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Glenn Ficarra & John Requa

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Glenn Ficarra & John Requa are the writers/directors/producers of one of my favourite romantic comedies of the past couple of years, “Crazy Stupid Love”. And I think the reason it’s one of my faves is because it’s not your standard ‘rom-com’ – it goes much deeper; there’s some serious stuff in here woven in between all the humour and sweetness. I  had a chat to the guys about the film and beyond.

Loved the film.  It is good balance of the silly and the sweet.

Glenn :  Yeah. I mean. I didn’t realize this until after we were done with the movie. But it’s, maybe the first romantic comedy I can think of that’s from a male perspective. And I’m an idiot because it took me that long to figure that out.

John: You’re the director, you should know these things.

Glenn: Yeah, I should know these things and it’s one of the reasons I think that people responded to the script because I don’t think you ever get that angle on it because maybe marketing wise it doesn’t make sense.

Glenn: Wow! So okay, there’s that but other than that, no.

John: He based it… The writer based it on Jerry Maguire, which is… It’s interesting. We watched… Before we even started shooting, we got together with a bunch of great writers and film makers and we screened Jerry Maguire at the theatre at the studio and we just sat around and talked about a bit afterwards and it really strikes you as, that is basically a movie about two men and the whole, you know… Which is all that, the romance stuff carries so much weight and so much what you remember about the movie, but it’s a very small part of movie.

Glenn: Yeah. She’s a reward really. She’s not… I remembered that movie before we started screening it and it was about them and more about her and she is a very small part of that movie.

Yeah. She really is. She really is. It’s Cuba that t makes Tom the better man at the end. And Renee is the reward. His transformation. And of course, this goes without saying, Love Actually was a clear inspiration? even the structure of it, was that an influence? It would be obviously you’ll what’s on the script, but in terms of the directing?

John : Yeah. We loved the movie.

Glenn: Yeah. The sub-plot with Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman. Where, you know, people are really put these heavy things about adultery and divorce and what was a fairly liked comedy. Richard Curtis is able to balance the tone well. We really are into that.

He’s someone who also that’s able to ground his comedies in reality and that is obviously important to you guy’s. So maybe you think you feel that you know these people and they are real people, they’re not puppets you know?

John: Yeah. It’s such universal themes and you just want it to be grounded. And you want, you want to earn that emotion at the end. But you also want to play with how far you can go to get a laugh and still not lose the audience. That’s sort of the fun kind of balancing act that really excites us as filmmakers. And it excites the actors as well and the editors to find that line. And lot of times we would find ourselves shooting versions of the scenes that get different tones and go into the editing room to try to find that tone to see how far we can push the boundaries.

Glenn : Steve is really excited about that. You can see in our previous movie, we really pushed hard in both directions. And he really wanted to play with that too.

John : I think that’s the most interesting stuff out there for me. Just as filmmakers, I mean, I think, I think, it’s what gets us excited like when we see movies that really play with the tone, we really get excited by it.

Despite whatever kind of film it is you’ve got to feel, I think, that you can relate to these characters you know?

John : I’m glad you brought this up, by the way. Here we are in Australia and the movie that started us down this path, to mixed tone, guess what it was?

It was Mad Max. : Beyond Thunderdome

John : [Laughs] Muriel’s Wedding.

Muriel’s Wedding, of course.

Glenn: Yeah. That was a mixed tone movie and I remember seeing that movie. What was it in ’98?

No, it might have been earlier, ’94 I think.

John: Seeing it when it came out and just going it’s in my top 5 favourite movies of all time and seeing it going “this is the brave new world”. You know, this is really where movies need to be going. I mean Caper was doing it too. But boy, what an exciting territory we sort, we sort of… And our movies have always had it. But as writers, but it’s all been removed. It only until we got to be able to we were able to direct our own movies, that we were able to actually go for the mixed tone. The modelling and the heartfelt emotion up against really broad comedy.

Glenn: Yeah. I think. The only other people that were doing it since then were Crowe and…I think Alexander Payne does it too but it’s become a more narrow band.

What about James Brooks?

Glenn : James Brooks, earlier days. Lars Von Triers too.

John: Yeah. He’s really interesting.

Yeah. There’s a rumour that you guys were taken out by Warner and they pretty much said you can do whatever you want, what you want to do?

Glenn: Yes.

Was it at the time…

John : Jeff Robinov was an old friend of ours. We did our first movie when he was junior Vice President at Warner Brothers, which is Cats and Dogs. And so he saw a little Phillip Morris and he was saying he was very impressed and he was just proud of us being old friend he says, “I’m the President of the studio now. What do you want to do, tell me what you want to do.”, and I said “Batman”. He said that’s taken. What else do you want to do?

John: We actually were saying, we are so exhausted from Phillip Morris that really, we don’t think… We said, we didn’t want to make another movie. He said “Really? I’m sitting here and offering you whatever you want”. “No, no, now we’re good”. And I think about a year later we called him, we had read the script, said “We want to do this” and he is like he said “Okay”. I mean you know, because we didn’t want… [chuckle] That was how we passed the audition.

Steve Carell was attached to Crazy Stupid Love before you came on?

Glenn: Yeah.

And that would have helped this script get through I imagine too, at Warner. Have a big name attached?

John: It was… In the lot of moments we had the script, there was a huge script sale and I think it’s was sold in, prior to Christmas and we were in production four months later. Because Steve was still doing The Office, a very limited window in which to shoot the movie. So there wasn’t a lot of time to get over and talk with studio about it. We were just going to left to our own devices with the writer and sat down with him and we did some changes together and get him right into it.

I’m sure there were changes. What was the script like originally – racier?

Glenn: It was an R Rated script, but maybe mainly for language. And…

John: It was a soft R. So to bring it into a PG 13 was not a big effort. It wasn’t like the movie was compromised that much. There’s a few things, but…

So instead of Dirty Dancing,  it originally had a Porky’s 2 homage?

John: Yeah (Laughs)

Glenn: That was Ryan’s idea.

Oh, really?

John: Yeah.

You know, it’s perfect. Because that’s what I do with my four year old daughter every Friday night.

Glenn: Really?

Yeah.

John: That’s so sweet.

But I never thought of it as a good pick-up thing for women! It’s a great one…

John: Well, you have to have the upper body strength.

Oh yeah. That’s right.

John: Yeah.

He is a…

Glenn : Not all for you.

True.

John: But it’s all about, it’s an interesting thing when you do it in reality because it’s all about momentum. The woman has this sensation that she is going to right go over her head, because what she does is she runs at him without stopping. He puts his hands on her hips…

Yes.

John: She puts his hands on his shoulders and pushes off. And so it feels like they are going to go like that. But he is arresting that inertia with his hands and that’s how you get her up like that. And so it’s terrifying apparently. We even had, when we are testing it with our stunt woman, she was terrified. And she is a woman who’s used to being thrown around and so [chuckle] it was really difficult. So all that nervous energy is real.

Wow!  It’s great. It’s just works so good in your film… and hey, Dirty Dancing, it’s a pretty decent movie you know!?

Glenn: Yeah.

John :  That movie had some weird tones.

It does.

Glenn : Yeah, really heavy stuff in there.

I think it’s like, an 80-esqe kind of music video film. Like my wife says of Top Gun. Every time I put Top Gun on, it’s just “here’s that 90 minute music video” again.

John : Our writing professor in college was convinced that Top Gun was porn. I mean it was like… Jock Porn, he called it.

Glenn: I think a lot of the Bruckheimer movies are jock porn

Obviously the experience of I Love You Phillip Morris, caught up in the whole legal wrangle,  put you off film a little bit…

Glenn: It was The Heartbreaking, that what it was. Because you were…

It got kind of lost.

Glenn: And the movie was really well… We tested it with audiences, it was testing really well.

John: Surprisingly well you know. We would get in the eighty’s what kind regular comedy makes, and we were showing it to a general audience. And audiences genuinely liked the character so much that they were looking past that it was a movie about two gay guys. And so when it didn’t really… So we thought we… We didn’t never thought that it was going to make a hundred million dollars, but we thought we can have a successful art house release. But for various reasons, we just couldn’t get people in the door. And we really didn’t have a distribution… Just enough theaters that if it ever caught fire that it would go, it would do well. But ultimately I think it’s been fun. One of the nice things about doing press for this movie is we’re kind of hearing this, like it’s found its life.

Glenn : People have found the movie and are enjoying it.

Yeah. So at the end of the day it’s… I suppose sometimes it is merit over money and at least now…

Glenn: We certainly never did it for the money.

John: You don’t do the gay prison escape [laughter] Con Air movie for the money.

So Crazy Stupid Love is a hit. What next?

Glenn: Right. It’s that… Another con movie.Mikey had a plan. But…

John: A romance, a con romance. We thought it would be interesting to a movie about two con people, a man and a woman who fall in love and suddenly… Because to be a con you have to sort of, in a way turn human beings into objects or things that are to be manipulated. But then to have people fall in love and suddenly their kind of humanity and morality is a little bit… To have them deal with it and does it affect their ability to do their job. So it could be… It could be very funny.

Yeah. Sounds like that’s a good one for Steve Carell!?

Glenn: Yeah. Well…  We’re working on something with Steve also, that he’s producing. He’s not starring but it’s based on the idea he had. We wrote the script already. It’s one of these three friends from college, but now they’re in their 40s, movies. They’re going on a European backpacking trip that that they never did. And it’s filled with all this middle-aged fun.

Oh really. My father did that. He bought back a wife. Californian wife.

Glenn : Oh, really? Wow, what!?

Same age as me. Went on a European tour, they were in a bus and within a week they were engaged.

Glenn: That’s something we could add to the movie. We have something similar in our movie but ours doesn’t have a happy ending.

In terms of this film’s marketing, I mean, how do you go… I mean do you market it as more of a romantic kind of film or you market as laugh-out-loud comedy?

Glenn: I think it’s… Probably the choice… That’s we want to sell it as a romantic comedy.

14:00 S1: Yeah.

Glenn: And deal with whatever people’s preconceived notions are. I think it’s different, it’s so much different.

It is different, yeah.

John : Well I always say… I was saying in a lot interviews, I say “For the men out there, I promise you ball humour.” You know it is a heartfelt movie and has real emotions. It’s about a relationship but it’s also a very broad comedy with lots of fun in general that the people… That everybody responds to. It’s not… Just like… It’s like… You know it’s what a general audience movie used to be. And I think what’s happened is the market has gotten so saturated, there’s so few opportunities to present your movie to the public, that movies have to kind of boil down to one concept. But this is actually a movie that’s kind of coming from the past in that it has several concepts. But our test market has proved that the men liked the movie as much, if not, more than women.

Yeah. And finally is there a sequel in the future? Crazy Stupid Love or any of the other films.

John: Well there’s a sequel to Bad Santa coming. We’re not involved but it’s in the works.

Glenn : There are two writers working on two separate scripts.

John : Yeah. They want us to direct it, but we said “No.”

No?

John: No.

I don’t know if you can top Bad Santa…

John: I don’t think so. Billy Bob’s involved. Terry Zwigoff is not involved and we’re not involved.

Okay.

Glenn : Yeah. We’ll see how it goes. If it comes out great then that sells DVDs for the original. And if it comes out bad it makes the original seem that much better. [laughter]

That’s right.

John: That’s the best kind of money that exists in Hollywood, which is characters based on money. The check just lands on your doorstep doing nothing.

Well you can do a Crazy Stupid Love sequel…

Glenn: You never know.

John : In space.

Glenn : No, I don’t think anybody involved would want to do it. Yeah. I mean, maybe perhaps in twenty years we might reunite everyone and revisit the characters; we could see different phases of their lives. But right now I think, you know, we’ve sent them on their way.

With Ryan Gosling still using the Dirty Dancing moves in 20 years, it’s going to be a sad thing…

John : Yeah [Laughs]

– CLINT MORRIS

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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