Movies: The Underlying Message in The Muppets Movie*.

 

Talk about a metatext!

It seems like every two minutes in The Muppets there was a thoroughly enjoyable self-aware reference and celebrity guest appearance. Gary presents Mary with some lacklustre flowers, which were squashed “probably from the dance number I was doing” in one of the opening scenes of the movie. When Mary laments in song Gary’s brother, Walter, joining them on an anniversary trip to Los Angeles, a gardener conveniently sprays water on the window she’s wistfully looking out of. When Statler and Waldorf introduce the “important plot point” involving oil tycoon Tex Richman drilling for oil under the old Muppet Theatre, Walter tries to get the Muppets back together to save it. When this fails to come to fruition midway through, Mary remarks, “This is going to be a really short movie.” And let’s not forget Camilla and the other chickens’ performance of “Forget You”. You can’t get much more meta than that!

As for the cameos, take Jack Black and his School of Rock cast mate Sarah Silverman, for example. Or Dave Grohl on drums for The Muppets cover band, the Moopets, and the later performance by The Muppets Barbershop Quartet of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Or Amy Adams as Mary, and her Sunshine Cleaning co-star Emily Blunt in her very Devil Wears Prada-role as Miss Piggy’s secretary. Even Blunt’s real life husband, John Kransinki, makes an appearance. Phew!

But, we’re reminded, celebrities are fair game because they are “not a people”. Makes a poignant comment on our celebrity-saturated society.

That’s the not the only point The Muppets makes. Richman is the personification of the 1% and, like the Moopets, is “a hard, cynical act for a hard, cynical world.”

The film also seeks to promote diversity and acceptance, I thought. Take, for example, the Ebony magazine cover that Kermit fronts, which is traditionally a magazine for African Americans, and how this might represent the Muppets as being beyond racial definition. I also got the feeling that Walter was marketed to be a differently-abled person, which would certainly explain Gary’s reluctance to let Walter go when he is accepted into the Muppet clan and his sheltered existence in Smalltown up til then.

On the first watching of the film, I noticed in particular that Kermit wont tell Miss Piggy he loves her, which is all she asks of him. It reminded me of the Blair and Chuck storyline in Gossip Girl from a few years ago: their back-and-forth love story that depends on Blair needing to hear those words and Chuck never being able to say them. On second watching, I confirmed that, in fact, Kermit never does say “I love you”.

The second time around was more enjoyable. While I originally got to see the film a month before it came out in Australia—and for free!—being in an audience of primarily under 10s wasn’t as good as being in an almost-empty theatre consisting only of Generation X’s who grew up with the Muppets. There was, however, a group of about six teenage fanboys sitting behind me. I was originally annoyed by their chatting in the first ten minutes of the film, but I actually laughed more at them than at the movie when they slid off their seats during the appearances of Neil Patrick Harris and Jim Parsons. But, after watching “Muppet or a Man”, can you really blame them?

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Images via YouTube, Cover Me Songs.

Movies: Top 11 Films of 2011*.

Scream 4. For my money, which I forked out happily, Scream 4 was not only one of the best films of the year (for me, Bridesmaids was number one, followed closely by the fourth installment of the Woodsboro saga), but the best chapter of the franchise.

Bridesmaids. My other favourite movie of the year. While I’m happy that the rest of the world cottoned on to the brilliance of Bridesmaids, my only regret is that it’s not just my little secret.

Black Swan. It was the buzz of the 2011 Oscars for its lesbian scenes, portrayal of mental illness and the controversial partnership between choreographer Benjamin Millipied and star Natalie Portman.

The Lion King 3D. Who could resist the 3D reboot of one of Disney’s best loved animations? It also harkens back to the hand-drawn animation era, being one of the last before computer animated films like Toy Story and Finding Nemo took over.

The Muppets. Probably one of the most anticipated films of the year (in my household, at least!), I was lucky enough to see it in a preview screening early in December. Technically, it’s released in Australia later in January, however it was a Thanksgiving film in the U.S., so I’m sticking by that. A must see for any child at heart.

The Help. The Help really took me by surprise. In August, I saw a preview screening of the film advertised, and it piqued my interest. A few days later, I realised it was based on a book, and before I even had a chance to express interest in reading Kathryn Stockett’s novel, the movie was out in cinemas. I’m glad I didn’t read the book, because the movie was it for me. And for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, apparently!

Breaking Dawn. Breaking Yawn, more like it. While I was sorely disappointed by the first installment of the big screen adaptation of the final book in the Twilight Saga, it was one of the most highly anticipated and grossing films of the year.

X-Men: First Class. I’m not an X-Men fan, so I’m handing it over to my housemate, Eddie, who is:

“For a northern summer blockbuster, it asks a lot of questions about morality of the viewer: should you change or should society change? Is change through force acceptable? Throw in some incredible acting from Michael Fassbender and one of the greatest cameos of all time from Hugh Jackman and you have yourself a very smart popcorn film.”

New Years Eve. In the vein of He’s Just Not That Into You and Valentine’s Day, I’m a sucker for a celebrity-packed movie. While there’s not much of a story, and it’s more of an excuse to perve on the alleged chemistry between Lea Michele and Ashton Kutcher, it’s the perfect mind-numbing holiday movie.

Super 8. As the latest issue of Time magazine (review to come) notes, Super 8 was one of the more hyped movies of the year. While I quite enjoyed it, sadly, Super 8 didn’t live up to its expectations.

Green Lantern. It was the year of green. Kermit’s return in The Muppets, and Ryan Reynolds’ turn as Hal Jordan. Looking back, the film was a bit of a flop in my eyes, but it did set the scene for one of the most talked about hookups of the year: Reynolds and Blake Lively.

What were your top films of 2011?

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Related: Scream 4 Review.

Bridesmaids Review.

The Help Review.

Breaking Dawn: Sex is Bad, Okay? And You Will Be Punished for Having it with a Life-Sucking Vampire Foetus. Sorry, Life-Sucking Vampire BABY!

Super 8 Review.

Green Lantern Review.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

In the vein of “What’s the use of being Supergirl if I can’t even get a date?”, comes the perils of being a 1940s boy in the dating world.

Feminist commentator Greta Christina muses on the appeal of Don Draper and the bad boy fantasy:

“Why are so many women hot for Don Draper? The lying, philandering, self-absorbed, work-obsessed, emotionally-warped, goes-through-mistresses-like-cigarettes, sexist prick of a lead character, Don Draper?” It’s because he “isn’t a standard bad boy… And look at his taste in women. Every woman Don cheats on his wife with is intelligent, independent, unconventional, and in some way defiant of gender roles… (In fact, I’m wondering now if part of the Don Draper fantasy has to do with wanting to be one of the strong, edgy, fascinating women he gets the hots for.)”

She then goes on to defend the bad boy fantasy: “… when women fantasise about bad boy rogues who treat women like dirt, the bad boys almost never treat us badly. They’re fascinated with us. They find us hauntingly compelling: so hauntingly compelling that, even though they usually use women and toss them aside, they somehow can’t tear themselves away from us… I think that’s something people forget about bad boy fantasies. Much of the time, they’re not about bad boys. They’re about bad boys going good because of us.”

“When did men in America go from being masculine steak-eating, plaid shirt wearing, Old Spice smelling, cigar smoking cowboys who like football, hunting and Clint Eastwood movies to skinny jean wearing, satchel carrying, pierced ear heterosexuals who like chick flicks, The View, and Bath & Bodyworks? The American man is an endangered species due in large part to the over-feminisation of society.” That’s right, blame it on the feminists!

Brush up on your Muppet who’s who with this Muppet Name Etymology chart.

Your permission slip from the universe allows you to walk out of movies that suck, quit your job, and fail, amongst many others.

The great Photoshop debate continues, with Jezebel’s article about Jennifer Aniston’s un-Photoshopped pictures, followed by Mia Freedman and Erica Bartle’s takes on the issue.

Gala Darling republished this fantastic response to a whale versus mermaid gym advertisement. Gorgeous!

Check out Nubby Twiglet’s quirky photo dairy of her trip to L.A. and Disneyland.

Anyone who watched The City or The Hills will remember People’s Revolution boss and mentor to Lauren and Whitney, Kelly Cutrone, and her hilariously truthful insights. Now, you can brush up on all your favourite Kelly quotes here. My favourites? “I don’t need to defend my company against a girl who wears pink!” and “You know where nice people end up? On welfare”, the latter of which I have used as a Facebook status!