Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Muppets

I absolutely love The Muppets! I spent like a billion hours, as a child, watching Muppets Treasure Island over and over and over again. To be honest, I never thought there would be a large renewal of interest in The Muppets. The world revolves around digital everything, and Pixar has redefined PG animation. Who would have thought that a bunch of puppets could pull in almost thirty million dollars on opening weekend? Certainly not me. Regardless of my surprise, I had great expectations for The Muppets. Jason Segel is one of the funniest men alive, and Kermit is one of the wisest. That combo is destined for success, as far as I am concerned. So I figured it was "time to see The Muppets".....

Well, amazingly enough, the storyline for the new Muppets was quite good. Segel did a great job of using the classic Muppet storylines, characters, and themes. Obviously, it is much easier to make a remake with puppets rather than people. You don't have to worry about finding the right actor. You just take them out of the closet and turn a camera on. The Muppets were trying to get back together, after having all gone their separate ways. It was very realistic. I'm just glad they didn't start at the beginning or just act like there was never any kind of break or anything. It was sort of goofy and kidsy, but that's what you have to expect with a show about puppets.

Best Scene: The singing of "Rainbow Connection" will make anybody smile.
Gary, played by Jason Segel, and his brother Walter, voiced by Peter Linz, are the main characters in the story. The two head off to Hollywood with two very different intentions. Walter eventually sets the whole plot into motion, and his character was great in the lead. You really wanted his wishes to come true, even though he was only a puppet. Segel certainly wasn't his normal kind of funny, which absolutely dissapointed me. I know that he tends to be crude, but I believe they could have made him more funny and less serious/dorky, even without losing the PG rating. Amy Adams was a little annoying as the female lead, but that is her job. There were multiple actors who popped in for a scene or two, making for a very nice surprise. It's sort of hard to go wrong with puppets.

Best Character: I thought that what they did with Animal (voiced by Eric Jacobson) was absolutely brilliant. He was sort of recovering from his past, which certainly made for the most interesting plotline for any of the puppets.

Worst Character: I will never EVER say that Kermit the frog is the worst character in anything, but I really hated his storyline in this new Muppets movie. They made Kermit look weak and emotional, which is absolutely false. He is supposed to be the one who has it all together!!! You just don't know how much this pissed me off!

I honestly did not care for this movie. Everybody I talk to says how much they loved it, which probably means that none of you will agree with me. Maybe my expectations were too high, or maybe I just loved Arthur Christmas too much to appreciate anything soon after. Nevertheless, that's my opinion. While I do like the traditional Muppet toons, I usually dislike movies with a lot of music worked into the story. The music certainly could have been the reason why I didn't fully appreciate the movie. I really didn't care for any moment when humans were on screen. The puppets were fantastic, but Segel and Adams just got in the way most of the time. Now that I have vented, I will give The Muppets 2.47 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Great Expectations: December 2011

The final month of 2011 will be screaming Oscar, which may discourage many of you. Here are the three movies that I am most looking forward to this month:

1. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
    (December 9th)

3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    (December 21st)

2. We Bought a Zoo
    (December 23rd)

Arthur Christmas

While I do love Christmas and animation, I must admit that I was not impressed by the trailer for Arthur Christmas. There were just really no laugh out loud moments in the scenes I had seen prior to watching the film, which had me a bit worried. If you haven't realized, 2011 has been a horrific year in the genre of animation, and I really expected Arthur Christmas to be yet another mediocre kids film. We've all seen movies that somehow involved Santa's son and his taking over the job. The storyline has been run into the ground. Nevertheless, I was curious of how funny Arthur would actually be and longing for another new Christmas movie. So I decided to watch Arthur Christmas...

As I said in the intro, the story of Santa and his child/children is a bit old and over-used, but Arthur Christmas did a good job of at least making it interesting. Unfortunately, the movie was a bit predictable, but it made up for its predictability in its hilarity. You can't expect animation to have many great plot twists, but funny is a requirement, particularly for children, and that's what Arthur did best. Along with the funny, Arthur Christmas also had a nice, deep story about Christmas and what it should mean to everyone. Also, it was the most believable explanation of Santa Clause I have ever heard. Using one simple thing, they made the story simple, and that thing was technology. This is the Santa story I want to tell my child one day, mostly because it's almost flawless! I think, for you parent's information, the comedy was a bit grown-up. It certainly wasn't vulgar, just probably difficult for really small children to understand.

Best Scene: Basically any scene with an elf in it.

The coolest aspect of the entire film was undoubtedly the fact that everybody had a Scottish accent. Now, this may seem a bit funny for the main characters, but the Scottish elves are really what made the difference I believe. Arthur, voiced by James McAvoy, was very goofy and likable. His brother Steve, voiced by Hugh Laurie, was probably the least evil villain in the history of animation. While he certainly was causing the trouble, he never did that greatly bad deed like most animated villains tend to do. I really liked that he was not looked at as an awful person. I think, for the kids that do see the film, there will be a sort of "family should always be loved" feel about Steve, which is very good! Grandsanta, voiced by Bill Nighy, was also freakin hilarious as an old geezer who didn't like technology. He ended up teaching a valuable lesson too! There were really no bad characters in the entire movie, which is very very rare.

Best Character: Bryony, voiced by Ashley Jensen, was certainly the coolest Scottish elf of them all. I really loved how funny the elves were and how many of them there were. Bryony was a gift wrapping expert, and her abilities came in handy as the story went along.

My expectations of Arthur Christmas were absolutely shattered! This film was amazing, certainly taking the best animated picture of the year, in my book at least. I haven't laughed at a movie this much in a while, and I certainly enjoy laughing. Although I did know the entire storyline after five minutes of watching, I never lost interest. Even with the predictable storyline, the filmmakers did a good job of giving the story a nice, uplifting message that is certainly needed during the holiday season. After thinking about it, I will probably be picking this one up on DVD when it hits stores next year. Even if you don't like Christmas or animation or Scottish people, I promise that you will laugh your butt off at this movie. I give Arthur Christmas 4.01 out of 5 stars and wish you a Very Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 18, 2011

J. Edgar

Normally, a film based on the historic life of anybody screams "Oscar," but J. Edgar was certainly not popular with the critics in its first week. This worried me, considering critics usually like this type of movie WAY more than an average guy like myself, but, nevertheless, it intrigued me. Heading in, I knew very little historic information about the actual life of J. Edgar Hoover, aside from knowing he had issues. So, I knew it would be difficult for me to pick apart any pitiful portrayals on the part of Eastwood and DiCaprio. That being said, I know that DiCaprio can act, considering two of his movies made my "Best of 2010" (Inception, Shutter Island), and, if you have a good actor playing a historic character, the results tend to be awesome. Hence my watching J. Edgar...

The plot was based on history, so it is difficult to criticise, if you see where I'm coming from. Hoover was a greatly strange individual,w ho lived in his own little world. People like this are fascinating, but, unfortunately, the movie did have a weird feel about it. It was not your traditional history story. If any of you have ever seen Public Enemies, it was sort of like that. Weirdly historic.

Best Scene: There is a scene where Hoover reacts to the death of his mother. This is the one and only time he acted like a real person.

The cast was very star-studded beyond Leonardo DiCaprio. Naomi Watts plays Hoover's secretary, Helen Gandy; Judi Dench plays Hoover's mother, and Armie Hammer plays Clyde Tolson, Hoover's right-hand man/love interest. His relationship with Clyde was very strange. He obviously had a thing for him, but he never actually admitted it. He had a great amount of respect for his mother and Ms. Gandy, and they played important roles in his life. Hoover really was an interesting character in our nation's history, and he had more power than you might realize. Criminal justice was very much lacking before he entered the scene. This means that there would have been no CSI without J. Edgar Hoover, for all of you crime drama freaks. With that being said, I just didn't buy DiCaprio in the role. I honestly can't put my finger on the problem, but there definitely was one.

Best Character: Charles Lindbergh, played by Josh Lucas, was probably the most interesting part of the movie. His piece in the puzzle of our nation's history was much larger than you might realize. I found that very interesting and was glad that he was included.

Worst Character: Bobby Kennedy, played by Jeffrey Donovan, was one of the weirdest characters in the show. They played him up a little much, but mostly the acting was just awful.

There is only one word to describe J. Edgar.... WEIRD!!! The movie was not that badly put together, as you can expect with Eastwood directing, but the film had an overall weirdness to it. I didn't care for it. They did a good job with DiCaprio's make up, but I think they should have let an older man play the part, because the make-up seemed a bit over done. While DiCaprio's make up was good, Armie Hammer, on the other hand,  looked like he had just participated in a whip cream pie war. It was AWFUL! I have had great trouble writing this review because, as I said, there is nothing I can particularly describe that made the whole movie bad, but, nevertheless, I didn't care for the whole thing. I don't suggest that you watch this movie. Just look J. Edgar Hoover up on wikipedia! I give J. Edgar 2.57 out of 5 stars.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas

I don't know about you, but I love Harold and Kumar. They are undoubtedly the funniest potheads, this side of Cheech and Chong. But, even more than that, I freakin love Christmas movies. It is certainly a weakness of mine. Now, what could make Harold and Kumar better than a little bit of Christmas cheer? The answer: a little bit of dirty, Christmas hilarity. As I said, I do love these guys, but I was a little skeptical of how far they could really take the series of films. Sure, people watch, but Harold and Kumar aren't as important to society as people like The Hangover guys. Nevertheless, they press forward, using a brilliantly creative theme.... CHRISTMAS!!! I didn't expect this movie to be the greatest of all time, but I really wanted to see how much they could pick at traditional Christmas movies and 3D.

The biggest surprise of the entire movie was the fact that there actually was a plot! If my blog would have existed when the first two films hit theaters, this entire section would be empty. The first two films were filled with random, funny, dope-smoking moments that somehow became a movie. This film actually taught a lesson: don't forget the people who mean the most to you in your life. You might would expect this from any other Christmas film, considering the holiday season brings families and friends together, but you wouldn't expect that to coincide with these crazy characters. Regardless, it happened, and I was shocked. Of course, there were many jokes that would offend sensitive Christmas lovers. Also, make sure that you don't watch this film with your kids or parents.

Best Scene: Harold shoots Santa Clause (Richard Riehle) out of the sky. That was pretty funny. But, knowing that was in the previews, I don't want to discourage you. There were many other funny parts that the trailer doesn't show.

The characters obviously drive the plot along, with their name being in the title and all. Harold (John Cho) has finally grown up and become more mature, but Kumar (Kal Penn) continues to struggle with his life. The two have been separated, and a little Christmas magic reunites them in an unpeaceful way. The pair, as usual, encounter a few crazy individuals along the way. Neil Patrick Harris is crazy as himself, and both Harold and Kumar have replaced one another with new friends Todd (Tom Lennon) and Adrian (Amir Blumenfeld), who turn out to be rather hilarious. Overall, the cast was great and funny.

Best Character: Ava, who was Todd's baby daughter, was undoubtedly the funniest character in the movie. Played by Ashley, Chloe, and Hannah Cross, Ava was always getting into some sort of illegal substance. While this may sound a bit rough, it is. But it's freakin hilarious!

Worst Character: Kenneth Park, played by Bobby Lee, was the most useless addition to the cast, hence his landing in the worst character spot. You might know him as the guy in the trailer that points at the screen and says, "It's gonna be amazing!" That's about all he does.

I was very pleased. I think the addition of a plot really helped this movie avoid being just stupid-funny, not that it didn't have those qualities. Also, the 3D was rather cool at times. It did what 3D is supposed to do, by jumping out at the screen and having stuff fly at your face. If I wanted to look at a person walk around in 3D, I would just go to the mall. The characters were hilarious as usual, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see a fourth installment in the Harold and Kumar series. It was a nice start to the Holiday movie season. I give A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas 2.81 out of 5 stars and ask you to be patient, as Arthur Christmas is on its way!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Great Expectations: November 2011

Here are the three movies that I am most excited about this month and a trailer for each:

1. A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas

2. J. Edgar

3. The Muppets

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In Time

Three whole weeks without going to the movies! That has to be some sort of record for me. Sorry I haven't had anything to write about, but I promise there are a ton of great-looking movies coming out in November and December. So, prepare yourself for the rush of reviews and the desire that you will have to go to the movies or neglect them, following your reading of my thoughts. As far as In Time is concerned, I wasn't particularly excited to see this movie. It looked ok, but movies like this always seem to let me down. Justin Timberlake has never been successful in a lead role, but this concept looked really cool and unique. The movie did not have a good rating on the Tomatometer, which certainly worried me. Nevertheless, I give you a review of In Time...

The plot was very different from a traditional, boring action movie. Usually movies are predictable. The aliens aren't going to completely take over the world. The hero is always going to win. But, with In Time, the movie was simply about survival of the fittest, and that's something that we aren't used to seeing in movies. The concept was really quite cool, and I sat there amazed at some of the puns they used. They were quite clever. Justin Timberlake played Will Salas, the main character, who was almost like Robin Hood. Therefore, the story was a lot like that of, you guessed it, Robin Hood. The problem was that the lesson they were trying to teach was a little too obvious. They turned money into time, which was actually the currency (if that makes sense at all). This completely defeated the purpose I believe, but I give them an A for effort. The story really was very truthful in its analogy, but I wanted to be entertained a bit more.

Best Scene: There was a scene where Will was introduced to a man's family. The man introduced his mother-in-law, wife, and daughter, and they were all 25 years old, which was very cool.

As I said, Timberlake plays the lead character, and, once again, he kind of sucked it up. He really should stick to comedies in my opinion, but I'm not his agent. Sylvia Weis, played by Amanda Seyfried and her awful hair, was this awkward love interest. She was necessary to the plot, she just really sucks at acting. The cast, as a whole, pretty much struggled. A cool addition was Olivia Wilde, who played Will's mother. Everyone stops aging at age 25, which probably made casting a lot easier. Too bad they still couldn't find the right folks.

Best Character: Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory) played Borel, who was Will's best friend. Galecki did a phenomenal in the dramatic role. It kind of made me think that they should have put Timberlake on The Big Bang Theory and let Galecki play the lead in In Time.

Worst Character: Raymond Leon, played by Cillian Murphy, really was just awkward. Murphy is a weird actor, who is only suited for certain roles in my opinion. This was not one of them. He played a "timekeeper," which was basically like the time police. He was like a movie version of Horatio Caine.

Overall, the concept was great, but the execution was certainly lacking. Timberlake was bad and, as I said, should stick to comedies. I enjoyed the movie, particularly the puns. If you go to the movies as much as I do, then go watch this, but, if not, you would be better off renting In Time. As I said before, November and December each have very promising line ups, and it all starts next weekend with Harold and Kumar! The holiday season will be great for movies, but this was not the kickoff of that season, unfortunately. I give In Time 2.45 out of 5 stars.