Shrek (2001 Movie)

Shrek was released in 2001 by Dreamworks Studios. Featuring the voice talents of such big names as Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and John Lithgow, it follows the adventures of the ogre Shrek as he ends up rescuing Princess Fiona and in the process falls in love with her and breaks the curse that kept her in the dragon guarded castle. It’s not as easy as it sounds, as Ogres just don’t marry Princesses and Prince Farquad has some rather short thoughts on the matter.

The entire thrust of this movie is turning Fairytale Tropes on their heads. And mixing in a lot of anachronistic ideas, words and music. And it works beautifully. I laughed my head off.

But for many years I avoided this movie assiduously. Shrek is an ogre and as such, is just plain gross when it comes to bodily humor. He farts in his mud baths, pulls enough wax out of his ears to create a candle, belches at the drop of a hat and just generally is disgusting. I didn’t want that. But one day I watched it and I was sold, lock, stock and barrel.

Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy, as Shrek and Donkey, are the perfect comedy duo. Donkey is a talking donkey that just won’t shut up and boy, the writers did a great job in giving him his dialogue. Myers on the other hand, is a great one for one liners, quips and references to other movies at the time. The Matrix is referenced, as is Babe: Pig in the City. I’m sure there are a LOT more that cineastes would catch.

While this is an animated film, there are too many crass parts, too many innuendos and too many adult humor bits for me to say this is fine for kids. I know it is rated G but no way is it suited for General Audiences.

They don’t write movies like this any more. They weren’t just trying to tell a trope breaking comedy, but an actual story with a beginning, middle and end. While there was a message about not judging people on their appearances or without getting to know them, it never overwhelmed the story and was actually incorporated into things so it didn’t come across as ham handed virtue signaling that makes you want to puke your guts up like in a lot of recent movies.

This was probably my 7th or 8th time watching this and I still laughed my head off, enjoyed every second and thought it was still great. I don’t know that it will strike everyone the same way, or be as re-watchable, but for me, this movie has entered into Classic territory and I plan on watching this many more times over the coming years.

Event Horizon (1997 Movie)

Event Horizon is a 1997 Space Horror movie directed by Paul Anderson, who later went on to direct many of the Resident Evil movies.

I really like this movie. If you had told me beforehand that I’d like a space horror movie that involves a possessed spaceship that kills it crew, well, I’d probably have looked at you funny and suggest you get your head checked.

The basic story is that in 2040 the Event Horizon, utilizing a new gravity drive to break the speed of light, disappears with all crew. The movie starts 7 years later when it mysteriously re-appears. A rescue ship is sent with a small crew to find out what happened. Along with them is Dr Weir, the creator of the gravity drive. They get to the ship, it’s abandoned but something is on board and begins killing them. Dr Weir gives in to be with what appears to be his dead wife and only 3 members of the rescue crew survive and make it back to earth. The Event Horizon goes back to the alternate dimension of hell that it came from.

On this rewatch, I realized that part of the reason I like this so much is because there are little flashes from the hell dimension that remind me of the cenobytes from Hellraiser, another horror movie that surprised me by how much I liked it. Nothing big mind you, just these very quick, almost too fast to process, images of the former crew and the current crew, going through tortures with chains and spikes, etc.

Of course, being a horror movie, there are some really stupid, illogical parts that you have to turn your brain off for. First and foremost, how does the entire scientific world forget the latin language in 50 years? The last message from the Event Horizon has the captain saying something in latin but no one on Earth recognizes it? Secondly, most of the crew do not act like seasoned space rescue operators. They act like the jomokes down at the local Cumberland Farms who hang out in the parking lot smoking weed, thus turning themselves into dumb as bricks idiots.

On the plus side, Sam Neal as Dr Weir, going off the deep end, is fantastic. He has guilt about his wife committing suicide way back when because he chose work over her and how the entity mimics her is a joy to behold. His unravelling is superb, as he’s a jerk to begin with. Laurence Fishburne is the captain of the rescue ship and he’s appropriately hard nosed yet caring.

The only part I wish had been different would have been the ending. 3 of the crew survive and are rescued. One of them thinks the rescuers are the possessed Dr Weir and has a break down but the movie ends very clearly with them having escaped. What I would have appreciated is a scene showing them still on the Event Horizon, living their rescue over and over and it failing each time. THAT would have been much more inline with the tone of the movie.

Man, can you believe I am suggesting a worse ending instead of a happier one? Surprises me too! I guess that plays a part in why I like the movie so much.

Muppets Haunted Mansion (2021 Movie)

In 2021 Disney released another pseudopod of the Muppet Franchise out into the world of streaming. At just under 50 minutes, Haunted Mansion had the unenviable job of trying to get and keep people’s attention AND tell a good Muppet story.

Gonzo and Pepe the king prawn visit the Haunted Mansion (based on Disney’s ride in Disneyworld) and they have to survive the night or be stuck forever in the mansion. Gonzo powers through with the power of friendship, blah, blah, blah, happy ending. The rest of the Muppets are sidelined at a halloween party, so while a few muppets make appearances as ghosts, this was no where near filled to the brim with Muppet Goodness like the original movie.

Thankfully, this was MUCH better than Muppets from Space, where Gonzo was the main character too. I laughed out loud several times and overall had a fun filled time. Besides Will Arnett, I didn’t recognize a single actor making a cameo though. I’m guessing they all were tied to Disney’s apron strings in one way or another though. Which would explain why I didn’t recognize them.

When I saw it was going to be only 50minutes I wondered if it was going to be too short. It was just the right length for the story they had though. Any more and the holes and thinness would have shown. Once again though, it is very evident that Disney just doesn’t know how to handle the Muppets. Some things really stuck their landing while other bits fell completely flat.

Overall, I was pretty pleased with this and if it ever comes out on disc I’ll probably buy it before Disney disappears it like they tend to do. But first, they have to actually release it on disc. That’s by no means a given here. Definitely more kid oriented than the previous 2 movies (The Muppets and The Muppets Most Wanted) but still good enough for a dedicated Muppet fan.

Muppets Now (2020 TV)

After ABC tried to revive the Muppets with the one season show of The Muppets, in 2015, the franchise lay fallow for another 5 years. Once Disney+ got its feet under itself and established itself as a bona fida streaming option. Then they started streaming various Muppet franchise IP’s and tried to re-start the franchise with brand new stuff.

There were only 6 episodes and since they didn’t make a billion dollars within 24hrs Disney decided to drop this show after 1 season as well. Which was too bad, because this show had potential. I had some issues with how the episodes were structured but that was something you expect from a first season.

Once again Miss Piggy is front and center and honestly, it works. She’s dynamic and just the right amount of “diva” to be funny and yet tough and no non-sense. She had a bit every episode where she and Taye Diggs did a lifestyle segment and then another bit where she and Linda Cardellini. do a group zoom chat. Both segments were brilliant.

The next biggest and regular bit was a cook-off between the Swedish Chef and some guest cook. Sadly, the opening to this bit was really long for such a short show (20min show and the opening to the skit is close to a minute) and detracted from the overall humor. They really leaned into the Swedish Chef and his bad attitude when he lost the cook off (every time).

Scooter is the MC and has to upload the show to stream and we see him having troubles every episode. We get little one-off bits throughout and I enjoyed them as well. If more seasons were created, I would definitely watch them. But this being a failure, I suspect the Muppets will go on another hiatus. There is one more movie for me to watch that came out in 2021 and then I’ll be done my Muppet Journey.

The Muppets (2015 TV)

After the 2011 and 2014 movies, ABC, which was owned by Disney, decided to relaunch the Muppet franchise as a tv show, getting back to their roots. What they also did was to update the times (Miss Piggy has her own late night talk show and Kermit is the producer) and make this a completely adult show. There is no way I’d ever let any kids watch this. There was a lot of adult humor. It was funny and yet uncomfortable.

Along with updating the times, the show also takes an Office’esque approach and has the various muppets talking to the camera about “Up Late with Miss Piggy”. However, it ends up becoming a joke for the muppets to ignore Kermit as he talks to them and claim they thought he was talking to the camera.

Other changes include Kermit and Miss Piggy having broken up and Kermit is now dating another pig. The show revolves around the question of whether Kermit and Miss Piggy will get back together or not.

Overall I enjoyed this but I can see why it was cancelled after the first season. It was not family friendly and I felt that the Muppets were changed for the worst. They weren’t horrible scumbags, but they had become characters that I wouldn’t want to spend time with.

There was a good mix of the original cast and the characters from Muppets Tonight so it really felt like “the whole gang” was included. Because this was Disney, they did have to go and sensitive everything. The Swedish Chef still babbles nonsense but now he’s got subtitles that show he’s discussing the existential meaning of life. It wasn’t “woke” by any stretch but it did show the issues that Disney was having with the Muppets.

This just didn’t have the spirit of the Muppets. While I might have complained about the 2011 Movie, it and the Most Wanted sequel, they still felt like they were true to what the Muppets were about. This was like the Muppets had gotten a tummy tuck, a boob job, had a butt implant and gotten their lips botoxed. It felt like Aubrey Hepburn, the idealization of femininity, had suddenly been Kardashianized.

I won’t be watching this show again. Despite my complaints, I did enjoy this one watch through but it was not good enough to ever revisit. I wouldn’t recommend it to just a casual viewer looking for something to binge on.

Muppets Most Wanted (2014 Movie)

This was a direct sequel to The Muppets (2011 Movie) and by direct sequel I mean this picks up at the last scene of that movie. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this until 2 things happened. First, Ricky Gervais showed up as “Dom Badguy”, so I knew I was going to appreciate the humor (how can you not love it when one of the dumb badguys is named such?). Secondly, Sam the Eagle, as a CIA agent, has a badge measuring scene with an Interpol Agent (played by Ty Burrel, whoever he is) and THAT’S when I knew this movie was for me.

The gist of the movie is that Kermit gets replaced by his evil duplicate and nobody notices except Animal, Fozzie and Walter (the new muppet introduced in the previous movie). Bad Kermit has plans to steal the Crown Jewels and uses the Muppets and only Kermit can stop him.

I loved this movie. I am not usually a fan of Ricky Gervais, but once again what made the difference is that he really played like he was acting with others in the scenes with the muppets. I think the biggest issue with Muppet movies is getting actors who can simply accept, and thus show by tone and body language, that the muppets are other legitimate actors in front of the camera. He played up his own strengths but at the same time didn’t feel like he was stealing any scenes for himself. Much like Michael Caine in Muppet Treasure Island, Gervais enhanced the scenes he was in.

The pure zaniness was back. Whoever wrote this, they seemed to understand the kind of humor that Jim Henson had captured in the original Muppets. It was whacky, it was silly, it was zany and it most important of all, it worked. I will be buying this and its prequel on bluray sometime by years end. This deserves a spot on the Muppet Shelf.

The only downside to this movie is that it is pretty essential to have watched the previous movie to understand everything clearly. Other than that, I highly recommend this Muppet movie.

The Muppets (2011 Movie)

Disney attempts to cash in on the Muppet Franchise and reboots it. There are a lot of call back scenes to the Original Muppet Movie and there is a LOT of group singing and dancing. That cover feels pretty accurate in conveying the tone of the movie.

I enjoyed this movie more than some of the other Muppet stuff but this time I felt that it would have been ok if the Muppets had been left in the past. There were some great comedic schticks (the scenes where Jack Black is tied up on stage and is involuntarily having a comedy duo routine with Fozzy was absolutely priceless) but Disney’s fingerprints were all over this and they were very smudgy and jelly’ish fingerprints, not at all unobtrusive or subtle.

Unlike the Muppets Wizard of Oz, I found the interaction between the humans and the Muppets to be quite believable and once again the Muppets were as much stars as the human cast. That’s how it should be.

I’m going to keep on watching the Muppet oeuvre until the end but it is now completely apparent to me that without Jim Henson’s direct hand, the Muppets aren’t quite all that. Henson made the correct decision to end the tv show on a high point and this continuation of the franchise shows the wisdom of his decision. While fans clamor for more Muppets, they should have trusted Henson’s decision. While Disney is a big fat target for my dislike (what they have done to my beloved Star Wars is unconscionable), fans are as much to blame.

I’d only recommend this to hardcore Muppet Completionists.

The Muppets Wizard of Oz (2005 Movie)

In my April ’22 Roundup & Ramblings post I mentioned that I’d heard this was a really bad Muppet’s movie, possibly the worst ever. After the struggle it was to write the Sherlock Posts I felt it would be a relief to really dig into something and eviscerate it mercilessly.

Unfortunately, this didn’t turn out to be THAT kind of bad movie. This was exactly in the same vein as Muppets from Space, ie, childish, stupid and not one whit funny. But this was even more vanilla and even more boring than From Space. From Space at least had a few laughs. Wizard of Oz? I don’t think I cracked a smile even once.

Ashanti, playing Dorothy Gale, had ZERO chemistry with the muppets. This was the first movie where every single original Muppeteer was gone (as far as I can tell), so that might have played a part, but it was evident that Ashanti was used to being the center of attention and to diminish that by allowing the Muppets to be the stars was more than she could handle.

There were things that SHOULD have been funny. Miss Piggy as the 4 Witches, each with their own costume and personality, well, it should have been funny. It wasn’t. Like I noted before though, nothing was outright bad. It was just boring as all get out. I usually watch these movies 2-3 times to make sure I’m not missing anything (I watch it the first time to just enjoy it. The second time to get ideas about reviewing and a 3rd if I need clarification on something). With this one, I watched it once and said “good enough” because any more would be interrogating myself enhancedly! and as I’m a bona fida genuina Americhino Citizen, we simply can not have that.

I would only recommend this to a Muppet Completionist. Every one else? Go watch something else, ANYTHING else. If I may make a suggestion? Go watch Tron. Broaden your lumpy modern mind with something classic and good.

The Great Game (Sherlock TV 2010)

This was a fantastic episode. This is where Moriarty is officially introduced and my goodness, does he make an entrance. He finally confronts Sherlock by forcing Sherlock to solve one mystery after another without a letup and the hook is that if Sherlock fails, an innocent will be blown to smithereens by a bomb vest. It is tense, fast and non-stop.

Unfortunately, the gay innuendo is non-stop as well. From Moriarty’s little “love” letters to Sherlock, to Moriarty pretending to BE gay to the continued two guys can’t be friends schtick. I had not remembered it being so blatant or so non-stop. It just felt unrelenting.

Dave asked me some questions, so without further ado:

  • What do you think of Moriarty’s portrayal during this episode? Does he come of as clever as he thinks he is? Do you consider him a threat with all that pomp and show and tell tactics?

He’s definitely a show-off but his little game makes me feel that he IS as clever as he thinks he is. He’s just a crazy psycho too.

That being said, Moriarty was the absolutely PERFECT villain. When that light hearted charming facade switches off and you see the evil monstrous man, oh boy, watch out. His little tantrum while talking to Sherlock while Watson is wearing a bomb vest was like a light turning off and darkness just spreading through the whole room. The cliffhanger ending would have been annoying back in the day but with the series finished, anyone now can simply pop in the next disc (or stream it if they’re extravagantly and filthy rich) and voila, the journey continues.

  • What did you feel about the overall episode.

While I enjoyed watching this, as a nice little break from the Muppet related stuff, overall it was not worth the energy to review. Movies are a whole different beast from books and it takes a different mentality to review them. I haven’t had a lot of practice and so the strain on my moral fibre is incredible. If I watch any more of the series I won’t be blogging about it.

  • Do you think the cat and mouse game between good and bad was well done? If so what stood out, if not, what did you find annoying?

The rivalry between Moriarty and Sherlock was definitely changed for a tv show. Like I mentioned above, it was almost too frenetic for me. And Sherlock thriving on it and losing sight of the goal of bringing a criminal to justice wasn’t very likeable or heroic in my opinion.

  • Do you also keep severed heads in your kitchen fridge?😆

Hahahahahaa! That was just so ridiculous that I actually laughed at it.

Dave has his own review up HERE.

The Blind Banker (Sherlock TV 2010)

This second episode of the modern remake of Sherlock Holmes introduces us to Watson’s future wife. It also gives us a view of the international sense of crime that Sherlock is fighting against. We also get some hints about a mysterious Master of Crime.

I thought how Sherlock kept interfering between John and Sarah, whether consciously or not, really showed that he did value John’s friendship and was so unaccustomed to friendship that he didn’t know how to share.

Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. The chemistry between Freeman and Cumberbatch is so perfect that you would think they WERE Watson and Holmes. John and Sarah had pretty good screen chemistry too. They were believable as an odd and uncomfortable couple. The stereotypical English couple.

And I’m still struggling for words. I don’t know why this is going so hard but I feel like I am grasping for every single word I type. Sorry folks, this is all you get.

Here’s to hoping Dave has more to say than me!