My all too analytical and crazy review of The Muppets

When The Muppets came out in theatres in November, I really thought I was going to be one of those crazy people to see it the first week of release (I will not go into what the Muppets mean to me, or Jim Henson once again).  But, the movie came out and I didn’t go.  One by one, friends of mine were asking if I had seen it yet.  When I would say “no”, they were shocked, surprised or even confused at how I hadn’t done so.  To be honest, so was I.  Reviews were coming in and they were positive.  I adore Jason Segel and knowing that he was helming this renaissance made me feel that this treasured franchise was in good hands.

Ironically, when I watched the movie last night, it was on the same day that the NFB Mediatheque screened The Muppet Movie (aka the most superior Muppet film of all) during Canadian Music Week!  Paul Williams (the man behind its score, and the writer of The Rainbow Connection was also in attendance).

So, here we go…all in all….I thought the movie was just ok.  That being said, it definitely has resuscitated the franchise and a sequel is underway which is awesome.  AND the film won an Oscar this year for Best Song.  So, these are GREAT things that this movie as done.  But, here’s my list of PROS and CONS

PROS

  • Wow! It’s really so amazing to see them all on the big screen again.
  • The Rainbow Connection still makes me cry – seeing Kermit play his banjo…..and then having everyone joining in to sing…good Lord.
  • Seeing the opening to The Muppet Show again made me so happy, I can’t even tell you.  And hearing the theme.  Unbelievable.
  • I like Walter – our new whistling Muppet protagonist.  He’s very likeable.  (The whole set up of him being Segel’s brother is a little weird though).
  • Walter seeing himself as a human and he’s Jim Parsons – GENIUS.
  • Animal in anger management – GENIUS.  Ya gotta give him his drums, man.
  • Cameo by Feist – AWESOME (Her 1,2,3,4 redo she did for Sesame Street is still one of the best that show has done).
  • Cameo by Dave Grohl (blink and you’ll miss it) – LOVE IT.  Could I love him more, please?
  • Amy Adams, I love you.  That “Me Party” song of hers is great.
  • Fozzie singing a horrid retooling of The Rainbow Connection in Reno?  Hilarious.
  • The Moopets?  Really funny.  And weird.  I would like to see them again.
  • Chickens singing Cee-Lo’s “Forget You”? Hilarious.
  • The entire Mahna Mahna section at the end of the film – cute.

Alright… the CONS

  • The whole notion that the Muppets are irrelevant and not important in this day and age.  Okay, fine – but hearing it throughout the ENTIRE movie, well that made me sad.  They kept using it as a dialogue point and it was a bit overkill, so much so that it made me feel that there was this lingering melancholy on the entire movie.
  • Kermit…my hero.  He’s SO SAD IN THIS MOVIE. His voice, his movements…..he’s like a shadow of himself!  I kept wanting him to snap out of it….but I even find that by the end of the movie, he’s still not so happy.  What happened here!!!
  • When Jim Henson died, I felt that the loony side to these beloved characters also died too.  With Frank Oz also not involved with the Muppets anymore (he reportedly didn’t want to have anything to do with the movie because of the plot point that The Muppets were not relevant), a certain side to this incarnation of The Muppets lacks a certain joy and silliness.  This movie is a good introduction to newcomers to The Muppets, but I can’t help comparing to material from the past and knowing the difference between the two.
  • Having Selena Gomez say “I don’t really know who you guys are, but my parents do” – enough said.
  • The Muppets have NEVER resorted to dumb crude dialogue or language, so to hear Fozzie utter the words “Fart Shoes” and also hear the word “bastard” in it too?  Not cool (and no I’m not THAT MUCH of a prude).
  • Jason Segel and Amy Adams should have had more interactions with the main Muppets rather than just Walter.
  • No scene of Janis being caught saying something inappropriate once the group goes silent?  😦

So, there ya have it – a review a little too thought out.  But, the good thing is that more Muppet films are looming and fingers crossed that it can only get better from here.

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Trayvon

We are defined by the colour of our skin, but not as a negative but as a positive.

We are defined by the clothes that we wear, but not as a detriment but as a form of loving character trait.

We are defined by our actions because we need to hold responsibility for what we do, who we are and our affect on others.

This boy is not who that man says he is.

This boy had a life to lead and that man took it away.

This boy was the future of the new world but that man only sees things as “black” and “white”

This boy pleaded for his life but that man smoked it out because he could and he abused his power.

This boy might have gone unnoticed but that will not happen.

That will not happen.

That will not happen.

Every time I hear his name, I choke back my heart and the pain in my chest.

Because once again I am so pissed and saddened by what some are capable of doing when told that they can.

If there are little things that can be done to make sure that he will not go silenced, then I will do.

Because his death should not be in vain or without accountability.

No, it will not be so.

 

 

MadonnaDiscography

Alright, I have to admit that I am now really excited about hearing MDNA,Madonna’s latest album which arrives in stores on March 26th.  I recently wrote on my blog about how much I hated the first single, “Gimme All Your Luvin'” and I still do.  The second single off the album, “Girl Gone Wild”, arrived next and despite its really vapid lyrics, I found myself listening to its inescapable hook over and over again on my iPod.  The video was released today, and I have to say that I think it’s great – the most inspired video Madonna was done in years.  Then the early reviews started coming out for the album and they have been glowing – the most recent being from USA Today,saying that the album was Madonna’s most personal to date (!) and that it was revelatory.  Wow.  I think I was making a real snap judgment here, basing my feelings of her “calling in this one” on song titles like “Gang Bang” (which apparently has nothing to do with orgies) and “I Fucked Up” (which I have heard and it is quite revealing and funny at the very end too).

So I wait…

I have loved Madonna and her music for years now, ever since I was a little boy.  I can’t really explain why on earth at the beginning of her career would I have gravitated to her, other than really thinking she was beautiful and being in awe of her freedom of expression.  For me it has always come back to the music.  I loved that she is a songwriter AND a producer on nearly ALL of her albums – something that always gets lost in the shuffle because I believe people are more comfortable thinking of her as a businesswoman, a machine if you will than as an actual musical talent.  I always loved the fact that she had a media ready public persona, and yet inside there was an artist wanting to create that was also there.

With that, here is my take on each of Madonna’s 11 (and soon to be 12) albums.  They all reside happily in my CD collection.  (Note that I am not including I’m Breathless or Evita on this list – those are more concept albums or soundtracks.)

1. MADONNA – her debut.  Light as air pop songs, notably all songs written by her.  On this album, I feel like she’s singing as though her life depended on it.  You can hear that she’s  trying to get a break.  I don’t know whether her initial intention was to be a singer, but this album was going to be her way of getting in the door.  Who knew!  Not a great one, as far as I’m concerned (I abhor “Lucky Star” – sorry!) but it does contain her most timeless song (and still one of the best songs to dance to bar none!)

NOTABLES:  “Holiday”, “Burning Up”

2. LIKE A VIRGIN – Ok, I seriously never listen to this album EVER.  I understand its pop culture relevance – I mean this was the one that catapulted her into the MTV stratosphere but it’s also pretty airy.  She writes on most songs her but doesn’t produce.

NOTABLES: “Angel”, “Dress You Up”, “Like A VIrgin” (fine, fine!)

3. TRUE BLUE – Bingo!  A songwriter and  producer emerges! She writes and produces every song on this one – and this is her ode to love as she is clearly in love with her then husband Sean Penn.  The songs contain a bit more weight to them, and are so catchy.  Something’s happening here.

NOTABLES: “Papa Don’t Preach”, “Open Your Heart”, “Live To Tell”, La Isla Bonita”, “True Blue”

4. LIKE A PRAYER – A perfect pop record.  Again, producing and writing all tracks, this was her first REAL foray into using music to be confessional and poetic.  The songs are all about her life – the ending of her marriage, the death of her mother, her relationship with her father and men.  It’s got a killer duet with Prince that no one knows about.  Yup, people sat up and noticed with this one.  Still holds up.

NOTABLES: “Like A Prayer”, “Till Death Do Us Part”, “Cherish”, “Oh Father”, “Keep It Together”, “Act Of Contrition” (yup!!)

5. EROTICA – Following I’m Breathless and her immaculate Immaculate Collection greatest hits, she released this sex drenched, cold, angry, weird, arms length album.  I hated it for years, only liking some songs here and there.  But, twenty years later, I think I “get” what she was trying to do with this one.  It’s not one that I would listen to repeatedly but it’s definitely not as bad as I had initially thought. Wrote and produced everything.

NOTABLES: “Erotica”, “Deeper and Deeper”, “Waiting”, “Secret Garden”

6. BEDTIME STORIES – Bliss.  This was a straight up R&B album.  While “Erotica” made the listener feel disconnected from the artist, this one welcomed them back.  It’s soulful, confessional and once again written and produced by herself.  There is a sense that she is warming up for Evita on some of these tracks, as her voice had never sounded stronger.

NOTABLES: “Secret”, “Human Nature”, “Take A Bow”, “Bedtime Story”, “Survival”

7. RAY OF LIGHT – Jackpot.  Her best record to date, one of my favorite albums in life.  Her voice is crisp and strong from all of that Evita training, and the songs are all reflective of rebirth since the birth of her first child.  She’s bringing the walls down, and it’s sonically beautiful.  Still stands up today.

NOTABLES: Seriously, can I put all of the tracks here? If not, then I will do  “Drowned World (Substitute For Love)”, “Skin”,  “Frozen”, “Mer Girl”, “The Power of Goodbye”, “To Have And Not To Hold”

8. MUSIC – She’s on a roll.  While “Ray Of Light” was clean and smooth, this one is dirty and sonically surprising (still). The songs are so different from each other, it’s ridiculous.  It’s fun, moody and clearly she is still beating down new paths musically.

NOTABLES: “Impressive Instant”, “Nobody’s Perfect”, “Gone”, “Paradise (Not For Me”, “Don’t Tell Me”

9. AMERICAN LIFE – Everyone hates this one.  I think it’s known as Madonna’s worst album ever.  I, however, LOVE it.  Here was the guitar record I had wanted her to make for years.  It’s also her “I’m a Kabbalist!” album as well as her beliefs in this religion are shown in each song.  For all of its lacking of dance floor calls, I think this one will be looked upon more favorably as time goes on.  Yes, I think the rap in the title song is shit, but don’t hold that against the entire album.  Try it again, people – you’ll see!

NOTABLES: “Intervention”, “Hollywood”, “Nobody Knows Me”

10. CONFESSIONS ON A DANCE FLOOR – or as I like to call it the “Hey, I’m still Madonna! Don’t forget me because my last album was a little dull to some!”  I don’t particularly love this album, but I admire its thematic and what she was trying to do.  She’s not trying to totally confess on this one (despite its title), but she is wanting to bring people back to the dance floor and she most definitely does.

NOTABLES: “Get Together”, “Hung Up”, “Issac”, “Jump”

11. HARD CANDY – Oh, Hard Candy…you are definitely hard.  Like when most Madonna albums get released, I get excited and listen to it right away and think that it’s a stroke of genius.  I know that I kinda did at first with this one.  It’s again a nod to R&B and hip hop, and while there are some songs that are really nice, it wreaks of someone trying to compete with the musical times, rather than paving new ground as she had been doing always  She is still writing and producing, though her high-profile writers and producers take more of a central figure here than she does.  The results are patchy.

NOTABLES: “Heartbeat”, “Miles Away”….and I do like “Spanish Lesson” (alright, alright…)

So, there you have it…my thoughts on her stuff.  All in all, she doesn’t release total shit in the end.  I invite you all to try them out.  But don’t take my word for it…

5 more days till MDNA…..and my slice of humble pie is ready to be eaten.

Stop

I think about being called pakistan in the hallways

Wondering if those jutting motions I would do with knives

Would actually penetrate my chest after one fluke time.

 

I think about that stupid fucker asking me if pakis used deodorant

Wondering whether all of this hatred towards me was going to stop

Or whether I would make it stop permanently during those times I would

Contemplate downing all of those pills in the medicine cabinet.

 

I think about how I kicked that fucking asshole so hard in the leg one time

That I thought I was going to keel over – cause he didn’t

But then my mind becomes a blank and I can’t remember anything more.

I remember that I am here right now writing these words

Thinking about these moments of  nearly a quarter of a century ago

But still can play out as though it was yesterday.

 

Now I think about these young children who swim in this social media ocean

Who have access to killing themselves so easily that i feel like we have an epidemic on our hands and we don’t have a way of controlling or even talking about it clearly.

Cause the difference between me and them is that I knew it would end – they did not.

 

So, as a collective whole, we need to say that it DOES NOT get better.

But rather we need to stop the entire fucking train to begin with.

We must not say go through the shit because there is an end to the tunnel.

We must instead say that we must all shovel this pestilence out of the way for good.

So that these children know that we have the capacity to live in a world where we are not judged by what we are, who we are or where we come from.

 

This is my mantra – fingers crossed.