Between May’s announcement that both Jennifer Lawrence and Cate Blanchett will star in his upcoming Netflix comedy “Don’t Look Up,” and commencing production on features such as the comic-horror “The Menu,” (with Emma Stone) and “The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” with his Funny or Die partner Will Ferrell, you can say that Adam McKay is busy during this pandemic. Not that busy though that he can’t come home – virtually, that is – for the kick-off of the Philadelphia Film Society’s Speaker Series, June 3.
The Philly-born and raised McKay has an outrageous comic wit, whether felt in its periphery (the aforementioned “Funny or Die” website/film imprint that acts as an incubator for broad comedy) or in practice (writing-directing 2004’s “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” 2006’s “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” 2008’s “Step Brothers,” 2010’s “The Other Guys,” and 2013’s “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”). He changed things up with his keen sharp dramedic observations on business and politics with 2008’s “The Big Short,” (his snarky look at the meltdown of the world’s economy, that got McKay an Academy Award Best Picture nomination and his first Oscar for its script) and 2018’s “Vice,” a black comic dissection of Vice President Dick Cheney.
McKay was last in his hometown in 2018 to pick up the 3rd annual Lumiere Award from the Philadelphia Film Society, and talked up all manner of subjects – including his time in Philly.
“There’s no doubt that in my teen and college years, this is where I fell in love with movies,” McKay told me. “I used to work at the Ritz 5 as an usher and cleaning toilets, as well as way out on Rt. 30 at the Eric Twin Frazier. I took great film classes at Temple University. My friends and I here; all we did was go to movies and talk about movies. No doubt about it. This is where I learned it all – it was the 80s, and all media was exploding. I was a child of that, and it all happened for me in Philly.”
This time, to kick off the PFS’s Speaker Series, McKay will talk to the Film Society’s head honcho J. Andrew Greenblatt about the ensemble dramedy of which he is most enthusiastic, and influenced by: Robert Altman’s classic “Nashville.”