Director: John Bobin
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, The Muppets, Chris Cooper
Walter has grown up obsessed with The Muppets. He owns all of the collectible items and dreams of one day being an official Muppet. His brother, Gary (Segel) invites Walter along to Los Angeles on his anniversary trip with his girlfriend, Mary (Adams). Walter is ecstatic, and he finds out he will be able to tour the old Muppets Studio for the first time. Much to Mary's dismay, Walter tags along and their anniversary trip does not quite go as planned. The three of them arrive to Muppet Studios to find it dirty and unkept. There is one lone tour guide that leads them around. Walter sneaks into Kermit's old office to dazzle at the old artifacts and props. He ducks for cover when he hears Tex Richman (Cooper) and his goons enter. Tex reveals his plans to tear down Muppet Studio and drill for oil giving it a comedic maniacal laugh. Gary, Mary, and Walter hunt down Kermit the Frog to tell him the tragic news. Kermit sets about to find all of the other Muppets to stage a reunion show to gather enough money to save the studio.
It's wonderful to see The Muppets back on the big screen. Even though Frank Oz and Jim Henson are missed, the spirit of them is still present. Oz declined to be a part of the production while Hensen passed away in 1990. Jason Segel co-wrote the screenplay with Nicholas Stoller (Get Him to the Greek). While the movie was funny, it could have gone further. I think there was something generic about the writing for each specific Muppet, which led to some characters like Janice, The Swedish Chef, and Mr. Teeth left with only a couple of lines of dialogue not fully showing their unique personalities. I loved how much they incorporated "The Muppet Show" and some of the other movies into the writing. There are many references and pictures showing off the many celebrities that guest starred on the show. There are a couple of musical numbers that felt a little unnecessary and slowed down the down. The Muppets is fun, light-hearted, energetic return to form proving that these Jim Henson characters are timeless and fun for all ages.
Rating: *** 1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Chloe Grace Moretz
Hugo Cabret (Butterfield) is a lonely boy abandoned to live at a Paris train station after his father (Jude Law) dies. His alcoholic Uncle Claude teaches him how to fix the clocks as that is his job, but quickly disappears. Hugo passes the time by making sure all of the clocks are in working order, stealing clock parts, and fixing his automaton. The robot was a gift from his father that they worked on together. Hugo is determined that the automaton contains a message from his father if he can get it to work. Georges Méliès (Kingsley) is a cantankerous old man that runs a toy shop in the train station. Hugo tries to steal some parts out of a toy but is caught red handed. Hugo meets Georges' goddaughter, Grace (Moretz), as he tries to retrieve his notebook that Georges stole from him. They spark a friendship as they spend days digging deep into the literary world of the station book store and share the love of silent movies. Hugo notices Grace's necklace is the missing key to fixing the automaton. They insert the heart shaped key into the back of the automaton, and it comes to life. It draws a picture of a rocket crashing into the man in the moon with the name Georges Méliès on it. What connection does Georges have to his father? They soon realize Georges is not quite the grumpy man they think they know.
Based on the book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick, one wouldn't first associate this PG 3D movie with the artistic vision of Martin Scorsese. He's best known for his gritty crime/mobster movies. Upon watching the movie, you can't help but realize this is the perfect movie for Martin Scorsese. It's an ode to the classic silent movie era. If you've ever watched Scorsese in interviews, you know he's obsessed with film culture. His passion for the silver screen is unmatched. Hugo may be one of the best 3D movies I've ever seen. If you are skeptical about 3D, Hugo will change your mind. It uses 3D properly unlike most movies these days. Scorsese's use of 3D brings you right into the action and world Hugo lives you. You feel the tight wall space he lives in. You feel the rush of the crowd that passes through the train station. Asa Butterfield is a terrific young actor who is very capable of carrying quite a bit of the movie. Acting legend Christopher Lee is perfect as the man that runs the bookstore. The movie may be slow at times, but take the time to watch the 3D magic and the beautiful art direction. Watch for a cameo from Scorsese!
Rating: **** 1/2 (4.5 out of 5 stars)
MY WEEK WITH MARILYN
Director: Simon Curtis
Starring: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench
When Colin Clark (Redmayne) signed on to work for Pinewood Studios on the new Laurence Olivier (Branagh) and Marilyn Monroe (Williams) movie, he didn't know exactly what he was getting himself into. He may have expected the big egos and big personalities, but he certainly didn't expect falling for Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn was recently married to playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) as she arrived on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl. Colin worked as the third assistant director under Olivier. As Marilyn's work habits clashed with Laurence's, he grows extremely frustrated with her. She arrives late to set and can't remember her lines. Her work habits only grow worse as Marilyn realizes her marriage isn't as strong as she expected. She takes solace in Colin. He starts to grow fond of her after they spend a day together including some skinny dipping. Colin knows he shouldn't fall for the tempting bombshell actress, but he can't help himself.
My Week with Marilyn is based on the diaries of Colin Clark. Marilyn Monroe is a fascinating woman. She was beautiful, attracted numerous men to her, had an addiction to pills, and a one-of-a-kind personality. She led a mess of a life and was adorned by many. Her handlers and assistants seemed to pump her with pills and talk to her in a very specific innocent kind of way. Where have we heard that before? Michelle Williams gives another amazing performance. When playing an over-the-top Hollywood figure, it's easy to make them a caricature by playing the stereotypes. Williams does none of that. She plays Marilyn on a very humane level while still being Marilyn. I believed her every moment she was on screen. Her body posture, vocal inflections, and overall look were all Marilyn and not just your average blonde bombshell. Even though she plays the very minor role of Dame Sybil Thorndike, Judi Dench is as lovely as always. I would expect a third Oscar nomination for Williams. It will be well deserved if she gets it.
Rating: **** 1/2 (4.5 out of 5)