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Disney’s “The Muppets” Restores Order to the Chaotic World of a Film Critic

November 14, 2011

By John C.

One of the things that film critics are always told is that we have the best job in the world.  This might sound like a complete humblebrag, but this isn’t always true.  The last few weeks have been pure chaos, with the disorienting “Oscargate” turning into a complete clustercuss of a situation and a certain awards contender falling flat.  If you watch a few too many disappointing movies in a row, then things can get downright depressing.

Last Monday, I dedicated my column to writing about how the team behind Tower Heist would be responsible for bringing together the Oscars.  But one impulsive and offensive comment on the part of Brett Ratner led to a complete shattering of all preconceived expectations for the Academy Awards.  On Tuesday, Ratner resigned as the producer of the show.  On Wednesday, Eddie Murphy followed suit and gave up his position as host of the telecast.  But everything was resolved on Thursday when Brian Grazer came in as the producer and the Academy chose the excellent and reliable Billy Crystal as the host.  For me, it signified the most updates that I have ever had to publish for an article.

All of this bad publicity came in the wake of us publishing our big recommendations for Brett Ratner’s incredibly entertaining action comedy Tower Heist.  Meanwhile, director Clint Eastwood’s latest drama fell completely flat.  I spent last Wednesday night entirely underwhelmed by the lackluster J. Edgar.  The film is still getting some talk for the surprisingly uninvolving performance of Leonardo DiCaprio and some makeup buzz for the hideous aging done to the actors, but I sincerely hope that none of this pans out in terms of Oscar nominations.  I’m just going to say this outright for the first and hopefully last time this season – J. Edgar simply doesn’t deserve any of this attention.  I have a strange feeling that it might not be the last anticipated movie of the season to fall short.

The year is coming to an end and there are still several films that I have to catch up with before I can put the finishing touches on my lists of the best and worst that 2011 had to offer.  Despite the fact that many of the big movies are released in the several months that make up the summer season, the fall is easily the busiest time for film critics.  There is an expectation to review as many of the big prestige pictures as possible, and the added pressure of trying to predict which ones will get Oscar attention.  Which means that I’ve been carefully looking over the December calendar trying to select and put together a definitive schedule of which movies we will be reviewing as the weeks lead up to Christmas.

But one of the few remaining spots on my top ten list was filled up over the last few days.  Disney’s The Muppets had a lavish green carpet premiere in Hollywood over the weekend, and I was lucky enough to see the film at a private Toronto screening on Saturday morning.  I’ve always been a big fan of Jim Henson’s characters.  I grew up watching The Muppet Show on video and in syndication, so it’s no secret that the new movie was one of my most anticipated of the fall season.  Full reviews are under a strict embargo and ours will be published on November 23rd, but I  can tell you right now that the film doesn’t disappoint on any level.

The Muppets is a celebration of how the world should be.  Free of cynicism and nastiness, it is made up of great humour, appealing characters and joyous musical numbers that tempt us to sing along.  What it also has is genuine heart, and a sense of nostalgia that is most effecting for those of us who grew up with the characters.  The job of a film critic is to offer their personal opinions on the world of entertainment, and in turn help audiences decide what to watch.  This means seeing a lot of good and even great movies, as well as having to watch ones that fall into the category of mediocre or downright terrible.  But if we could get more movies with the same joy and heart as The Muppets, then my job as a film critic would be a whole lot easier.

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