By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com April 26, 2011 at 1:30AM
For the last few years, Hollywood's holy grail has seemed to be the R-rated relationship comedy -- it seems that every other script on the annual Black List is an attempt at the genre, and the summer is stuffed with examples. But only this morning, with the trailer for "What's Your Number?," we've seen that things aren't as simple as taking the traditional romantic comedy template and liberally sprinkling the words "fuck" and "vagina" over it -- there's an alchemy to the blend of crudity and heart that few have mastered.
The man who's had more success with the style than anyone else and is more or less responsible for its resurgence is writer-producer-director Judd Apatow. The triple punch of "The 40 Year Old Virgin," "Knocked Up" and "Superbad" all combined sweetness and naughty words fairly perfectly, and generally speaking, Apatow's had his greatest success when he's stuck to that formula. When things get broader and weirder, and the heart gets forgotten, as in "Year One" and "Walk Hard," box office takings plummet.
From our review at SXSW, it sounds like Apatow's got it bang on again with "Bridesmaids," which opens in a couple of weeks, and filming's just begun on another Apatow-shepherded project that sounds just as promising -- "Five-Year Engagement," which reteams the "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" pair of Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel. Their latest effort is again co-written by the pair, directed by Stoller, and starring Segel, who plays one half of a couple (the other played by Emily Blunt) tracked across the lengthy ups and downs of their engagement, with the film being compared to "Annie Hall" and "When Harry Met Sally" -- always a good place to start from.
The film began principal photography yesterday, and it's been quietly assembling a killer cast, including Rhys Ifans, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie ("Community"), David Paymer, Lauren Weedman ("The Daily Show"), Kevin Hart ("The 40 Year Old Virgin") and, most excitingly, Oscar-nominated "Animal Kingdom" stand-out Jacki Weaver. With filming underway, various sources have reported a few other names also on board, and they should fit nicely into the ensemble.
First, Variety reports that Mindy Kaling, best known as a writer, producer and star on "The Office," where she plays the consistently gut-busting Kelly Kapoor, has joined the cast, playing a grad student under the watch of Ifans' character. Bearing in mind that we know that Segel's character works as a chef, we're going to assume that Kaling and Ifans will mostly be interacting with Blunt's character. Kaling's starting to make inroads in film, having cropped up in a supporting role in "No Strings Attached" earlier in the year, and she's attached to star in a project she wrote herself, "The Low Self-Esteem Of Lizzy Gillespie," which is set up at Lionsgate -- she's a funny lady, no doubt, and it's good to see her on board.
Furthermore, a couple of other cast members have been leaked out. Firstly, Judd Apatow let slip on Twitter that "Saturday Night Live" veteran Chris Parnell, currently perhaps best known for the recurring brilliance of Dr. Leo Spaceman on "30 Rock," is also in the cast. Parnell's previously cropped up in the likes of "Anchorman" and "Hot Rod" in memorable form and, while the nature of his role is unclear at this point, it's good to see him involved.
Furthermore, Australian site Moviehole did a little digging around the nature of Jacki Weaver's role, and revealed that the veteran Aussie will be donning a British accent to play the mother of Blunt and Brie's characters, and that the role of their father, Weaver's ex-husband, has already been taken, by comedy veteran Jim Piddock. The British actor is a familiar face for his work in Christopher Guest's films, but he's cropped up all over the place, from Christopher Nolan's "The Prestige" to a brief role in Stoller's "Get Him To The Greek" -- which we assume led to the role here.
All in all, it's a pretty exciting ensemble, and we've got a good feeling in our gut about this one. We're dying to have a look at the script, so if anyone out there has a copy, you know where to send it. Shooting is now underway, and Universal will release the finished product some time in 2012.