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The Muppets (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

The Muppets (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
4/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award, which it won.
Won Best Music, Song (“Man or Muppet” by Bret McKenzie).
Watched February 9, 2012.

 

The MuppetsJason SegalAmy AdamsKermit, and the rest of the crew are delightful in all the right ways in this nostalgic, blast from the past episode of the Muppets and their crazy, cute, sometimes childish adventures.  If you didn’t love this film, perhaps you have lost your love of the Muppets somewhere among the many years of growing up.

 

Walter (voiced by Peter Linz) and his brother Gary (Segal) have grown up in an idilic small town suburb and are the cheesiest friends the big screen could ask for.  Gary’s long time girlfriend Mary (Adams) is slightly less happy-go-lucky than the two boys, but not by much.  Although the side-plot of Gary and Mary is a little distracting from the best story-line, it does give a bit more depth to Gary and grows him into less of a sidekick and more of a main attraction, even though he isn’t a frog.

 

Walter has been in love with the Muppets since he discovered them as a young boy.  To commemorate Gary and Mary’s 10th anniversary, the three of them take a trip to LA, where Walter is ecstatic to see the Muppets studios, which to his dismay have fallen into extreme disrepair since the show has been off the air.  Here follows the entrance of the super-villain and oil tycoon, Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), who is slightly over-done in acting and under-done in character development.  His one goal is to buy the studio and drill for the oil that is underneath it.

 

Walter, Gary, and Mary seek out Kermit and the rest of the crew to save the studio!  Kermit is reluctant at first, but soon his nostalgia wins over and they set out on an epic road trip of Muppet proportions to pick up everyone else, including a trip “by map” across the country, and the Atlantic, to wind up in Paris where Miss Piggy is a prestigious editor of Vogue.

 

They set up a telethon, repair their condemned studio in minutes, and put on a show in just as much time.  The famous cameos are to die for, and it’s obvious that everyone from Emily Blunt to Whoopie Goldberg is having a fantastic time.  Jack Black has a something-to-be-desired sort of role that doesn’t nearly explore his full potential, although the fact that they were able to make a role of his NOT be completely about Jack Black is pretty impressive.

 

All it in all, it is your typical Muppets film, and will be especially enticing for those who grew up with them, and loved them.  It has an extreme undertone of nostalgia, even for the characters, and brings back many famous songs, as well as introduces a few new ones.  It is delectably cheesy, audience engaging, and everything that it should have been.  By no means will it wow you cinematically, or artistically, but it should bring you back to a more simple time and impress upon you how much things have changed.

 

Even if you don’t have kids, I would recommend The Muppets for a few laughs, a good time with Jason Segal and Amy Adams, and quite the reunion with Kermit and the gang.

Sources: IMDBRotten TomatoesNY TimesJohn Likes MoviesFilms According to Chris Wyatt

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Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
2/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film (Jennifer Yuh).
Watched January 26, 2013.

 

I am a sucker for Pixar, but especially for Kung Fu Panda.  The main character Po reminds me so much of my brother-in-law that he is perhaps the best character ever.  That being said, we all know that sequels, especially of late, are generally prime examples of trying too hard to better one’s self.  The simplicity and wit of the first is lost or overextended and the character arcs take on more and more drastic turns.  The first time I saw Kung Fu Panda 2 when it came out, I was severely under-whelmed.  This time, thankfully, my expectations were lower and thus I enjoyed it much more.

 

Once again we travel to China to see its beauty and its tradition in almost exaggerated ways, thanks in part to Hans Zimmer‘s compositions that play tribute to past kung fu films.  We get to see some of our favourite characters again and watch them, in all their amazingly animated glory, perform incredible feats and fight more beautifully than we can imagine.  We see the characters interact again, and more importantly, we get to learn more about them.

 

The fact that we maintained the old cast from part one and then gathered many more in part two makes the plot a little heavy to begin with.  Po (voiced by Jack Black) and the Fabulous Five are clearly great friends at this point.  Po is having the time of his life being The Dragon Warrior and always seems to pair up with Tigress (Angelina Jolie) to successfully bring down their foe.  Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) continues to guide Po’s training and in this film encourages him to find his inner peace.  It is only then that he can defeat the new villain.

 

Shen (Gary Oldman) is a particularly troubled Peacock who has committed genocide and stolen the throne.  When the Fabulous Five learn that he has killed a great kung fu master and is using a new weapon to destroy all that they hold dear, they immediately set out to bring him to justice.  Through much revelation, heartache, and unbelievable peace, they will bring Shen down or die trying.

 

The character relationships, for the most part, were a bit too friendly in comparison to the first film, in my opinion.  Po and Tigress are suddenly best friends, for example, which is very far from what they were previously.  Shifu has a very small role but stays true to himself, and the development between Po and his father is very touching.  Po, despite what he discovers about himself and his past, seems to have slipped backward a few notches and the humor the writers give him is much more idiotic and slap stick than it was before.

 

If only for the love of the first film, I would suggest Kung Fu Panda 2 for you.  Its animation is outstanding, its cast is phenomenal, and the kung fu is amazing.  If you have low expectations and just want some fun, this would be a good family movie choice.

Sources: WikiaIMDBRotten TomatoesNY TimesJohn Likes Movies