April 23, 2014

Tag Archives: Muppet films

Oscars®: Muppets Most Wanted – What’s up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: James Bobin
Written by: James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller
Main Cast: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey make up the main human actors, with various others voicing the Muppet cast members, plus cameos from tons of others in Hollywood
Past Oscar relations: The Muppets won Best Original Song (the song Man or Muppet was written by Bret McKenzie, who again is writing the songs here for Muppets Most Wanted)
Here is the next article in this new series on 2014 contenders hoping to compete for Oscar attention. Next (and second) up is James Bobin’s Muppets Most Wanted, which looks to capitalize on the prior films Oscar success (it won Best Original Song). The film is a sequel to the Oscar winning The Muppets, though this one is far more co-writer/director Bobin’s baby than last time, when he just directed and the vision was very much Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller’s (though Stoller still co-writes here). The spirit of the Muppets is still here though, as the gang goes on tour and has an international adventure that fits in very well with their past. Now, it’s going to hope that it can survive in our hearts and minds throughout the season and attempt to become another Oscar nominated Muppets movie.
What this flick has going in its favor is that it’s basically tailor made to receive a Best Original Song nomination. Many of the films in the franchise have showed up in that category, and this time around there are a number of catchy enough tunes to make it a very safe bet. The characters themselves are also just so charismatic and likable that you can’t help wanting to see more of them (remember the pseudo campaign to get them to host the Academy Awards telecast? I do), which is why whenever a new film of theirs comes out we talk about it as a potential dark horse contender for some bigger awards. I’m not sure about all of that this time around, but a Song citation seems likely to me.
Working against Muppets Most Wanted is that the movie is very slight and not anywhere near on the level of the last one (or the previous ones from years past). The movie is fun, but it feels like a sequel that mainly exists because the last one was successful, though cleverly they do comment on that very thing. Still, looking at this as any [...]

Oscars: Bret McKenzie talks “Muppets,” music and the magic of Jim Henson – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
hollywoodnews.com: “The Muppets” soundtrack rarely leaves the CD player in our house. My boys, ages 7 and 3, adore the movie’s catchy tunes, from the opening number of “Life’s a Happy Song” to the sentimental “Man or Muppet.” My youngest repeats Fozzie’s line “I didn’t do it, I’ve been framed” ad nauseam, which is cute, until it drives you a little crazy.
For that, I must blame Bret McKenzie, one half of the famed “Flight of the Conchords” duo who served as Music Supervisor on James Bobin’s winning Muppet reboot. McKenzie penned a number of the movie’s signature songs, from “Me Party” –a self-righteous duet between Amy Adams and Miss Piggy – to the Chris Copper rap “Let’s Talk About Me.”
Now McKenzie’s catchy tunes are catching the eye of year-end award voters. The Broadcast Film Critics Association filled three of its five Best Song nominations with “Muppets” tracks. The Satellite Awards also recognized “Man or Muppet” and the cheery “Life’s a Happy Song.”
Will the Academy follow their lead? It’s one of the topics McKenzie and I discussed during a recent interview:
HollywoodNews.com: The original “Muppets” television program balanced a fine line between adult and adolescent humor. When writing the songs for “Muppets,” were you thinking of kids or their parents?
Bret McKenzie: Yeah, no, I totally agree. I watched a lot of the original films and TV shows, and I was really amazed at how funny they are, how they completely hold up. I think that was part of Jim Henson’s secret. He made children’s entertainment that was also funny for adults. He didn’t second guess or patronize children. And I think we took that approach to the film. We wanted to make a film that we’d like to watch, and I think kids like to watch it as well.
In that sense, the songs in the film will appeal to adults. All we had to do was make sure that the songs stayed clean. I was tempted to have some “motherfrogger” lines in there.

HollywoodNews.com: Well, you know, I’m glad you didn’t. The film is such a throwback to a time of wholesome family entertainment, and I don’t think that kind of walk-the-line humor of “Shrek” wouldn’t fit with “The Muppets.”
Oh yeah, I totally agree.
HollywoodNews.com: The songs are technically proficient and yet surprisingly simple. The yare effervescent. Did they come easily to you?
“Life’s a Happy [...]

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Young Adult open huge in limited release

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: In what one might call ‘the calm before the storm’, two middling wide releases debuted to relatively middling numbers. Next week sees a flurry of major wide releases over the last two weeks of the year, so this frame was a bit of a breather. The top film was New Year’s Eve, which debuted with $13.8 million. That’s one of the weakest #1 debuts of the year, and about $1 million less than Valentine’s Day grossed on its first day back in February 2010. That film scored the record for a romantic comedy debut with $56 million over Fri-Sun. Of course, that film had romantic comedy heavyweights like Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Queen Latifah, and Jennifer Garner. This film had a slightly lower-wattage cast, with only Katherine Heigl and Zac Efron qualifying as box office draws. The newbies this time around (Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Hillary Swank, Jon Bon Jovi, Halle Berry, Lea Michele, etc) are names, but not actual ‘bring them to the theater’ movie stars.
Oddly enough, the film opened significantly lower than what Heigl, Efron, and Ashton Kutcher (who was also the lead in Valentine’s Day) bring in on their own (Jessica Biel was also in both, but she’s never been a draw). Which leads one to believe that this was a problem of ‘fool me once, shame on you’. Valentine’s Day was not very popular in the long run, earning $110 million after scoring $63 million in its four-day opening (that’s Green Lantern/Watchmen/Twilight Saga ‘legs’). The first film was somewhat of a novelty, a Love Actually with Americans and a massively star-packed romantic comedy about Valentine’s Day that opened over Valentine’s Day weekend. This just looked like a cash-in, which is what it probably was. The original cost $52 million while this sequel/spin-off/etc cost $56 million. Warner is going to have to hope for some holiday legs on this one, but as the only romantic comedy in the marketplace it may have some luck with that.
The only other wide release was David Gordon Green’s The Sitter. The Jonah Hill comedy, which was sold as an R-rated and more ‘extreme’ version of Adventures In Babysitting, debuted with just $10 million. This was the first real test of Jonah Hill’s ‘by himself’ star power, and as such it’s [...]

“Breaking Dawn part I” tops Thanksgiving weekend – Weekend Box Office

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: As expected, Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn part I (essay) topped the holiday weekend box office as three new family films (including The Muppets) and three limited releases more-or-less cannibalized each other. Once again, Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn part I is playing so much like Twilight Saga: New Moon that there is little need for analysis. The fourth film in the series grossed $42 million over the Fri-Sun portion of the weekend, which is a 70% drop from last weekend. Still, the film’s ten-day total is now at $221 million. The percentage drop (-70%) and second-weekend total ($42 million) is identical to New Moon, but the older film’s 10-day total was slightly heftier $230 million. Still, Breaking Dawn part I has a slightly higher 10-day total than last year’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I ($219 million) and Twilight Saga: Eclipse ($214 million), and the fact that it’s falling behind the above films only means that it will have to settle for ‘just’ $270-280 million in domestic box office. We should all fail so well.
The big opener of the weekend was The Muppets (review). All eyes were watching this much-hyped franchise revival, and the fans did not let Kermit and company down. The picture, which Disney wisely spent just $45 million to produce, grossed $29.5 million on Fri-Sun and $42 million over its five-day opening. The film (deservedly) scored an A from Cinemascore, although I don’t know the demo stats yet (IE – did kids actually choose to see it and/or like it, or were the jerks dragged by their parents?). As it is, the film is already the second biggest grossing Muppet movie of all time, out of seven, coming in under the $65 million gross of The Muppet Movie back in 1979. Inflation-wise, The Muppets will have to gross $90 million to achieve that rank, although surpassing the adjusted-for-inflation $206 million gross of The Muppet Movie is pretty unlikely. In even better (if arbitrary) news, the utter lack of any wide releases next weekend plus the likely downward plunge for Breaking Dawn part I means that The Muppets will likely top the box office next weekend. So there clearly is an audience for this 35-year old franchise, all Disney has to do now is not overestimate their appeal. Point being, [...]

“The Muppets” delights at Savannah surprise screening

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: “You are the first audience in the world to see this film.”
With that, Savannah Film Festival Exective Director Danny Filson pulled back the curtain on Friday night’s Director’s Choice, which – to the delight of the supercharged audience in Trustees Theater – was James Bobin’s joyous, clever “The Muppets.”
Thunderous applause bookended the screening, which was an admittedly out-of-left-field choice for a festival that, so far, had screened mature fare like David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method,” Roman Polanski’s “Carnage” and Lynne Ramsay’s harrowing “We Need to Talk About Kevin.”
“The Muppets” was the perfect antidote, a delightful mixture of nostalgia and Charlie Kaufman-esque, pop-culture punchlines wrapped in a comfortable, getting-the-band-back-together structure. Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and the vaudeville gang of cornball entertainers reunite after decades of separation, hoping to stage a telethon that’ll raise enough money to prevent greedy Tex Richman (Chris Cooper, who raps) from bulldozing their beloved theater.
To borrow a line from one of the movie’s winning musicals, “I can’t seem to wipe this smile off my face.”
Co-writers Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel (who stars) obviously grew up on the weekly variety program that entertained those of us now know as Generation X. And there’s a loving subplot about reclaiming family entertainment from the vapid, insensitive reality programming that passes for television these days.
But beyond that, “The Muppets” – much like their feature films of old – is infused with goofy charms and non-ironic glee. The Muppet voices are a little off, but the humor and sentiment is spot on. Rapid-fire jokes appear to grow smarter as the film progresses, and the movie-concluding variety show will transport you back to your childhood living room, where you gathered as a family to laugh and sing along with the Muppets and their weekly celebrity guest host.
“The Muppets” is wonderful. Segel, Stoller and Bobin cracked the code, recreating a Muppet movie that can in over a new generation of clever kids as it reminds their parents what they found amusing about Jim Henson’s creations in the first place. Checking out “The Muppets” means casting a vote for quality family entertainment. Supporting “The Muppets” is a necessity.
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“Muppets” exclusive clip features new character Walter

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Despite the onslaught of “Muppet” marketing leading up to the film’s Nov. 23 release, in which Jim Henson’s creations spoofed everything from “The Green Lantern” to “The Hangover Part II,” we haven’t seen a whole lot with Walter, the new character created for this movie who acts a catalyst for the plot. But a new clip finally puts Walter in the spotlight, if only for a moment.
Posted on Yahoo Movies, this clip features Walter and his best friend (Jason Segel) as they plan a trip to California. Their adventure will find them fighting to save the theater in which the original Muppets show was filmed.
It’s shaping up to be a meta movie-within-a-movie concept, overrun with cameos. Much like the year-long string of teaser trailers that established the new film’s tone.
This clip’s still my favorite. As they say, it’s a parody of their own parody trailer. “We’ve taken this as far as it will go.” Very clever.

Now bring on the movie. “The Muppets” returns Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Animal and the rest of the puppet clan to theaters. It opens everywhere on Nov. 23.
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“The Muppets” full trailer arrives online

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: After weeks of (extremely clever) spoof trailers taking on everything from “The Hangover” to “Green Lantern,” Disney’s new Muppets movie finally has a real trailer.
And it’s awesome!
The theme of “getting the band back together” has helped blow the dust off of countless franchises, but the tone of this project just feel right … and has felt right since the first bit of new leaked out regarding a Muppet makeover.
Jason Segel and Amy Adams are the chief human leads alongside Kermit, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and the gang. But the trailer suggests all of the tongue-in-cheek show business humor that made the Muppet television show (and subsequent movies) special.
“The Muppets” comes out on Nov. 23. The full trailer is below. Tell us what you think!

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Muppet marketing has fans “Green With Envy”

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: It was an inside joke for about 20 minutes … and a clever one, at that. But once the cat (and frog and pig) was out of the bag that the trailer and poster for the generic-looking romantic comedy “Green With Envy” was really a tease for Disney’s Muppet movie, the clip immediately went viral.
Here’s the goof trailer, in case you have not seen it yet (the reveal is still good for a laugh, even if you know it’s coming):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZGVjLTKZno
And here’s a new faux poster for “Green With Envy,” which has a Muppet cameo is you look closely enough. (Here’s a hint: He’s green, and can be seen in one of the trees.)

So thankfully, there is no woefully generic rom-com starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams coming our way. Instead, we get what looks to be an intelligent, star-studded “Muppets” movie heading to theaters in November.
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Disney unveils first “Muppets” poster

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Kermit, Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy have remained mainstays in pop culture, but it has been years since Jim Henson’s Muppets have had a feature film to call their own.
That changes in November when James Bobin brings a live-action Muppet movie back to theaters with the help of Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Amy Adams, Zach Galifianakis and many more.
“The Muppets” finds the kooky ensemble of puppets reuniting after years in an effort to save their legendary theater from an oil tycoon.
Today, Disney has unveiled the first poster from the anticipated family film. We have it below. What do you think?
“The Muppets” opens everywhere on Nov. 23.

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Jack Black compares new “Muppet” movie to “Being John Malkovich”

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: If you grew up in the 70s and 80s, childhood nostalgia is going to wash over you like a tidal wave in 2011. “The Smurfs” are heading to the big screen in August. Winnie the Pooh is getting a feature-length film. And The Muppets are putting on one more show in an effort to save their cherished theater.
Except this new “Muppet” movie sounds like it’s going to be much different than “The Great Muppet Caper” or “The Muppets Take Manhattan.”
“It’s kind of like ‘Being John Malkovich.’ It is a new twist on the Muppets. Very cerebral and meta,” said Jack Black, who revealed that he will be playing himself in Jason Bobin’s new feature which also stars Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Rashida Jones, Emily Blunt and Zach Galifianakis – some as co-stars, and some as celebrity cameos.
For instance, The Playlist reports that that Foo Fighter Dave Grohl subs for Animal when the crazed drummer goes into anger-management therapy. Now that’s funny.
In an MTV interview, Segel (a huge Muppets fan) said they’re trying to get Lady Gaga.
“We’re trying. I haven’t heard if anything happened yet. … I’m being totally serious. We are hoping to get Lady Gaga, yeah, but we haven’t heard anything yet,” he said.
With or without Gaga, this is shaping up to be a can’t miss movie in 2011. “The Muppet Movie” will be in theaters on Nov. 23, 2011.
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