Feels a bit like The Informant!: a small-scope crime story with a nice fellow who becomes a criminal without losing our sympathy. Jack Black reigns it in, and even Shirley MacLaine, playing a crazy-mean old rich lady, doesn’t get to go gonzo, Linklater trying to keep anything from playing too Meet The Parents-broad. McConaughey arguably reigns it in too much, barely registering as himself. Katy didn’t love it, but dug the appearance of “76 Trombones”.
Tag: jack black
Large-faced actor Jason Segal had a dream to resurrect the Muppets on the big screen, full of celeb cameos and musical numbers so he called up Flight of the Conchords (not Jemaine – he must’ve been busy on Men In Black 3). Proven cutey musical lead Amy “Enchanted” Adams is a love interest, Chris Cooper a villain, and Jack Black an unwilling celebrity guest.
And it worked! Good movie, full of the same self-referential humor and silliness as the originals. Plot revolves around Segal’s friend (brother?) Walter, who is a muppet, idolizes the 1970’s Muppets and convinces them to reunite to hold a fundraiser to save their old studio from an evil oil baron. Two of the voice actors/puppeteers are from the original Muppet Show (and Fraggle Rock too) – including Gonzo. So why is Gonzo barely in the movie? (edit: oh it’s because of Muppets From Space) This one was Kermit and Fozzie-heavy, so maybe they’re saving the others for the next movie.
My favorite bit from the IMDB trivia: “Bret McKenzie taught Chris Cooper how to rap.”
Katy told me Jack Black was in a depression after this movie failed, so I felt bad for skipping it and thought I’d rent it to cheer the guy up. Maybe it’s director Liam Lynch who’s in a depression… if your feature debut bombs, do you get a second chance? I hope he’s at least working on a second album (and more music videos).
The celeb cameos are as good as you could hope for – meaning the film isn’t weighed down by the awkward injection of whichever actors would say yes, but they actually have funny parts that work with the movie. Amy Poehler as a waitress: (“do we have to pay for all these refills?”, “No, you’re so pretty you get everything for free.”), Neil Hamburger gets about one line, Dave Grohl was apparently the devil, Tim Robbins is surprisingly good at silly comedy under lots of makeup – only Ben Stiller is a problem as a prophetic Guitar Center employee, and even that is only because his scene goes on too long.
After an outstanding musical intro (a kid who is perfect as a young Jack Black with Meat Loaf as his metal-disapproving father), the D members meet and perform open mic nights, but in order to win the big open-mic grand prize they’ll need the titular pick made from satan’s horn. It’s a mix of some original episodes (biggest fan Lee is in the movie; they borrow then trash his car) and music videos (the final scene is basically the “Tribute” video with a less catchy song, and there’s a hilarious shroomy Sasquatch sequence). Kept me entertained.
A reasonably good movie, charming and sweet with a very good ending, but… with all Gondry’s warm-hearted dream fun, why did I feel a bit cold from both this and Science of Sleep? I don’t know the answer.
Jack Black lives in a junkyard and is full of energy and ideas but is childish and doesn’t think things through very well. Mos Def has simple dreams (to help manage the video store, to stay out of trouble), Katy said he seems slow. Store owner and fake-historian Danny Glover is behind the times, takes a bizarre week “vacation” to spy on a blockbuster-like competitor. And Mia Farrow alternately seems addled, impatient or understanding & motherly. The tape-erasing “sweding” business is an excuse for a life lesson (that what you create yourself or what is created by low-budget neighbors with good intentions can be superior to mass-market entertainment) and to unite a community (for a fundraising community bio-pic about “local” legend Fats Waller), with lessons learned from Gondry’s Dave Chappelle concert movie.
Paul “Jellineck” Dinello and Matt “Upright Citizens” Walsh showed up with Sigourney Weaver at the end but I only recognized SW.
A great Bright Lights After Dark article talks about racial harmony in the film:
Jack Black, in blackface with pencil moustache and bowler, is clearly the perfect choice for Waller. It’s not just that he’s fat, but he looks like Waller as well, and could probably sing just like him after studying a few records. Danny Glover has to take Black outside to wordlessly imitate a minstrel softshoe to spell out why despite these assets, even a painted light brown face is too close to the shameful racist past.
One imagines a similar explanation perhaps being needed for Gondry at one point and it’s sad to think of anything standing in the way of his good-hearted vision. Black can’t go nuts as Waller as his showboating nature would permit, but must defer to the much thinner but blacker Def. Now, Waller was very light-skinned. Why couldn’t Black play him instead of Def? The question is rhetorical of course, dating back to antebellum bullshit about one one hundreth of a drop of black blood or whatever. But rhetorical or not, it’s clearly worth asking, and Gondry gives us a safe space in which to ask it. We may not get an answer, but even better is Gondry’s indication that, if our shared culture should one day become our shared property, we may not need one.
Somewhat-funny comedy with some good moments, but mostly made me wonder when it would be over. Did not leave in a good mood, and things only got worse from there.
Tim Meadows was the funniest part. Harold Ramis funny too. Dewey Cox’s love interest is in the American “Office”. Everyone’s favorite scene was Dewey’s meditation with The Beatles: Jason Schwartzmann, Jack Black, Paul Rudd and Justin Long (of “live free die hard”). John C. Reilly good, but not awards-good.
Katy liked the songs.