Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Muppets

Release Date: Nov 23, 2011 
Runtime: 1 hr. 38 min.
Director: James Bobin 
Cast: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Steve Whitmire.

It's not everyday you see a film with pure happiness bursting at its seams; but it's also not everyday you get to meet "The Muppets." After a hiatus of more than ten years from the silver screen, Kermit and the gang are back and livelier than ever. But first they must put on the show of all shows to outbid ruthless oil tycoon, Tex Richman, and save the theater that they once called home. From its opening musical number, the movie draws you into the memories you had as a child, when life was carefree and full of whimsy. Writing duo Segel and Stoller tap into every bit of that nostalgia to make the 50's homage feel vibrant and new, while director James Bobin adds a contemporary look. With a variety of celebrity cameos and ridiculously catchy tunes, "The Muppets" are everything fans long to remember, and an introduction to those who are unfamiliar. What's more is that the puppets are now self-aware and infinitely mobile, constantly breaking the fourth wall and making parodies upon parodies. That's the genius behind the marketing of the film, which utilizes its colorful cast while keeping the humor intact. And laugh you will, if not at least smile, for what is a show without an audience. But for those who have a low tolerance for uber cheesiness, be prepared for sudden break-outs in song and mob dance routines. (Hey, this is Disney, after all.) At any rate, "The Muppets" leaves a lasting impression, and seeing Chris Cooper rap is well worth the ticket.

Rating: 4½ stars

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas

Release Date: Nov 04, 2011 RealD 3D 
Runtime: 1 hr. 30 min. 
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Cast: John Cho, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris, Patton Oswalt, Danny Trejo, Tom Lennon.

Tis the season to get high, in the latest adventure with "Harold & Kumar." John Cho and Kal Penn reprise their roles as the stoner pair, this time reuniting after years of distance and separation. Harold is now a wealthy businessman down on Wall St. (cue the protesters), and Kumar is unemployed, unshaven and single. While not much has changed since the last roundaboutthe boys still end up in their crazy antics and NPH is, well, 'straight'—the third time around doesn't feel as repetitive as the earlier disappointment that was "The Hangover: Pt II." On the contrary, "Christmas" is the most cartoonish of the bunch, tipping the scale of idiocy and obscenity to full-on mayhem. With the use of 3D technology and claymation, if feels like a constant acid trip, without the after effects. You have to give credit to the writers for their creativity, as this drugged out wonderland is remarkably full of holiday spirit, albeit in all the wrong ways. The best thing about the franchise is still NPH, of course, who willingly pokes fun of himself, as himself; a paradox of sorts. His presence alone makes up for the flaws that come with a sequel that has an easy premise to begin with, and not much going for it afterward. Will it ever surpass the novelty of going to "White Castle?" Probably not. But it sure puts a cracked spin on a holiday that's typically meant for kids. Think of it as a Christmas classic for the immoral side in you.

Rating: 3 stars

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tower Heist

Release Date: Nov 04, 2011 
Runtime: 1 hr. 45 min. 
Director: Brett Ratner 
Cast: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, Téa Leoni, Michael Peña, Gabourey Sidibe.

Talk about a job gone wrong. When a group of condo employees get bamboozled by their wealthy resident, the only way to cope is to get even. But like all knuckle-headed heists, it's easier said than done, and improbability becomes irrelevant in a caper-comedy made for amateurs. In his first mainstream movie since "Rush Hour 3," Ratner keeps to what he knows, bringing talent together for a comedy that should please the general masses. Led by an unusually reserved Ben Stiller, the cast is what makes "Tower Heist" so appealing, giving much deserved attention to the supporting likes of Michael Peña and Gabourey Sidibe. But at the end of the day, it's all about the Eddie Murphy show and his long-awaited comeback to the comedy spotlight. After years of spiraling downward with family-friendly gigs, Murphy returns with gusto, and validates his old knack for humor with his fast-talking, wise-cracking persona. While the first half of the film delivers the majority of the jokes from the trailer, it's no less amusing in the context of the planning that already seems ill-fated from the start. It's when the actual heist comes into play that things go astray, and open a can of unanswered questions that leave us feeling dumbfounded. Still, Ratner's films are never meant to be taken seriously and this one shouldn't either. A heist is what you ask for and a heist is what you get.

Rating: 3 stars