It is the holiday season and most of the day before Thanksgiving releases are feel good flicks, supposedly. But they leave a bad taste in my mouth.
I never understood Santa movies why do parents deny it. Presents are delivered to the house that they did not buy, pretty undeniable. Arthur Christmas suggests that the reindeer are old hat and the new Santa would not mind if he left one child behind, I am sure everything will work out for everybody but the premise is too sour from the start.
Frank Oz is against this Muppet movie. It seems more crass and cynical (the opposite of what the muppets should be) I will take Oz at his word.
Martin’s last change of pace was Kundun. I like Kundun, like very little of the output lately. Sascha Baron Cohen is in it so may go, other than that ehh..
The Week After This No Updates as No Wide Releases Coming Til Dec 9
I really think it’s a toss up as to which one of these is number one at the box office. The Muppets are getting a crazy marketing push but are kids really going to see this? Do they even know who the Muppets are?
I guess if the huge success of The Smurfs is any indication, the answer is probably yes.
I’m really disappointed that there are no other wide releases Thanksgiving weekend or the weekend of Dec 2. These two weekends are probably the two biggest weekends of the year for films in limited release – The Artist, My Weekend with Marilyn, Tomboy, A Dangerous Method all come out Thanksgiving weekend plus Shame, Coriolanus, and Sleeping Beauty on Dec. 2.
This is a great time to be going to the movies!
Sleeping Beauty has been on demand for a month. Meloncholia too.
My theater is getting Margin Call on that week and I saw that thru amazon seems like months ago.
Too bad art theaters cannot just project computers from an oline source, they could get a crowd of people paying for a movie that cost them 7 bucks.
Twilight number 1
The Muppets will be number two
Arthur number three
Happy Feet 2 four
I don’t understand why Margin Call didn’t get a wide release and is instead playing in small art theaters. That movie was a solid film with widespread appeal. Especially with all the names in the cast, I could totally see that movie playing at an AMC.
Very strange and somewhat disappointing. I liked Margin Call a lot.
I think The Muppets looks pretty good, but interestingly enough I find that there is a lot of significance in Miss Piggy’s voice change. Since Oz isn’t behind it, the voice sounds less aggressive and shrill as Miss Piggy is, which means she comes off sounding kinda tired and worn out from what you expect…
…and that is how the commercial feels. Like all the Muppets are tired and worn out and redefining themselves. Which to me sounds like excellent cinema, but we’ll see how it plays out. The Muppets have ALWAYS had an underlying self-consciousness, and their dramatic questions often surround whether they can win over their burgeoning cynicism to find the optimism of the day—which they usually do by coming back together and realizing how important it is to support each other.
Hugo’ll be fun.
love what you wrote about the muppets DIB, almost like this new criticism is a form of obstacle for them, still not sure I can bring myself to watch it.
from variety (maybe I ought to give it a shot)
Effortlessly blending wised-up, self-reflexive humor with old-fashioned let’s-put-on-a-show pizzazz, “The Muppets” is an unexpected treat. Bright and perky, cheeky but never mean-spirited, the seventh Muppet-based theatrical feature finds Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and friends emerging from semi-retirement to reclaim the spotlight, just as Disney is banking (but not coasting) on the popularity of Jim Henson’s puppet creations to win back an adoring moviegoing public. Charming musical elements, a cluster of celebrity cameos and a thoroughgoing sense of creative resurgence engendered by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller’s smart script should ensure that happy outcome; hecklers will be few.
Joining this year’s “Winnie the Pooh” as an example of a beloved Disney-owned property renewing itself without sullying tradition, “The Muppets” is also the rare sequel conceived as a lovingly crafted tribute from one generation of comedic talent to another. After featuring a line of Henson puppets in their 2008 laffer “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” Stoller and Segel pitched the concept of a fresh Muppet movie (the first in the 12 years since the flop of “Muppets From Space”), and Disney brought aboard British scribe-helmer James Bobin (“Flight of the Conchords,” “Da Ali G Show”) to direct from the duo’s screenplay.
Whatever one might have expected or feared from a group of funnymen known for their associations with Judd Apatow and Sacha Baron Cohen, the creative team has somehow produced not only a vintage piece of Muppetry, but one of the better screen musicals in recent memory. That much is clear from the sunny opening number, “Life’s a Happy Song,” a soft-shoe setpiece giddily headlined by Midwestern small-towner Gary (Segel) and his puppet pal, Walter, who has nursed a lifelong obsession with the Muppets.
Gary and Walter have been like brothers since childdhood, as seen in a growing-up montage that ends with the comical sight of the pint-sized puppet sharing a bedroom with the 6’4" Segel. When Gary and Mary (Amy Adams), his extremely patient g.f. of 10 years, head to Los Angeles for a week’s vacation, Walter tags along, eager for the chance to visit Hollywood’s historic Muppet Studios. But the Muppets have long since disbanded, the studio lot has fallen into disrepair, and as Walter conveniently learns, the aptly named Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) is scheming to seize the property and drill for oil.
Commenting on every cliche along the way, Gary, Mary and Walter drop in on Kermit, then Fozzie Bear, then Gonzo and Animal and so on, setting plans in motion for a Muppets reunion telethon that will raise the dough needed to save their old home. The lone holdout is the ever-diva-like Miss Piggy, now a Paris fashion-mag editrix still nursing hurt feelings over Kermit’s perpetual lack of romantic initiative. Similarly, Mary increasingly resents that the Muppets are monopolizing her time with Gary, while Walter experiences stage fright at the prospect of performing with his idols for the first time.
From the cheery visual design (Rahel Afiley’s matching Gary-Walter costumes merit special mention) to the upbeat score and songs, which include three fresh tunes by music supervisor Bret McKenzie (of “Conchords” fame), every aspect of the production radiates a sheen of clean-scrubbed optimism. Yet the marvel of “The Muppets” is how often it manages to express the most predictably earnest, wide-eyed sentiments, only to turn around and give them an irreverent poke, without seeming in any way insincere.
If the we-know-we’re-in-a-movie winking goes a bit overboard, the pic fosters considerable goodwill by having much of it delivered by Segel and Adams. (When a seemingly dead-end plot twist causes Mary to squeal, “This is going to be a really short movie,” it helps to have an actress as wholesome yet self-aware as Adams selling the line.) With their features and bodies possessed of a positively Muppet-like elasticity, the thesps couldn’t be more in tune with the silly sensibility at play here, or more game for song-and-dance duty. Still, the strangest musical perf comes courtesy of Cooper, busting out a rap so surreally unmotivated that the bouncy-ball subtitles seem designed to facilitate viewer comprehension rather than to get anyone to actually sing along.
Roster of supporting thesps includes Rashida Jones, Emily Blunt, Sarah Silverman and Zach Galifianakis, while James Carville, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Neil Patrick Harris and, most hilariously, an unbilled Jack Black all pop up briefly as themselves. But the human players never overpower the work of multitasking Muppeteers Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman, Matt Vogel and Peter Linz, whose endearing performances deserve no small credit for this enjoyable throwback.
Preceding the film in theaters is Pixar’s latest “Toy Story” short, “Small Fry,” which slyly sends up the fast-food industry with an amusing examination of toy abandonment issues.
Camera (Deluxe color), Don Burgess; editor, James Thomas; music, Christophe Beck; music supervisor, Bret McKenzie; production designer, Steve Saklad; art director, Andrew Cahn; set designer, Patrick Sullivan; set decorator, Tracey Doyle; costume designer, Rahel Afiley; sound (Dolby Digital/Datasat), Steve Cantamessa, Kevin O’Connell, Beau Borders; supervising sound editors, Sean McCormack, Kami Asgar; stunt coordinator, Allan Graf; visual effects supervisor, Janet Muswell Hamilton; visual effects, Look Effects, Centro Digital Pictures; choreographer, Michael Rooney; associate producer, Bill Barretta; assistant director, Josh King; second unit director, Graf; second unit camera, Michael Burgess; casting, Marcia Ross, Gail Goldberg. Reviewed at Disney Studios, Burbank, Nov. 15, 2011. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 98 MIN.
Ew, bouncing titles song sequence?
Sigh We will see, we will see….
i wish someone a little less crass and cynical took the project on
maybe Joel Hopkins, Rowan Atkinson or Nick Park would have been better choices
In attempting to make his first film for all ages, Martin Scorsese has fashioned one for the ages. Simultaneously classical and modern, populist but also unapologetically personal, “Hugo” flagrantly defies the mind-numbing quality of most contempo kidpics and instead rewards patience, intellectual curiosity and a budding interest in cinema itself. Given the sheer expense of this lavish production and its marketing, Scorsese’s playfully didactic, nouveau-Dickensian adventure could spell a money-losing gamble in the near term; wind the clock forward half a century, however, and “Hugo’s” timeless qualities should distinguish it as an achievement with the style and substance to endure.
Based on Brian Selznick’s illustrated children s novel, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” the story couldn t be more different from Scorsese’s previous efforts, not least of all because it reps the director’s first “deepie,” to resurrect a bit of vintage slanguage for 3D pics. Still, anyone familiar with Scorsese’s obsessions will instantly recognize why he felt compelled to adapt such a unique book, enlisting his usual team of powerhouse craftsmen to realize his vision, while working once again on a scale enabled by producer/champion Graham King (“Gangs of New York,” “The Aviator”).
“Hugo” tells the story of a wide-eyed orphan (Asa Butterfield, more wooden than he was in “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”) who’s desperately alone in the world until he discovers a father figure in ornery old toy seller Georges Melies (Ben Kingsley), whom cineastes will recognize as one of the fathers of film itself. How the great Melies who created the indelible image of a rocket embedded in the eye of the moon came to spend his retirement selling toys in a Paris train station, and what role young Hugo can play in giving his life meaning, are among the urgent mysteries revealed in the film’s second half, which Scorsese uses to inspire audiences on the importance of remembering how the medium began.
For roughly the first hour, however, Melies true identity doesn’t factor, leaving the film to focus on the plight of its young protagonist. Lurking out of sight within the walls of the Gare Montparnasse (a massive set elaborately designed by Dante Ferretti), where he works as unofficial timekeeper of the station’s many clocks, Hugo escapes every so often to snatch a hot croissant or nick the odd widget needed for his pet project, repairing an automaton his late father (Jude Law, seen only briefly) rescued from the attic of a nearby museum.
Scorsese introduces Hugo’s world via a series of virtuoso camera moves, seamlessly enhanced by 3D and state-of-the-art CG (notice how Scorsese uses steam and floating particles to create a sense of dimension throughout). In one shot, Richard Richardson’s dynamic camera swoops down from the skies and between rows of passengers disembarking the trains outdoors, pushing its way confidently through the crowd, into the station and up to a clockface, where a pair of big blue eyes peer down on the scene below.
Those peepers, which at times seem to fill the entire frame, invite auds into a spirit of shared voyeurism, as Hugo spies on the characters passing through each day with the same fascination with which we all watch movies. In perhaps the film’s trickiest feat (just one of many expertly navigated by editor Thelma Schoonmaker), “Hugo” manages to alternate between its central story and a series of neat subplots among the station regulars.
There’s the ruthless inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) determined to keep his domain free of fatherless urchins, yet smitten with Lisette (Emily Mortimer), who sells flowers a few paces from the pastry shop where Mme. Emilie (Frances de la Tour) sits, her dachshund a constant obstacle to the amorous M. Frick (Richard Griffiths). Cohen in particular brings the vaudevillian quality of early silent comics to his role, as in a bit that finds him swerving to avoid upsetting a six-tier cake, only to plant his foot in the nearest cello.
Howard Shore’s whimsical score sets the tone as Hugo surveys these dynamics, playfully taking its cue from the resident cafe musicians. For fear of discovery, Hugo keeps his distance from the adults, until the day Melies catches the young thief red-handed. Kingsley plays the old man as a genuine misanthrope, embittered by years of neglect and haunted by secrets he keeps bottled up.
Nearly all the adult characters come across as forbidding authority figures to Hugo, further accentuating the young orphan’s isolation in the world. Hugo’s only ally is a girl named Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), who holds the key to his broken automaton. An avid reader, Isabelle takes pride in her multi-syllable vocabulary, introducing Hugo to the station’s intimidating book lender (Christopher Lee). In return, Hugo drags Isabelle to the movies, specifically “Safety Last,” in which silent comedian Harold Lloyd hangs from the hands of a giant clock — an image soon to be repeated in Hugo s own life.
“Hugo” overflows with allusions, both cinematic and literary, reflecting the combined passions of Scorsese and writer John Logan, whose screenplay feels as alive with love for words as Scorsese is passionate about pictures. Invigorated by the use of 3D, the helmer tips his hat to the masters of silent and 1930s French cinema, innovating all the while. At one point, he re-creates the apocryphal early screening of the Lumiere brothers’ “L’Arrivee d’un train en gare de La Ciotat,” in which audiences are so startled to see a train approaching onscreen that they leap out of its path. Scorsese builds on this image, featuring dreams within dreams as a sleeping Hugo imagines an actual train crashing through his station, quoting everything from the wreck in Abel Gance’s “La Roue” to the photo of an actual 1895 rail catastrophe at Montparnasse in the process.
Far from indulgences, these respectful nods echo the film s central theme, which concerns the plight of all those who never knew the attention filmmakers experience today. Although many will connect “Hugo’s” message with Scorsese’s film preservation work, it more closely matches his role in creating a late-career rediscovery for director Michael Powell, whom he helped to rescue from obscurity. Here, his young protagonist acts on behalf of all the medium’s artists manquis.
Though Melies enjoyed great success innovating many of cinema’s first special effects (look for side-by-side cameras in one of Scorsese’s giddy restagings of these early productions, indicating that Melies was also among the first helmers to work in stereo), he was eventually bankrupted by film piracy and bad luck. His story is among the great tragedies of film history, reaching its lowest point in 1923, when Melies burned all his own negatives. “Hugo” supplies an alternative more in keeping with Scorsese s film-preservation message, as well as a resolution possible only now, in 2011, with the restoration of the only surviving hand-tinted color print of Melies’ masterpiece, 1902’s “A Trip to the Moon.” Astonishingly, Schoonmaker manages to condense this gem to just 100 seconds within the great tapestry of Scorsese s rhapsody to an unforgettable art form.
“it reps the director’s first “deepie,” to resurrect a bit of vintage slanguage for 3D pics.”
Could somebody please translate Variety to English please? It took me a few times reading these reviews Den shared to get “auds” means audience, but… seriously, what is this?!
I don’t love variety either but they seem to have a review posted at least a day before anyone else except maybe Hollywood Reporter and they are awful.
NO UPDATE THIS WEEK AS NO FILMS ARE BEING RELEASED UNTIL DEC 9TH
If a film doesn’t open big on the first weekend, can it still have legs any more or is it more or less dead?
but it can have overseas legs, many films bomb here but are heavy into profit because of other markets
Depends on the film. Depends on the size of the release. Hugo is getting a soft opening and isn’t expected to be number one. But they are expecting it to have legs and build through the holidays. The budge for this movie was around $150 million, I think. But they are only targeting an opening weekend gross of around $15 million. But this is not a bad thing and they are expecting to make their money back.
Think about last year. The Social Network made around $22 million opening weekend but built a word of mouth to end up grossing nearly $100 million after it was all said and done. Ditto on The King’s Speech, True Grit, Black Swan.
Yeah, that’s sort of studio policy, right?
“Hrm, this movie is actually good, can stand to stay in theatres for a while… let’s release it slowly, let its reputation proceed it.”
“What about this?”
“That? That’s crap. Open it big during the weekend and make an effort to advertise the fuck out of it, so that everyone will come and see it before they know it’s bad, and then get started on the DVD packaging.”
Which actually makes a lot of sense. Disturbing sense, as I wouldn’t know why they wouldn’t advertise the fuck out of what’s good as well, thus having a brilliant opening week AND legs, but… well…