10 Random Things I Am Thankful For in 2011

Hi out there!  Did everyone have a good Thanksgiving?  I know I did.  Now, I know that some people will say that this has been a disappointing year in entertainment.  Steve Carrell left the Office, Whitney Cummings got a sitcom, and — while I’ve truly loved a handful of films this year, it’s hard to ignore the fact that 2011 has yet to produce anything close to a Black Swan, A King’s Speech, or even a Social Network.  Instead, the best films of the year have been ignored by both audiences and critics while good but definitely flawed films like J. Edgar are being touted as being the best was can hope for.  Even Pixar failed to tug at our heart-strings this year.

However, I think we’re running the danger of giving too quickly into negativity when it comes to considering 2011.  No, 2011 is no 2010.  But there’s still a lot to be thankful for and below are just 10 examples of some things that, as 2011 reaches its conclusion, I’m thankful for.

10) This.

9) The time I have left with Community.

With The Office current flailing about in its attempts to establish a consistent post-Carrell identity, I have a new favorite sitcom and its name is Community.  Now in its third season, Community has truly hit its stride and Joel McHale is, of course, to die for.  So, naturally, Community has been yanked from the mid-season schedule while NBC continues to heavily promote shows like Whitney.  This is indeed the darkest timeline but I know that I will continue to tweet things like #savecommunity, #6seasonsandamovie, and #NBCSucks for as long as it takes.

8 ) A second season of Game of Thrones

With the current season of Dexter getting bogged down in its attempt to make a villain out of Colin Hanks and the Walking Dead remaining a flawed masterpiece, the 1st season of Game of Thrones is now the unquestionable highlight of an otherwise uninspired season in television drama.  I can’t wait to see what happens in season 2.

7) Higher Ground

Vera Farmiga’s directorial debut is probably one of the best films that you’ve never seen. 

6) Black Swan is available on DVD and Blu-ray.

5) For that matter, so is the original, non-American, non-Hollywood, non-David Fincher, non-Daniel Craig, non-Rooney Mara Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trilogy.

4) Shame is rated NC-17.

What does this mean?  It mean the Full Fassbender.

3) Hanna

This intriguing and criminally underappreciated postmodern fairy tale remains my favorite film of 2011. 

2) Oscar Isaac

Seriously.  Love him.  I still love to imagine him shouting, “And I declare him to be an OUTLAAAAAAAAWWWWWWW!” whenever I’m annoyed at being stuck in traffic.  You know what else I love?  Listening to him as he sang over the end credits of Sucker Punch.

1) And finally…

I am thankful that I have the greatest sister ever!  You may know her as Dazzling Erin and, if you’re on twitter, you can find her under the name TakeSumE.  However, for me, she will always simply be my best friend and my older (but only by 11 months) sister.  Yesterday was not only Thanksgiving but it was also her birthday!  Now, for those of you who don’t know, Erin is not only my sister but she’s also a talented photographer, a great cook, a wonderful roommate, and the greatest guardian angel that anyone could possibly ever hope to ask for!  And on top of all that, she’s hot too.  Happy birthday, Erin Nicole! 

It's Erin Nicole!

Quick Film Review: The Muppets (dir. by James Bobin)

Poster for the Muppets.

Bottom Line: If you’re buying a ticket to go see The Muppets, you’re treating yourself to a Kid’s film. If you’re expecting the film to be life affirming and/or soul changing, you may want to look elsewhere (though it might do that, in some ways). It’s not a knock on the film by any means, but walking into The Muppets with any expectations other than to just enjoy yourself, you might be asking too much. How can you not like this film? It’s got Muppets in it.

Growing up with the Muppets as kid was a weird thing. When I think back on it, I only remember 3 distinct things: I remember the Muppet Intro which I always sung along to, I remember the blue eagle, and I remember Gonzo and his Chickens. I have to admit I spent a lot of time laughing out loud on this one, though everyone’s tastes are different. That’s just me.

The Muppets must have been a really hard sell. Imagine taking something that was popular in the 70’s and trying to present it in such a way that both the original audiences could appreciate it along with those who only knew of the Muppets from Muppet Babies (or worse, never ever even heard of them). The fact that it’s a movie about Muppets and that it really doesn’t take itself seriously makes it work so well. I haven’t any “I wish they had” or “it would have been if they” moments for this. The film has a simple premise and does what it needs to.

Looking at it, I don’t know if I can call it a Kid’s film or a Muppets Fan Film. I have a tough time classifying it, I just know I really, really loved it.

The Muppets is the tale of two brothers, Gary (Jason Segel) and his Muppet brother, Walter. While Walter had his problems growing up, one of his biggest joys was watching The Muppets on TV. His lifelong dream is to visit Muppet Studios and meet his idols. Gary loves his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams), but he’s so caught up with Walter’s happiness that he hasn’t asked Mary to marry him. She hopes with their trip to Hollywood, they’ll spend a romantic time and he’ll finally do so. Bringing Walter along with them doesn’t help things.

When they visit the Muppet Studios, Walter discovers that an oil magnate (played by Chris Cooper) wants to acquire the unused Muppet Studios for his own, the decision is made to try to reach the rest of the Muppets and raise enough money to save the Studios. It’s essentially the same premise as The Blues Brothers, but with Muppets. Only here, the Muppets have to deal with an audience where they’re really no longer relevant. Can they really be fun in this day and age? That’s one of the questions that come up in the film.

The film happily pokes fun at itself, breaking the 4th wall a number of times and coming up with some pretty cute ways to move the story along. The musical numbers are plenty (I picked up the Soundtrack when I got home and am listening to it while writing this) and I think only one was worthy of a “Oh wow, they really went there?” with Amy Adams’ & Miss Piggy’s “Me Party”, but again, it’s not trying to be super serious.

For anyone who’s watched The Muppet Show in their lifetime, the movie is a real treat. That my audience actually sung along to some of the songs was a fun feeling. For anyone grown up and new to the Muppets, it might all go over their heads. Kids (young ones at least), should have a lot of fun with the movie.

Here’s hoping that Jason Segel finally gets to do that Dracula Musical from Forgetting Sarah Marshall.