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Most of you are familiar with the comic genius of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and the work they have produced: Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. But their long-time comedy partner, Edgar Wright, is not working with them this time ’round. Instead, Greg Mottola has taken over the reigns to direct the the British duo.
Born in Dixs Hill, New York, Mr. Mottola took the university route to learn his directional trade, studying Art at Carnegie Mellon University and obtaining a Masters in Film at Columbia.
Mottola slowly worked his way into the film industry, making shorts before making his first feature, The Daytrippers in 1996. Steven Soderbergh produced Mottola’s independent dramedy, a symbol of his potential and with a $600,000 gross, The Daytrippers did modest business and fairly well with critics.
Mottola moved into television, a fine place to hone his craft as it worked for J.J. Abrams, Joe Wright and Oscar-winner Tom Hooper after all. He started by directing six episodes of Undeclared, a Fox comedy that only lasted for one season. However, during that time, he was able form a working relationship with Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen.
Mottola quickly moved onto two more shows, the critically acclaimed Arrested Development and the HBO comedy The Comeback. Both shows allowed Mottola to experiment with different filming styles, using handheld camera and filming in a reality TV style. He is certainly not a director who makes safe, simple studio sitcoms.
His big break came when Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen and their combined rising star gave Mottola the opportunity to direct Superbad. With a title like that, critics the world over were itching to make jokes about it, so they must have felt suicidal when they found out the film was good. Superbad featured a great cast of rising talent: Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Emma Stone and of course Christopher Mintz-Plasse as one of the great recent comic creations, McLovin‘. Made with energy and clever writing, Superbad was an evolution of the high school coming-of-age film that American Pie restarted.
His follow-up, Adventureland, demonstrated that Mottola could change his style and tone of comedy. Written by himself, the low-key film was a more grounded, realistic coming-of-age tale doubling as a semi-autographical story. Adventureland starred Jesse Eisenberg, who seems to be doing pretty well since with Oscar nominations and all, and Kirsten Stewartas well as Ryan Reynolds doing his thing ladies man thing but much more understated. Adventureland was really the film for people who did not like Superbad.
Now, Mottola is set to tickle our funny bones once again with a bigger-budget sci-fi-comedy with lots of special effects and CGI. He will handle the American style of comedy whilst Pegg and Frost deal with all the British humor. Once again, he works with a top cast and mixes both Seth Rogen’s crude humor with Pegg and Frost’s smart pop-culture writing in another genre parody. Mottola gets to play around with a larger scope in a story than his previous films.
Mottola has shown his talent as a comic director and is a member of a new school of American comedy. He has proven his ability to change his style to suit each film or programme and he is one of the best directors that Judd Apatow has groomed. We do not know what the future holds for Mottola, but because he’s independently minded and has a great comic sensibility, we are sure he will pick his next project carefully.