I know, that headline is trouble. You're always treading dangerous ground when you insist on defining what makes a good this or the right kind of that, as if there is no room for change or improvement when it comes to classic properties. Of course there is — Jason Segel's 2011 Muppet film approached the concept from an entirely different direction. It didn't hit all of its marks, but it prevailed overall in its conceit: make a movie not about Muppets, but about Muppet fandom. But Muppets Most Wanted, in absence of a clear mission statement and fueled largely by the monetary glimmers of the sequel game (the film's opening number admits this outright), has fewer marks readily available to hit. Landing in the ambiguity between the classic Muppet adventure formula and Segel's post-modern Henson appreciation party, Most Wanted feels like a failure on both counts. It doesn't know which kind of movie it wants to, or should, be. So it doesn't really be anything.
On the one hand, there's the half-cocked "get-the-band-back-together" through line, mimicking but not quite accomplishing the spirit of the 2011 picture. None of the Muppets are particularly likable or charming in this turn, and even fewer of them actually given anything to do. Kermit loses his s**t in the first act after a spat with Piggy and a barrage of insubordination from his troupe (provoked by the nefarious Dominic Badguy, Ricky Gervais), storms off in a huff, and gets swept up in a case of mistaken identity when his criminal doppelganger Constantine pulls the old switcheroo, landing Kermit in a Russian gulag. You'd think this would be a good opportunity for the second tier of Muppet favorites — Piggy, Fozzy, Gonzo, Scooter, Rowlf, et al — to go on a search and rescue... but save for a very brief sequence at the tail end of this achingly long film, none of the other Muppets are giving anything to do. They just hem and haw and perform the occasional "Indoor Running of the Bulls" while Dominic and Constantine scheme, rob banks, and bicker.
Meanwhile, Kermit has some fun in prison — a far more endearing plot that sees him befriending the merry convicts, organizing a penitentiary revue, and even winning the heart of the vicious warden Nadia (Tina Fey). If only we could spend more time with real Kermit and less time with fake Kermit and his second banana Gervais, an effectively boring pair.
On the other hand, though, there's the Muppet shtick that fans of The Great Muppet Caper and Muppet Treasure Island — and yes, The Muppet Show itself — will deem the movie's best material: CIA Agent Sam Eagle and Interpol Agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) hot on the trail of Constantine and Dominic. Here, we get a different type of Muppet movie entirely from what Segel and the A-plot in Most Wanted are opting: the old fashioned vaudeville act, with Sam standing as an independent entity from his googly-eyed brethren, on a goofy, musical prowl with Burrell that fuels the film with its best and most consistent chuckles. Their "Interrogation Song" number is outstanding, exemplifying the many talents of Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie, who wrote all the music for this and the previous film.
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Unfortunately, Muppets Most Wanted isn't sure that it wants to be The Great Muppet Caper, beheld so stubbornly to its Segelian roots. There's a palpable compulsion to stick with this agonizingly self-aware, nostalgia-crazy, brimming-beacons-of-the-past-in-a-callous-today theme that doesn't work a fraction as well as it did in the 2011 film. Without a legitimate celebration of any of our favorite characters, how could it? With so much going on in this movie, and such a lengthy runtime at just under two hours, it's a sure sign of failure that we walk away feeling like we spent barely any time with the Muppets.
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The genesis of Universal's 47 Ronin is almost as tragic as the actual history that the movie is culling from. As the story goes, Universal saw the sprigs of talent sprouting from fresh faced director Carl Rinsch, whose previous experience was limited to just a couple of commercials and a nifty short film. The studio decided to ease the new director into feature filmmaking by cutting him what amounts to virtually a blank check, and giving him charge over a multi-national samurai fantasy epic. Almost impossibly, the film isn't a complete disaster. It's just a minor one.
47 Ronin follows the classic story of the titular team of warriors, a group of disgraced samurai who band together to seek revenge against a merciless warlord that betrayed and killed their master. But this isn't your grandfather's version of the story. 47 Ronin is an international affair, and it's covered with a veneer of Japanese mysticism and a thick coating of Hollywood lacquer, but east meets west rather uncomfortably, and it's mostly due to Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character is clearly crowbarred into the story that has no room for him, and it's plainly obvious where the seams of the story were stretched in order to patch him into the narrative. Reeves plays Kai, a half Japanese, half English orphan who is adopted by the samurai clan. His character serves no real purpose beyond being white, slicing things until they die, and playing the male lead of the most superfluous love story of the year. Rinsch simply can't make the inclusion of the character feel organic in any way, and "Kai" ends up feeling like a calculated studio move. It's a shame that the film spends so much time on Reeves when the real star is clearly Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays off the stoic samurai most believably among the rest of the cast.
It's also shame that with all the mysticism pumped into the story, there's no magic in the actual center of the film, the ronin themselves. The only personality trait a samurai is allowed to possess seems to be unerring stoicism, and between all 47 ronin, there are probably only three distinct samurai with any discernible character traits beyond an intense need to brood, and you'll probably only remember those three by the time the credits roll, only to promptly forget about them only a few hours later. Thankfully, Rinko Kikuchi's slinky and treacherous witch adds some much needed camp and personality to the mostly forgettable human characters.
And that's the issue with 47 Ronin. It's largely forgettable. When your film takes on a historical legend like the tale of the 47 ronin, a story that has been told and told again ad nauseum over the years, you really need to justify your own version. There are reels and reels of film dedicated to this story, and 47 Ronin doesn't manage to add anything significant to the canon. It promises to weld myth and history together, but does so clumsily, and while some of the action scenes are exciting, especially a particularly inspired set piece that involves the ronin noiselessly breaking into a heavily guarded fortress, the film is a bore when it's not clanking swords together.
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47 Ronin is a film with many stories. As much as it is a tale about the revenge of four dozen masterless samurai, it's also the tale of an inexperienced filmmaker swallowed up by the enormity of blockbuster filmmaking. Most of all though, It's proof that you shouldn't cram Keanu Reeves into a movie that doesn't really need Keanu Reeves. What you're left with is a dull and bloated samurai epic that has its moments, but feels largely unnecessary.
Any rock star who's been around as long as Jon Bon Jovi has seen his share of friends with substance abuse problems. But it doesn't necessarily make it any easier when it hits even closer to home.
On November 14, police found Bon Jovi's daughter Stephanie Bongiovi unresponsive in a dorm room at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, and an ambulance arrived at around 2 a.m. The 19-year-old was suffering from a suspected heroin overdose. She and a friend were arrested and faced misdemeanor drug possession charges, but the case was eventually dropped (thanks to a New York law that offers immunity to a person when official help is sought during a life-threatening overdose).
Now, her concerned rock-star father (pictured above in 2011 with his family, including Stephanie second from left) is speaking out for the first time, calling Stephanie's drug ordeal a "tragedy."
"It's human," he told a Fox station in LA on Tuesday. "This tragedy was something that I had to face, too, so we'll get through it. People's incredible warm wishes for my family and I have been really reassuring. So, we're good."
Bon Jovi, who's widely known as a devoted family man, managed to steer relatively clear from the hard-partying drug scene himself although he admits to some experimentation in his teen years. For that short time, he enjoyed drugs and even began dealing them, he told Men's Health in 2007. "I did the drug thing very young and wised up very young too, because I was into drugs a little too much," he says. "I've always felt I didn't have the mental stability to handle drugs."
[Photo credit: Wenn]
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It's time for Nick Lachey to start writing some lullabies. Lachey, 38, and his wife Vanessa Minnillo, 31, welcomed the birth of their first son on Wednesday, People reports. "We are incredibly proud to announce the birth of our beautiful baby boy, Camden John Lachey,” the couple said in a statement.
According to the statement, Camden was born at 6:54 PM. He weighed in at a whopping eight pounds, nine ounces and measured at 21 inches long.
Lachey and Minnillo have been together forever, so it was about time that they started a family. They began dating in 2006 after Lachey divorced his first wife, Jessica Simpson, that same year. Lachey and Minnillo briefly split in 2009, but the breakup only lasted several months. The couple finally tied the knot on July 15, 2011 during an intimate ceremony on Sir Richard Branson's private Island in the British Virgin Islands. Now, they have just expanded their family with the birth of little Camden.
"Love has truly been redefined for both of us," the couple said.
Congrats to the Lacheys on this happy news.
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As a comedic performer there's probably nothing more satisfying than being able to make an audience roar with laughter. And not just a hesitant chuckle, either. We're talking fall-out-of-your-seat, stitch-in-your-side, gut-busting laughter. It’s a unique and rare quality to possess, but one that Wayne Brady seems to have perfected to an art form.
A versatile performer, perhaps best known his brief acting stints on comedies like How I Met Your Mother, his wildly memorable appearance on Chappelle's Show, and putting his impressive improvisational skills to the test on Whose Line Is It Anyway, Brady is about to return to the small screen in a big way this summer as he introduces a brand new show called Trust Us With Your Life, which premieres tonight on ABC. Hollywood.com recently chatted with the star about what's in store with his latest celeb-filled comedic venture. “In a nutshell, it’s Whose Line Is It Anyway meets This Is Your Life,” Brady explains, “We take a team of improvisationalists, starring myself, Colin Mochrie, and my buddy Jonathan Mangum as a rotating improviser, and we improvise the life of a celebrity. They come on and Fred Willard, as the host, asks them about their lives and the interesting things that make them, them — some of the things that maybe you don’t know from having read Wikipedia.” In short, a pop culture geek's dream come true.
“We take stories that they tell us and we blow them up improvisational-style,” Brady continues, “So a very straightforward story about how someone and their three sisters grew up could become anything from a John Woo movie to a Broadway musical." In case that wasn't enough to whet your pop culture palate, there's one major Hollywood star who’s already signed up to appear on the show and it's none other than America’s favorite British comedian they love to love to hate: Ricky Gervais. Brady assures that, in addition to his known comedy skills, the Golden Globes host has some pretty incredible stories to tell, including about his time as a musician. “I didn’t know that Ricky Gervais was a musician. And I didn’t know that aside from just being a musician, he actually had a decent-sized hit in the UK,” says Brady, “So that’s another cool part about the show is that you end up learning stuff.”
And while they’ll definitely have some fun with each star’s background, Brady insists that it won’t be a Comedy Central-level roast, by any means. "We don’t go after the jugular on people,” he says. “Because how do you expect people to come back and get other guests if every show you’re kicking somebody in the ass? It’s all done in love, even the things that kind of play off the negative aspects of their career.” But even though he’s already got some willing celebrity guests like Gervais already lined up, Brady admits that there’s one person in particular who he’d love to get in the hot seat: former President Bill Clinton. “I would love to sit down with Clinton,” the 40-year-old reveals, “I think his life and his rise would definitely be amazing.” Until that day comes, Brady also hopes to return to TV later this fall on How I Met Your Mother and perhaps fill in a few of the blanks that came with Barney’s huge wedding shocker. “I’m hoping [the writers] write in the Barney bachelor party scene because I’m kind of wondering what’s the bachelor party like that I would plan for him,” Brady ponders. “Where would it be? So I’m definitely pulling for that one.” As are the rest of us. It would be legen— —dary!
Trust Us With Your Life airs Tuesday, July 10 at 9 PM (ET) on ABC.
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Superman can just get up and fly to Paris whenever he feels like it. Wonder Woman has a golden lasso that's stronger than steel. And Iron Man? Well, when Robert Downey Jr. gets in his suit, he literally acts as the world's peace treaty. Way to make us feel useless, superheroes. But, as it turns out, us non-famous mere mortals aren't the only ones who are jealous of our favorite superheroes — celebrities often covet superpowers too. Hollywood.com spoke with 27 different celebrities who revealed their dream superpowers. Click below to find out who wants to fly and which Housewife wants to be invisible.
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Simon Cowell's X Factor may finally be living up to its name. Britney Spears has almost agreed to judge the show next season alongside Cowell and record executive L.A. Reid, according to an Us Weekly source. Spears' team didn't manage to score the $20 million deal they originally asked for, but she's still looking an incredible $15 million paycheck. Spears would replace Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul, who were let go when the show's first season fell far short of expectations.
These days it's practically mandatory for reality competitions to have a pop princess at the judges' table, with Jennifer Lopez on American Idol, Christina Aguilera on The Voice, and Jessica Simpson on Fashion Star. In fact, we're now running low on major acts from the early '00s, so if there are any more talent shows on TV, they'll have to start mining from boy bands.
Hollywood.com contacted a rep for the X Factor, but they declined to comment on the negotiations at this time.
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More details have emerged about the tragic death of Whitney Houston. According to the full autopsy report released today, Houston's assistant found her face down in the bathtub at the Beverly Hilton on February 11. In the subsequent search, police discovered several pieces of drug paraphernalia.
As Houston was getting ready for a pre-Grammy party, she complained that she had a sore throat and announced that she was taking a bath. Her assistant left to run an errand at Neiman Marcus, and when she returned at about 3:35 p.m., she found Houston in about 13-inches of water. Houston was pulled from the bathtub and paramedics tried to revive her, but she was unresponsive.
During their investigation of the hotel room, authorities found many prescription bottles along with some loose pills. In the bathroom there was an ashtray with "a small spoon with a white crystal-like substance in it and a rolled up piece of white paper." The report continues, "Located in the top drawer, in the north side of the counter were remnants of a white powdery substance, and a portable mirror on a base." White powder was also found on the base.
As stated earlier, Houston's official cause of death was accidental drowning, with cocaine and heart disease acting as contributing factors. Authorities found no signs of foul play.
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The late Whitney Houston's daughter may be starting her own legacy... on television.
Bobbi Kristina, daughter of Houston and Bobby Brown, has reportedly been cast in Tyler Perry's dramedy, For Better or Worse, on TBS. Details of her role are unavailable, but the role is meant to be a recurring one. The reported decision comes after Kristina expressed in an interview with Oprah that she was looking to get into acting and follow in her mother's footsteps: "We're going to do the singing thing. Some acting, some dancing."
For Better of Worse finds many characters from the Perry universe on television and has a comedic vein. Perhaps Kristina could try her hand at making audiences giggle?
Would you watch Bobbi Kristina on Perry's show? Is it too soon for her to get back into the limelight?
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On March 16, the internet exploded with rumors of Bobbi Kristina's reported engagement to her adopted brother, Nick Gordon, 22, after she was spotted wearing an enormous rock on that particular finger.
But it was all a big misunderstanding. Kristina's rep has since spoken out about the incident to People magazine, stating that Whitney Houston's daughter is definitely not engaged.
So why is the 19-year-old really wearing such a big rock on such a suggestive finger? A source commented that it's just a little token she uses to remember her late mother. "She is just wearing her mom's ring."
While some will see this new development as a definite source of comfort, it still doesn't explain the other rumors that continue to circulate around the alleged couple, such as reported hand-holding and other public displays of affection. There might still be more to this relationship than meets the eye.