Review: 8 out of 10
“The Muppets” a best picture contender? It could happen
In the new hands of Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller (collaborators on “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”), they have created a delightfully winning film that both nostalgic older fans and relative newcomers are going to love to bits.
The late Jim Henson would be proud.
Segel plays Gary, who travels with his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams, both she and Segel are adorable together and fit into this perfectly) and muppet-brother Walter to Los Angeles in order to see the muppets. Only what they find is that the popular puppets have disbanded and an evil oil baron (Chris Cooper) is looking to destroy muppet studios in order to drill. They meet up with Kermit and from there they plan to get the band back together for a benefit show to raise money to save the studio.
“The Muppets” offer a fun blend of slapstick and more “inside” jokes that older fans will understand before getting to the second half variety show, which offers its biggest laughs. Many star cameos are made (Jack Black may have saved his career with this) and the hilarious.
Heartfelt songs (“Life’s a Happy Song,” “Man or Muppet” are just two favorites) stick in your head for days.
But this wouldn’t be a muppet movie if it didn’t make you feel all warm and gooey too—whether it’s Walter’s struggle to find his talent and confidence to join the muppets for the show; Gary learning not to take Mary for granted; or the muppets still trying to prove that simple, good-hearted entertainment still has a place even in this cynical world of Kardashians and reality game shows.
The Muppets and company have put on one heck of a funny and moving show and its nothing short of wonderful to behold.
Click on the video to watch the trailer on YouTube.
Review: 6 out of 10
“The Descendants” is Alexander Payne’s first flick since 2004’s “Sideways.”
Where’s he been, and why does his new movie go no where?
George Clooney plays Matt King, and attorney known as the back-up parent and absentee husband. His wife is in the hospital due to a head injury she will not recover from and he has to make up his mind when to pull the plug. That would put him in charge of his rebellious older daughter Alex (Shailene Woodley), who has an alcohol problem, and precocious younger one Scottie (Amara Miller), who is lashing out.
As if that wasn’t bad enough—he also finds out that his wife has been cheating on him. In the process of notifying family of her passing, he’s also curious in finding the guy she was sleeping with.
No doubt Matt should feel betrayed and little scared by the family turmoil he’s walking into but shouldn’t he also experience some guilt that the women in his life looked for fulfillment elsewhere because he was always away? Shouldn’t this all link to revelations that are emotionally deeper than a land deal Matt is working on?
I kept waiting for Payne to add some complexity here, but instead he keeps trying to add levity to situations that are too heavy to really be funny. The result is just awkward.
The biggest misstep is Sid (Nick Krause), Alex’s dim-witted stoner boyfriend, the supposed comic relief whose actually more irritating creep, like in one scene where he laughs at Alex’s grandmother with alzheimers because he doesn’t understand her confusion.
And kids using profanity for shock value? Is that even that funny anymore?
Luckily the cast is very good, with Clooney leading the charge as a man afraid, uncertain, and trying to hold it all together. The movie works best with him in the scene. Woodley is very promising and Mathew Lillard, Judy Greer, and Robert Forster do nice work in small parts.
But after a while you want to tell Payne to stop going overboard with the Hawaiian music soundtrack, get to the point, and move us already but unfortunately “The Descendants,” just descends.
Click on the video to watch the trailer on YouTube
My Week With Marilyn
Review: 7 out 10
“My Week with Marilyn” says it all in the title, this story, about some British dude she spent time with while doing a movie, is merely a footnote in the icon’s career.
It works though, primarily because Michelle Williams has really come a long way since “Dawson ’s Creek.”
She plays Monroe, coming to London in 1956 in order to shoot “The Prince and the Showgirl,” which happens to star and be directed by acting-legend Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). The two clash almost immediately with Marilyn consistently arriving late to the set and forgetting lines. She’s nervous and being around such refined British thespians doesn’t seem to help much.
Enter Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) a young man from a well-to-do-family with future-filmmaking dreams. He gets a job as third unit director on the film, but actually becomes something a little bit more to Marilyn during the week of the shoot.
Williams is really the best you’ll see here. She makes Marilyn this bright, adorable star with an almost childish simplicity to her speech, turning on charm like a light switch. We see how good Monroe was at playing the star, but we also see how the thing she loved most also led to a rash of insecurities and uncertainty about her own talent, which wound up slowly destroying her.
That’s a question the movie asks. Did she have talent?
I liked how screenwriter Adrien Hodge’s played with that, particularly Monroe bringing in acting coach Paula Strasberg (Zoe Wanamaker) to teach her how to “find the character.” Her fights with Branagh’s old-school-acting-professional Olivier are very funny and show that she did have a tough exterior as well as a way of being completely disarming on-screen on occasion.
It’s too bad the movie spends so much time on Colin, who quickly becomes her only confidante. She’s a pill-popping train-wreck, he’s a dope who ditches Emma Watson’s Lucy because he wants more of a relationship with her. He should know better.
“Marilyn” doesn’t add much to the legend that is Monroe, but Williams does nomination-worthy work.
Click on the video to watch the trailer on YouTube