Films garner excitement, comedies better than expected

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Photo Courtesy of Lionsgate

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

South By Southwest has assembled an intimidating roster of films this year, including star-studded premieres and a wonderful midnight film program. Here are a few of the big tickets at this year’s festival you should seek out.

“21 Jump Street”
(March 12, 7:30 p.m., Paramount Theatre)
There is absolutely no reason that a “21 Jump Street” movie should work, but directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have somehow made a film that both pays homage to and completely desecrates the memory of its predecessor while also telling a distinctive, consistently funny story of its own. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill make for a great comedic team, and both will be in attendance at SXSW’s centerpiece screening.

“Bernie”
(March 14, 6:30 p.m, Paramount Theatre)
Throughout his career, Richard Linklater keeps returning to explore the different sides of Texas, and “Bernie” is perhaps Linklater’s finest film to date. Based on a true story that took place in Carthage, “Bernie” stars Jack Black as the titular character, a kind and well-loved man. Black gives a wonderfully human, gentle performance that’s completely absent of any of his typical schtick. Linklater sets up much of the film through documentary-style interviews with the townspeople who lived the story, and it lends the film an authenticity and texture that makes it stand out, both in Linklater’s catalog and in the SXSW lineup.

“Cabin in the Woods”
(March 9, 7 p.m., Paramount Theatre)
When “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon and former “Lost” writer Drew Goddard team up to make a horror film, you pay attention. And fans have been waiting for “Cabin in the Woods” since 2009. I’ve managed to go nearly three years without seeing a single second of footage from the film, and the enthusiastic early word has me extremely excited to get packed into the Paramount and experience this one with a huge crowd.

“Casa de mi Padre”
(March 13, 5:00 p.m., Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar)
It would have been easy for “Casa de mi Padre” to simply be a movie where Will Ferrell tells jokes in Spanish. But the film goes for a distinct, slightly twisted tone and Ferrell gives the most energized performance we’ve seen from him in years. The film’s commitment to the excessively ridiculous is admirable, and “Casa de mi Padre” proves to be much better than its lackluster trailer would suggest.

“Extracted”
(March 10, 10 p.m., Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar; March 11, 10 p.m., Violet Crown Cinema; March 13, 4:30 p.m., Alamo Drafthouse Ritz; March 15, 9:45 p.m., Violet Crown Cinema)
Extracted” doesn’t have an obvious hook; there are no stars on the marquee and director Nil Paniry is making his feature debut here. Nonetheless, its premise of a man (Sasha Roiz) trapped inside a drug addict’s memories is a compelling one. The film’s trailer is filled with promising visuals that easily earn “Extracted” a spot on the must-see list this year.

“The Raid: Redemption”
(March 11, 9:30 p.m., Paramount Theatre)
There’s not a film I’m more excited for at SXSW than “The Raid: Redemption.” Given the rapturous reception the film has gotten from almost everyone who’s seen, it only adds to my anticipation. The film, which tells the story of an ill-fated police raid on a crime-infested apartment complex, blew everyone’s minds back at the Toronto International Film Festival and has been steadily building buzz since. If this one lives up to expectations, it’ll be something very
special indeed.

“[REC] 3: Genesis”
(March 9, 11:59 p.m., Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar; March 14, 11:59 p.m., Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar)
The Spanish “[REC]” franchise has proven to be one of the most reliably terrifying zombie series in recent history, and even “Quarantine,” the watered-down American remake, managed to score a few scares of its own. “[REC] 3: Genesis” takes the franchise to the beginnings of the zombie outbreak and promises to be a highlight of a midnighter’s program packed with hotly
anticipated titles.