March 31, 2014

I should consider proofreading this.

I have considered it.


I saw the recentest Muppet sequel a week ago, and wrote this a week ago, but goopness grapeness I am surprised I posted it within a month.
It was pleasantly pleasant, considering the unprecedented degree to which the pre-show adutainment made me feel irrelevant and despised by the world.
Considering that the film is dedicated to Jerry Nelson (Jane Henson also) and there is a song about numbers sung by someone with a vaguely eastern european accent, I was again disappointed to not see my favorite muppet The Count, but again it would not have made sense for The Count to be visible. in fact the vocal was provided by Matt Vogel who currently operates and voices The Count.

As I said following that piece, I thought the previous film was well-done overall and not what the poster implied it was going to be, though definitely there was too much time devoted to people who were not muppets. Walter, the non-muppet who looks like a muppet is still in this one, and still probably more important than necessary, but the story calls for a muppet that does not have a serious psychological malfunction (meaning: a muppet which does not exist to be funny) to sense that something has gone wrong and the orange one with glasses is not important enough that I am bothered when someone tries to take his job, and he is still in this movie a lot so maybe there is room for two muppets that are funny looking but somewhat boring. A good thing about being a muppet is that even with a subdued temperament you still have no choice but to be ridiculous in appearance.
The human non-muppets from the previous film are not in this one at all. There were other humans that I was supposed to recognize; “cameos.” I did not know half of them, but there were enough that I could pick out a few. And even if I couldn’t, since they are just cameos they do not matter.
This movie is not zooming in on Lady Gogga or Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl and saying “If you have avoided this person’s antics the last four years you are not allowed to relate to anything in this production.”

In fact I ought to have recognized Hornswoggle, the World Wrestling Ederfation’s primary leprechaun during the period when I was really getting tired of the WWE, in part due to excessive, terrible use of characters like Hornswoggle, who started as a silly unannounced, unnamed performer who assisted an Irish wrestler, then inexplicably became a top promoted figure meant to be taken seriously despite him being a leprechaun whose matches could only end in fluke, joke wins that made his opponents look dumb or discomforting losses when his opponents were actually allowed to catch and do, you know, wrestling moves on him. But usually wrestlers play wrestlers in their cameos. Being a leprechaun probably alters that setup somewhat.

And it is certainly possible to be annoyed by Richard Gervais, but he is still second to a muppet. The muppet even tells him that. I like that a comedic actor who knows the importance of being second to a muppet was cast in the part and not just someone pretty or marketable, or statistcally funny due to having appeared on comedy-labeled programs that were not abruptly cancelled. So I cannot fathom how this movie belongs with the ones whose previews it bears.

As occurred when I viewed Doy Story 3, before the film started I considered the sort of trash that would comprise the previews, and this time made a checklist of bad kid-directed-at standbys as a way of pre-emptively working off the usual rage those fill me with. I could not actually check the list since the room was too dark by that point and I mostly wrote them on the same lines, and continued writing them after I was supposed to be watching for them, because I found hypothetical complaining more satisfying than raising my awareness of things I might wish to complain about. But just listening, Rio 2 had most of them. I was not conscious of a first Rio but yeppirroo there is a second. Three of the five previews were for sequels and only one of the five was not computer animated, and that one had a computer animated character in it, and prominently features kids playing with fancy telephone doohickeys anyway. Not that kids don’t do that, but I do not want to watch them do that. But the movie is not for me. Why was it advertised before one that was?

“Unfortunately” there was no new re-make/-boot series that I was supposed to be surprised and impressed by somebody trying to cash in with by making it 3d, ugly and cynical. Can you believe it, there has never been a 90 minute feature film about Chester Cheetah finding that portal to New York City that Underdog, the Smurfs and the marauding 3d talking animal gang that wasn’t from Madagascar used. Maybe we’re about due for a Harry and the Hendersons reboot. The choices are defendless. And oh, nobody has tried to make a live action/computery Pink Panther yet, but maybe there are copyright issues due to the recent-enough Stever Martin non-animal Pink Panther remake. If it had been Mike Myers he would have done them both at the same time and maybe not even with a scottish accent.





In addition to the previews, there was a Monsters University-themed short subject presentation from the Pixar company that included any tackiness that Rio 2’s preview ran out of time to show it also has. I did not see Monsters Ooniversity, but according to evidence presented here, the idea here is that there are normal dumb 1980s college movie kids who like to get drunk and have heterosexual relationships with rigid, binary-gendered companions while listening to indescernible noise and never actually do classwork or have any difficulty finding a niche that accepts them. Except… they look kinda funny! And something about closets because monsters right? According to media dating to even earlier than this concept of college, children believe that monsters live in closets and under beds. I realize that is Pixar’s thing, to put all its effort into a quirky but ultimately tertiary visual element and then be as generic as possible with everything else, and I still dislike it. Especially when it parasites itself unannounced onto another film that I am drawn to specifically because it is the single “general” audience film likely to be receive wide release this year that isn’t trying to load up on pixar’s success being flashy and typical.

And apparently the industry leaders in computer animation still can’t render a remotely appetizing cartoon pizza. Or maybe they risk alienating their core audience of people who eat terrible pizza by showing one that looks like it would taste good. In fact, Domino’s, the worst pizza in the nation became, likewise, an industry leader by delivering to college campuses at a time when other bad pizza companies would not. If you have tried a Domino’s pizza recently and thought it was bad, it was by all accounts worse in the 1970s. If you thought it was good, then it was probably even worse in the 70s! It has been my experience that a good pizza restaurant still will not deliver its product. The orange circle with red circles seen here could be a subtle commentary on that, but since nothing here is subtle that would be impossible.

Sure these are outdated college stereotypes, but what about the outdated Eastern European stereotypes that factored heavily into the main muppety film that I claim to have appreciated? Maybe there are Baltic immigrants who feel insulted that put-on accents, backward Rs and the insinuation that there is a unrelenting year-long blizzard on their entire sub-continent have gone unquestioned and unopposed for too long. Maybe they wonder “why are Americans laughing at the legitimate cruelty and injustice carried out in the Russian legal system? Are they unaware that the US also has secret prisons? Oh they know and just don’t care.” Surely that is possible, but in this case it was not the main characters engaging in that, and the film could still work if that was excised, and the setting changed or the accents not so fake. Like the cameos, that stuff is not crucial to appreciating the film. And this that I am writing is about what annoys me personally, not whose annoyedances are most valid.

By the time the actual feature film- I realize that for something to be featured, something secondary is necessary, but that terminology is also outdated… By the time the actual feature film started I was worn out and miserable and in no mood to enjoy anything. My moods go bad quite easily and often take some time to go good again. I am glad the muppets could overcome that.
Maybe the previews are at the discretion of the distributor, to whom it makes financial sense to ignore the feature’s content beyond whether the ehhhf word is spoken aloud, but the Disney ownerlords ought to have watched this movie and realized “oh gee nobody has getting drunk and attending parties as an ultimate life priority in this movie.”

Monster University, the full length version I am expected to have seen already, entered wide-release last July, when I was in Paris, so thankfully I missed the biggest hype period for that.


Unfortunately, Monstres Academy also opened around the same time. I wrote about it but did not post it because I was too busy doing things dumber and time-wastier than formatting that for display here. I hope to have no other excuse to refer to this matter, so I do it now.

I had seen the title on various unrelated supermarket products prior to then, and been not at all optimistic about another acquiescing pseudo-academic tropefest with advance merchandising deals, but at least was unaware of the ugly character designs until they were taped to every subway tunnel in a city that I would be required to walk through for the next four weeks. Maybe they are “supposed” to be ugly, being “monsters,” but I do not find them ugly in an enjoyable way, apart from a purple lizard thing with glasses that is not worth braving the full crowd for. It was not important enough to be in the barnacle attached to the Muppet sequel, at least. Particularly I dislike that this one character is covered with fur and lacks pants but has a mustache (that one does briefly appear in the barnacle). By my understanding, the lack of trousers works when something is “cute” in a very narrow range of ways. On the body of a chubby middle-aged man-oid with facial hair it is unsettling. There is another creature, nearer the front here, and thankfully blurry, that has a multitude of white cartoon eyes in excess of 2, arranged in a fashion that does not seem evolutionarily sound. Also without trousers and also too grotesque to be cute. Three is about my limit for mammalian eyes in a single vicinity, and they need to be more orderly and practical than that. The effect of just tossing a bunch onto a surface bothers me. It bothers me so much that I am done talking about it.

And I don’t accept for T seconds Billy Crystal yelling about how excited he is to be a college student, because he’s probably about 65 by now. Older people have gone to college but if they yell about it they aren’t filmed.

He is excited just to be a student of a college in general. A college from a stereotype-loaded revenge of the nerds type college, where actually going to classes comprises 1% of the activity and everything else is partying, clubs and sports. Everybody wants a jacket that expresses affiliation with some group. Somebody who has no or wants no involvement with those does not exist. I don’t mean that the person -might as well- not exist, but that script writers can’t fathom of somebody who doesn’t fit into those niches living on the planet. Or even living on an imaginary planet that is supposed to be warped and strange and people who get reblogged at me on twitter will praise for having the message that being warped and strange is A-OK (guys).

Anyway the main character looks too much like Plague, the torso-less [single] eyeball monster that Counts at anybody who attempts to retrieve the White lance in Final Fantasy II IV, which only further emphasizes the lack of Count in the film I came to see. And its name is “Mike.” HAW HEE it is a MONSTER but with a normal man’s name! Great idea and now it’s been named Mike for six years.





It was not the worst looking american film I saw promotion for in Paris, but it seemed the most likely to be approved of by other people, due to being bad in a more socially acceptable fashion, which makes it considerably less pleasant for me. A bad, hated movie will go away. I am not going to see fanart for Google product placement movie, and though the smurfs are certain to return, there is no secret prohibition on protesting them. A bad, beloved movie will come back again and again. As this one did.

I do not accept the excuse that this film is making fun of stereotypes and therefore may freely benefit from them (For one thing, nobody has made the claim that it does anything but benefit from them).
These are supposed to be otherworldly beings that frighten humans but they have rigid binary genders totally analogous to our own. Muppets are strictly male and female too, but I find them entertaining and am less inspired to dissect them for griping purposes, and these aren’t in corny movie college anyhow. I think it is fairly public knowledge that my least favorite cartoon as a child was Muppet Babies, a truly unnecessary effort to dumb muppets down into something consumable by children, even though we already have Sesame Street, which does quite fine with real muppets, so I hardly think I am pulling a dumble-standard here. Monsters [and muppets] are important to me and I dislike these monsters, and that is just the way it goes.

I have read descriptions of theoretically clever things that have happened on muppet babies, but I cannot get past the theme song. I think that part is crucial.

Of course it is a fantasy written by humans and not meant to be thought about very hard, but why NOT make a movie that needs to be thought about? And yes I complained about there being an unusual number of eyes on one or more characters, showing my own silly adherence to routine, but I did not see any evidence that having more than 2 had any effect on the creature’s perceptive capabilities. It is all for show. Everybody still talks through its mouth and sounds like a promoted, non-cameo celebrity.
From a financial standpoint, it makes sense to pander directly to your buying audience of normal people. There really is no good reason for a company to make a movie that does not bother me. And I cannot claim that I require school/gender stereotype trigger warnings or that this sort of material should cease to exist, because I am the only person who has this problem, and at worst it makes me uncomfortable and inclined to spend hours organizing my complaints. And so I shall continue to complain to facilitate me no longer thinking about it.


That is all for today, folks.



5 Responses
  1. 1
    9:45 am, April 1, 2014

    PurpleSpace sez:

    I never saw the academic monsters movie, but I heard it had the dorkly purple lizard in it who was treated so badly it became the villain from the first movie. However, that was just set aside to make way for the main plot of the movie which was apparently about winning the big game.

    So, the movie was not only rehashing old college movies, but also old sports movies as well.

  2. 2
    12:01 am, April 3, 2014

    that darn anteater sez:

    I haven’t seen the Muppets Movie (and by association, the Monsters short), BUT, I am a pretty big fan of the Monsters INC/U franchise. Mainly because of the purple lizard thing, who has a lot of implied character development that didn’t get touched on as much as it should have in the sequel. I like Steve Buscemi in general, who provides the voice of the lizard, so I have no clue if my opinions are valid.

    It’s worth saying that I hated the first Monsters movie the first time I saw it (in fact I didn’t watch it all the way through) and didn’t watch it again until about a year ago. Something changed between the time it came out and a year ago, because I enjoyed it the second time.

    I have never been to college/university (aside from a short stint at an artsy place which was not fun or comparable to anything in the movie), either.

    As far as binary genders go in relation to the Monsters world, their world is a parallel dimension/universe to earth, which the closet doors facilitate transport through. The secondary sexual characteristics that most of the monsters have might resemble human bodies because of that. I’m grasping at straws here though.

    Still, I think the sequel only really makes sense in the context of the first movie, so I assume the short only makes sense in the context of the sequel. Or it could just be stupid, like the bathtub Toy Story short. I haven’t seen it, so I can’t judge it in the context of the franchise.

    Sorry for the ramble!

  3. 3
    1:10 am, April 3, 2014

    Heapinfrimp sez:

    spacko: that seems like a waste of a villain! To say “he wasn’t always bad, it’s someone else’s fault” and then drop it there, with the situation to not be acknowledged in the “later” movie that was made before the writers decided that happened. Although the last three star wars films were mostly about Darth Vader and what a wimp he was, which surely messed with his ability to be perceived as menacing or interesting in the original series to anybody who makes the odd decision to watch the films in that order. And then George Lucas DID mess with the less recent, canonically more recent films to make them match the new older ones better and almost nobody liked that.

    When Kyrandia 3 tried to redefine Malcolm the evil jester as less than completely evil, the game had the decency to be about Malcolm and not pretend he is not still kind of a jerk.

    anto:
    No need to apologize for that! I appreciate input and know that I frequently dismiss things based on odd evidence
    Definitely, if “Party Central,” as wikipedia has identified it as, requires two films of context, it should not be attached to another which is totally unrelated apart from the Disney company having tossed money at the owners of each. The people behind me in the theatre seemed to enjoy it, though, so it probably is just my problem.

    I believe I have seen some of your drawings of the character in question. I remember seeing it isolated and placed among newspaper text in a review of the first movie that I did not read, and I remember being annoyed that I liked its appearance, but I never made a priority of attempting to watch the film. I knew I could not go at it without bias. If I did not want to like it I would not give it a second opportunity, or even a first, until long after it had ceased to be culturally relevant.

    I was unaware of his association, but I know of Steve Buschemi for having bizarre eyes and for being Donny in The Big ol Bowski, which I remember fondly despite associating it with the biggest prolonged social botch of my life. I related to a character that follows around two others that really do not need him there or appreciate his input, and then he just [turns into a pumpkin] for no reason. I appreciate something that inadvertneltly reminds me of my situation (while I was IN the situation, no less) rather than inadvertently mocks it. I am surely sensitive about stupid school garbage beyond what is reasonable, however. That was a primary aspect that made me pre-emptively not care about the Harry Potter series.

    The non-fully animated preview was for an apparent E.T. rehash about a robot from space, and its website url was something like “callhimecho.com” . A majority of the public relate better to characters that are him or her, even if there is no reason for them to be. I know this and the best I can do is to live with it.

    I think I would approve of celebrity actors (presuming they are celebrities based on their acting) in these a lot more if they actually interacted during the voice sessions instead of recording all their lines separately, without knowing what the animation will look like. It makes them talk in a very unnatural way that is different than acting with people, which is what I would know them for doing.

  4. 4
    12:43 am, April 10, 2014

    spork sez:

    did the baron ever get finished?

  5. 5
    12:47 am, April 10, 2014

    Heapinfrimp sez:

    I believe that baron was finished at one point, and then allowed to gradually fall apart across twenty years.

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