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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Okay, okay, take it easy. We know that life in the underworld of Detroit crime can be tense and brutal, but all the folks on Low Winter Sun might be wise to try out a yoga class or something. In a new set of exclusive pics for this Sunday's episode of the AMC drama, we find characters like Det. Damon Callis (James Ransone) gritting his teeth and wagging his finger... only to receive the same treatment below, but with a far more lethal appendage matching eyes with the crooked detective.
Meanwhile, Trey Jackson (Kamal Angelo Bolden) gears up for what looks to be (if we're judging by an entire crowd of cringes and gasps in the next photo) one hell of a stint in the boxing ring. The newest episode finds Michael McGrady's character Brendan McCann implicated in a "low level" murder, which ups the ante on the DCD's central investigation. Check out these new images, and catch the ep on Sunday night at 10 PM.
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The Black Entertainment Network announced Wednesday the nominees for the 3rd Annual BET Awards, with hip-hop artists Missy Elliott, Erykah Badu and Nelly each receiving three nominations, LAUNCHMusic.com reports.
Halle Berry and Queen Latifah each got a nod for best actress, while Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson made it to the best actor list. Soul legend James Brown is scheduled to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and Earvin "Magic" Johnson is slated to receive the Humanitarian Award.
Lil' Kim, who was nominated for best female hip-hop artist, told LAUNCHMusic.com she felt like she's proven herself in the entertainment industry--which she thinks is often harder for women. "When you're a female you do have to prove yourself, unfortunately," Kim said. "I feel like women are coming up and I thank God that we're able to be recognize for our talent in this game and not just for our bodies."
The ceremony will be broadcast live on the BET cable channel from the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California on June 24 at 9 p.m. ET. Comedian Mo'Nique will host the event, which will feature performances by James Brown, Donnie McClurkin, Yolanda Adams, India.Arie, 50 Cent, and Snoop Dogg.
The list of nominees includes:
Best Male R&B Artist
Best Female R&B Artist
Video of the Year
"Work It"--Missy Elliott
"Love of My Life"--Erykah Badu/Common
"Hot in Herre"--Nelly
Nicole Ari Parker
Samuel L. Jackson
Best Male Hip-Hop Artist
Best Female Hip-Hop Artist
Best New Artist
"Dilemma"--Nelly featuring Kelly
"'03 Bonnie & Clyde"--Jay-Z featuring Beyonce
"Gossip Folks"--Missy Elliott featuring Ludacris & Ms. Jade
"Beautiful"--Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell Williams
"Love Of My Life"--Erykah Badu featuring Common
Female Athlete of the Year
Male Athlete of the Year