Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Muppets, Wild Things and other news that just makes me smile

Anyone who's been here before (and there are, amazingly, a few of you) knows that I have a serious thing for children's stories meant to equally entertain young-at-heart "adults," and on that front there's two bits of good news to share.

Starting with Spike Jonze and "Where the Wild Things Are," there wasn't a bigger Oscar snub in my mind than the fact his take on the classic children's story by Maurice Sendak didn't get a Best Picture nomination, even with the field this year expanded to 10 flicks.

Heck, I loved the movie so much that I would have also certainly given nominations to James Gandolfini for his voice work as Wild Thing Carol and also to Dave Eggers for his wildly original adapted screenplay (Eggers' novelization of the script, "Wild Things," is also just a great read.)

Now comes word about both the DVD release of "Where the Wild Things Are" and something else fun that's coming with it (and, frankly, hopefully packaged together so I can afford them both.)

First up, if you buy the "Where the Wild Things Are" DVD on March 2, there will be a rather sweet bonus in the form of an animated short based on another Sendak story, "Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life," featuring the voices of Meryl Streep and Wild Thing (the Bull, if I recall correctly) Forest Whitaker. Bully to that, although I didn't really need any more motivation to buy this one.

In even better news, on the same day, Beastie Boy Adam Yauch's Oscilloscope Laboratories will release the doco "Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak," directed by Lance Bangs and Jonze, on DVD as well. Jonze and Sendak bonded quite a bit on the set of "Where the Wild Things Are," and as you see from the clip below, it became a genuine mutual admiration society. Enjoy.

And in a final bit about Mr. Jonze, a Web site has been just unveiled for his short film "I'm Here," which recently made its debut at Sundance. Best as I can tell, it's a 30-minute movie that's a love story involving two robots (why not?). You can watch the trailer at the site here, and according to the site itself, the movie will be released on it in March. Stay tuned for more on this very soon.

OK, except for that today, everything else will be about another subject that just fascinates me, the new Muppet movie being cooked up by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller for Disney. Being both a Marylander and a child of the '70s, I of course grew up on the Muppets, and certainly have never outgrown their appeal.

Well, now details about the movie itself are coming out quickly. "Flight of the Conchords" co-creator James Bobin has been officially attached to direct the project (a perfect choice in my book), and now early word about the script has emerged on The Playlist (a daily must-read here.)

According to their source, the movie's name has also changed from "The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made" to now "The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made." Even with tongue firmly in cheek, you'd better deliver something solid with a title like that, and here's what the source had to say about the movie's synopsis:

" (The script) is about Gary, Mary, and Walter (a man, his girlfriend, and the man's life-long nondescript, brown puppet best friend) getting the old Muppet gang — now retired entertainers known for the same Muppet show we know them from — together to save the TV studio that the original show was shot in. A villain, Tex Richman (nice name, on par with Doc Hopper), bent on drilling for oil underneath the studio, is due to take over the studio in weeks and the only way to stop him? Putting on a show that draws ten million viewers (see also "Heartbroken: The Conan O'Brien Story").

I'm not sure what that last CoCo bit was all about, but although that synopsis perhaps lacks an original spin on the Muppets story, it at least fits firmly in the tradition of what they're all about, so I'm very confident this is in the right hands. Here's some more of what he or she had to say:

It's a fresh, younger approach. Stoller and Segel have fun with the characters, are aware of what made the Muppet early years so great (winks to the audience, friendly musical numbers, single gag repetition, friendship and togetherness being the answer to everything), and hit the mark 65% of the time.

Again, that all sounds great to me, but the key to any great Muppet movie is the music, none of which The Playlist's mole could get his or her hands on. The only proof we have so far of Segel's and Stoller's skills in that department is that blissfully silly Dracula puppet show at the end of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" (easily the best thing about that very easily forgettable movie.) Here's a clip of Segel performing "Dracula's Lament" on Craig Ferguson's show (I think) to brighten your day.

Finally today, the world is certainly a better place now that the Muppets have their own YouTube channel (trust me, it's a seriously good time-waster), and here's the newest clip. Beaker sets out to meem his way through Kansas' "Dust in the Wind," but as you can probably imagine, the results are somewhat short of perfect. Enjoy, and have a perfectly bearable Wednesday. Peace out.


The Mad Hatter said...

I really liked WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE a lot, but can't wait to see it again. We went to the theatre to see it the night before our to say that buzzing cell phones were a distraction would be putting it mildly.

I got that Eggers book for Christmas but haven't picked it up yet. I really like Dave's writing, so it goes to figure that I'll enjoy reading it...right?

Reel Fanatic said...

You'll not only enjoy it, Mad Hatter, I guarantee you'll love it ... It's lighter than his other writing, but like the movie, it does a sensational job of delving into Max's mind and acting out all his frustrations

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