Posts Tagged ‘musical’

In a nutshell: The Muppets reunite to raise $10 million to save their studio.

Popcorn rating: 4/5

In September 1976, The Muppet Show premiered on television. The show ended up spanning the length of five years, with a total of 120 episodes. Created by Jim Henson starting in 1954-55, The Muppets also spawned feature length films, television specials and a wide array of other television series.

And now, twelve years after The Muppets’ last theatrical release, Muppets From Space (1999), they’re at it again in the new eponymously named The Muppets written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller.

The movie is rife with familiar faces like Segel and Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek). Music and directorial credit go to Bret McKenzie and James Bobin respectively, both of the television series The Flight of the Conchords. The starring roles, Gary and Mary, are held by Segel himself and the beautiful Amy Adams. And of course it wouldn’t be the Muppets without a slew of celebrity cameos throughout the film, from the likes of Neil Patrick Harris to Mickey Rooney, Whoopi Goldberg to Selena Gomez.

So the production had a variety of well-known names attached to it, so what? How does it stand to the history of the Muppets, and how good of a movie was it?

The story focuses on Gary, Mary and Gary’s puppet brother Walter as they are enlisted to help Kermit peace together the disbanded Muppet group in order to save their beloved studio from the oil-crazed Tex Richman (Chris Cooper). They must raise $10 million to buy back the studio and how else do you raise $10 million as The Muppets besides a televised telethon with a surprise guest celebrity host!

The Muppets pulls together a combination of child humor, adult humor and slapstick comedy perfectly to create an all together hysterical film.  Well-deserved applause and laughter echoed through the theatre nonstop during the movie, as small children as young as 3 and adults as old as 50 alike joined in on the festivities of the Muppets.

The Muppet stars and actors opposite them do such a great job with the back and forth, making viewers forget the fact that these are puppets and puppeteers that are interacting on screen. It takes us back to our childhood when we really believed in talking frogs and pigs, instead of looking for signs of the puppet master. It is such a great film, whether you are young in years or just young at heart.

Reviewer: TylerMcCane

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Avenue Q (at The Lowry, Salford)

Posted: July 12, 2011 by davidmrgn in Theatre
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In a nutshell: Sesame Street, for grown ups

Popcorn rating: 4/5

Imagine  an adult version of Sesame Street and you’ll have a pretty good idea what to expect from Avenue Q the musical.  Sex, internet pornography, casual racism, questionable sexuality…nothing is off limits to this motley crew living in an American suburb.

It is almost a guilty pleasure to watch these muppet-inspired characters so familiar from your childhood act and sing with a wicked twist. Political correctness is certainly off the table but the story, which is really about friendship, is executed with such warmth and charm it is almost impossible to be offended.

Some of the funniest moments are the uncomfortable truths that form the basis of countless songs.  It was hard not to grin with a guilty smile when the puppets were singing about the satisfaction found at the misfortune of others and that ‘the more you love someone, the more you want to kill them’.

As funny as it is heart warming, Avenue Q tells Princeton’s tale.

He is the newest resident on the block trying to find his purpose and struggling to make his relationship work with Kate Monster.  Along the way, he has to resist the temptations offered by the ‘bad idea bears’ and learn a lesson from ‘Lucy the Slut’.

The show has already had massive success in London’s West End and nothing has been lost in the transition to the Lowry in Salford. Credit goes to the pupeteers who carry the characters around but add such life to the puppets that it is easy to suspend your disbelief.  Avenue Q is nothing short of excellent.

Reviewer: David Morgan

Rebirth of a Nation

Posted: November 25, 2010 by a1zaz in Film
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In a nutshell: American History X, Y and Z!!!

Popcorn rating: 3/5

Deemed by many as one of the most powerful American movies of all time, The Birth of a Nation, an anti-black, pro-Ku Klux Klan propaganda piece caused uproar when released in 1915 by D.W. Griffith. Presenting the KKK as heroes and Southern Blacks as an inhumane threat to civilization, the movie is still used today as recruitment material for the Klan. To highlight its power in modern society, it was voted into the National Film Registry in 1993, and then in 1998 was listed at number 44 in “Top 100 American Films” by the American Film Institute.

Rebirth of a Nation is DJ Spooky’s 2004 reply to Griffith’s depiction and in true DJ form is a ‘remix’ of the original. Aware that a detailed remake was not needed as society has come on leaps and bounds since 1915, Spooky used the project to rework various scenes from the original, bringing them to life with a dark musical score, critical captions and, at times, amusing graphics to highlight certain expressions and scenes.

Rebirth is undoubtedly a powerful movie in its own right. Spooky’s decision to not reshoot any scenes or characters and instead manipulate, or remix, the wrongs off Griffith’s work adds a twist to his portrayal. Interestingly, Spooky decides to strip away much of the historic backdrop to most of what is going on – there is, for example, little reference to the civil war. He instead focuses, really focuses, on characters, thoughts, dialogues and scenes.

In closing, it is worth saying that although most people should watch this film, it is better to go in with your eyes open and be in the right frame of mind. I stumbled across the movie after a friend invited me to an exclusive screening at The Toronto International Film Festival’s home, The Lightbox, where Spooky hosted the movie, musicians performed the soundtrack live, and Spooky held a Q&A session. Without much knowledge of what I was about to watch, I was left moved, even a little disturbed. The movie, and Spooky himself, got a huge thumbs up from legendary Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, but what has stuck with me is how certain aspects of the original movie are still very prevalent in today’s society – particularly with certain powers that be, and how intelligent and educated people can still lazily and almost blindly follow them. This is a movie blog so I shall say no more!

Reviewer: a1zaz