Picking back up after two weeks of reruns, How I Met Your Mother doesn't really seem bent on giving us anything especially new... at least not until the wedding of Robin and Barney. A wedding that each new episode of this show makes me think is a terrible, loathesome idea. This week, HIMYM pits the engaged pair in a discussion about residency: where will the two of them live once they are married?
Robin is happy to give up her apartment — one of such little consequence that I can't even remember what it looks like — but Barney is holding fast to his Fortress of Solitude, as it were. So many memories, so many schemes and gadgets devoted to the ensurance that one night stands would not amount to anything more: voice-triggered sprinkler systems and hidden escape routes; welcome matts that double as BMI-measuring computers; a greenscreen window to trick gullible dates into believing they're in exotic locations; beds chauffeuring Barney's unfortunate victims into secret dungeons, never to be heard from again... wait, really? Is he a cartoon mad scientist? Is this show even about people anymore?
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And that's the thing that makes HIMYM so soft in landing: it tries to have it both ways. The show wants us to invest and believe in Barney and Robin's relationship, but it can't bring itself to make Barney a human being. After Robin rallies a gaggle of white toast couples to check out Barney's apartment so that the duo can start fresh, she comes to realize that all of the nasty, pervy, borderline sociopathic (her words! She's aware of this!) "quirks" the apartment embodies are what make Barney Barney. The things that no one else in the world appreciates about him, that's what she loves. Call it sweet, but there's a reason everyone else in the world thinks Barney's a monster: he is. He's not a lovable kook, he's an emotionally paralyzed villain.
You can argue that HIMYM has shown a softer side to Barney — it sure has. But those are the episodes of empathy and authenticity. When stood up against ones like these, they pale in comparison. The Dr. Horrible/Harold and Kumar version of Barney is a lot more vivid than the Smurfs version.
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On the other side of the episode, we have Marshall and Lily knee deep in an argument about, of all the dull things, Lily not being around enough due to her new job working for Dale Cooper. I mean, the Captain. While that ordeal plays out exactly as predictably and boringly as you might expect, Marshall and Ted delve into their latest television addiction: a ferocious Downton Abbey parody riddled with croquet matches and chimneysweeps. The climax of the story centers on Marshall's spiteful spoiler of the latest episode for Lily as a jab at her for not spending enough time with him. But that all works out effortlessly in the end, and Ted does a British accent and says "Postlethwait." So, win some lose some.
All in all, How I Met Your Mother is stuck somewhere between soap opera and Saturday morning cartoon. Yes, it can inch in a few sweet moments now and again, and a few good laughs here and there. But if it ever really wants to land a good plenty of either, it had better decide what it wants to be and stick to it.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
[Photo Credit: Carin Baer/CBS]
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At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
Top Story: More Absences on Raymond Set
As production for the season premiere of CBS' Everybody Loves Raymond got under way Monday, two more co-stars--Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts--called in sick, while Brad Garrett remained on strike asking for an increase in salary, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Patricia Heaton, however, returned to work on Monday after calling in sick last week and delaying production. Dale Olson, a spokesman for Roberts, told The Reporter the actress was still grappling with pain from a knee injury she sustained Aug. 7 during a photo shoot for Glamour magazine at her Hollywood Hills home. "She has nothing to do at all with what else is going on there," Olson said. "It is just unfortunate timing." The trade paper reports a source close to the show said that Boyle has been struggling in recent months with adverse reactions to a prescription drug.
Azaria Wins Emmy in Animation
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced Monday winners of the 55th annual Primetime Emmy Awards in selected animation categories, also called juried awards, which do not have nominations and may include more than one winner in each category judged by members of ATAS' animation peer group, Reuters reports. Hank Azaria won his third Emmy for his voiceover work on Fox's The Simpsons. Other winners included technical awards for Cartoon Network's Samurai Jack and HBO's Through a Child's Eye: September 11, 2001 . The juried animation awards will be presented Sept. 13 at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Reuters reports. The remaining Emmy Awards will be handed out Sept. 21.
Mystic Kicks Off New York Film Festival
Clint Eastwood's mystery/drama Mystic River will open the 41st annual New York Film Festival Oct. 3. Reminiscent of the Cannes Film Festival, other films in competition at the NY Film Fest includes Gus Van Sant's Elephant, which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, Lars Von Trier's Dogville and Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions. The festival runs Oct. 3-19.
Ferrell Honored by ShowEast
Former Saturday Night Live alum Will Ferrell will received the comedy star of the year award at ShowEast 2003, Variety reports. His upcoming film Elf, co-starring James Caan, Ed Asner and Bob Newhart, will be also shown at ShowEast. "Will Ferrell has proven to be one of the most exciting, versatile talents in comedy, and Elf represents a major step in his career, making it the ideal linchpin for this much-deserved award," ShowEast co-director Mitch Neuhauser told Variety. ShowEast is scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 2 in Orlando, Fla.
ABC Family has pulled the plug on Roseanne Barr's upcoming cooking show Domestic Goddess due to the actress's health problems, The Associated Press reports. The 50-year-old Barr is scheduled to undergo a planned hysterectomy on Wednesday and had only recently begun production on the new show, which was to begin airing Sept. 20. The reality show The Real Roseanne Show, which chronicled the development of Goddess, has been playing on ABC since Aug. 6. Despite low ratings, the reality show will run through Sept. 17.
Actor Max Baer Jr., who played Jethro on the popular '60s TV show The Beverly Hillbillies, is planning to capitalize on the show's theme by building a $54 million Hillbillies-style hotel-casino resort in Reno, Nevada, called appropriately Jethro's Beverly Hillbillies Mansion and Casino, AP reports. Some of the highlights will include a 200-foot-tall, flame-belching oil derrick, a "Granny's Shotgun Wedding Chapel," "Uncle Jed's Gift Shop," "Jethro's Buffet" and "Elly May's Buns Bakery." Baer also envisions a nine-screen movie theater and a dancehall-show lounge, AP reports.
T3 DVD Release To Follow Schwarzenegger's Political Run
Whether he'll be governor of California or not, the two-disc DVD of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines will be released Nov. 11, a month after California's gubernatorial recall election, AP reports. Schwarzenegger and director Jonathan Mostow recorded a commentary for the Warner Home Video version, which includes additional scenes, an on-set gag reel and four visual effects labs that allow viewers to build their own action scene, AP reports.
Rock Singer Gets Three Years Probation
Scott Weiland, lead singer for the band Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, was sentenced last Thursday to three years' probation on two felony drug possession charges, Reuters reports. Weiland, 35, was arrested in May during a traffic stop in Burbank, Calif., when police found drug paraphernalia inside the car. Weiland went to prison in 1999 on similar drug charges after he repeatedly violated his probation and failed to complete a rehab program. This time the singer is required to continue counseling and rehab sessions, as well as submit to random drug testing.