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November 28, 2011 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-11-28

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6A - Monday, November 28, 2011

4

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

'Muppets'mnaendure

Jason Segel revives
a beloved franchise
for a new generation
By KAVI SHEKHAR PANDEY
Senior Arts Editor
These have been dark and dif-
ficult times, Kermit the Frog.
With 15 years since the last semi-
commercially
successful *
Muppet feature
("Muppet Trea- The
sure Island")
and appear- Muppets
ances limited
to a handful At Quaityl16
of blink-and- and Rave
you-miss-it TV Disney
specials, the
Muppets had
nearly evaporated from cultural
relevancy. Entire generations
have never been swooned by the
banjo-plucking of the amphibian
with the angelic voice and asso-
ciate Fozzie Bear's catchphrase
"waka waka" with Shakira's
World Cup anthem (or confuse it
with the Atlanta rapper).
But the Rainbow Connection
has been restored with the release
of "The Muppets," willed to life
by Jason Segel (TV's "How IMet
Your Mother") and continuing
Disney's venerable tradition of
handing the creative reigns to
filmmakers who are passionate
about the material they're bring-
ing to screen. Segel is quite the
ardent Muppet aficionado, and
as co-writer, executive producer
and star, he pours every drop of
his adoration for the Jim Henson
creations into this movie. And it
all pays off - Segel's exuberance
seeps into every second of "The
Muppets," carving a delicious
family filmthat proves Kermit and
his felt crew still got it going on.
The key to the Muppets' sto-
ried success had always been

4

How Kenneth the page perceives "HowI Met Your Mother."

their remarkable ability to shift
between humor aimed at kids
and adults without trepidation.
The involvement of Segel and co-
writer Nicholas Stoller - whose
last script was the raunch-tastic
"Forgetting Sarah Marshall" -
may have raised eyebrows, but the
duo nails the balance. For every
gag about "fart shoes" and elec-
trocuted puppets that will have
tykes soiling their Pull-Ups with
laughter, there's sharp self-reflex-
ive humor, carefully positioned
Muppets references and a flurry
of delightful celebrity cameos for
everyone else. If you're the type
of adult who thinks fart shoes are
hilarious - and you're not alone -
then get ready to snicker until the
credits roll.
As for the sweetly silly musical
numbers - the enchantment of
elaborately choreographed sing-
ing and dancing transcends age
and maturity. Under the direction
of James Bobin, who wrote the

book on staging songs that rapidly
flicker between introspective and
irreverent with TV's "Flight of the
Conchords," the musical numbers
give the film a shot in the arm
whenever the plot stagnates.
And the swampy narrative is
where the warts of "The Mup-
pets"become evident. Though the
film has a neat beginning, follow-
ing the trip of Gary (Segel), Mary
(Amy Adams, "The Fighter") and
Gary's brother Walter (a puppet)
to visit the now-ramshackle Mup-
pet Studio - the home of Wal-
ter's idols - it quickly falls into a
let's-get-the-band-back-together-
and-put-on-a-big-show "Blues
Brothers" ripoff. It's lazy story-
telling, even by kid's standards,
and further hampered by lame
subplots (see: Animal recovering
from his "drum" addiction).
But these imperfections are
glossed over by the joyfully spir-
ited cast. Kermit, Miss Piggy,
Fozzie, Gonzo, Swedish Chef,

Beaker, Sam Eagle and the rest
are at the top of their games. And
they're accompanied by Segel,
who's clearly having the time of
his life, the everlastingly lovely
Amy Adams (belting out her
soprano for the first time since
"Enchanted") and the cadre of
cameos too cool to be spoiled. Yet
Hollywood's resident scene-steal-
er, Chris Cooper ("The Company
Men") pilfers another motion pic-
ture, playing an evil Texas oilman
with enough ham to cause a state
of emergency in a synagogue (the
dude raps, for God's sake).
The plot might be croaky, but
the audience's enjoyment of this
film is testament to the allure of
the Muppets: The nostalgia and
wit of the characters will always
transcend narrative shortcom-
ings. With the might of the Mouse
House marketing machine behind
them, the Electric Mayhem Bus
should keep rolling on to great
things.

wAesRes.o BaS
Board the Polar Express to TV's festive cheer this season.
Christmas TV is
coming to town
By BRIANNE JOHNSON Peeping Toms who undoubtedly
DailyArts Writer intend to violate my doorbell
until I show my cowardly face.
'Twas the night of Black Fri- Yet nothing warms my heart
day and all through the store, more than watching re-runs of
chimes of sweet carols and 3 a.m. my favorite TV families fum-
snores erupt from the speakers ble their way through endear-
and stream from zipped tents, ingly awkward and often poorly
as flocks of cold shoppers grow cooked dinners, as I cuddle into
in swelling suspense. The reason the corner of my futon with a bag
I'm snatching a plasma this year? of popcorn that may or may not
Well, the holiday specials on TV result in buttery strings of gar-
are finally here! land by the end of the night.
As eager students deck the Television's holiday specials
dorm halls in colorful paper and have become anexpected delight,
string their windows in a green a tradition as familiar and com-
and red glow, I've found my own forting as sprawling on the liv-
way to commemorate the holi- ing room floor knowing that the
days: watching TV. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
will scoot its way across the
screen. Embedded in my list of
ABC Family holiday to-dos - right after roast
chestnuts over an open fire - is
beats egg nog an indulgent cluster of classic
(and some not-so-classic) Christ-
mas gems. I will follow Michael
Scott to a drunken Benihana
That's right. Call me Scrooge, feast. I will convince my family
but I'm not one to get wasted on that Mr. Hanky of "South Park"
that holiday spirit. I think egg is indeed the wholesome erubodi-
nog is strange, ice is the bane of ment of the holiday spirit. And
my clumsy existence and I often with zero shame, I will be glued
mistake innocent carolers for See CHRISTMASPage 7A

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RELEASE DATE- Monday, November 28, 2011
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
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(c)2011 Tribune Mediaservices,Inc.

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