Tag Archives: Rashida Jones

The Muppets (2011, James Bobin)

The Muppets is confused.

The screenplay from Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller oscillates between being this lame story about Segel and his brother, a Muppet named Walter (indistinctly performed by Peter Linz), and his girlfriend (Amy Adams) and a better story of the Muppets reuniting.

The better story is, unfortunately, not exactly good. There are some good moments, but Segel and Stoller take a very serious approach to the Muppets. Kermit is a, well, hermit. Gonzo and Piggy have sold out. Fozzie’s working in Reno. Rowlf doesn’t even get a backstory; it’s hard not to read into that slight, since Rowlf was previously the symbol of Jim Henson’s legacy.

But the good stuff in The Muppets can’t outweigh the bad. Segel gives a weak performance, but he’s still leagues ahead of Adams. Adams is shockingly bad and creepily artificial. Neither character matters to the film and much of The Muppets is Segel and Stoller forcing their story into the picture.

Most of the human performances are bad. Chris Cooper is awful, maybe even worse than Adams.

Only Rashida Jones is good and she’s barely in it.

Watching The Muppets, I tried to imagine watching it again and could not. Segel and Stoller have some really stupid details and, until Kermit shows up, the film is pretty dreadful. Bobin is a bad director.

As for the Muppets… Without the original performers, Muppets feels even more like a corporate construction.

It’s not a complete failure, but it’s too close to being one.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by James Bobin; screenplay by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller, based on characters created by Jim Henson; director of photography, Don Burgess; edited by James M. Thomas; music by Christophe Beck; production designer, Steve Saklad; produced by David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman; released by Walt Disney Pictures.

Starring Peter Linz (Walter) and Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman and Matt Vogel as the Muppets.

Starring Jason Segel (Gary), Amy Adams (Mary), Chris Cooper (Tex Richman), Rashida Jones (Veronica) and Jack Black (himself).


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I Love You, Man (2009, John Hamburg)

Could Paul Rudd make less of an impression in I Love You, Man? Even before Jason Segel shows up, Rudd is completely ineffectual. He’s supposed to be ineffectual, of course, but he’s also the protagonist of the movie. He doesn’t garner sympathy, he garners pity.

But Hamburg’s whole approach is peculiar. He opens the movie with Rudd proposing to Rashida Jones. It kicks off the plot–Rudd’s search for a best man. The structure is awkward. Hamburg seems to acknowledge people will mostly be watching Man on home video and so he doesn’t need to make the opening at all cinematic. It’s defeat from the opening Los Angeles montage.

Hamburg does have some secret weapons. First is Segel, who’s hilarious as the sort of bumbling, sort of charming potential best who throws Rudd’s boring life for a spin. A measured spin (Man‘s rather boring overall). Second is Jon Favreau, who has a small role as Jaime Pressly’s husband. He’s astoundingly great. Pressly (one of Jones’s friends) is surprisingly good too. Hamburg gets these excellent supporting performances, but not one out of Rudd. It hurts the movie.

There’s also Jones. She’s quite good, but her character has absolutely no backstory. It’s like Hamburg didn’t want to give her white parents, but wasn’t willing to confirm she’s biracial. It screams cop out.

Other good supporting turns from Jane Curtin, J.K. Simmons and Andy Samberg as Rudd’s family.

I Love You, Man‘s only really funny twice. But it’s genial, if uninventive, throughout.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by John Hamburg; screenplay by Hamburg and Larry Levin, based on a story by Levin; director of photography, Lawrence Sher; edited by William Kerr; music by Theodore Shapiro; production designer, Andrew Laws; produced by Hamburg and Donald De Line; released by DreamWorks Pictures.

Starring Paul Rudd (Peter Klaven), Jason Segel (Sydney Fife), Rashida Jones (Zooey Rice), Jaime Pressly (Denise McLean), Sarah Burns (Hailey), Andy Samberg (Robbie Klaven), J.K. Simmons (Oswald Klaven), Jane Curtin (Joyce Klaven), Jon Favreau (Barry McLean), Lou Ferrigno (Himself), Rob Huebel (Tevin Downey), Joe Lo Truglio (Lonnie) and Thomas Lennon (Doug Evans).


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Cop Out (2010, Kevin Smith)

It might be funny to kick Kevin Smith when he’s down–Cop Out, his first attempt at directing someone else’s script (after fifteen years of doing his own projects), bombed and then there was that whole thing with the airplane seating–but Cop Out‘s not his fault. Well, maybe Seann William Scott is Smith’s fault, but he makes up for him with Adam Brody and Kevin Pollak….

The two biggest problems with the film are the script and Tracy Morgan. The script’s unbearably stupid, like it’s intended to be a spoof of buddy cop movies and someone forgot to make it funny. Morgan’s playing a variation on his character from “30 Rock.” It’s never believable for a second he could hold a job (much less be a cop), have a friend (Willis comes off more like a babysitter) or a wife (I’m not sure if Rashida Jones is wasted in Cop Out or useless). During Morgan’s scenes, I kept wanting to slam my head against something, thinking a concussion might get me in the frame of mind to appreciate his performance.

But back to Brody and Pollak. The movie should have been about them. Smith’s trying to do some kind of a throwback to the eighties cop comedies, like Beverly Hills Cop–he even brings in Harold Faltermeyer to regurgitate his Fletch score. Brody’s young and eager and Pollak’s old and cynical. They banter, they have antics. It would have been great.

Instead, it’s not great. Instead, it’s completely insipid.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed and edited by Kevin Smith; written by Robb Cullen and Mark Cullen; director of photography, David Klein; music by Harold Faltermeyer; production designer, Michael Shaw; produced by Marc Platt, Polly Johnsen and Michael Tadross; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Bruce Willis (Jimmy), Tracy Morgan (Paul), Adam Brody (Barry Mangold), Kevin Pollak (Hunsaker), Ana de la Reguera (Gabriela), Guillermo Diaz (Poh Boy), Michelle Trachtenberg (Ava), Jason Lee (Roy), Francie Swift (Pam), Rashida Jones (Debbie) and Seann William Scott (Dave).


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Now You Know (2002, Jeff Anderson)

So, Now You Know is an odd mix. It’s one part romantic comedy (where the problems between Jeremy Sisto and Rashida Jones aren’t just conveniently solved, but shallowly too), one part talking comedy a la Clerks, and one part low budget inventive movie. The last part is the most interesting–Jeff Anderson gets some familiar faces who are in it for a scene or two, but leave a lasting impression, not to mention the invisible parents (Jones, for example, stays with her never on-screen parents).

It’s unfortunate, in most ways, the film’s an abject failure. Anderson is, very oddly, a far more ambitious director than Kevin Smith ever was on Clerks or any of his subsequent films until Clerks II (and then only because of the musical number). Visually, he’s not bad. It’s where the inventiveness comes through. But, as a director of actors, Anderson is bad. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume soap actor Todd Babcock did not do comedy well, but having seen Sisto and Jones in other things… there’s no reason they should be so bad. Well, actually, I’ve never seen Sisto emote very well… but Rashida Jones is a very good comedic actress and she’s terrible in this film. The problem could be Anderson’s dialogue, but I think it’s got more to do with the film’s tone. It never decides–of the three parts–to steer strongest toward. Probably because Anderson knew the scenes with he and Trevor Fehrman, at their best, would play like Clerks scenes.

Unfortunately, though the scenes do play well, Anderson seemingly failed to realize his character had the most interesting character arc.

Oh, and Paget Brewster shows up in a poorly acted–Paget Brewster acting poorly, something I never thought I’d see–small role. But Stuart Pankin is great for his three scenes, in one of Anderson’s more creative gags.

1/4

CREDITS

Written and directed by Jeff Anderson; director of photography, Marco Cappetta; edited by Jerry A. Vasilatos; music by Lanny Cordola and Matt Sorum; production designer, Tonde Razooly; produced by Ray Ellingsen and Jean-Luc Martin; released by The Weinstein Company.

Starring Jeremy Sisto (Jeremy), Rashida Jones (Kerri), Heather Paige Kent (Marty), Jeff Anderson (Gil), Trevor Fehrman (Biscuit), Todd Babcock (Shane), Paget Brewster (Lea), Stuart Pankin (Mr. Victim), Liz Sheridan (Grandma), Brendan Hill (Cliff) and Howard George (Hal).


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