Geek in the City

Mixing pop culture news, reviews, and socially biting commentary with mildly amusing entertainment.

The Muppets

What would happen if we fans were given the keys to revive and drive a franchise back to the glory that was once was? What if George Lucas gave the keys to the Star Wars prequels to the fans and allowed us to create the clone wars and the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker?

The Muppets is a prime example of the ultimate fan film. Jason Segel takes a dying franchise and revives it back to glorious life.
When I say “dying” franchise, I am referring to how the Muppets were slowly losing the charm and fun that made them great all those years ago when “The Muppet Show” was on television every week back when I was a lad.

When the TV show finished, Jim Henson and crew made The Muppet Movie at the right time; the very height of the Muppets popularity. The innocence and joy that was The Muppet Show translated perfectly to the big screen with all the great cameos and each of the Muppet characters staying true to themselves.
As the years progressed each Muppet movie and TV special just seemed to lose me. Perhaps I was getting older and lost what boyhood love I had for the Muppets. Finally, on the sad day that Jim Hensen passed away, I was sure the Muppets would pass along with him. After the diminishing films such like Muppets From Space and Muppet Treasure Island I was all but certain tit was over

Now 22 years after the passing of Jim Hensen, and well into Disney owning the rights; I am so happy to say that the Muppets are back baby.
The Muppets is such a welcome return to the days of The Muppet Show and all the joy and entertainment that the Muppets brought to us all those many years ago. Jason Segel, who wrote and stars in “The Muppets”, takes what we all remember about the Muppets and brings it all to life on the big screen once again.

Mary (Amy Adams) and Gary (Jason Segel) are the most perfect cute little couple living in Smalltown USA, smack dab in the middle of America; they have been courting each other for ten years and for their ten year anniversary Gary wants to take Mary to Los Angeles for a fancy dinner.

Gary has a little brother, Walter. Walter is obsessed with The Muppets, he knows all the old “Muppet Show” episodes by heart, his room is covered in Muppet paraphernalia, and his dream is to one day see the Muppet Theatre. Gary and Walter are very close, so Gary surprises Walter with an opportunity to go with him and Mary to LA so his dream can come true.

Oh I forgot to mention…Walter is a Muppet.

Now I am not going to get too deep into spoiler territory here; I am just laying down the basic plot line.

Once in LA Walter, Mary and Gary find the old Muppet Theatre dilapidated and condemned. It’s a sad little tour down memory lane as Walter looks at Kermit’s old desk covered in cobwebs, pictures of past hosts such as Steve Martin and Bob Hope also covered in cobwebs adoring the walls.

Walter happens to be in the theatre when an oil tycoon named Tex Richman (dastardly portrayed by Chris Cooper) moseys on in to sign a contract to purchase and tear down the theatre so he can drill for oil underneath the theatre.

Walter pleads with Gary and Mary to help him find Kermit the Frog to make a desperate plea to get the band back together and put on a “Muppet Show Telethon” to raise enough money to save the theatre from Richman.

The rest of The Muppets is a journey to find the old gang and once again bring some much needed life back to the theatre but more importantly some much needed life into what once made the Muppets great.

And that is exactly what The Muppets does. I am not going to lie my fellow readers. I had a grin on my face a mile wide throughout this amazing movie. The singing (yes I know, I don’t like musicals), the hilarious cameos (I will give none away here, that’s part of the fun), Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo and his Chickens, and even Sweetums. I loved loved loved every part of this movie.

I even was able to (finally) get over the fact that Kermit’s (and others) voices were not quite the same; and that’s taken me a long time to get over. I learned that the voices do not make the characters. It’s the love of these Muppets, it’s the message of nothing but pure entertainment. That is what I love about the Muppets; and that is what I love about this film.

The Muppets is full of surprises, I could go on and on about them all. But, that would take away from your experience, and that just wouldn’t be right.

So I leave you with this; get to the theatre cause it’s time to get things started on the most inspirational – celebrational – Muppetational this is what we call The Muppets.
Welcome back gang!

And Jason Segel; thank you for being a fan of the Muppets. And, thank you for bringing back what made the Muppets so great to all generations.

-Scott Dally

Angels and Demons – Spoiler Free Review

Angels and Demonsis the prequel, of sorts to The DaVinci Codeboth films adapted from the books of the same name by author Dan Brown. Both books center on Professor Robert Langdon a Harvard symbologist who is called upon to unravel puzzles to ultimately save the world. Both books focus on the Catholic Church and their various conspiracies and shenanigans. Both films have been directed by Ron Howard and stars Tom Hanks as Professor Langdon.

“The Da Vinci Code” caused much controversy with the assumption that Jesus Christ married and his bloodline continues to this day. Angels and Demons won’t stir much of anything as it is a waste of talents both by Hanks and Howard. Angels and Demons tries to stir up a bit of controversy by bridging the gap between science and religion. An interesting idea on the surface and could have made for an interesting story, or at least even a side story for the film, but fails to even bring it to light.

The story begins on the death of the Pope and the Conclave immediately scheduled to elect his successor. The top four Bishops, one of whom, may be the next Holy Father have been kidnapped and on the eve of Conclave, the kidnappers, who claim to be members of the elusive and mysterious Illuminati, have threatened to kill each Bishops at the top of every hour and at midnight an “anti-matter” bomb will level Vatican City and parts of Rome.

Enter Professor Langdon (Hanks) who has been called upon by the Swiss Guard (the Vatican Cities own Secret Service) to help uncover the clues that will lead to the safety of the Bishops as well as the safety of innocent people. Now a film with promise about the Illuminati, the inner workings of Vatican City and going deep within the archives of Vatican City as well as the whole Conclave experience had all the workings of an interesting and exciting film. However Angels and Demons is none of that. It’s a very paint-by-numbers story with contrived plot points and an extremely predictable outcome. Angels and Demons was written by David Koepp (Jurassic Park) and Akiva Goldsman. Goldsman also wrote Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, so this should give you a good idea of what to expect; a typical summer blockbuster fair lots of pretty shiny things to distract you away from the fact that there is no substance in the 2 hours and 15 minutes we have to sit through.

Ron Howard has proven to be a great filmmaker. Parenthood, Apollo 13 and last years’ Frost/Nixon especially have shown his talents. Angels and Demons shows Howard’s technical skills as a director of a big film, but there is so much wasted energy it’s difficult to notice. Howard was unable to film in Vatican City proper, so all the Vatican City scenes were sets, and very well done sets. However everything else was shot in Rome and I didn’t feel the grand scale of things. This film had no heart, and no sense of tension or dread. It’s a Ron Howard film starring Tom Hanks, how do you think it’s going to end? I expected more.

I also expected more from Tom Hanks, more importantly his portrayal of a fascinating character. I find it hard to blame Hanks, he worked well with what he had. The problem was he had nothing to work with. The first act of the films showed potential with his knowledge of the Illuminati, and the history of the Catholic Church and especially with his ability to decipher symbols. As the film progressed Langdon became more and more useless, used only when another puzzle needed to be solved and by the third act it just seemed he was there to show us that indeed Tom Hanks is still in the film. The film also stars Ewen McGregor as the Pope’s right hand man a devoted man of faith, yet another character that showed much promise, yet another waste of talent.

I have not read Brown’s book, from which this film was adapted, however my father has, he is a huge Dan Brown fan and of this book in particular. Not only did he spend 15 minutes after the film tearing it to shreds, but he called me not once, but twice on how the film is not even close to Brown’s original story. If this film was even close to Brown’s book, I would have avoided it like the plague, however I am happy to hear that the book is nothing like the film I may have to track it down to purge this film from my memory.

Get Smart Spoiler Free Review

Think Hollywood has run out of original material? Remember, these are the people who love to dredge up past TV shows and turn them into full-length motion pictures, even if the subject matter isn’t appropriate to stretch into a story arc longer than 21 minutes. Think Beverly Hillbillies, Dukes of Hazzard, Scooby Doo, and The Flintstones. Just don’t mention The Red Green Show because I wouldn’t be able to stop my tears of disappointment.

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Sex in the City, another prominent TV show gone movie this season, was amusing even as it struck fear into the hearts of boyfriends and husbands everywhere. Get Smart is the newest show to make the great leap from small to large screen. Fortunately, for those boyfriends and husbands fearful of being dragged to the cinema by their lady friend, Get Smart is charming and funny.

The film has a wide enough appeal to keep both Mars and Venus entertained…

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American Gangster – Spoiler Free Review

We’ve seen the story line before, cops and robbers, cop and drug lord, and when it’s done right (i.e. Michael Mann’s Heat) you forget the basic formula and are absorbed in the story. You find that you don’t take sides and you just get wrapped up in the story. You trust the director to take you on a ride and when the ride is unpredictable you know you are in for a treat.

A treat is exactly what you get in Ridley Scott’s latest American Gangster.

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The Simpsons Movie – Spoiler Free Review

Why? Why did Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, et al… have to go and make a feature movie from their classic brainchild, The Simpsons? Are not the 18 seasons enough to sooth even the most casual fan?

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No? Well then go to the theatre and check out the big screen version of everyone’s favorite family in, The Simpsons Movie; I mean, why not? People have been tuning in for the last 18 years on their televisions at home, so progressing to the big screen, I guess, was only natural.

Right?

My apathy towards The Simpson Movie coming through yet?

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