The Muppets return, and while it’s impossible to fully recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle magic of the Jim Henson days, The Muppets proves that the right people understanding and re-implementing a workable formula can still result in ample rewards. It’s a simple and timeless formula: celebrity cameos, songs, and pop-culture references in a vaudeville style of freedom. The film is at once nostalgic and its own being. The Muppets have been reduced to obscurity and must raise $10,000,000 to save their studio. The answer is a telethon. This is a comfortable visit with dear, old friends. My review is here. Available on DVD, DVD (with soundtrack download), Blu-ray, and Blu-ray/DVD Combo (with digital copy and soundtrack download).
Four people are trapped in a New York City apartment by either the fear of being rude or the need to be polite (There is a difference) in Carnage, a comedy of manners in which two married couples try to settle a violent disagreement between their sons and wind up in an extended conflict themselves. The couples are played by Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly and Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz. It’s directed by Roman Polanski with a strong understanding of the game of words on display. The film is intelligent and quite funny–sometimes savagely so. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
I’ve been on the fence about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy since my first viewing. It’s exquisitely crafted and offers a moody sense of the loneliness of Intelligence work. It also features a performance from Gary Oldman as veteran spy George Smiley that is a master class in stillness. It gets messy in the mechanics of its central mystery, a flashback-laden, globetrotting affair that unfolds as Smiley attempts to uncover the identity of a mole in British Secret Intelligence Service. Does the identity of the mole even matter? Yes and no. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Hop is not the first kids movie to feature a character eating animal feces, but at least this time the droppings come in the form of jelly beans. They come from E.B. (voice of Russell Brand), the heir apparent to the title of Easter Bunny, who would rather become a drummer. The bunny winds up with Fred O’Hare (James Marsden), a slacker whose life the rabbit ruins regularly. It’s inoffensive, if at times a bit off-putting, stuff. It could be worse, which isn’t meant to be taken as praise but as a mild sigh of relief. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray on Friday, March 23.
I’d rather not get into the debate over The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo again, but here it is again. Director David Fincher’s remake/refashioning of the Swedish movie/first installment of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” trilogy of novels really could only improve upon the original movie; somehow, it’s not only wholly redundant in light of but also worse than its predecessor. The mystery involves the disappearance of a girl decades ago, and disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) and punky researcher Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) are on the case. The material is still generic, save for the venturing into sexual sadism and revenge, and all the polish here can’t hide that it’s all artifice and little substance. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
The Sitter is a practically laughless comedy about a slacker babysitter (Jonah Hill) who teaches his three wards about life by taking them on a late-night adventure into the world of drug dealing. The occasional racism is, depressingly, the most interesting thing about it. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.