Thursday, March 19, 2015

SXSW: Strong early buzz hits for 'Trainwreck', 'Spy' and 'Furious 7'

The South by Southwest music and film festival in Austin, Texas has steadily grown over the years, becoming the definitive Spring festival for movie studios to reveal a taste of their upcoming movie slates. In the past, films like Bridesmaids, Chef and Neighbors have premiered at the festival and pre-dated their massive critical and box office success. This year, South by Southwest's three biggest premieres all debuted on one major night. Sunday saw the premieres of Paul Feig's new comedy Spy, Judd Apatow's latest Trainwreck, and the debut of Furious 7. Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell's Get Hard also debuted later on Monday, but the buzz was not nearly as strong as it was for the other three (in fact, Get Hard was plagued by accusations of racism and homophobia, with one audience member informing director Etan Cohen at a post-screening Q&A that he thought the film was "racist as f**k"). However, the buzz for Trainwreck, Spy and Furious 7 was deafening and made for a major event at SXSW.

Trainwreck premiered first on Sunday afternoon, at a work-in-progress screening introduced by director Judd Apatow and screenwriter/star Amy Schumer. The film was a smashing success at the fest, with many calling the film Apatow's best and a major come back after the disappointments of Funny People and This is 40. Cinemablend's Eric Eisenberg called the film "Hilarious" and "Apatow's best movie in years" emphasizing that "Trainwreck is on pace to be the best comedy of 2015." The Hollywood Reporter and Variety also debuted positive reviews for the film, and it's likely that this could be one of Apatow's biggest directorial hits. Trainwreck stars Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton and LeBron James and hits theaters on July 17.

Spy debuted immediately after Trainwreck and was a massive hit as well. The latest film from Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy spoofs the spy genre along with stars Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Morena Baccarin and Jude Law. Variety called Spy "[McCarthy's] smartest, funniest, most versatile and fully sustained big screen showcase to date." The Playlist and The Hollywood Reporter were positive as well, with the only negative review coming from Rope of Silicon. All in all, Spy should be another hugely lucrative entry into McCarthy's catalog when it debuts on June 5.

Finally, Furious 7 had a surprise "secret screening" at midnight, which was met with massive fervor from fans. The screening wasn't announced until a few hours earlier and that started a firestorm at SXSW. The reviews for the recently rejuvenated franchise were very positive in the early goings, with a solid score of 83% through 12 reviews. The Hollywood Reporter called the film "stupendously stupid and stupidly diverting," which was the general sentiment from most reviewers. Jon Lyus from Hey U Guys also said that "there is no better way they could have paid tribute to Paul Walker." All in all, this looks like it will be another fun entry into the franchise and I can't wait to see it on April 3.

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