Cinema Review: Muppets Most Wanted

muppets-most-wanted

DIR: James Bobin • WRI: James Bobin, Nicholas Stoller • PRO: David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman • DOP: Don Burgess • ED: James Thomas • MUS: Christophe Beck • DES: Eve Stewart • CAST: Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tom Hiddleston

 

In 2011 The Muppet clan was revived and celebrated as a satirical tribute to one of television’s greatest entertainment shows. Apart from the enjoyable antics of Kermit and co. James Bobin had some great additions on board with Jason Segal and Amy Adams to name a few. The success of The Muppets sees James Bobin return with an even more outlandish adventure, one that puts Kermit behind Russian bars, while an “evil frog” escapee is sanctioned at the helm of The Muppet show.

Beginning in typical Muppet fashion, our sequel opens with a song following a celebration of The Muppet reunion we saw in its predecessor. However the euphoria ends there, with the Muppets turning to Kermit for optimism. Consumed in opportunities, Dominick Badguy (Rick Gervais), despite his ironic name, convinces Kermit to go on tour. Unaware of Dominick’s intentions, Kermit puts the future of Muppet shows into the hands of the audacious Dominick. In the midst of new adventures, Kermit is consistently hounded by Miss Piggy, who is persistent on marrying the charming frog, despite the fact Kermit is yet to propose to the female pig. As the troupe warm to Dominick’s presence, his indulgence is that of a distraction for Constantine the “Evil Frog” (a Russian version of Kermit with a mole) to frame Kermit, leading to exodus in a Serbian jail rubbernecked by Nadya (Tina Fey). Humorously titled “Number 2”, Dominick is forced to comply with Constantine’s commands and together plan a European jewel heist, using The Muppet Show as a way in.

Ricky Gervais certainly surprised me. I am by no means a big fan of his; however, he adds a touch of realism to his role with his witty humour and sleazy antics. He has an obvious aspiration toward the Muppet franchise that is recognised throughout. The irony of playing puppet to a Muppet of Constantine’s presence makes for great comedy and toe-tapping festivity; watching Gervais squabble under Constantine’s melody of “I am Number One” will create a giggle or two whether you like the man or not.

The emergence of Sam (the American eagle) and Jean Pierre (Ty Burrell) as two French Interpol detectives add a touch of parody and reference in regard to the buddy-cop genre. Both characters are uncanny to say the least; however, they are ambitious enough to help bring Constantine to justice. There is not a lifeless bone in this ambitious return as the latest Muppet adventure sees them bump into familiar faces of past, and present.

Just like its predecessor, Muppets Most Wanted is highly dependent on its parody of familiar cameos; one such scene introduces the recently acclaimed Christopher Waltz to their show, performing nothing other than, yes, you guessed it, the Waltz. It is a tradition to include such celebrities that really makes The Muppets a joy to watch, prolonging its satirical and more important, self-awareness that what you are watching is completely self-indulgent; it’s a concept that does not look like holding back. The fact that one of Kermit’s cellmates is Danny Trejo, who is called Danny Trejo in the movie, sums it all up. There are plenty of cameos to explore, best left to surprise.

The overall production is yet again proving that CGI cinematography isn’t everything.  The Muppets has come a long way since its first appearance in 1955 thanks to its creator Jim Henson. Since then Walt Disney has remained consistent in its production but slightly advanced in its effects regarding the crime caper blend thrown in this time around, suiting the emergence of Constantine. The musical premise is euphoric and wonderfully pieced together giving off a pantomime effect we know all too well.

James Bobin has succeeded yet again in crafting an enticing story with competent dialogue while managing to juggle its burlesque roots. The self-referential concept is still very much inexistence. As you would expect there is a considerable amount of Muppet appearances; the bickering companionship of the aging Waldorf and Statler, Gonzo (the great), Fozzie the Bear and Animal, to name some favourites. The vast majority are shunned, which may be down to the reliance of Rick Gervais as the villain and Kermit’s Russian equivalent Constantine. Both characters conceive the comedy worth remembering while in truth, the rest of the Muppets get on with the show by encouraging you to sing along.

However, it is the choice of dialogue that makes Muppets Most Wanted so relevant in its topic and witty in its outcome; taunting modern social networks and its use of film reviews, to scorning the morals of the average journalist. It is the humorous ridicule of such topics that are thrown out there for you to recognise, but, you can still enjoy the Muppets Most Wanted for its nostalgia and slapstick elements.

Gerard Dodd

G (See IFCO for details)
112 mins

Muppets Most Wanted is released on 28th March 2014

Muppets Most Wanted – Official Website

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Cinema Review: About Last Night

1108148 - ABOUT LAST NIGHT

 

DIR: Steve Pink • WRI: Leslye Headland • PRO: Will Gluck, William Packer • DOP: Michael Barrett • ED: Tracey Wadmore-Smith, Shelly Westerman • MUS: Marcus Miller • DES: Jon Gary Steele • CAST: Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Joy Bryant

There is a problem with movies featuring Kevin Hart. Despite not being the obvious protagonist, his miniature presence has once again proven to steal the show in this cheesy rom-com. A remake of the 1986 movie of the same name starring Demi Moore, this is a modernised and RnB-smothered Los Angeles tale of an infatuated love story without the devotion.

The scene is set for the entire movie as we are introduced to Bernie (Hart) and Danny (Ealy) in a Los Angeles Bar where they discuss sexual antics as we are made to assume that single men walk, talk and think alike five days a week, believing that their barbaric outlook on the average female is completely natural. The discussion at hand is that relating to Joan (Hall), who is having the same discussion on the flip side with best friend Debbie (Bryant). Both Joan and Debbie arrive to meet the guys in the bar as the obnoxious Bernie is hoping to pair Danny with singleton Debbie.  Danny is welcomed by Debbie’s warmness but uncomfortable in the presence of Bernie’s crude humour and his uncanny desire toward Joan; who, just like Bernie is so reprehensible, making their relationship all the more exciting and to be honest, comedic. The movie makes a balance of this variety by revealing the lust between Danny and Debbie, something he and Bernie would not condone otherwise – resulting in romance as opposed to Kevin Hart’s comedy.

Divided into three chapters (kind of) About Last Night shows the highs, the lows and the forgiveness in a relationship.  Michael Ealy gives a performance of ordinariness as the cheesy talisman. There is some chemistry between Danny and Debbie that give their bond an almost believable tale, however, the circumstance which leads to their relationship that takes place over three chapters in summer winter and spring, seem so much shorter and quite unrealistic.

There is a side story showing Danny and Bernie at work, at  an Irish bar run by Shooter McGavin from Happy Gilmore; I mean Casey (Christopher McDonald). If Danny’s relationship status does not make you soppy, Casey’s financial struggle is supposed to, showcasing a level of sensitivity in Danny and Bernie after all. We did not need this, but we get it anyway.

This is a cupid visionary; Danny and Debbie’s walk home leads to something so abrupt and animated, you really question how this has happened for the so-called “team player”. There are some funny scenes involved with both guys at work, but it is the unintentional scenes that are the most comedic and ridiculous – for example, when Debbie wakes up to rub Danny, only to find she is rubbing a headless pillow. Or to enforce the cheesiness, a romantic dinner goes uneaten and basically thrown onto the ground because their lust for one another calls for other things. Both characters are not likable, but not dislikable either. The endless scenes of passionate lovemaking and unnecessary cuddles accompanied by a Bruno Mars soundtrack (and more) makes you look forward to the onscreen antics and to be honest, brilliantly performed chemistry between Bernie and Joan, both of whom prove easy to like but the movie inevitably looks for sympathy in all these characters and frankly, the emotions are so fictitious that you can’t give it any.

Despite all the raunchy foreplay, About Last Night  is a film highly dependent on its dialogue, which is left mostly to Kevin Hart’s renowned showcasing of self-depreciation. Say what you will about Hart’s film choices, but he is really starting to come into his own. Those familiar with his stand-up personality will love Hart’s portrayal of a sleazy womaniser. His comedy seems well orchestrated, while his unconscious response to various situations are recognised and appreciated. You get the feeling he is supposed to be playing second fiddle to Michael Ealy’s character, yet the longer the film goes on the more it wants to centre on Kevin Hart.

The saviour, but not quite, Kevin Hart’s wacky character does exactly what the audience may acquire from the comedy side of things. However, he could not save the movie’s romantic integrity which proves tedious the longer it goes on.

Gerard Dodd

16 (SeeIFCO for details)
100 mins

About Last Night is released on 21st March 2014

About Last Night – Official Website

 

 

 

 

 

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