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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Actors Austin Nichols and Chloe Bennet are dating, according to a U.S. report. The Ray Donovan star, who previously dated his One Tree Hill castmate Sophia Bush from 2006 to 2012, while Bennet recently split from her Nashville co-star Sam Palladio.
He confirmed the break-up at the Runner Runner premiere in Las Vegas, Nevada on Wednesday (18Sep13), telling reporters, "I am not dating anyone at the moment. I am single. Not married and no attachments as of yet!"
Nichols and Bennet reportedly hooked up recently and fast became an item.
Landon Donovan Talks 'Crooked' Refs: Late Last Night
Last night, David Letterman talked to the STRONGEST, MOST HANDSOME, BEST PAIR OF AMERICAN ANKLES owner, Landon Donovan, about the deal with the soccer players and the way they can be such whiners about injuries they don't have. Letterman also asked him if the refs are "crooked," and Donovan couldn't answer because he'd get fined...but it's still too soon after his "intern incident" for him to be pointing out if anything's 'crooked,' even if it is.
And Dave talked to Dolly Parton about how Elvis was going to record her song, "I Will Always Love You," but ended up not being able to because she wouldn't give up the publishing rights.
Jon Stewart played a variation of my favorite 'waiting in the hospital to get seen by a triage nurse' game, which is Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. But this time, he connected the oil spill to Kevin Bacon! No mean feat! He also tried to figure out if all this disgusting stuff that's going on in our country is really Bush's fault...and since it is, Stewart came up with a really great acronym to prove it.
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And Stewart chatted with Helen Mirren about ice cream and what it's like to be offered the honor of "Dame," which apparently is quite similar to when FedEx calls you and asks if you'll be home later so they can drop off your package from Zappos.
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Stephen Colbert talked about basketball, specifically whether or not LeBron James will come to NYC. It's a big deal? Actually, it seems like such a big deal that the Knicks have only signed 5 players for next year to free up a salary for LeBron. So since the team's a little under-stocked, does Stephen have what it takes to be a Knick?
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Does ... this ... movie ... really ... have ... to ... be ... nearly ... two
... hours ... long? By showing Basinger's character's extensive adjustment to life in the bush the film eventually manages to tell the story of one woman's quest to find strength through her pain. Not too original.
Though Basinger doesn't give the Academy-caliber performance she did in
"L.A. Confidential " she does manage to draw you in. She's most powerful in her dramatic roles and in this movie the drama comes when she attempts to deal with the loss of her loved ones. Sadly the dashing Vincent Perez as her new husband is forgettable.
In telling this story Hugh Hudson takes his time ... too much time. Easily "I
Dreamed of Africa" could stand to lose at least 20 minutes. Hudson does know however how to get the best work out of Basinger. And kudos to the cinematographer. The vastness of the African landscape and the beauty of its sunsets are a treat.