Boxtrolls Interview with LAIKA Filmmakers: Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable

While I was at my super top secret set visit of the Boxtrolls I had the chance to interview Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable the directors of Boxtrolls. They are both so very passionate about the film and what they get to do over there at LAIKA. I mean they created The Boxtrolls, a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who have lovingly raised an orphaned human boy named Eggs (voiced by Isaac Hempstead-Wright) in the amazing cavernous home they’ve built beneath the streets of Cheesebridge. And they did a FANTASTIC job.  So here are a few things that I learned during that lunch!

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The story actually came from a book called “Here Be Monsters”. I had no idea there was a book about Boxtrolls. Laika acquired almost 10 years ago when the company first began. The book is over 500 pages long and it took them quite a while to chisel it down and decide on how they wanted to tell the story. In the end they ended up with something that is nothing like the book at all, but it did spark the ideas!

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It takes quite a bit of time to finish a stop motion movie. An animator typically took 1 week to complete 3.7 seconds worth of footage, which is just under 90 individual frames. Divide that by 87 minutes of run time (87 minutes of run time Times 60 seconds = 5220 seconds) = about 1400 weeks. Good thing they have more than one person able to work on the footage at one time right?

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A few interesting facts we learned about the costumes for the puppets was that there are 14 different fabrics in Lord Portley-Rind’s white hat and that the movie’s smallest costumes were for Eggs as a baby: the sweater, measuring 3.5” from cuff to cuff across the length of both arms and chest, and the baby socks measuring 5/8” long. Imagine that? The scale of this movie was so small and the details in it were amazing. Really, the details were amazingly intricate.

Boxtrolls is different from all their other movies. This one isn’t going to be as intense but it’s still going to tell a great story.

The Hundred Foot Journey Gourmet Getaway Sweepstakes #GourmetGetaway

This is a partnered post with Cost Plus World Market in partnership with Disney and the film release of The Hundred Foot Journey on August 8th.

The Hundred Foot Journey is about one restaurant owner being threatened by a new restaurant of Indian Food that she actually thinks is kind of tacky. But a relationship develops and things change for both sides.

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Official Summary:

In “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) is a culinary ingénue with the gastronomic equivalent of perfect pitch. Displaced from their native India, the Kadam family, led by Papa (Om Puri), settles in the quaint village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the south of France. Filled with charm, it is both picturesque and elegant – the ideal place to settle down and open an Indian restaurant, Maison Mumbai. That is, until the chilly chef proprietress of Le Saule Pleureur, a Michelin-starred, classical French restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Academy Award®-winner Helen Mirren) gets wind of it.

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For us here at MomStart this is what we call the perfect campaign. You know that I go on almost every single press trip for Disney and that Zoe and I LOVE to decorate the table for the theme of the month. So working with Cost Plus World Market and Disney at the same time is golden. Plus we get to share with all of you this amazing sweepstakes. But first we get to share with you some amazing recipes. To celebrate World Market’s Gourmet promotion and the theatrical release of The Hundred-Foot Journey, Cost Plus World Market has partnered with celebrity chefs, Ryan Scott (Restaurateur & Host of Food Rush and) and Aarti Sequeira (Author & Host of Aarti Party), to create delicious recipes inspired by the film. The chefs have developed exclusive French and Indian recipes featuring World Market’s gourmet offerings.

French Cuisines (created by Ryan Scott)

    • Berry-Ricotta Crepe Layer Cake

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    • Chicken Roulade Provençale with Whole-Grain Mustard Bearnaise

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    • Orange-Chocolate Almond-Nougat Champagne Trifle

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Indian Cuisines (created by Aarti Sequeira)

  • Channa Masala Hummus

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  • Masala Moules Frites

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  • Chai Coconut Ice Cream with Curry-Chocolate & Ginger Snap Ripple

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And if that wasn’t enough, You could win a Culinary Trip to Paris inspired by the film THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY. Imagine that, a trip to Paris, the city of love and amazing French Food. The Grand Prize is:

· A trip for 2 to Paris courtesy of Delta Vacations ®

· Dinner at the Eiffel Tower and Cruise

· City excursions

· One day private cooking class at Le Cordon Bleu Paris

· $1,000 World Market gift card

· Plus, 3 First Prizes: $500 World Market gift card

The Sweepstakes ends August, 15th, 2014.

Meet The Boxtrolls at The All-American Soap Box Derby World Championship Finals!

Soap Box Derby

If you’re going to be near Akron, Ohio next weekend, you simply must check out the 77th annual All-American Soap Box Derby World Championship finals. The Boxtrolls themselves will be in attendance, driving their own custom-built car, giving fans the chance for a meet & greet, a photo experience and even free Boxtrolls gear! Get all the details below:

America’s iconic FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby holds its 77th annual World Championship finals at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio on Saturday, July 26th – and characters from the Boxtrolls movie will be joining the fun, even racing down the track in their own custom-built car. Focus Features, which releases LAIKA’s family event movie The Boxtrolls nationwide on Friday, September 26th, is partnering with the International Soap Box Derby and inviting families attending the World Championship to explore the fantastical world of The Boxtrolls as an official sponsor of the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby.

At Derby Downs all day Saturday before the final races, fans will be able to meet the Boxtrolls, view the custom-built car on display, get free Boxtrolls gear, check out exclusive sneak preview clips from the new movie, and enter the Boxtrolls’ fantastical home environment with an immersive photo experience. Following the day’s interactive activities, quirky, mischievous creatures Fish, Shoe, and Sparky – in a racer powered by gravity and steered by the Boxtrolls themselves – will make their inaugural run on the speedway course in an exhibition race just before the Derby finals, with thousands of fans cheering the group across the finish line.

During the week-long festival, interactive experiences will include Boxtrolls surprises at the Monday, July 21st “Rock the Rec” event and the Thursday, July 24th “Topside Show,” at which the stunning custom-built soap box car from the world of the Boxtrolls will be unveiled.

The Boxtrolls join a long line of special guests at the Soap Box Derby in Akron who have included Presidents Nixon and Reagan, Academy Award winners James Stewart and Tom Hanks, and NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt. Thousands of local fans and visitors cheer racers from around the world who compete in a variety of divisions, integrating science, technology, engineering, and math into an educational curriculum and event series.

Called “the greatest amateur racing event in the world,” the Soap Box Derby is the preeminent youth racing program, with the World Championship finals held each July at the world-famous Derby Downs in Akron. Girls and boys, ages 7-18, from throughout the U.S. and several foreign countries bring the racers they have built and driven to victory in their home communities.

The first youth Soap Box race in the U.S. was organized in 1934 by a Dayton-based newspaper photographer who expected 19 kids to compete. Instead, a staggering 362 kids showed up with homemade cars built of orange crates, sheet tin, wagon, and baby-buggy wheels to compete in what was to become the first Soap Box Derby.

The sport raced into its heyday over the next several decades, with Boys’ Life reporting in 1959 that 3,000,000 people participated in some form of derby activity each year, including over 160 local derbies and the annual All-American in Akron. For more on the Soap Box Derby and its history, visit www.AASBD.org and read the article at http://www.ohio.com/news/soap-box-derby/75-facts-about-the-all-american-soap-box-derby-1.320480.

Opening nationwide Friday, September 26th, The Boxtrolls is a family event movie from LAIKA, the creators of Coraline and ParaNorman, that introduces audiences to a new breed of family – The Boxtrolls, a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who have lovingly raised an orphaned human boy named Eggs (voiced by Isaac Hempstead Wright of Game of Thrones) in the amazing cavernous home they’ve built beneath the streets of Cheesebridge. When the town’s villain, Archibald Snatcher (Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley), comes up with a plot to get rid of the Boxtrolls, Eggs decides to venture above ground, “into the light,” where he meets and teams up with fabulously feisty Winnie (Elle Fanning of Maleficent). Together, they devise a daring plan to save Eggs’ family. Based upon the book Here Be Monsters, by Alan Snow, The Boxtrolls is directed by Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable and is MPAA-rated PG.

Interview With Jake Kasdan #SexTapeMovie

Group photo with Jake Kasdan

Group photo with Jake Kasdan


Travel consideration provided.

During last week’s trip to LA, a small group of bloggers and I met with director Jake Kasdan to discuss his new comedy, Sex Tape. Kasdan is no stranger to outrageous comedy, working previously on films like Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Bad Teacher, also with Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel. The director told us that working with the same actors was a definite advantage when it came time to make his latest film.

“It was a great headstart on it because we all really knew each other,” said Kasdan of Sex Tape. “We’d had a great experience, the three of us, I knew them both really well and they had sorta broken the ice on the first movie in a way that I think was great. There’s just this great advantage to having an existing relationship. In terms of [the directing] approach, it’s completely different material – we’re having a totally different set of conversations on the subject matter, the jokes and the dynamic between them; we had something new to talk about, but within the context of a sort of way of thinking about it that we’d established together.”

I’m always curious about the process behind filmmaking, especially when it comes to comedy, as it seems like an incredibly challenging genre. “What’s the biggest challenge in filming a comedy like this for you?” I asked Kasdan.

“You’re sort of figuring it out every day – this one was really pleasant, fun thing to work on, you know?” Kasdan replied. “I mean, obviously it’s a great job, but this was an unusually fun movie to make. I think that the thing that we were trying to calibrate going in is – I’ve made a bunch R rated movies that have fairly some fairly edgy sex stuff, and and sometimes a lot of sexuality can make it harder for people to laugh, even if they’re having a good time. It can just make it harder for people to actually laugh at comedy. The experience [of] sitting in a theater, looking at naked movie stars and laughing out loud don’t always go comfortably hand in hand; and it’s not even a balancing act as much as just trying to figure out moment by moment how that works, because we knew that in this movie it was actually the subject matter and you couldn’t be backing away from that, because that’s the whole reason to do it. And that was a big part of the appeal to me, was that it was a really funny way of looking at something really, kind of universal and human: How does a relationship maintain itself through marriage and years and years and kids and lives and all that. I thought it was really [a] legitimately funny way of getting at something that is itself full of a lot of comedy. The big comedy idea lets you get to it in a kinda cool way, and knowing that we knew we had to approach it with the a careful hand at how we were shooting all that stuff and how we were kind of approaching it, so that the sex wouldn’t overpower the comedy and the content.”

One of the ways that Kasdan kept the bawdy humor from overpowering the story was by enlisting a talented cast of supporting actors. “There’s fewer people on this movie than probably anything I’ve ever done,” He explained, “And it obviously puts incredible importance for who you get to play those parts, and I just got this amazing group of people – a lot of them I had worked with or almost worked with [before]. Rob Lowe, I didn’t really know until very recently – I was just a huge fan and thought he’d be hilarious.”

A blogger in attendance said that Lowe’s character, to her, seemed close to things he’s endured in real life. “Like the cocaine and the porn and that kind of stuff – so how comfortable was he playing this role?” she asked.

“Completely comfortable!” Kasdan laughed. “If he had any discomfort about it he didn’t reveal it in any way whatsoever. He loved the part, and he had a really funny idea about how to approach the guy that I thought was sort of inspired. Going off of a couple of conversations we had about what it would be like if he was doing it, it wouldn’t be like the stuffy boardroom guy – Rob is not that, you know? What we sorta came to was sorta more like the Silicon Valley mold, of the inspirational CEO who speaks in New Age platitudes. But it’s like a certain sort of disarming – it doesn’t read as pretentious, exactly, because he’s just smiling so much, kinda friendly you know – it’s like an odd combination of stuff. The thing that Rob does in this most recent phase of his career that’s so different from 20 years ago – like America’s heartthrob guy – is he’s emerged as this brilliant comedy actor, even despite the fact he still looks like that, and yet he’s been funny reliably so many times, starting to me with West Wing. He has this kinda unique space right now where you kinda know he’s gonna be funny, but you really have no idea how.”

Kasdan also discussed some of the small touches that added to the movie’s humor, such as the decor seen in the mansion where Lowe’s character lives (“There was something about the idea of this guy who has these insane kind of like fantasy portraits of himself – not anyone else, just himself!”) and a cameo from Jack Black, who plays the owner of a popular “Tube site”.

“It was in the script when I came on board and I thought it was a hilarious sequence,” said Kasdan. “The very first thing it was called Jack and asked him to come do that thing. If somebody’s going to be listing porn sites…there’s only one man! He’s like one of the funniest people on the planet. I’ve worked with him a bunch, and he is a genius. And I realize it’s been a little while since people have seen Jack be really dirty in a movie!”

But Black may have some competition from the film’s unexpected young breakout star, Harrison Holzer. “He’s amazing,” Kasdan told us. “We were looking for someone someone to play that, [and] it was really hard to find, as you can imagine – it’s just hard with any kid, and it was the only thing was kind of a struggle. Right when we were getting very close, I said to our casting director, ‘I feel like we need to see a few more people – I’m not in love with this material, with anything I’ve seen yet’. And we’d seen some really talented kids. Then the next day, they sent me this tape and we we pretty much hired him and started, – like, ‘NO one’s going to beat this, this let’s get this kid in here’. It was originally a little younger in the script, and it was like, it doesn’t matter. This doesn’t come along often! He came and started rehearsing with us, and then we quickly discovered he not only could do all that, he can [also] improvise hard jokes in perfect joke form – some of it the dirtiest stuff I’ve ever heard in my life. To where I was truly like, this kid is offending MY sensibilities. And I made Bad Teacher for a year and a half!! Like really outrageous s–t.”

This type of “Technology generation gap” was something Kasdan expounded on further with regards to how the film’s premise was executed. “I think we’re moving further and further into more digital, and for better or worse, a greater comfort level with a certain kind of exhibitionist thing,” he explained. “You know, for these characters, the idea of making a sex tape is like this outrageous thing that they do, sorta for all the right reasons, but it’s a wild thing to do and they can’t believe they’re doing it. Part of that is the thing that they’re doing, for a lot of us – it’s just a completely horrifying idea, right? You’d rather do anything other than that. But then, there is a whole world of people out there and, you know on the show New Girl (Which Kasdan has both produced and directed) I’m always surrounded by slightly younger comedy people, and I hear stories in the writer’s room, and we will talk about that – there’s an entire universe of a slightly younger generation that just regard this stuff completely differently, and part of the thing is, they send each other pictures of themselves, and it’s just part of a relationship and courtship and it’s not like some sleazy secret. It’s part of intimacy,so I think that in some way technology is actually affecting some of our interactions – in some ways, not so great, in some ways, who are we to judge? I think it’s actually more universal than it seems like it is, [and] will be for quite a while even if we’re not calling it ‘The cloud’ in 5 years. We’ll be calling it ‘The bunker’ or whatever – it’s the same stuff.”

And thanks to the cloud making it so easy to stay at home in our PJs and binge watch shows, one of our group brought up an excellent point: Why should we, busy women in our 30s and 40s, get dressed and go to the theaters to see Sex Tape rather than just wait to watch it at home later?

“I think this is a movie about exactly people who feel that way – I would describe myself in exactly the same demographic, and you eventually want to go to a movie during the summer that is about people who feel that way,” said Kasdan, speaking to the film’s relatability. “It is still a fun thing to do. The great kind of trick with this movie is this big crazy idea: You kinda know what the ideas is when you hear the title, right? Sex Tape. Like, if you think about it for about a minute and a half and you go, ‘It’s a comedy’ – it’s probably about a couple that loses their sex tape, right? A great part of why I love that, it was this is a sneaky way of getting at something that I think is totally universal and totally human, because a lot of people feel this way. My life is overwhelming, my relationship with the person that I love is just changed – in a way I love, but that other thing was great too, and what happened? It was a funny thing – I showed [the script] to my wife – we have have three little kids – as we got to a place where it was getting close enough to happen, I said, ‘You should read this’, as I do with everything I’m serious about. She read it, and I think had been a little skeptical because of the title, and immediately finished it and said ‘I love this’. She said, ‘When I have dinner with my girlfriends, this is all we’re talking about,’ – this phenomenon at this juncture in life, especially the little kids – all of our close friends have kids from babies to 8 or 10, that’s sort of where we’re livin’ right now and it’s just like – we dig it, but it’s definitely all the various issues of life where you look at yourself and go, ‘I’m like, the parent person now!’ And yes, I love it, but also loved what other things were like before that – and it all seemed very relevant, universal stuff to her and I thought, well, that’s the reason to make this movie.”

Sex Tape is in theaters now, so get out of your pajamas and go to the cinema this weekend!

Meet The Adorable BoxTrolls

From the makers of Coraline and ParaNorman, THE BOXTROLLS are coming to theaters on September 26th! Get to know Fish, Shoe, Sparky and the whole gang with these fun character posters!

Meet Sparky:

The Boxtrolls_Sparky

Meet Fish:

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Meet Oilcan:

The Boxtrolls_OilCan

Meet Shoe

The Boxtrolls_Shoe

The Boxtrolls will be at Comic-Con International in San Diego, daring people to sample their bug-based diet with Chef David George Gordon’s bug and insect edible creations! Signed copies of character posters will also be distributed from The Bug Chef Food Truck at Petco Park on July 25-26

Follow Along Socially:

https://www.facebook.com/TheBoxtrolls

http://instagram.com/TheBoxtrolls

https://twitter.com/TheBoxtrolls

http://www.TheBoxtrolls.com/

Planes Fire and Rescue Movie Review

Planes Fire and Rescue is a great movie, it’s actually better than the first. The world-famous air racer Dusty has been pushing his engines to the limits by racing all the time. He soon learns that his engine is damaged beyond repair and if he pushes his engines too hard one more time he will never fly again unless they can find more parts. Meaning he may never race again, he must shift gears and is launched into the world of aerial firefighting to save his local airport. He has a hard time with his new transition but wants to keep his airfield safe and they need a new firefighter.

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Dusty joins forces with veteran fire and rescue helicopter Blade Ranger and his team, a bunch of all-terrain vehicles known as The Smokejumpers. Together, the fearless team battles a massive wildfire, and Dusty learns what it takes to become a true hero. This is a great story of finding yourself in the middle of overcoming your fears. Dusty even goes as far as giving up his ability to fly to save others trapped in a fire. The storyline is strong and the characters are well developed.

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“Planes: Fire & Rescue” features the voices of Dane Cook (“Disney’s Planes,” “Louie,” “Dan in Real Life”) as Dusty, Ed Harris (“Pollock,” “Apollo 13,” “A History of Violence”) as Blade Ranger, Julie Bowen (“Modern Family,” 1 “Horrible Bosses”) as Dipper, Curtis Armstrong (“Supernatural,” “American Dad!”) as Maru, John Michael Higgins (“Happily Divorced,” “Pitch Perfect”) as Cad Spinner, Hal Holbrook (“Promised Land,” “Lincoln”) as Mayday, Wes Studi (“Avatar,” “The New World”) as Windlifter, Brad Garrett (“Disney’s Planes,” “Everybody Loves Raymond”) as Chug, Teri Hatcher (“Disney’s Planes,” “Desperate Housewives”) as Dottie, Stacy Keach “Disney’s Planes,” “Nebraska”) as Skipper, Cedric the Entertainer (“Disney’s Planes,” “Barbershop”) as Leadbottom and Danny Mann (“Disney’s Planes,” “Up”) returns as Sparky. The voice talent also includes Barry Corbin (“Northern Exposure”) as ‘Ol Jammer, Regina King (“Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous,” “Jerry Maguire”) as Dynamite, Anne Meara as Winnie, Jerry Stiller as Harvey, Fred Willard as Secretary of the Interior, Captain Dale Dye as Cabbie, Kevin Michael Richardson as Ryker, and Patrick Warburton (“The Emperor’s New Groove,” “Seinfeld”) as Pulaski. Everyone bringing personality and life to the characters.

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“It’s a movie about second chances,” says director Bobs Gannaway (“Secret of the Wings”). “Each character was something else before finding their current roles, and Dusty is a crop duster-turned-racer who can’t race any more. When we learned that historically, the very first air attack teams were crop dusters, it was clear that the plane was telling us where the story was going.” The ending is a bit intense and looks like all will be lost, and you’ll have to see for yourself how it actually ends.

Interview With Cameron Diaz & Jason Segel

Group photo with Cameron Diaz & Jason Segel

Group photo with Cameron Diaz & Jason Segel


Travel consideration provided.

Last week, I flew to Los Angeles to take in a screening of the new comedy Sex Tape and interview the film’s stars, Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel. It was an intimate roundtable Q&A with myself and seven other bloggers, and the pair had us laughing the entire time. Our chat was funny, relaxed, and very candid!

Our group had been discussing diet and exercise before Diaz and Segel arrived, which led to the first topic being fitness. Surely, these high-profile celebs would have some advice?

“The shame is that there’s no mystery – as it turns out, it’s just eating healthy and exercising. That’s such a bummer!” lamented Jason Segel. One of the bloggers chimed in that she had been getting flack because she’s more into creampuffs and chocolate than health food, but Cameron Diaz had her back. “I don’t see anything wrong with it, as long as you do a little bit, rather than only [Junk],” she told us. “Everyone thinks that discipline means deprivation, but discipline actually lets you have everything you want. If you can discipline yourself to take just a little bit, you can have more of what you want over here and over here, instead of being like, ‘I’m taking ALL of this!’ and then the rest of everything else you feel like you can’t have.” Before the Q&A ended, someone said they wanted to compare guns with Diaz and she looked very confused before realizing that the blogger was referring to Diaz’s famously toned arms. “I was like, I don’t carry guns on me!”, Diaz laughed.

With all this talk about exercise, one of the panel asked what was more nerve-wracking: Singing on screen, or doing nude scenes.

“Singing’s terrifying,” said Segel. “To be honest, I know there’s an image of what a Hollywood actor body should look like, but the reality is that people are all built differently, so I’ve always appreciated seeing regular people doing their job. But you really don’t want to hear an average singer! You can really hear a bad note. That’s the one thing about music that I really do appreciate over almost any other art form – even with a painting, there’s something subjective as to whether you like it or not, but you can HEAR a wrong note. You can’t get up on stage just try to play guitar, you know what I mean? You can try acting and you can try entertainment, but you can’t just get up there with an instrument you’ve never played.”

This brought me to a question I’d had since screening the movie. “How did you guys get comfortable with each other having to do all of the love scenes for this movie – how do you break the ice for that?” I asked.

“They’re just silly – we’re making a comedy,” Diaz replied, at which point a writer said in a stage whisper, “But you’re naked!”

“We’re not actually naked.” (Another blogger: We saw your bum!) “Well, that’s my bum! Everybody’s seen my bum!” said Diaz. “I mean, I wear teeny tiny bikini pants – all you’re missing is the whole crack together. If I’m wearing a bikini you see the bottom half of the crack, but if I put on a pair of jeans shorts, you see the top part of the crack; this time you see [the whole crack].”

“Continuous crack!” Segel laughed.

“I mean, it’s just my butt,” Diaz shrugged.

“When we were shooting the movie, we were wearing these modesty garments, so from the front it actually looks like a bikini,” Segel explained. “It’s no more risque than a bikini. But then the back is exposed – which I think would be a great new fashion trend!” to which Diaz added, “I think Rihanna already did it.”

Sex Tape shows both stars pretzeled together in a series of awkwardly hilarious sex scenes, so our group wanted to know how they came up with some of the more ridiculous positions. Were they coming up with those on the fly?

“We were,” said Segel. “It was [Diaz and I], Jake Kasdan our director – and I hadn’t thought of it until now, but our prop guy (“Big Jimmy”) deserves a lot of credit. It was sort of the four of us, really throwing everything we could at the wall and see what stuck.”

And with regards to filming love scenes on a film set, Diaz confirmed that it was not an intimate experience. “No, it’s not at all. The only stuff that was really like the ‘Sex’ stuff that we did was the college [scenes], where we were simulating sex. Like the library in the WIDE open with all these extras around us – it’s ridiculous! You know, we get it’s ridiculous what we’re doing! Not really sexy. It’s more like a locker room vibe, like high fives – and for me, the hardest part was trying not to laugh while I was doing it. Trying to get through the whole take without laughing.”

“What’s the funniest thing that happened while you were filming?” I asked them.

“We had a really really good time. I think the funniest thing that turned into the worst thing, potentially, was a pretty elaborate dog chase in the movie,” replied Segel. “And we showed up on set and there was going to be a real action-packed sequence. And it was the sweetest, friendliest dog! We ended up making him scarier looking with some special stuff.”

“And him acting like he was terrified,” Diaz noted, motioning to Segel. “That’s a puppet he’s working with, and he’s just making it look really ferocious.”

“When you see the unedited footage, it just looked like Jay, my character, is a total wimp, because I’m like terrified running from the sweetest dog!” Segel laughed.

And when he wasn’t pretending to be terrified of dog puppets, Segel was busy writing the screenplay with Kate Angelo and Nicholas Stoller. He spoke to the process of writing and the importance of playing to your cast’s strengths.

“The thing that I’ve come to realize after doing this for quite a while now is that you really need your scripts to be sound enough that when you show up on the set, if nothing new happens, it’s good, and it’s ready to go. But what you hope when you hire someone like Cameron who is so dynamic and fast on her feet and funny and smart – what you realize is Cameron is more familiar with what Cameron is good at than anyone else in the whole world. Every actor knows how they say something funny, or how THEY could word it funniest for themselves, you know? They know their moves better than the writer or director even could know their particular moves, so we’ve always had a mentality of – and you have to hire the right people – but if you know how to do it funnier, we say go, do it funnier.”

Diaz elaborated on this process further: “As well, we do find things that are fun – the dynamic and chemistry and also, we film in sections; scenes every day. And oftentimes we’ll film the end of the movie towards the beginning of filming, and sometimes you’ll be shooting something where you’ve already filmed what comes after it, so you have to remember what you did already, what it’s gonna line up with, so sometimes you have to step up to to that, sometimes you have to tone down. You already have the next piece that comes before it, so you’re connecting the tissue as you go. So sometimes you’re like, ‘Oh man, the scene that comes after this, we really killed it on that so now we have to step it up.’ Or we have an opportunity to make that scene funnier by finding something in this scene.”

One of the bloggers in attendance wondered if working with Angelo gave Segel and Stoller a new perspective on writing female character, to which he responded: “Nick and I have always said this: We’re like the least macho male writers in Hollywood. It’s always really important to Nick and I to serve our females characters really well and not to objectify any of our characters – you know, when we were writing for Emily Blunt on The Five Year Engagement, we tried to make her a full rich character – Forgetting Sarah Marshall too, we tried to make sure that Kristen Bell had her scene where she got to say, ‘No! F–k you! You need to get off the couch!’ So it’s always been really important to us. But I think having it be a female-driven script was really exciting because like you were saying, it’s really easy to fall into the pitfall of this becoming objectifying.”

Sex Tape is the pair’s second outing with director Jake Kasdan, who worked with them previously on Bad Teacher. When asked if Kasdan’s directorial style was any different this time around, Diaz deadpanned, “He was on heroin. He was nodding out a lot.” Segel mimicked what us journalists would be thinking after hearing her joke, pretending to write notes frantically and whispering, “He was on heroin! Write that down!” Once we stopped laughing, they continued more seriously.

“I’ve known Jake since I was 17 years old – since Freak and Geeks, he directed quite a few of those episodes, and was an executive producer as well; and so we’ve worked together A LOT throughout the years,” Segel told us. “But on this, we were in various states of undress with Jake Kasdan standing over us with a camera and this look on his face – and him just going, [Pulls a really creepy face] ‘Faster!’ It was a very awkward experience.”

“He’s very happy about the way we describe him,” Diaz laughed. “He wasn’t doing it like that exactly. He was more like ‘Eeeehhhh, I dunno!’

“So, ‘Faster, faster’ is worse than heroin?” laughed Segel.

Kasdan can’t be too sore about the drug jokes, though: One of the key scenes in Sex Tape is when Diaz’s character, sweet mommy blogger Annie, find herself doing cocaine with her boss in a last-ditch attempt to distract him while her husband Jay attempts to erase their errant sex tape on the head honcho’s iPad before it can be discovered. One of the bloggers complimented Diaz on her skills as a comedienne handling the dark material.

“Yeah, it was a lot of fun, I was totally acting!” Diaz laughed, explaining where she got her inspiration: “I have no idea where…I’ve seen it on TV before, I’ve seen other people act it, and I’ve been at parties where people were doing cocaine…”

The reason Annie’s wayward boss ends up with the couple’s sex tape on his iPad is because of their personal device syncing their files in the cloud with everyone sharing their account. But do the stars rely on “The cloud” in real life?

“I’m fully immersed in technology – I love it so much,” said Segel, telling us how he can open his garage door remotely using his phone. (Diaz told us that she thinks this is dangerous, and worries that someone might wait in front of his garage for it to open so they can steal all of his camping gear.)

He also explained how the cloud became such a crucial plot device for Sex Tape: “I love it because right when I got the script, maybe three years ago, it was right at the time when everything was transferring to the cloud. They were like limiting the storage on your iPhone and saying, ‘It’s alright, you can just store everything on the cloud, it’s no problem’. And there actually was a lady on our crew named Jess, who worked in props, who asked the question that I had never even thought of where she said, ‘What the f–k is the cloud?’ and I thought, ‘You’re right!’ You know, it’s right in front of you and you have all your stuff there, but you never ask the question, ‘Where is it? What is it? Who’s the boss of the cloud?’

“And why call it the cloud?” wondered Diaz. “The cloud is something that pours all this content all over the country – why would you want to put your most prized information up into the cloud?”

Segel also noted that in the original script, it was a physical sex tape that got stolen, but he decided it would make the script much more timely to move it into the cloud instead. (And really, who makes VHS tapes anymore?)

But despite the drawbacks of the cloud, Diaz and Segel are both big Apple fans.

“Apple is a great product. I LOVE what I am capable of doing with my Apple,” Diaz told us. “I’m sure it has a LOT more applications and a lot more possibilities what I get away with actually doing before it shuts down on me and hates me is really amazing.”

“I love Apple so much,” concurred Segel. “I’ve used Apple since I was like 6 years old or something. I had the original 2GS – my first computer. I had the Classic 2 also. I love Apple – I just think they’re so cool.”

So do the cast think that this movie will inspire copycat sex tapes?

“I think what will happen as opposed to the actual making of a sex tape – which may happen for some couples, but I think that you will get back in your car with your date, or your husband or wife, and as you’re driving home, have a laugh about some of the funny things hat are in it. And then there will be a slightly awkward pause where you drive in silence for minute, and then the real discussion will start, like, ‘We haven’t had as much sex as we used to,’ and I think that’s really good function of the movie, is to start a conversation: Hey, maybe there’s something to that, what they were talking about there.

The actors also touched on how important it was for Annie to be the one who initiates the filming of the sex tape. “We liked that a lot,” said Diaz. “You know, because at the end of it, it’s like, ‘Why would you guys do this’? You would assume in this sort of sexist world that we live in, ‘Well, she must have been pushed into it, because no woman really wants to have sex!’ You know what I mean? And the fact that she was the one who was like, ‘Let’s just go and do this,’ it was her idea. I think [it] lets women own what they already own, which is they have their desires and needs and their healthy way of thinking about sex and things they desire.”

Segel added, “Of course, of course I wanna make the sex tape. You know what I mean? If we’re gonna be real about it. It would feel like a different thing, it would feel like Jay pressuring Annie into making this sex tape. The reality [is] that both of these people really want to be having sex with each other. They’re both sitting separately thinking ‘We should have more sex’ and no one doing anything about it.”

“Also, when we go on this chase, for her to want to get that back – the onus is on her, too. She participated in it,” said Diaz. “Jay didn’t erase it like he said that he was going to, [but] she can’t blame him for her having made it. Her participation in it is on her. That’s also a good message for women, to not blame men – to own up [to] what it is that they wanna participate in.” One of the bloggers said that the message to her sounded like it was OK for women to be honest about what they want and not feel pressure to be “The prude”, to which Diaz agreed: “Exactly.”

So, will this movie cause Joy of Sex book sales to go up since the book serves as the catalyst for Annie and Jay’s steamy video?

“That’s such a funny book because it’s just about what you should eat first before you, like, start to fondle on one another,” Diaz told us. “It’s my kinda book! I love food!”
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Sex Tape hits theaters today, July 18th!

Sex Tape Movie Review

Sex Tape movie - image courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment

Travel consideration provided. #SexTapeMovie

Last week, I made a quick trip to LA to attend the Sex Tape movie junket. This new comedy hitting cinemas tomorrow stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, reuniting with their Bad Teacher director Jake Kasdan for a film that manages to be raunchy and heart-warming at the same time.

The movie opens with Annie (Diaz) writing a blog post about her husband Jay (Segel) and how their relationship has changed after 10 years, 2 kids, and stressful jobs. Annie is a successful mommy blogger (!), and is thrilled when she receives a lucrative offer from the CEO of a large toy corporation (Rob Lowe) to purchase her blog and make her the official “Piper Brothers Mother” brand ambassador. To celebrate, she sends the kids off to Grandma’s house for the evening so she can surprise Jay with a special “Date night”.

Jay and Annie quickly realize that the stresses of life have made intimacy unexpectedly awkward – what would have previously been a passionate moment on the kitchen floor turns into “Ow, my knees!” and “I can’t get into the mood because I can see my to-do list from here”. Frustrated, the pair try to brainstorm how they can get their mojo back, and Annie gets the idea to record their own private sex tape on Jay’s new iPad. Their little “Film project” is successful in breaking the ice and rekindles their bond, so it would seem that everything is going great – until Jay gets an anonymous text saying, “Enjoyed your video”. Uh-oh!!!

Photo by Claire Folger. © 2014 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel) watch their video online in Columbia Pictures’ SEX TAPE.

As it turns out, the device’s appropriately-named “Frankensync” technology has put their private movie in the cloud, where it can be accessed by anyone on Jay’s account. Unfortunately, Jay is very generous in giving away his old iPads to friends, acquaintances – and the CEO of Piper Brothers, who is supposed to be reviewing Annie’s blog on the device that weekend. The pair then embark on a frantic, madcap adventure where they will attempt to beg, borrow, and steal their old iPads back before time runs out. They are joined in their mission by their somewhat-unhelpful friends, Robby (Rob Corddry) and Tess (Ellie Kemper), with a few surprise cameos along the way.

Sex Tape brings to mind a middle-aged version of Superbad. Personally, I thought it was really funny and had a great time watching it! I often get bored in the movie theater or find that comedies fall flat for me, so I was pleasantly surprised by this one. The script keeps the awkward humor to a minimum, focusing more on ribald jokes with a mix of everyday scenarios and completely outlandish adventures, which is so much funnier to me than cringing my way through a movie as I do so often!

I think this film is squarely targeted at audiences in their 30s and early 40s – its depiction of how people around my age talk and behave was pretty spot on. Annie, Jay and their friends all lead wholesome and responsible lives, but they’re still real people; their personalities haven’t suddenly gone away just because they’re older and have children or responsibilities. I also think this film does a good job of portraying how our relationships with technology are evolving. If you’re young enough to have used the Internet in your earlier years, but old enough to remember payphones, you will probably be able to relate to this movie. Older audiences might find the movie too crass, while younger audiences might find it passe!

Besides all the laughs, one of the things I appreciated about the film is that the couple are on the same page – there are no “Nagging wife” or “Deprived husband” tropes here, just a couple who both have normal needs and work together to figure out solutions to their problems. They’re honest but kind to each other and don’t place blame, which is what makes the relationship seem real and actually makes the movie pretty sweet, without being cloying. Make no mistake, though: This movie is very outrageous. If you are offended by nudity, swearing, drug jokes or sex humor…then a movie called Sex Tape probably isn’t for you. ;) If you’re not offended by those things, then make a date with your significant other or head to the cinema for girl’s night tomorrow, July 18th to catch the Sex Tape movie debut!

The Voices of Disney’s Big Hero 6 Are

Walt Disney Animation Studios officially announced the voice cast behind the new action-packed comedy-adventure “Big Hero 6,” including Maya Rudolph, James Cromwell, Damon Wayans Jr., T.J. Miller, Alan Tudyk, Jamie Chung, Genesis Rodriguez and Daniel Henney, with Ryan Potter as Hiro Hamada and Scott Adsit as Baymax. Directed by Don Hall (“Winnie the Pooh”) and Chris Williams (“Bolt”), and produced by Roy Conli (“Tangled”), “Big Hero 6” hits theaters in 3D on November 7, 2014.

· Voiced by RYAN POTTER (“Supah Ninjas,” “Senior Project”), robotics prodigy HIRO HAMADA has the mind of a genius—and the heart of a 14-year-old: his state-of-the-art battle-bots dominate the underground bot fights held in the dark corners of San Fransokyo. Fortunately, big brother Tadashi redirects Hiro’s brilliance, inspiring him to put his brain to the test in a quest to gain admission to the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. When a tragic event changes everything, Hiro turns to a robot named Baymax, and they form an unbreakable bond—and two-sixths of a band of high-tech heroes on a very important mission.

· SCOTT ADSIT (“30 Rock,” “St. Vincent”) provides the voice of the world’s most compassionate robot. BAYMAX cares. That’s what he was designed to do. The plus-sized inflatable robot’s job title is technically Healthcare Companion: With a simple scan, Baymax can detect vital stats, and given a patient’s level of pain, can treat nearly any ailment. Conceived and built by Tadashi Hamada, Baymax just might revolutionize the healthcare industry. But to the inventor’s kid brother Hiro, the nurturing, guileless bot turns out to be more than what he was built for—he’s a hero, and quite possibly Hiro’s closest friend. And after some deft reprogramming that includes a rocket fist, super strength and rocket thrusters that allow him to fly, Baymax becomes one of the “Big Hero 6.”

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· Voiced by T.J. MILLER (HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2”), fanboy  FRED comes off like a laid-back dude with no direction. But this sign-twirling, monster-loving, comic-book aficionado is sure to go places—when he’s good and ready. For example, Fred doesn’t hesitate to join “Big Hero 6,” and he has a lot of ideas for his super-hero skillset, too. His ferocious, fire-breathing alter ego comes complete with claws, integrated communications and a super bounce.  But his sign-spinning may still come in handy.

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· JAMIE CHUNG (“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” “Once Upon A Time,” “The Hangover Part II & Part III”) steps up as the voice of the aptly named GO GO TOMAGO, who knows what it takes to be fast. She’s tough, athletic and loyal to the bone, but not much of a conversationalist. Popping bubble gum and delivering well-placed sarcasm are totally her speed. The daredevil adrenaline junkie is at her best on wheels, and when Go Go joins forces with “Big Hero 6,” she rolls like never before, using maglev discs as wheels, shields and throwing weapons.

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· DAMON WAYANS JR. (“Let’s Be Cops,” “Happy Endings”) provides the voice of WASABI, who’s committed to precision. He’s super smart and just a touch neurotic, but the big and burly neatnik can’t help but join the cause when Hiro needs him most. As part of “Big Hero 6,” Wasabi amplifies his martial arts skills with jaw-dropping plasma blade weaponry. Sharp doesn’t even begin to describe this guy.

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· GENESIS RODRIGUEZ (“Tusk” and “Run All Night”) was called on to help bring Honey Lemon to life. It’s elemental when it comes to chemistry whiz HONEY LEMON. Don’t let her glasses and funky fashion fool you: Honey may be as sweet as her namesake, but she has a fire in her belly and a can-do attitude that make her pretty much unstoppable. Her knowledge of alchemy proves powerful, too, when the effusive brainiac becomes part of the “Big Hero 6” and creates clever concoctions that when thrown, can get her team out of nearly any jam.

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· DANIEL HENNEY (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) was called on to give voice to TADASHI HAMADA. Tadashi is a good guy. He just is. He actually developed, built and programmed a state-of-the-art nursebot—a Healthcare Companion named Baymax that will likely help millions worldwide. But it’s his role as big brother that makes Tadashi truly special.  Every kid needs a guy like Tadashi looking out for him, and Hiro knows just how lucky he is to have him in his life.

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· MAYA RUDOLPH (TV’s “Saturday Night Live,” “Maya Rudolph Variety Show,” Bridesmaids”) provides the voice of AUNT CASS, who’s the overworked but always-supportive guardian of brothers Hiro and Tadashi.  The owner of a popular San Fransokyo bakery and coffee shop, Aunt Cass is proud, ebullient and thinks the world of her two genius nephews.  She’s always good for a laugh and ready with a hug, tirelessly there for support and a great home-cooked meal.

· Voiced by JAMES CROMWELL (“Murder in the First,” “L.A. Confidential”), PROFESSOR ROBERT CALLAGHAN heads up the robotics program at the prestigious San Fransokyo Institute of Technology and is Tadashi’s professor and mentor. When Hiro visits the university for the first time, he is star-struck by the world-renowned roboticist—while Callaghan immediately sees the potential in the 14-year-old prodigy, encouraging him to put his brain to better use.

· Pioneer entrepreneur and tech guru ALISTAIR KREI is voiced by ALAN TUDYK (“Tell,” “Welcome to Me,” “42”). San Fransokyo Institute of Technology’s most illustrious alum and owner of the biggest technology company in the world, Krei Tech, is always on the hunt for the next big thing. Krei attends the showcase at San Fransokyo Tech and is overwhelmingly impressed by Hiro’s ingenuity.

· YOKAI is the silent masked man behind the terrible tragedy that strikes San Fransokyo, turning Hiro’s world upside down. As a result, Hiro transforms a group of nerds into a team of high-tech crime fighters—“Big Hero 6”—with one mission: Track down Yokai and bring him to justice.

All About Gamora: Guardians of The Galaxy

Here is A special look at Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana) from Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY:

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Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” first appeared in comic books in Marvel Super-Heroes, Issue #18 (Jan. 1969) and was created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan. The modern Guardians team is the second to be featured under the name, and first appeared in “Guardians of the Galaxy, (Vol. 2) Issue #1 (May 2008). Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning created the new team, whose initial Guardians were Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Quasar, Adam Warlock, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer and Groot.