The Couch Potato Report

I do…I really do LOVE The Muppets!!!

The Couch Potato Report – March 24th, 2012

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report are The Muppets, two very good remakes, and The Deer Hunter.

You will not find a bigger fan of Jim Henson’s Muppets than one Daniel Edward Reynish. As millions of others have, I grew up on Sesame Street as a child, never missed The Muppet Show, and then waited in line to get my ticket to see THE MUPPET MOVIE.

I have been entertained by The Muppets for as long as I can remember…so you can imagine my excitement…and trepidation…when I heard that the franchise was being rebooted…by Jason Segel of FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER.

I had enjoyed his work in the past…a lot at times…but these are The Muppets!!!!

Happily, the reboot is very, very entertaining!!

In THE MUPPETS Jason Segal and Amy Adams star as humans who work to reunite Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo and the gang in order to save their old theatre from a greedy oil tycoon.

As a long time fan, I must admit that THE MUPPETS isn’t spectacular. It relies on the troupe’s past history too much, the songs are good but never great, and they really couldn’t get a bigger celebrity guest host than Jack Black?!?!

But – that truth aside – THE MUPPETS is a very good film…and I loved it, and can easily recommend it to old and new fans alike. This is one that the whole family can watch together!

Yes, The Muppets are back, and I for one welcome them with open arms!!

I also welcome the Hollywood version of Stieg Larsson’s book THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO with open arms…and was rewarded with another great film from director David Fincher, who also gave us SEVEN and FIGHT CLUB.

In THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist is recruited by a wealthy retired businessman to find a woman who has been missing for forty years.

Blomkvist is joined in his investigation by Lisbeth Salander, an intelligent, eccentric woman with a photographic memory and bad social skills.

I called the Hollywood remake of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO a great film, and it is…fans of mystery thrillers should not miss it!!

I have to admit that I liked the original Swedish film better. There is less at stake in Fincher’s version, it isn’t as raw, and it tries to soften up Lisbeth Salander at times, which I didn’t think worked at all.

But I recommend it…both versions, actually. Neither are as good as the book, but they both come highly recommended.


Based on the 1974 British spy novel by John le Carré, Gary Oldman from THE DARK KNIGHT stars as George Smiley, an intelligence expert in forced retirement who is recalled to hunt down a Soviet mole in the “Circus”, the highest echelon of the Secret Intelligence Service.

TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY was put on film once before – as a six-part television mini-series in 1979 starring the great Alec Guinness stars as George Smiley – and that version had plenty of time to flesh out the story in le Carré’s book.

However while this update doesn’t have that much time, it does have an exceptionally strong cast that all bring enough weight to their roles that not everything needs to be explained. That cast includes John Hurt, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, and television’s newest Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch.

TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY is intriguing, involving, slow and smart. I really enjoyed it and can easily recommend it.

Lets spend a few minutes with babysitters now…an actual cinematic one, and some new releases that may act as them over the next few weeks.

The actual cinematic one leads the pack.

Jonah Hill from 21 JUMP STREET stars in a movie called THE SITTER…an awful movie about a college student on suspension who is coaxed into babysitting the kids next door.

He is looking forward to an easy night of getting paid to watch TV, while three pre-teen kids entertain themselves, until his would be girlfriend calls and asks him to bring some treats to a party.

So he packs up the kids in their family mini-van and heads out for what turns out to be a wild night.

Now, if you are thinking that THE SITTER sounds exactly like the 1987 comedy ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING, well it does. This is basically just a remake of that great film, minus everything that made it great.

Jonah Hill is no Elisabeth Shue, and the adventures in this new version aren’t engaging or entertaining at all.

Sure, I laughed a few times…but not enough to make it worth my while and so I can’t – and don’t – recommend it.

With Easter coming soon, you will see this next film just about everywhere…and you should avoid it at all costs!!

HOP introduces us to E.B., the Easter Bunny’s teenage son. His Father would like him to take over the family business – and become the Easter Bunny – while E.B. wants to become a drummer in a rock ‘n’ roll band.

So E.B. leaves Easter Island and heads to Los Angeles, where he meets Fred after the out-of-work, unmotivated guy who is looking for his next career….and you won’t care.

The characters aren’t ones you’ll care about, the jokes aren’t funny and even little kids will see through how useless the movie is…so don’t waste your money, and their time on it.

Skip, HOP…just ignore it…and you should also skip HAPPY FEET TWO…a not fun, not funny, not engaging, not interesting, not entertaining sequel to a film that was all those things.

In the original 2006 film Mumble was a penguin who couldn’t sing, so he had to find his soul mate through dancing.

HAPPY FEET TWO introduces us to Mumble’s son, Erik, who is also struggling to realize his talents in the Emperor Penguin world.

There is also a threat to the penguin world that takes over the majority of the second half of this film that I couldn’t wait to end!!

The first 55 minutes seemed like two hours…and there was still 44 minutes left after that!!!

The only thing, the only thing about this movie that I liked were the characters of Will and Bill the Krill, as voiced by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.

Skip HAPPY FEET TWO, even kids won’t care. This movie is awful…and so is HOP and THE SITTER. Don’t waste your time with any of them!!

To a franchise now that has given me plenty of laughs over the years…and entertained me…Robot Chicken!!

Robot Chicken is a sketch comedy that parodies pop culture, life and politics using stop motion animation, toys, action figures, claymation, and various other object.

In 2007 they did their first all STAR WARS show, which was followed in 2008 by Episode II and in 2010 by Episode III…and now ROBOT CHICKEN: STAR WARS EPISODE I to II are available together in a three disc set.

I love ROBOT CHICKEN and STAR WARS and the first pair of combinations of them really worked, but by EPISODE III the frat boy, sophomoric humour is starting to wear thin

I laughed out loud a lot at the first two, but only a few times at ROBOT CHICKEN – STAR WARS EPISODE III.

Ultimately I recommend the entire trilogy, just know that the quality dips as it goes along.

While the original STAR WARS film was in production in 1976, there was also a small animated film being made called WAR WIZARDS…which eventually became just WIZARDS, as you can read in the new 24 page book that comes with the 35th ANNIVERSARY EDITION blu-ray of writer-director Ralph Bakshi’s still interesting animated film…which just happens to feature Mark Hamil from STAR WARS as one of the voice cast.

Set on a post-apocalyptic Earth, WIZARDS is a tale about a good wizard and his group who aim to fight an evil wizard who’s using technology in his bid for conquest.

WIZARDS was an interesting, yet odd film when it first came out, and it is still both of those things. I have always admired it…but have never loved it and I did enjoy watching it again this week.

Animation, LORD OF THE RINGS and war movie fans should all seek out this impressive 35th ANNIVERSARY EDITION.

From 1977, we move to 1986 now and the erotic love story 9 1/2 WEEKS, which is new on blu-ray.

This flick stars Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke and follows the two-month affair between her art-gallery dealer and his Wall Street executive.

It is about two adults doing more and more adult, adult things – which feel good to both parties, until it all spirals out of control.

9 1/2 WEEKS features a cast of great looking people, and a fantastic soundtrack full of 80s stars.

The blu-ray doesn’t offer a pristine version of the film, or any extras, but it does sound great.

Should this be one you consider a classic, don’t miss it!!

My last line there is true here as well…should you consider DANGEROUS LIAISONS a classic, don’t miss it on blu-ray either!

Starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer, Keanu Reeves and Uma Thurman, this is a smart and witty film about rich and bored aristocrats in Europe who are having fun playing games using passion and betrayal as easily as others use cards.

The blu-ray for DANGEROUS LIAISONS also doesn’t offer a pristine transfer, and only has minimal extras, but the film itself is still great, and worthy of a viewing, if you have never seen it.

Finally this week, we head back to 1978 for the film that was named Best Picture.

THE DEER HUNTER also won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Christopher Walken), Directing (Michael Cimino), Film Editing, and Sound and it remains an interesting film, from start to finish.

In addition to Christopher Walken, THE DEER HUNTER also stars Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep.

It is a movie that looks at how going to and coming back – or not coming back – from Vietnam effects a group of friends in a small industrial town.

This is an incredible film, full of tension, drama, and fantastic performances.

Unfortunately the new blu-ray for THE DEER HUNTER only features minimal extras, but the movie itself remains a classic, one that features some often imitated scenes.

The five-time Academy Award winning 1978 film THE DEER HUNTER, the three-time Oscar winning 1988 film DANGEROUS LIAISONS, 1986’s erotic drama 9 1/2 WEEKS, Ralph Bakshi’s 35th ANNIVERSARY EDITION of WIZARDS, ROBOT CHICKEN – STAR WARS – EPISODES I, II and III, the less than entertaining sequel HAPPY FEET TWO, the awful Easter film HOP, the useless “comedy” THE SITTER, the very entertaining TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, the Hollywood version of Stieg Larsson’s THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO – which isn’t as good as the Swedish film or the book, but is still very good – and the great for the whole family reboot of THE MUPPETS are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

Canadian director David Cronenberg’s latest – A DANGEROUS METHOD; the Chinese biography CONFICIOUS; the Japanese sci-fi/action/thriller BATTLE ROYALE; Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock star in the Oscar nominated EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE; and Ben Affleck’s THE TOWN is released in an ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION.

I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.

For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.

Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here again next time on The Couch!