REVIEW: The Muppets

The Muppets
Directed by: James Bobin
Written by: Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller (screenplay), Jim Henson (characters),
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Steve Whitmire and Eric Jacobsen

The entirety of this reboot of The Muppets franchise is about why it’s necessary.  The Muppets will be duking it out with Scream 4 for the title of “Most self-reflexive movie of 2011,” and sadly it’s the same mess of mixed quality and mediocre execution.

Jason Segel and Amy Adams play Gary and Mary, two people who, along with Gary’s Muppet brother Walter (voiced by Peter Linz), attempt to get the Muppet gang back together for a farewell show.  Segel co-wrote the screenplay with Nicholas Stoller, and it’s unfortunate that such a worthy premise oddly can’t decide if it wants to be funny or not.

In structure and (sometimes) tone this reboot resembles the Seinfeld Reunion season of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Kermit The Frog (voiced by Steve Whitmire) joins the oddball trio to reassemble his Muppet posse, with Curb’s Seinfeld reunion line “We’ll do it in a way that won’t be lame,” being implied instead of spoken.  The Muppets are battling to be relevant, and the visual gags and several self-reflexive references are made to do battle with forced pathos instead of being front-and-center.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: A Christmas Tale

A Christmas Tale
Directed by: Arnaud Desplechin
Written by: Arnaud Desplechin & Emmanuel Bourdieu
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric, Anne Consigny, and Jean-Paul Roussillon

The French movie character, with its wildly shifting eyes, deep self consciousness, and ever-looming misery, never ceases to be endlessly thought-provoking.  Throw a bunch of these creatures together in the days preceding Christmas, and you’ve got the emotional bloodbath equivalent of Kill Bill.

A Christmas Tale is the typical American holiday drama done elegantly and boldly in the French fashion.  It is a dysfunctional family coming together during the holiday, and yes, mother is dying of cancer.  The movie succeeds because disease is a theme and not a plot point.  Cancer of one form or another has eaten away at this family’s soul for years; Junon (Catherine Deneuve) is suffering from the same form of cancer that killed her four-year-old son decades ago.

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