Comedian-Turned-Musician Ed Helms to Release Bluegrass Album

We weren’t kidding last month when we lauded the musical talents of Jeff Who Lives at Home star Ed Helms. Like Steve Martin (and, uh, Rick Moranis?) before him, the funny guy is branching out into the world of music along with his bluegrass band, The Lonesome Trio.

The Hollywood Reporter reveals that Helms, who will be performing tomorrow evening at Largo during The L.A. Bluegrass Situation (a festival which he co-founded two years ago), has announced his band’s debut album. "We’ve been laying down some demos and kicking them back and forth," he says. "We’ve been been playing together so long, we have so many original tunes. We’ve made recordings for friends and family for years but we’ve never done a proper album."

If you didn’t manage to get ticket to tomorrow night’s sold-out show, take a listen to some of The Lonesome Trio’s tunes below.

Jason Segel and Ed Helms: Notes From an Epic Jam

Had they not become two of Hollywood’s alpha comedy stars, were they not starring in Jeff, Who Lives at Home, the latest comedy from the brothers Mark and Jay Duplass, had their lives not assured each a place in the pantheon of funny man heroes—one for bringing heart to The Office, the other for ensuring that a small felt frog named Kermit and his slightly overbearing fiancée would never be forgotten—Ed Helms and Jason Segel probably would have been this generation’s Hall & Oates. Instead, they might be this generation’s Odd Couple.

In Jeff, Who Lives At Home, Segel plays Jeff, a weed-obsessed, emotionally drifting man-child. The film begins with him perched on a toilet, recording a voice memo to himself on the merits of Signs, M. Night Shyamalan’s paean to fate. Later, Jeff sets out on a Shyamalanian quest for purpose across Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he encounters his blowhard brother Pat (Helms), who is struggling with his own ontological and marital unease. Epiphanies ensue. One such revelation: It would be an abomination if Helms and Segel, both passionate musicians, never jammed together. And so, with a garage, a Gretsch and a prayer, we made it happen. Here now the evidence from the greatest band that never was.

Photos by Dan Monick

Movie Madness: Reviews of March’s Cinematic Picks

Jeff, Who Lives at Home
This unexpected little comedy begins with the title character, played by a predictably schleppy Jason Segel, monologuing about his religious devotion to M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs, a movie that preaches that fate lies in coincidences. It’s a mantra that dictate’s Jeff ‘s daily routine: zone out in mom’s basement and wait for something cosmic to happen. That something turns out to be a phone call—a wrong number, no less— that sets Jeff on a quest for higher purpose. But before any catharsis can be had, Jeff runs into his blowhard brother (Ed Helms) at the local Hooters, and gets tangled up in his marital woes. (This, of course, is all meant to be.) Together, they embark on an odyssey of mutual self-discovery, while in a parallel story, their mother (Susan Sarandon) chases epiphanies of her own in what feels like a separate movie. Directors Mark and Jay Duplass (Cyrus), who once worked within the boundaries of nanobudget filmmaking, are now being bankrolled by Paramount, and they’ve got the dramatic and uplifting climax to justify it. Tears will be shed in the audience and on the screen, but in less than 90 minutes, they’re admirably earned.Ben Barna

The Deep Blue Sea
After a decade stuck in financial gridlock, Terence Davies, the embattled hero of British art cinema, returns with this adaptation of the 1952 Terence Rattigan play, a story of repressed passions in a postwar England where even kisses must be rationed. Rachel Weisz gives a luminous performance as Hester, a tortured housewife who leaves her paternalistic husband (played by the portly Simon Russell Beale) for a hot-headed RAF pilot (Tom Hiddleston) still struggling to re-enter a society that no longer needs him. But Hester needs him, and Davies artfully studies the complexities she faces, trading in a life of comfort for transcendent sex (and a tiny room in a boarding house). Nods to melodramas from the ’40s and ’50s adorn the film, as do Davies’ own signature touches: pub sing-alongs, lyrical tracking shots, and of course, that shockingly floral wallpaper. For the director who won admiration through authentic portrayals of postwar Liverpool, it’s a triumphant return to form. But while his earlier films were as personal—and structurally free—as a family album, the tale of doomed passion at the bottom of The Deep Blue Sea risks becoming a touch too hoary, even as self-conscious homage, to be fully satisfying.Josh Sperling

Casa de Mi Padre
They say you aren’t fluent in a foreign language until you can tell a joke in it, so you’ve got to admire Will Ferrell for having the guts to try. The concept behind Casa de mi Padre—and no, not just the title is in Spanish—has the potential for brilliance: export the actor’s trademark deadpan to a Mexico of rancheros, drug traffickers, and telenovela romance. Ferrell plays the dim-witted Armando Alvarez. When his brother Raul (Diego Luna) returns home with a curvy new fiancée (Genesis Rodriguez) and shady schemes to save the family hacienda, the brothers find themselves at war with a vicious kingpin (Gael García Bernal), and with each other, over a woman’s heart. Ferrell has made a career parachuting straight-faced into quotidian scenes and mopping up the laughs. But Casa mines its humor from a new and risky place: the world of the subtitle. There is a reason foreign films are so serious—jokes don’t translate to that sullen font on the bottom of the screen. It’s no surprise then that the best gags in the film rely purely on physical slapstick. What is surprising is how hilarious Bernal and Luna can be hamming it up as narcotraficantes in alligator boots. But when Ferrell tells a DEA agent, “not all Mexicans are drugtraffickers,” you realize that the only one who isn’t a drug trafficker is, well, a gringo.JS

Delicacy
Despite its charms, French filmmakers David and Stéphane Foenkinos’ debut effort is undermined by a rote script, which relies too much on Audrey Tautou’s star power to prop it up. Adapted from David’s novel of the same name, Delicacy has bursts of whimsy in an otherwise familiar tale. Nathalie (Tatou) and François (Pio Marmaï) meet and fall irreversibly in love, until he is suddenly (but somehow not) rubbed out in a freak accident. The rest of the film traces Nathalie’s recovery efforts as it hops three years into the future, and we rediscover her as a grim careerist. Soon, she clumsily falls for a relatively unattractive Swede (François Damiens), who, let’s be honest, is a few leagues beneath her. (She’s damaged yes, but she’s also Audrey Tatou.) There’s a strange lack of passion for a movie about it, and its two leads never seem to fully connect. We hate to get down on a film with a core that is hopeful, sweet, and easy to swallow, but after digesting it, we’re still left feeling hungry.Hillary Weston

Being Flynn
Nick Flynn’s book Another Bullshit Night in Suck City was, as its title (sort of) implies, a gritty, honest look at homelessness and addiction in America, as seen through the eyes of the author and his father—eventually. They reconnect when the elder Flynn checks into the Boston shelter where his son is employed. Paul Weitz’s film adaptation has a sanitized title and is ultimately a sterile biopic, filled with a predicable story arc and done-to-death voiceover from both Nick and Jonathan Flynn (played by Paul Dano and Robert De Niro, respectively). Neither Nick nor Jonathan are portrayed as being completely moral or despicable, and their equal footing keeps the film from veering into sanctimonious territory. Being Flynn boasts an impressive supporting cast that includes Julianne Moore as Nick’s mother and Olivia Thirlby as his co-worker and girlfriend. Both shine as underused characters who serve primarily as feminine inspirations for Nick’s ultimate maturation. While the film doesn’t add much to the canon of movies chronicling troubled father-son relationships, it does feature a surprisingly lighthearted soundtrack by Badly Drawn Boy, who famously wrote music for Weitz’s About a Boy.Tyler Coates

Detachment
Tragic in tone and scattered in execution, Tony Kaye’s latest film feels more like you’re being emotionally gutted than mentally stimulated. With an ensemble cast of Hollywood vets, from Blythe Danner to James Caan, it’s the actors’ commitment to the work and their brief but dynamic performances that supersede the lackluster script. Detachment tells the story of Henry Barthes (brilliantly played by a weary-eyed Adrien Brody), a downtrodden substitute teacher who takes a temporary position at a failing high school. Barthes, a somber man plagued by flashbacks of his mother’s suicide, is an empathetic and gifted teacher, desperately trying to connect to his students while dealing with his dying grandfather and the teenage prostitute he’s taken in. Shot by Kaye himself, the film cuts between the narrative, interviews with Barthes, and morose animated blackboard drawings used to illustrate darker urges. Ultimately, the film doesn’t know whether to be a scathing critique of the public school system or the story of one man’s struggle to find meaning. Kaye has a lot to say but never fully realizes his point, creating a passionately bleak drama that throws it all in your face, one painful blow at a time.HW

The Raid
Not only does The Raid push the body count of Asian action cinema to new heights, but it also moves the genre south, leaving the skyscrapers of the usual tiger economies behind in favor of a rundown, crime-infested tenement deep in the Jakarta slums. With its main course of unadulterated violence, this is Die Hard for the gaming generation, with just enough of a premise—a SWAT mission gone awry, a fresh-faced rookie, brothers on opposite sides of the law—to take us from one scene of carnage to the next. And like any first-person shooter, the hero literally levels up from floor to floor, boss to boss, moving from guns to serrated knives to machetes, and finally, to some proper hand-to-hand combat. Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda provides an amped-up soundtrack, while the Welsh-born, Indonesia-based director Gareth Evans strikes a thrilling balance between masterful martial-arts choreography and the more helter-skelter rawness at the adrenalized heart of the film. And despite our hero’s assured survival, Evans builds a claustrophobic dread so powerful that when the tension suddenly snaps, it’s about as visceral as movies get.JS

The Lady
Aung San Suu Kyi has given up her family and freedom to advocate on behalf of the people of Burma, who have languished under the rule of a military dictatorship for half a century. While under house arrest, Suu Kyi ignited a fervent democratic movement that may finally be producing meaningful reforms in the country, making this a perfect time for French filmmaker Luc Besson to unveil his powerful and moving biopic of the Nobel laureate. The Lady follows her from her childhood in Rangoon, which is rent by the murder of her highly respected father, to her life as a wife and mother of two boys in England, to her return to Burma in 1988, where she immediately becomes the brightest hope for a people who have known nothing but poverty, fear, and isolation under the junta. Filled with gorgeously shot scenes of the Rangoon skyline and the lilting palms and shimmering waters of her dilapidated lake house, the film is a deft take through Suu Kyi᾽s inspiring life. Michelle Yeoh’s remarkable embodiment of the opposition leader is uncanny, and the depiction of her relationship with her English husband Michael Aris (David Thewlis) is heartbreaking, as he suffers and dies of cancer while being denied a visa to visit his wife one last time. The Lady gives viewers a deep appreciation of a long, relentless, and agonizingly slow struggle that may well be on the brink of success. Its message is simple: If your cause is just, never, ever give up.Victor Ozols

Video Exclusive: Jason Segel & Ed Helms Rock Out

For our upcoming Comedy Issue, Jeff, Who Lives at Home costars Jason Segel and Ed Helms got together in a Pasadena garage for an epic jam session, proving that they’re as good at making music as they are at making jokes. Our April/May issue features an awesome photospread of the would-be rockstars, which you can see in the next few weeks. In the meantime, check out our exclusive behind-the-scenes video of the shoot after the jump!

 

Video Exclusive: Jason Segel & Ed Helms Rock Out

For our upcoming Comedy Issue, Jeff, Who Lives at Home costars Jason Segel and Ed Helms got together in a Pasadena garage for an epic jam session, proving that they’re as good at making music as they are at making jokes. Our April/May issue features an awesome photospread of the would-be rockstars, which you can see in the next few weeks. In the meantime, check out our exclusive behind-the-scenes video of the shoot after the jump!

Jason Segel is ‘Jeff, Who Lives at Home’

The Muppets, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I Love You, Man — Jason Segel is kind of the standard bearer for mopey, paunchy dudes who are bad at growing up, isn’t he? The first trailer for Jeff, Who Lives at Home definitely reinforces that: Segel plays Jeff, who lives at home with his mom (Susan Sarandon!) and is having a hard time figuring his life out. After a chance run-in reunites him with his brother (played by Ed Helms), they start hanging out again while trying to deal with their life issues in tandem.  (Sample dialogue: "Why do you want to live like this, drifting through this life with no awareness!?") Arrested Development alum Judy Greer shows up as Helms’ maybe-cheating wife and, you know, hijnks and emotional maturation ensue.

It seems winsome and charming in a cheesy way, pretty much par for the course when it comes to Jason Segel vehicles. I’ll be honest — it’s extremely hard for me to see Helms as anyone else but Andy Dwyer from The Office, and his reasonable attempt at being serious is just so… off. It’s like a bear riding a ferris wheel: cute, but get out of there, silly! (It sure is Friday, y’all.) If you liked the trailer, Jeff, Who Lives at Home comes out on March 2.