The 15th annual Newport Beach Film Festival, which runs April 24-May 1, will be bookended by comedies.
Opening night's Lovesick, which is making its world premiere here, stars Matt LeBlanc, Ali Larter and Chevy Chase. Closing the festival is Chef, which makes its West Coast premiere and stars its writer-director, Jon Favreau, with Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson.
Cast and crew members from both films are expected to attend their screenings, and in the case of Lovesick that includes a producer who hails from Costa Mesa.
"Having been born and raised in Orange County, this is a very special homecoming for me," says Josh Goldstein in a statement from the festival. "It's an honor for Lovesick to open the 15th annual Newport Beach Film Festival."
Lovesick was written and directed by artists making their feature film debut. Director Luke Matheny has directed five episodes of IFC's Maron starring standup/podcaster Marc Maron, and the filmmaker snagged an Academy Award for his quirky comedy short God of Love, which rolled at the one-and-done Anaheim International Film Festival in October 2010 on the way to the Oscars. Lovesick screenwriter and executive producer Dean Young wrote for Mad About You, The Drew Carey Show and King of the Hill, with the latter earning him an Emmy nomination.
Matheny and Young's film follows Charlie Darby (LeBlanc), who seems successful at everything but love, which is small wonder because whenever he falls in love with someone he suffers from brain chemistry changes that make him go temporarily insane. After Charlie meets former dancer Molly (Ali Larter), he relies on his friend (Adam Rodriguez) and a wacky neighbor (Chevy Chase) to help him overcome his psychosis so he can finally achieve true love.
Chef has Favreau (director of the first two Iron Man movies and star-writer of Swingers) playing a chef who loses his restaurant job and starts a food truck to reclaim his culinary glory. At the same time, he tries to piece together his estranged family.
I might be wrong, but I believe the last time Favreau appeared in a feature narrative at the Newport Beach Film Festival was in 2004 with The Big Empty.
If you want to attend the opening or closing night pictures, you should know those tickets go quickly and are more expensive than the usual festival fare because they are tied to gala parties.
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In the case of Lovesick, which screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at Edwards Big Newport, the cost for the film and gala are $175 (or $125 for the gala only, which follows at Fashion Island and is 21+).
Chef, which rolls at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 1, at the Regency Lido, will set you back $75 for the film and closing night party, which is also 21+.
Don't worry, in between Lovesick and Chef will be about 350 films from 50 countries, most of which are a more wallet-friendly $12-$14. Spotlight films, which also have associated parties, are pricier, but there are also free events sprinkled throughout the festival. Visit newportbeachfilmfest.com for full details.