The 2013 Sundance Film Festival is tons of fun (Industry parties! Woooo!), but let’s remember that this is also the festival that brought us films like Winter’s Bone, Restrepo, West of Memphis, and The Sessions. Don’t get me wrong, these are all terrific films, but they’re all kind of a bummer to watch. Without losing sight of the fact programs some of the finest provocative and challenging films, the experience gets emotionally taxing pretty quickly. Luckily, there are a number of movies playing that will snap you out of the “Suffered-through-a-3-hour-documentary-on-human-rights-violations” blues. Check out our top picks, in no particular order, for fun flicks at the fest!
5. Hell Baby – Directors Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant
Tom Lennon & Robert Ben Garrant are finally taking a break from counting the money they’ve earned writing family friendly studio tent-pole movies! This time, they’ve teamed up to write and direct Hell Baby, the story of a young couple who move into a house that has been cursed by demons, and enlist the help of the Vatican’s top exorcists to cleanse their home. In addition to the Night at the Museum movies, Lennon and Garant played substantial parts in the hit TV show Reno 911 and cult smash The State, and it’s exciting to see them return to grown-up comedy and make a movie of their own. They’ve also bolstered the cast with some of comedy’s top performers like The Daily Show‘s Rob Courdry, The League’s Paul Scheer, Human Giant’s Rob Huebel, Key & Peele’s Keegan Michael Key, and Garfunkle & Oates’ Ricki Lindholme. Also, rumor has it that Lindholme has a nude scene. So that’s a plus, right?
4. In a World - Director Lake Bell
Lake Bell’s In A World is another Sundance film with an excellent comedy pedigree. Bell, who stars on Adult Swim’s “Children’s Hospital,” brings together co-stars Rob Corddry and Ken Marino, as well comedians Demitri Martin, and Michaela Watkins, in this story of a voice-over actress, struggling to launch her career. The film also stars Fred Melamed, who is one of those character actors with an instantly recognizable face, and scene stealing presence. Hopefully this film balances inward reflection with quick wit and fun characters, which will make it a good follow up for the documentary about the murder of an abortion doctor in Kansas.
3. Afternoon Delight – Director Jill Soloway
Jill Soloway just might turn out to be the female Judd Apatow. Or maybe the Diablo Cody you could bring home to your Jewish mother. I dunno, either way, she’s a strong voice among TV writers, whose characters are both uniquely quirky and highly relatable. After working on Six Feet Under, The United States of Tara, and How to Make It In America, she has entered the realm of feature films with Afternoon Delight, a film about a bored housewife who employs a stripper as a housekeeper, hoping it will help turn both their lives around. The film stars comedy character actress Katherine Hahn (Step Brothers, Wanderlust, Parks & Recreation), who steals every last scene of every project she’s been in to date, and I’m thrilled to see her heading up a movie. Hopefully this year’s idiotic annual “Can women actually be funny?” debate will include this film and these two talented ladies.
2. S-VHS - Directors Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans, Jason Eisner
V/H/S premiered last year to generally favorable reviews, as well as some very visceral reactions from audiences. It was the story of a group of petty thieves who discovered a cache of video tapes, each containing a different horrifying story. Now while I’m not a big fan of found footage films, I am a fan of vignette films. And although it’s unfortunate that the shorts programs at Sundance don’t receive quite the attention they deserve, a project like this is a great way to showcase an entire group of filmmakers flexing their skills in the horror genre. Also, after being inundated with high minded personal dramas, a good horror flick is definitely enough to bring you back down to earth.
1. The Way, Way Back – Directors Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Jim Rash & Nat Faxon enter the festival with their follow up to their Oscar winning The Descendants with the coming-of-age story of an awkward young boy struggling to find himself while surrounded by adults. If their previous effort is any indication, Faxon & Rash’s understated, humane sensibilities will create droll, vulnerable characters learning exactly what it means to be a decent person. The film also boasts a strong comedic cast, featuring Steve Carrell, Allison Janney, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, and Maya Rudolph.
There are also plenty of other movies we’re excited about, so keep checking in for the latest updates, reviews, features, and interviews! Hooray!
For more info on the films at the festival, including showtimes, check out the Sundance Film Festival’s Website!