Neither a chain of spice stores nor a Food Network program, The Seasoning House is a bleak-as-nuclear-winter thriller set during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. A deaf girl named Angel (Brit teen Rosie Day) is taken from her home by soldiers who shoot her mother dead.
Paul Schrader’s The Canyons opens and closes with a montage of abandoned movie theaters. For this film in particular, that choice strikes one as symbolic in several ways: not only as a comment on the state of the industry, but on the state of The Canyons itself. You’re unlikely to find many 2013 films this empty.
What's a director of classic musicals doing in science fiction? Making Saturn 3, one of the worst of the genre Hollywood made in the immediate post-Star Wars / Alien era. Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) takes to it about as well as you'd expect; he's in over his head.
Military marksman Col. Jim McQuade (Gregory Hines, Running Scared) is called into top-secret duty to neutralize a surveillance robot gone haywire in San Francisco. It won't be easy, because for one thing, the android is undetectable from a human. For another, it has a built-in nuclear bomb that will detonate upon imminent threat.
I plead guilty: My friends and I have goofed around with a camcorder before and made stupid movies, but we were smart enough to know that no one outside ourselves would think they were funny. If only the makers of Caesar and Otto's Deadly Xmas realized the same.
Jason Segel (“Bad Teacher”) may be the best and worst man for the job of
bringing Jim Henson’s Muppets back to top-of-mind pop-culture status.
As the flesh-and-blood star and co-screenwriter of “The Muppets,” opening in theaters today, he’s so reverent of the characters that he knows his stuff ... and yet is too close to it to recognize when fandom crosses the line of accessibility.
Kids may enjoy the film, but it’s really geared for their parents, who grew up watching “The Muppet Show” on TV and wearing out VHS tapes of 1979’s “The Muppet Movie” and its two ’80s sequels. Kermit the Frog and friends have been out of the mass-audience spotlight for so long, a generation raised on “SpongeBob SquarePants” has little-to-no knowledge of Swedish Chef or Statler.
Coincidentally, that’s Segel’s premise, as he and longtime virginal girlfriend (Amy Adams, “The Fighter”), take his little brother, Walter (a new Muppet) to L.A., only to find their beloved Muppets have splintered irreparably and taken separate life paths. But what if Walter could get the gang back together?
The human cast is game, with the exception of an uncomfortable Chris Cooper (“The Town”) as a villainous oil baron, so why isn’t it funnier? Too many characters of the felt variety crowd the way, making the script feel more slapdash than slapstick. Too many musical numbers exist at the sacrifice of whatever narrative glue could hold this together better.
Segel got to make his dream “Muppets” movie — just not necessarily ours.