The Muppets

In an age of dumbed-down action overblown Hollywood busts that should make the average American enraged, there is a soft glow of nostalgia and self-deprecating campy humor.  Oh Jason Segel, I love you.  True story: Jason Segel pitched the idea for the Muppets to Disney immediately after the success of Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  Their reaction: Hell No!  Disney was not excited about having a dude in his 20s who just exposed a full frontal of his long schlong to all of America helm a project about the resurgence of a beloved troupe of talking puppets.  However, he came back and somehow convinced them, through his passion of the Muppets, that he was the right guy for the job.  Pretty damn amazing if I say so myself.

But enough about the backstory, what about the movie itself?  Adorable, witty, charismatic and thoroughly enjoyable.  The film plot begs a question I oftentimes think of myself on nights that I find myself unable to sleep, tossing and turning, staring at the ceiling: Where are the Muppets now?  Turns out, Kermit is living a lonely bachelor life in a huge Bel Air mansion, Gonzo is making millions off of toilet manufacturing, or was it doorknobs?, Animal is at an insane asylum with none other than Jack Black, Miss Piggy is off being the Devil Wears Prada in Paris (with Emily Blunt reprising the same role as the aforesaid film), and Fozzy Bear, poor old Fozzy, is performing with Muppet knock offs in some tawdry casino in Reno.  Enter plot twist: an evil Rich Guy is trying to buy up the Muppets stage for the cache of oil beneath it.  And so begins the journey to try to reunite the Muppets once again, get money back in order to buy back the old venerable Muppets stage.

Besides the talented cast (Jason Segel wrote the screenplay and stars with his co-star Amy Adams, Jack Black) there’s a generous dose of random well-placed cameos (Sarah Silverman, Emily Blunt, her husband John Krasinski, Whoopi Goldberg, Serena Gomez, Zach Galifianakis, Donald Glover, Dave Grohl, Ken Jeong, Neil Patrick Harris, that Columbian kid from Modern family).  With the lovely backup musicals provided by Brett MacKenzie of Flight of the Conchords, you can imagine that this is a film that you wouldn’t want to miss.   I even stayed through the credits.  The Muppets are Back! $9

If you heart the Muppets

Recommendations by …
Toy Story 3
Shrek
The Muppets in Manhattan

p.s.  brilliant

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/05/jason-segel-gets-date-invite-chelsea-gill_n_1185748.html

Despicable Me

O Despicable Me! You owe Dr. Seuss lunch! Didn’t your friends warn you – you are exactly like How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Still, you accomplish something very few films do – you are a satisfying modern adaptation/remake. Very few films ask themselves the question – do I really need to be re-adapted? Do I need to be remade? Can the original not stand on its own? Is the original so dated, or has the American viewing audience grown so retarded, that they cannot decipher its messages?

And I am not just referring to modern remakes. American-made versions overwhelmingly scar the legacy of their foreign-born counterparts. Just look at some hideously bad American-made versions – Scott Hicks’s  No Reservations, Yann Samuell’s My Sassy Girl, Neil LaBute’s Death at a Funeral. All mental midgets. All grossly inferior and misconstrued renderings of the source materials. But I digress. You Despicable Me are a gem. A real god amongst insects.

O Russell Brand! O Jason Segel! I was listening out for you and I did not even slightly recognize your voices. Steve Carell on the other hand – your voice was only thinly disguised. But why disguise? Why act at all actually? If producers are paying you all this money – why wouldn’t they want you to sound like yourself?

There is not much to say beyond these minor points. Other than there are some adorable animations. And a brilliant score produced by Pharrell Williams. Pretty much everything is better with Pharrell around. Music. Skateboards. Hats. A round of applause . . . $6

Get Him to the Greek

O Jonah Hill! You haven’t lost your touch. Or any weight. Stay fat my friend! You’ve really packed them on recently – was it for Cyrus? But it works for you. Not like Val Kilmer. Val Kilmer looks like Val Kilmer’s obese older brother. But you’ve really grown into your body. And you run surprisingly fast! You do so much running in this film! I love watching fat kids run. It’s like watching a dog swimming. There’s something beautiful and miraculous and grotesque about it all simultaneously.

O Russell Brand! You are somehow more feminine than any woman and yet a perfectly masculine rock ‘n’ roll demigod. They need a new category for what you are. It would be just you and Michael Stipe. And maybe Gael Garcia Bernal in Bad Education. You also cry fantastically well. Tears of a clown. But you sold me. I thought, this guy knows what it is to be a heroin addict, father to an Italian photographer’s son, separated from a maniacal model/musician (whom is engaged to Lars Ulrich), gold medalist in debauchery, rock legend to millions, and sick enough (or generous enough) to engage in multiple gay sex acts with Jonah Hill. Good call on Nick Stoller’s part to focus the Forgetting Sarah Marshall spinoff on Aldous.

Puffy Diddy – sometimes you surprise me. When I saw you in Monster’s Ball I thought hey, that guy actually didn’t ruin the movie at all. Same goes here except you were good! A true asset to the movie as you got my expectations real low, and then you delivered a B+ performance. Applause to the whole team . . . $8

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