiment that turns him into a mutant with miraculous healing capabilities. Unfortunately, the treatment left him horribly scarred, leading him on a path of revenge in the guise of a blood-red suited vigilante he names “Deadpool.”

Interview: Morena Baccarin talks ‘Deadpool’

Reynolds, whose career has been uneven in the past few years (including the lukewarm movie version of “The Green Lantern”), makes a storming comeback here, and he’s clearly in his element every minute he’s onscreen. If there ever was an actor to the-bad-guy-who-Fs-up-the-worse-guys, Reynolds is it. As entertai

ning as Reynolds is, he gives plenty of room for his supporting cast to shine, which includes the hilarious T.J. Miller as his wise-cracking best buddy and confidant, Weasel, and Ed Skrein as the scientist, Ajax, who unsuccessfully failed in his bid to turn Wade into a killing machine for his own, sick purposes. MMA star Gina Carano also packs wallop as Ajax’s deadly assistant, Angel, and Stefan Kapicic and Brianna Hildebrand create a welcome X-Men presence as Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, respectively.

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“Zoolander No. 2” (PG-13) 2 stars (out of 4)

There’s a scene early on in “Zoolander No. 2” where long lost fashion stars Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) are invited back to the runway for what seems to be their comeback, but instead are duped into wearing costumes that come with the labels “Old” and “Lame.”

Old and lame. Got that right.

Sadly, lame is the best way to describe “Zoolander No. 2,” the long-awaited sequel to the hilarious 2001 original. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many places to take vacuous characters like Derek and Hansel, because if they do become self-aware or smarter, for example, they simply wouldn’t be Derek and Hansel.

There’s a reason it took 15 years for this movie to make it the big-screen, and the new film – which manufactures a plot around a “chosen one” male model — is utterly disappointing. Filled with forced humor and multiple meaningless (and sometimes embarrassing) star cameos, the film only comes off as mildly entertaining thanks to the wild antics of Will Ferrell (returning as fashion mogul Mugatu) and Kristen Wiig as a Donatella Versace-like designer with some tricks up her sleeve.

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Quick Takes:

“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” (PG-13) 3 stars (out of 4)

“The Finest Hours” 3 1/2 stars (PG-13) (out of 4)

“Kung Fu Panda 3” (PG) 3 stars (out of 4)

“Where to Invade Next” (R) 1/2 star (out of 4)

Interview: Screenwriter Brian Burns talks ‘Daddy’s Home’

Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell in 'Daddy's Home' (inset Brian Burns) Photos: Paramount Pictures

By Tim Lammers

Although the film’s a comedy, getting a chance to write about his experiences as a step-father for “Daddy’s Home” was in an odd sort of way cathartic for filmmaker Brian Burns. After all, it was a rare opportunity to confront through laughs the sort of position he and countless other stepfathers have been in, dealing with their wives’ exes when children are involved.

“It’s funny, it was not only therapeutic, it provided a good goal for me to set as I was writing it. I knew that once I had the idea of writing it, the best version of the story is the two dads figure out a way to come together in the end and work together. The feel-good family lesson of it would be, ‘Two dads are better than one.’ I put that out there in the universe as a goal for all of us in real life.”

Of course, Burns also knows that real life is a bit more complicated than that, and in “Daddy’s Home” we get to see the extremes to which Will Ferrell’s and Mark Wahlberg’s characters go to win the approval of young children in a blended family.

Fortunately, that wasn’t entirely the case in Burns’ experience as a stepdad.

“My stepkids’ father and I never went to the lengths Will and Mark go to in the picture, but we were complete, total opposites,” Burns said. “The idea came from that, and thanks to my incessant curiosity with my wife, I asked myself, ‘I do not understand how you were married to him and then married to me?’ We have nothing in common other than we are two humans.”

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Opening in theaters Christmas Day, Ferrell stars as Brad Whitaker, a successful radio executive who, despite good intentions, tries too hard to be a good father to his two young stepchildren. Thanks to the encouragement and support of his wife, Sara (Linda Cardellini), Brad seems to be making slow but sure progress, until Sara’s ex-husband, the children’s biological father, Dusty Mayron, shows up on their doorstep.

With his sparkling charisma and effortless ability to wow his kids, Dusty’s bad boy presence (and refusal to leave) kicks off a twisted rivalry between him and the man trying to raise the youngsters, and it appears that nothing is off-limits in their bids to win the kids’ approval.

Burns certainly is no stranger to the entertainment business, having served as a writer and executive producer on such smash TV hits as “Blue Bloods,” and writer and producer on HBO’s “Entourage.” And despite the comedy edge he brought to the table with the latter show, Burns admitted he felt a bit intimidated pitching the idea of “Daddy’s Home” to Ferrell and one of his production partners, Adam McKay.

“That was an incredible experience — the most fun and the most terrifying,” recalled Burns, the brother of filmmaker Edward Burns. “I went into a room and pitched Adam and Will, and tried to make these two comedy giants laugh. It was really terrifying, but they were  great. A few minutes into my pitch, and Will and Adam were up on their feet and improvising scenes. It was one of the greatest experiences of my career.”

Burns said his ultimate wish-fulfillment came, though, when Ferrell agreed to star in the film.

“On one of the first dates my wife and I went on, we went to see ‘Elf.’ I told her, ‘My dream is to one day write a Will Ferrell movie.’ But I was no place near to doing that at that point in my career as a young writer,” Burns said. “So, Will was always my first choice for this movie.”

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Movie reviews: ‘Concussion,’ ‘The Big Short,’ ‘Daddy’s Home’

Alec Baldwin and Will Smith in 'Concussion' (photo - Sony Pictures)

By Tim Lammers

“Concussion” (PG-13) 3 1/2 stars (out of four)

Will Smith’s career is back in focus with “Concussion,” the compelling true story of revered pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu (Smith) and his earth-shattering discovery that connected severe brain damage – diagnosed and termed as chronic traumatic enchepolapthy (CTE) – to repeated concussions in NFL players. Based in Pittsburgh, Omalu first made the correlation after the untimely death of Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame center Mike Webster (a barely recognizable David Morse), and the subsequent deaths of other NFL players.

Not surprisingly, NFL officials don’t want to confront the issue, and do their best to discredit Omalu and his colleagues to protect its vast business interests. The supporting cast is stellar, including strong performances by Albert Brooks as famed pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht and Alec Baldwin as former Steelers team physician Dr. Julian Bailes – who helped Omalu convince the NFL of the problem. Save a horribly miscast Luke Wilson as current NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, “Concussion” is a riveting, must-see movie whether you’re a fan of the NFL or not.

“The Big Short” (R) 3 1/2 stars (out of four)

Director Adam McKay impressively steps away from his normal world of Will Ferrell comedy fare and channels the filmmaking expertise of Martin Scorsese in the process with “The Big Short” – a searing portrait of four groups of Wall Street outsiders who envisioned the burst of the housing bubble in 2008 and tried to stick it to the big banks in the process.

In their turns as the outsiders, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling are at their best, and Steve Carell continues to impress in yet another stunning dramatic turn on the heels of his Oscar-nominated role in “Foxcatcher” last year. Moving at breakneck pace throughout, “The Big Short” contains lots of complex Wall Street jargon, but McKay creatively works in star cameos to break things down in layman’s terms. The film, while entertaining in the way it is presented, is infuriating at the same time.

“Daddy’s Home” (PG-13) 3 stars out of four

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg reteam after the hilarious romp “The Other Guys” with “Daddy’s Home,” a wonderfully sweet comedy about a doting yet hapless step-father (Ferrell) who must deal with the return of the children’s far cooler biological dad (Wahlberg). We’ve seen both actors play these sorts of roles before, but familiarity aside, there’s no question the pairing works wonders here as the two dads engage in a nasty game of one-upsmanship to win the affection of the kids and their mother. “Daddy’s Home” is far from perfect, but it’s an enjoyable movie nonetheless.