Have you heard the buzz? People at work talking about it? Maybe caught a snippet of the story on the news? We had another exact prediction last week! The phones won’t stop ringing around here. But it’s another week and no time to rest on any imaginary laurels. This time around we’ve got a great slate of movies with Jim Henson’s little puppets returning, Christmas animation starting early and a children’s book come to life.
Just remember, I'm not reviewing these movies, but rather predicting where they'll end up on the Tomatometer. Let's take a look at what This Rotten Week has to offer.
Show me someone who doesn’t enjoy the Muppets at least a little and I’ll show you a heartless, decaying soul with no real reason for getting up in the morning. Not liking the Muppets must be a sad existence. See, there’s a reason Jim Henson’s creations resonate on such a human level, and why they work interacting with actual people in the actual world. Because beyond the bug-eyed, herky-jerky puppet-ness these are some decidedly human characters. And it’s why if you ask ten people who their favorite Muppet is, you’ll probably get ten different answers. Do you like Kermit and his humble, shoulder-shrugging leadership? Miss Piggy’s conventions-be-damned narcissism? Fozzie’s masochistic desire to stand up on stage and get pelted with tomatoes in between “Whocka, Whockas”? Are you an uber-geek like Scooter? Or do you just like #$%ing things up like Animal?
Whatever it is, the late Henson created a group representing every foible, fear and personality trait we’ve got, put them all in a band together (with a few capers here and there) and let the jokes tell themselves. Just genius.
This latest offering, the first in more than a decade, has the Muppets (along with Jason Segel and Amy Adams) working to save the Muppet Theater from a an oil baron (Chris Cooper). And much like the other movies works its story around the benefits of friendship and togetherness over things like say corporate greed and basic human stupidity.
Flight of the Conchords and Da Ali G Show veteran, but first-time feature director James Bobin appears to have kept the Muppets very much alive and very entertaining. Early reviews are over the (*ahem) rainbow and the Tomatometer sits at a cool 100%. It won’t stay there, but won’t dip much either. (Even though Statler and Waldorf will probably pan it). The Rotten Watch for The Muppets is 90%.
Put Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret on your bookshelf at home and to the undiscerning eye you’ll appear the kind of person who enjoys delving into 500+ page novels in your spare time. No one needs to know this same “novel” is actually a big picture book. And if they do notice, tell them to screw off, it’s an award-winner and picture books are for big boys too.
There’s a certain temptation by certain folks (me) to initially write off movie adaptations because “they won’t be as good as the book.” But when it comes to children’s books this view is narrow sighted, since under the right direction, the big screen can add so much more of what made the children’s book great to begin with. Unlike novels turned movies (almost always worse), the illustrated children’s book, when taken seriously, is the perfect movie storyboard. See: Where the Wild Things Are. **
** This isn’t always the case and should have been mentioned to the people who greenlit the upcoming live action Where’s Waldo movie
But take Selznick’s beautiful vision of a kid living in the walls of a Paris train station, turn it over to Martin Scorsese and you get a flick that just looks, well, awesome. Judging from the trailer and initial reviews, Marty has captured and in some ways improved upon Selznick’s world, creating something visually and emotionally stunning. It doesn’t hurt that you’ve got an orphan to root for and a strong cast to boot. Thank goodness because this was a book too good too screw up on the big screen. The Rotten Watch for Hugo is 94%.
I’m probably blowing my curmudgeonly load by complaining about Christmas this early in the holiday season, but sometimes the movies don’t give me any choice. After all, they’re throwing up a flick about kids and Santa and sleighs and reindeer before December even starts. These holidays are just too much.
But then I see a movie about Santa Claus’s operation being run as corporate big business, with the big fat guy basically no better than your Wall Street CEO in terms of ego, an overly entitled eldest son hoping a little scion-ism comes his way when daddy gives up the family business, a labor force of minions who lack any type of union structure (freaking elves) and a bumbling younger son who just wants to do the right thing by the kids (liberal hippie). Here’s a Christmas movie I can get behind. Sure, it’s all about the kids, but let’s not fool anyone into thinking this holiday is anything else but a retailer’s wet dream.
Arthur Christmas, already released in the UK, hits the states this weekend just in time for our Blackest of Fridays. From Aardman Animation (famous for the Wallace and Gromit series) this flick has garnered some fairly rave reviews with the Tomatometer sitting in the mid-90’s. Not bad, considering I’m probably not alone in being all yule-tided out. The Rotten Watch for Arthur Christmas is 92%.
Recapping last week As stated at the top, another perfect score was added to the old Rotten Resume. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 1 (Predicted: 27% Actual: 27%) was as bad as expected even if a certain segment of the population lost their minds over the whole production.
Meanwhile, Happy Feet 2 (Predicted: 59% Actual: 42%) was worse than expected. I had heard a rumor it was a poor flick and I probably should have gone lower with my prediction just from that news alone.
Next week, with no major releases coming, we’ll do a Rotten Recap of the year. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!