For fans of actress June Diane Raphael‘s podcast How Did This Get Made, here is something that is NOT so upsetting although some next-level crazy funny sh*t probably goes down: June and fellow actress Casey Wilson have a new movie coming called Ass Backwards. Here’s the trailer:
Let’s get something out of the way right now: this pretty clearly kind of looks like a raunchier, road trip-heavy version of Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion. You have two socially tone deaf women with suspect fashion sense and alarmingly low IQs being called back home (in this case, an anniversary beauty contest) for a moment of potential triumph after spending their post-high school years as general failures with directionless or non-existent careers. Plus, one of the lead actresses (Casey Wilson) is most known as being arguably the funniest cast member in a Friends-esque sitcom, Happy Endings, ala Lisa Kudrow from Romy & Michelle who was on the actual sitcom Friends as Phoebe.
The similarities are obvious. Luckily, I have fond memories of Romy & Michelle, particularly the sequence wherein the two girls debate who’s cuter by comparing themselves to Mary or Rhoda, a joke I admittedly didn’t quite get until years later when I finally saw The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Ass Backwards doesn’t look bad, reveling in the type of stupid-humor usually reserved for male performers. However, the trailer doesn’t quite give the sense that this is a great film. I’ve seen both Wilson and Raphael be far funnier than they appear here. The reviews for Ass Backwards out of the Sundance Film Festival weren’t exactly euphoric with praise for Ass Backwards. In fact, most of the attention was paid to discussing how the opening scene of the film involves both actresses bearing their backsides to the screen in an ill-advised hitchhiking effort, and that the script was written by the two stars, Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael.
Wilson and Raphael became best friends at college in New York in the early 2000s, which they converted into a professional partnership at the Upright Citizens Brigade Improv Theater for multiple years and writing partners on multiple screenplays since then. Their first screenplay turned into the rather unfortunate Anne Hatheway/Kate Hudson comedy Bride Wars. Several of their screenplays have been sold and are currently in development. However, Ass Backwards is only their second one to make it to screen, and it took a Kickstarter campaign to ensure as much, with the final 5 days of filming covered by funds from fans through Kickstarter.
As an actress, Wilson is most known for a brief stint as a Saturday Night Live cast member, and performing as Penny Harts on the dearly departed ABC sitcom Happy Endings for the past three seasons.
Here’s a compilation of the best Penny moments from the first season of Happy Endings:
June Diane has had notable recurring roles in now-dead sitcoms like Party Down as well as a memorable recurring role on Fox’s New Girl as Jess’ (Zooey Deschanel’s) lesbian doctor friend who has repeatedly offered free medical advice to Nick (Jake Johnson) and Schmidt (Max Greenfield). She’s a regular cast member of the Bachelor/Bachlorette-parody web series Burning Love as well as on Adult Swim’s CSI/NCIS-parody NTSF:SD:SUV.
Here’s June in the trailer for the second season of Burning Love, in which her character was the bachelorette to a castle full of suitors (almost every single one played by recognizable L.A. comedy scene actor/comedians):
June also co-hosts the podcast How Did This Get Made with her husband and comedian Paul Scheer as well as comedian/writer Jason Mantzoukas. They watch bad movies (e.g., Jaws IV: The Revenge), and then usually mock them, with one of the most endearing elements being June’s frequent adorably honest and naive questions to the fellow panelists (e.g., “No, I’m serious you guys, what is a street fighter? Is it just a guy who fights on the streets, and if they fight indoors they can’t be considered a street fighter?” in reaction to the film Street Fighter).
I adore these women as comedic performers, particularly Wilson who was easily the most successful member of Happy Endings to put forth a character you cared about as opposed to simply enjoyed as a reliable joke-delivery machine. I want to see more of them and women like them in film and television. As such, I am inclined to put more hope into the chances of Ass Backwards being good than its trailer probably warrants. Alicia Silverstone, Paul Scheer, Jon Cryer, and Vincent D’Onofrio are also in the film in supporting roles. It comes out on video on demand on September 30, and in limited theatrical release on November 7.
What do you think? Does this look quite a bit funnier than I’m giving it credit? Possible even worse, actually? Just sad because you, too, really miss Happy Endings? Let us know in the comments.