THE MUPPETS IS one movie that could have easily been butchered by a group of old, crusty, out-of-touch executives who think Jim Henson’s creations aren’t cool enough to appeal to modern audiences. Luckily, in this recent incarnation, the classic marionette and puppet hybrids have not been replaced with computer generated doppelgangers and Kermit the Frog does not wear a hoodie and speak in some obnoxious street talk. Instead writer Jason Segel and director James Bobin found a way to let The Muppets return to theatres after a 12-year hiatus with a charming and funny film celebrating their legendary history.
This time around, the plot focuses on a new Muppet character named Walter, a lifelong fan of Kermit and company. He decides to visit their classic studios in Los Angeles with his brother Gary (Segel) and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams). After discovering a greedy business man intends to tear down the lot to drill for oil, Walter and his human companions must reunite the old gang and help them put on one final show to raise enough money to buy back the studio.
This film’s plot comes from recycled 1980s content—that’s the point. A good portion of the film’s humour derives from self-parody and subtle flashbacks. These are elements that will definitely please longtime fans, but fly over the heads of younger viewers, or those who are unfamiliar with the franchise. However, the adult-oriented jokes aren’t a problem. They’re balanced with elements that have always made The Muppets appealing to a wide audience, such as absurdist comedy, elaborate musical numbers, and celebrity cameos.
Of course, all the Muppet characters make appearances. Fozzie Bear still prides himself on telling bad, cringe-worthy jokes, Miss Piggy is unrelentingly feisty and deals out awkward karate chops left, right, and centre, and Animal continues to channel his homicidal rage by playing the drums. They all are given a generous amount of screen time and remind the movie-going public of why The Muppets are still a relevant piece of popular culture.
Other than some slight shortcomings, The Muppets is a hilarious and endearing film that resurrects Jim Henson’s creations with love, affection, and zero cynicism. Even though this may sound horribly hackneyed by movie critic standards, it really is “fun for the entire family.”
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
FOR THOSE OF you wise people who stopped reading the Twilight series after Eclipse, here is a quick synopsis of Breaking Dawn: Bella and Edward get married and have headboard-breaking sex. They then conceive a half-human, half-vampire demon baby that begins to claw its way out of Bella, practically murdering her. This baby is given the unfortunate name of Rennesme and becomes Jacob’s one and only desire—sounds appealing, right?
Whoever thought this would make a decent movie should be forced to watch the whole Twilight series on repeat, while a crowd of obnoxious Team Edward and Team Jacob fans scream and sigh throughout. Aside from two 13-year-old girls who still take The Twilight Saga seriously, the entire audience found the movie to be a joke—and not the funny kind.
Between the bad acting and the—what else?—bad acting, I found myself grateful the series is coming to a close. I now have a new-found respect for Kristen Stewart, Rob Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner for sticking it out to the last movie, even if it means a permanent black mark on their resumés.
Jack and Jill
BEING TWINS, OR “womb-mates” as it is referred to in Jack and Jill, is seen as funny and adorable. While the movie may seem like it has some comedic potential, it doesn’t. This “cute” comedy stars Adam Sandler as both Jack and Jill, and that alone should make you not buy a movie ticket.
Alongside Sandler, the film features Katie Holmes, Al Pacino, and a host of other actors. The movie focuses on Jack, a successful advertising executive who lives in Los Angeles with his wife Erin (Holmes) and their two kids. Every Thanksgiving, his twin sister Jill travels to spend time with Jack and his family. Jack, of course, resents Jill’s loud and needy attitude and is not looking forward to her arrival. During her time in L.A., Jill meets Al Pacino, starring as himself, who falls in love with her, but she doesn’t really care about him. Jack tries to get Jill with Pacino, since Jack desperately needs Pacino for business and his job. And so, the drama begins.
Even though this movie features big name cameos like Regis Philbin, Shaquille O’Neal, and Johnny Depp, the film still falls flat on its face. Don’t pay to see this movie—ever.
FROM THE CREATIVE minds who brought us 300 comes the next chapter in over-the-top, decapitation-laden fantasy action films. Similar to 300, The Immortals is set in ancient Greece and focuses on Theseus, a bastard peasant handpicked by Zeus to save Greece from imminent war. Theseus is given the task of protecting his people from an evil empire led by King Hyperion’s (Mickey Rourke) legion, which is closing in on the Epirus Bow—a legendary weapon created by the gods that has the ability to release the titans back to earth. Theseus, as any great hero does, takes any and every necessary—and often bloody—step to save ancient Greece, making for a final showdown of godly proportions.
The film as a whole attempts a much fuller plot than 300, but still has its fair share of beheadings and gory executions. The movie comes across like it’s skipping scenes, which takes away from its fluidity. Sans the epic battle scenes needed to fulfil diehard action lovers, The Immortals fails to differentiate itself from other movies in this fantastical genre. Don’t get me wrong—the movie was entertaining; it just left a little too much to the imagination.
J. EDGAR HOOVER, founder of the Federal Bureau of Investigations and bureau director for 37 years, is one of the most complex and enigmatic characters in American history. The public side of Hoover revolutionized criminal investigation; the professional side was an ambitious and power hungry man who kept secret files on leading public figures and used them as political leverage. In private, he was a troubled man, with deep-seated mother issues and an inability to confront his homosexuality. Any one of these subjects has the makings of a great film—unfortunately, Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar attempts to portray all of them.
Leonardo DiCaprio delivers a formidable performance as Hoover, well supported by Armie Hammer’s Clyde Tolson and Naomi Watts’ Helen Gandy—Hoover’s inner circle. Still, the brilliant acting and excellent use of makeup is overshadowed by Eastwood’s incoherent direction. J. Edgar jumps at will between time periods and story arcs with little rhyme or reason, rendering the audience unable to connect to the story before the scene changes.
J. Edgar also fails in its history, showing historically inaccurate scenes throughout the film before explaining that the scenes are Hoover’s portrayal of himself in a brief scene at the end. The method does nothing but confuse the casual history-loving observer, while frustrating those who are intimately familiar with Hoover’s legacy.
Somewhere in the chaos, there is a top-notch film but, like Hoover himself, J. Edgar is ultimately too ambitious for its own good.