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“The Muppets”
a review by Darby O’Gill

There are a few things that I like to think of as the building blocks of my childhood; The Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry, The Three Stooges, and The Little Rascals all played their part, but the one to play the biggest role had to be the Muppets! Allow me to better illustrate my life-long devotion to Jim Henson’s Muppets, if you will. My first soundtrack ever was The Muppet Movie, wait for it… on 8-track. Yes, I know I’m old. It was quickly followed by The Great Muppet Caper, also on 8-track. One of the fondest, and most vivid memories I have from my childhood, is the joy and excitement I would get at 7:30pm, once a week as the drum-roll and trumpets would sound over the rotating ITC Entertainment logo. That image and sound is forever etched into my brain. I remember my cousin taking me to see The Muppet Movie in the theater, just the two of us, because she had just gotten her driver’s license and she could. And when I got married, and my mother requested Kermit’s Rainbow Connection as our mother/son dance, I couldn’t have been more touched. As you can tell, the Muppets have played a huge role in my life, and to say the news of a new Muppet movie, back in the hands of Disney no less, made me nervous, would be a huge understatement.

In The Muppets, two brothers, Gary (Jason Segel) and Walter (voiced by Peter Linz), grow-up in a small town called Smalltown; only Gary is a real boy and Walter is, well a Muppet. There’s not really a lot of explanation for it, so I’m just going to move on. Walter naturally feels out of place in Smalltown, but that all changes after he sees his first episode of The Muppet Show! So, when Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) plan a romantic get away to Hollywood, it’s only natural that they invite Walter along to take a tour of the Muppet studios. But when they get there, the studio and theatre are in ruins. The Muppets are all but forgotten, as all that seems to remain is a sad little tour. It’s on the tour that Walter overhears an oil tycoon’s, Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), plan to buy the land and drill for oil. Walter seeks out Kermit the Frog to help him bring the Muppets back together again, and hopefully save the studio in time!

I really wanted to love this movie. I went in with high hopes and wary expectations, but ended up coming out with the same mixed emotions. I really disliked the first half of the film. The thing that makes a good Muppet movie is that the story is being told around the Muppets and their interaction with the people in the real world. The first part of this movie deals with the people and not the Muppets. I understand that that’s just how the filmmakers chose to tell the story, but I just didn’t like it. I think it’s also why The Muppets Take Manhattan is my least favorite of the original movies. Also, the musical numbers are forced and way too over the top. One of the nicest things in the first two movies is the way the music just flows with the story, and sadly that doesn’t happen here. This brings us to the second half of the movie, where the Muppets regroup and hold a last-minute telethon to help save the studio. Now this is the movie I wanted to see! The eye to detail, and love and care that went into bringing The Muppet Show back to life is heart-warming. I fell in love with the second half of this movie! I know that Muppet co-creator Frank Oz walked away from this project, because he disagreed with the way some of the characters were being handled, and that the Muppets were never about money. I agree with him, but I’m also guessing that he was referring to the earlier rendition of the script, which was quickly panned by many of those that got to read it. In the final version of the film, I don’t really have a problem with it. The Muppets aren’t really raising money for themselves, as much as they’re doing it to help save their studio. Some people are also complaining that Kermit is depicted as a Hollywood mogul in the movie, but I think they forget that he was in fact the executive producer of The Muppet Show. He ran the show from his little table just off stage, and was in charge of all the guests. I think the movie nailed the spirit of the old show, and hopefully gets a whole new generation to watch them now on DVD. In closing, there were just two things I would have liked to have seen: 1) I would have loved it if they had found a Fraggle hole in the basement of the studio, and 2) If the marketing people would have gotten McDonald’s to release a new set of Muppet drinking glasses, that would have been AMAZING!

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“Get Him to the Greek”
a review by Darby O’Gill

When I first heard about Get Him to the Greek, I thought it looked like it could be fun, but I also thought that Russell Brand looked like he was just playing the same type of character that he played in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Little did I realize at the time, that that’s exactly what he was doing, because Get Him to the Greek is a sequel to Forgetting Sarah Marshall… well of sorts. It’s 10 years later, and indy rocker Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) finds his career in a bit of a slump, and you could even say quickly finding himself becoming an irrelevant joke. But when Aaron Green (Jonah Hill), a young up and coming music executive, suggests a 10 year anniversary show of Aldous Snow’s Infant Sorrow performance at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, it quickly becomes his responsibility to transport Snow from the London to L.A. in 72 hours. Here’s the part that doesn’t make any sense to me, Jonah Hill is not playing the same character that he played in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I’m not really sure why that is, because he could have quite easily been the same character, and I think it would have added a lot more charm to the movie if he had. I went into this movie thinking he was the same character and couldn’t for the life of me figure out why they were acting like they had never met before. I mean it makes sense that Snow wouldn’t remember the waiter from 10 years ago, but why wouldn’t the waiter bring it up? I understand that the waiter that Hill played in Forgetting Sarah Marshall was a little over the top, but with the story taking place 10 years later, writer/director Nicholas Stoller could have easily made it work. The waiter had a demo tape in the first movie which would already establish him being interested in the music industry, so half the work is already done right there. I just don’t get it.

The other huge problem with this movie is that it’s an editor’s nightmare. It’s all over the place! Half the stuff that is in the trailer is nowhere to be found in the movie. There’s even a scene in the movie that only makes sense if you’ve seen the first part of the scene in the trailer, and I’m sorry but that should never happen. To top it all off, the one joke that made me laugh the hardest in the trailer isn’t even in the final cut. And after seeing the movie, I would still have to say that it’s my favorite moment of the movie, and it’s not even in the movie! How can that be?! I would have to think that it is largely to do to the amount of improvisation that is clearly running rampant through out the film. I think it’s safe to say that the deleted scenes on the DVD will have a much longer running time than the actual feature film. The best way to describe the chaos of Get Him to the Greek is like that of a Saturday Night Live skit. At times it goes on for too long, and then at times it feels too rushed. And much like SNL, there were parts of the movie that really made me laugh, and others that just seemed to be going through the motions. But over all it feels like a bunch of funny moments and ideas that are just strung together in the hopes that they’ll work in the end. Which is clearly why the trailer and movie are nothing alike, because the person putting together the trailer clearly found some moments funnier than others, and the director ended up not using them at all. Like I said it’s an editor’s worst nightmare.

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