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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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“Cop Out”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Now, I’m not going to make some cheesy pun about Cop Out being a cop out, that would be… Well, a cop out. Here’s the most confusing thing about Cop Out. No, it’s not the fact that Kevin Smith chose this to be the first film he would direct that he didn’t write. Although, that is rather odd and we’ll come back to that. No, the most confusing thing about Cop Out is that it’s about fifteen years too late to the party. What do I mean by that? Well, this is the sort of buddy cop comedy you would come to expect in 1996, but it’s 2010. I don’t know about you, but I would call that late to the party. Even in 1996, this would not have been considered a good movie by any means, but it might have been able to fly under the radar a little better at the time. Now it just sticks out like a sore thumb, and stands no chance of making it. Here is the confusing bit; I wouldn’t say this is a bad movie. I wouldn’t say it’s a good movie either. No, I wouldn’t really say I cared either way. The truly confusing thing is that when I left the theatre I knew it was bad, but the more I thought about it, the more funny moments I recalled. Overall, the movie is a train wreck, but there are some really funny scenes in the film, and part of me thinks that they might be worth seeing. I sort of think this is the type of movie that if I see it again, I might like it more the second time around. For right now, I’m on the fence. When it comes out on DVD, I’ll be sure to let you know if my opinion has changed, but until then you can find me over here on the fence.

In Cop Out, Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan play partners that have been suspended for their unorthodox police methods. Imagine that. And, when Willis realizes that being suspended means he won’t be able to pay for his daughter’s wedding, he decides to sell his rare baseball card to raise the money. You’ll never guess what happens next. That’s right! When the baseball card gets stolen, the suspended officers find themselves smack dab in the middle of New York’s biggest bust. Hellooooo, 1996!

Let’s get back to the mystery that is Kevin Smith directing this film. Let’s be honest, you don’t go see a Kevin Smith movie for the directing, you go see it for his writing. Now, I personally like Kevin Smith. Sure he’s had a few misses along the way, but overall I think he’s done a great job of staying true to his style of filmmaking… Until now of course. And, why is that? My guess would be, he wants to get into the game. And, who could blame him? With Peter Jackson going from Bad Taste to Oscar, and Jon Favreau finding his way to mainstream blockbusters, it’s only natural that Kevin would one day want to do the same. A studio like Warner Bros. is not going to just hand a project to someone like Silent Bob. No, their going to want to make sure that he is willing to play ball first. If I had to guess, I would say Cop Out wasn’t something Kevin asked to do, as much as it was assigned to him. A hazing if you will, to test the View Askew waters for Warner Bros. I’m really hoping that this is the case, and if so, I’m not going to rush to judgment just yet. I’m going to wait to see his next project before doing so, but until then we’ll just have to wait and see.

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