Friday, November 25, 2011

The Muppets/Small Fry

Based on Jim Henson’s puppet TV show, The Muppets is about a big fan who asks his brother and his brother’s girlfriend to save the Muppets theater from an oil businessman by reuniting the Muppets. Directed by James Bobin with a script written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller, the film marks the return of the Muppets gang after a long-decade hiatus from feature films as Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo the Great, Animal, and many others make their long-awaited return. Also starring Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Rashida Jones, and Chris Cooper along with a slew of cameos. The Muppets is a fun and lively film that reminds everyone why the Muppets are so loveable.

Toy Story Toons: Small Fry

Written and directed by Angus MacLane, Small Fry is the second Toy Story short from Pixar about Buzz Lightyear being trapped at a fast-food restaurant where he meets a group of discarded toys while a mini-version of Buzz takes his place.

The short has a mini-Buzz toy trying to replace Buzz at a fast-food restaurant where he manages to annoy Woody and the gang. Buzz meanwhile, tries to get back home as he meets a group of toys who go into a meeting about feeling abandoned and not played at all. It’s another short where a lot of funny moments happen that involves the mini-Buzz (Teddy Newton) as his eagerness to be played with has him getting into some trouble with Woody, Jessie, and the rest of the gang.

The Muppets

For all of his life, Walter (the voice of Peter Linz) is a young Muppet that has a been of Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and the gang as his older brother Gary (Jason Segel) and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) go on a trip to Los Angeles for their 10th anniversary. Gary invites Walter in hopes to go to Muppets studio where they find the place in ruins as Walter secretly enters Kermit’s office to find a meeting with oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) who plans to purchase the property for oil drilling. Walter decides to find the Muppets in hope to raise $10 million to save the studio as Gary and Mary join him where they meet Kermit. Though Kermit was unsure about reuniting with the old gang, he decides to reunite the old gang as he learns that Gonzo is a successful plumbing executive and Fozzie leading a Muppets tribute band with a group of cynical Muppets.

With Kermit finally getting nearly everyone on board, the only he couldn’t convince is Miss Piggy as she declines due to personal issues with Kermit. Kermit reluctantly replaces her with Miss Poogy, from Fozzie’s tribute band, as they’ve managed to convince a TV executive named Veronica (Rashida Jones) to have a telethon presented with a celebrity guest host. Though Kermit and the gang try to figure out how to present the show as Miss Piggy finally comes around to return for a one-time gig. Gary and Mary go through their own relationship problems while Walter becomes unsure what his talent is for the show. When Kermit learns that Richman isn’t just going to own than just the studio, problems emerge as everyone decides to get together and save the Muppets studio from the greedy Richman.

For anyone that has grown up with Muppets over the years, there’s always a lot that people gravitate towards to. Whether it’s Fonzie’s bad jokes, Animal’s crazy drumming, Gonzo’s stunts, Miss Piggy’s diva behavior, and the always reasonable yet silly Kermit. The Muppets has always been there for one thing only, to make people laugh. Since they’ve been away for quite some time in the age of computer-animated films and an array of silly gimmicks for family movies. The time is right for the Muppets to make their return as they once again return in great form doing what they do best.

Screenwriters Jason Segal and Nicholas Stoller definitely create a story that people can enjoy though it’s obvious formulaic in what they wanted to do. Still, they’ve managed to keep things be lively and find some excuse to put a musical number or a montage into the story. At the heart of it is about one young Muppet fan trying to get the gang back together while finding himself becoming part of the gang. Yet, he has to realize that it’s been so many years since they’ve been seen while the Muppets themselves wonder if they still have something to offer. The script succeeds in being very funny and entertaining while giving the human characters more than just being stock characters while the Tex Richman character is a fun antagonist that is a parody of sorts of other villains.

James Bodin’s direction is truly whimsical in the way the film is presented as it isn’t just a tribute to the old Muppets TV show and the movies they’ve made. It’s also a resurrection of sorts in reminding audiences why they were so beloved. After years of lackluster projects that didn’t live up to the work that Jim Henson did during his life time, Bodin finally gets it by just keeping things simple and just let the Muppets have fun. Bodin manages to get a lot of wide shots for some of the musical numbers while keeping the camera going without any kind of fast-paced movements. At the heart of it all, it’s all about bringing people together and just having a good time in which Bodin does as he brings Jim Henson’s voice back in what the Muppets all about. Overall, James Bodin creates a truly exhilarating and charming film that makes the audience welcome the Muppets back with open arms.

Cinematographer Don Burgess does an excellent job with the cinematography that is colorful and vibrant for its daytime scene while maintaining a stylish intimacy for some of its interiors including the scenes at the Muppet theater. Editor James M. Thomas does a nice job with the editing as it’s mostly straightforward while creating a great montage of how the Muppets are all gathered for the reunion.

Production designer Steve Saklad, with set decorator Tracey A. Doyle and art director Andrew Max Cahn does a wonderful job with the set pieces created such as Kermit‘s mansion as well as Muppets studio and theater for the big production number. Costume designer Rahel Afiley does a very good job with the clothes that the human characters such as the matching suits that Gary and Walter wear along with the stylish dresses that Mary wears. Visual effects supervisor Janet Muswell does some fine work on a few visual effects scene needed such as Walter trying to break into Kermit‘s home. Sound designer Benjamin L. Cook and sound editors Kami Asgar and Sean McCormack do some fantastic work with the sound to capture the some of the sound present on location like Fozzie’s fart shoes.

The film’s score by Christophe Beck is brilliant for its playful and dramatic orchestral themes for the film to emphasize the varying mood of the film. Original songs by Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords provide a lot of the film’s musical moments such as the ballad Man or Muppet, Me Party, and the enjoyable Life’s a Happy Song while providing a soundtrack filled with tunes by Paul Simon, Andrew Bird, and Starship and covers of songs by Nirvana and Cee-Lo along with a new rendition of Rainbow Connection. The music provided in the film is truly the film’s major highlight in terms of technical field.

The casting by Marcia Ross is superb for the numerous cameos that appear in the film such as Alan Arkin, pop singer Selena Gomez, Jack Black, Whoopi Goldberg, Donald Glover as a TV executive, Ken Jeong as a TV game show host, Neil Patrick Harris, Judd Hirsch, James Carville, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt reprising her role from The Devil Wears Prada as Miss Piggy’s receptionist, Rico Rodriguez, Mickey Rooney, Kristen Schaal as an anger management moderator, Sarah Silverman, Jim Parsons, Zach Galifianakis, and Dave Grohl as Fozzie’s tribute band drummer. In other human roles, there’s Rashida Jones as a corporate TV executive who reluctantly let the Muppets put on their show while Chris Cooper is hilarious as oil tycoon Tex Richman as he gets to have a musical moment of his own.

Jason Segel and Amy Adams are a joy to watch as they each bring a wonderful enthusiasm to their roles as a couple eager to be together while helping the Muppets. Finally, there’s the Muppet performers who help play the varied roles of the Muppets, including Peter Linz who voices the role of a new Muppet in the determined fan Walter, as they do an outstanding job providing the voices that longtime fans love to hear from these characters.

The Muppets is an enjoyable and very funny film from James Bodin as he along with screenwriters Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel help bring the Muppets back. Longtime fans will no doubt be rejoiced by the return of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, and the rest of the gang while proving they haven’t lost their touch. For new fans, it’s a chance to see why the Muppets are so beloved as they can get a chance to just enjoy themselves and laugh. In the end, The Muppets is an excellent film that brings new life to Jim Henson’s beloved creation.

The Muppets Films: (The Muppet Movie) - (The Great Muppet Caper) - (The Muppets Take Manhattan) - (Sesame Streets Present Follow That Bird) - (The Muppet Christmas Carol) - (Muppet Treasure Island) - (Muppets from Space) - (The Adventure of Elmo in Grouchland) - Muppets Most Wanted

© thevoid99 2011

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