The Daily Show has propelled more
comics to fame than just host Jon Stewart. Steve Carell, Ed Helms,
Stephen Colbert, John Oliver (OK, a lot of white guys) and many others
sparked their careers with regular appearances on Comedy Central’s “fake
The Way, Way Back starts right off
with that signature scene from the trailers. Duncan (Liam James), a
slightly awkward 14-year-old, sits in the back of an old station wagon
that belongs to Trent (Steve Carell), the new boyfriend of his mother
Pam (Toni Collette).
David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) reunites with Meryl Streep in Hope Springs,
the story of a couple (Streep and Tommy Lee Jones), married for 30
years, who decide to attend a week-long marriage counseling program with
a renowned therapist (Steve Carell) in order to renew their spark.
Cal is the latest Steve Carell iteration from directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (the writing/directing combo behind 'I Love You Phillip Morris') facing his moment on the precipice. Having completed dinner with his wife Emily (Julianne Moore), he proposes that, on the count of three, they offer up the first thing that comes to mind. He's scanning dessert options; she asks for a divorce. Grade: B-.
Great comic pairings don't come along often, yet Steve Carell and Paul Rudd strike a snappy chemistry as straight-man Tim Conrad (Rudd) to funny-man Barry Speck (Carell) in this adaptation of Francis Veber's 'Le Diner du Cons' in 1998. The reason to watch 'Dinner for Schmucks' is to enjoy the off-kilter harmony of two great comedians working off one another in a vaudeville style that's just as fresh today as when Laurel and Hardy or Martin and Lewis did it decades ago. Grade: B.
Despicable criminal mastermind Gru (voice of Steve Carell) wants to set himself apart from his arch-rival Vector (Jason Segel), so he decides to steal the moon by shrinking it down to the size of a trinket that will fit in his pocket. The gags often strain to achieve the effortless brilliance of Bugs Bunny-Elmer Fudd/Road Runner-Coyote classics, but there's lots of fun here, especially in the legion of little yellow minions who attempt to do Gru's bidding. Grade: B.
At first glance, this doesn't seem like the kind of comedy that would succeed or fail on the basis of its stars, but pay close attention to the payoff scenes and consider whether any of it is funny without what Steve Carell and Tina Fey bring to the table. Making a successful Hollywood comedy is sometimes as simple as pointing talented performers in the right direction and getting the hell out of the way. Grade: B-.