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Michael Cera in Entertainment

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(November 2, 2015 – Toronto, ON) – Look for Brampton-born Michael Cera in the new Rick Alverson feature Entertainment opening in Toronto at the Carlton Cinema on November 13, the same day it will be available on iTunes and OnDemand. Entertainment is Alverson’s long-awaited follow-up to the cult hit The Comedy and stars Gregg Turkington as a third-rate hack standup lost in a downward spiral of substandard venues, novelty tourist attractions, and sad efforts to reach his estranged daughter. By day, he slogs through the desolate California inland, inadvertently alienating every acquaintance. At night, he seeks solace in the animation of his onstage persona. Buoyed by the promise of a lucrative Hollywood engagement, he trudges through a series of increasingly surreal and volatile encounters. In Alverson’s hallucinatory fugue, Turkington’s Comedian is trapped in a struggle between being the centre of attention and the object of alienation.

Turkington is a Los Angeles-based comedian and writer best known for his stand-up comedy character Neil Hamburger. He has released numerous comedy and musical albums, and performed extensively throughout the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, and the UK. His written work has been published in McSweeney’s and Maxim UK. The fact that he’s staring in this film, directed and co-written by Alverson, is weird, because Alverson is on the record about how he feels about stand-up.

Movie poster for the 2015 film Entertainment courtesy of Video Services Corp.
Movie poster for the 2015 film Entertainment courtesy of Video Services Corp.
“I have an aversion to stand-up comedy, first of all,” said Alverson. “I’ve always found it kind of figuratively pornographic and insular. Even as a young Catholic boy I found it vain and repulsive, there was almost something dirty about comedy to me.” That said, his mind was changed, or you could say opened when he saw Gregg perform as Neil Hamburger. “I found an affinity with him because his act exacerbated and magnified all the things I found problematic about that kind of performance. It was liberating to watch him, and it felt indicative of everything we know about pop entertainment in America in terms of its history — the idea that it would reach a sad and exhausted state eventually.”

Talking about how the film was written, Greeg Turkington said, “The script fleshed out what was going to happen rather well, it just didn’t have the dialogue. We wrote the script with Tim Heidecker and revised it over and over again, adding things through text messages and phone calls during its development. So it was constantly being revised. By the time we were filming, we were all on the same page about what we wanted in the movie. It became obvious about what to do or say without it being written down because we had done so much background work. What’s different from my live performances was that we were seeing the offstage comedy world — one that was only implied in my previous work.”

Michael Cera costars as a character named Tommy. Other costars include John C. Reilly, The Sheridan, Annabella Lwin, Dean Stockwell, Sergio Estrada and many others.

Variety has called the 102 minute Entertainment, “An odyssey through a soulless American nowhere.” It opens in Ottawa at the Mayfair Theatre on December 4.

Video Services Corp. was founded in 1993 by former rock critic Jonathan Gross. It is a leading independent all-platform film distributor with offices in Toronto and Los Angeles.