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Muppets Now Review: Here Come the Muppets… Again

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Rating:

7/10

Cast:

Matt Vogel … Kermit the Frog, Uncle Deadly


Eric Jacobson … Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Animal


Dave Goelz … The Great Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Waldorf, Chip the I.T. Guy


Bill Barretta … Rowlf the Dog, Pepe the King Prawn, The Swedish Chef, Big Mean Carl, Howard Tubman


David Rudman … Scooter, Beaker


Peter Linz … Joe the Legal Weasel, Walter, Link Hogthrob, Statler

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Synopsis:

In the six-episode season, Scooter rushes to make his delivery deadlines and upload the brand-new Muppet series for streaming. They are due now, and he’ll need to navigate whatever obstacles, distractions, and complications the rest of the Muppet gang throws at him.

Muppets Now Review:

The Muppets are one of the longest-running franchises in Hollywood with 27 television specials, 11 television series, eight feature films and five made-for-TV movies. The late Jim Henson created a mini empire filled with colorful characters and nifty puppetry and producers have tried to find ways to milk the franchise for all its worth.

Personally, I think the Muppets crew peaked with 1992’s terrific The Muppet Christmas Carol starring Michael Caine — a film in which everything about these oddballs, including the wacky humor, songs and characterizations, perfectly meshed together. And while four other films have since been produced, including the entertaining Muppet Treasure Island and the Jason Segal-starring reboot The Muppets, at this point in time the franchise feels antiquated.

Muppets Now, the new show that begins airing today on Disney+, is yet another attempt to bring Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and the lot into the modern era. And while the results are about as entertaining as any Muppet-centric 20-minute episode could be, there’s something a little offsetting about seeing the gang make hashtag and YouTube jokes and chat with one another via Skype. We’re a long way from the simple charms of 1979’s The Muppet Movie.

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Taking a cue from Netflix’s equally eccentric StoryBots, Muppets Now splits its truncated runtime into a variety of humorous, rapid-fire vignettes. The best of the bunch is Okey Dokey Cooking in which the famed Swedish Chef attempts to outcook a special guest while a turkey delivers wry commentary. Naturally, the Swedish Chef botches the proceedings all the while mumbling incoherent jargon and making veiled threats towards the likes of Danny Trejo and Chef Roy.

Other bits include Mup Close and Personal, a talk-show themed sequence featuring Kermit and Miss Piggy speaking with celebrities like RuPaul and Aubrey Plaza; Pepe’s Unbelievable Game Show, where the King Prawn forces guests to compete in ridiculous games like a sock throwing contest; Lifestyles with Miss Piggy, which itself breaks off into different segments involving actress Linda Cardellini and actor/singer Taye Diggs; and Muppet Labs Field Test, where Scooter and Beaker conduct scientific tests that mostly entail thinly veiled educational exercises like throwing pizza at a wall to demonstrate velocity.

There’s plenty of energy to be had and the production is sound. But there’s also a whiff of desperation hanging in the air as every sequence is jam packed with non-stope shenanigans that overshadow whatever learning opportunities exist. This isn’t Sesame Street where colorful characters used humor to relay important, necessary information to kids. Instead, Muppets Now is a straight-up comedic farce that feels, for lack of a better word, kitschy.

“I thought there was a method to this madness, but it appears to be just madness,” a character correctly says at one point.

That said, fans of the Muppets will likely enjoy the wild shenanigans in Muppets Now. At this point, you either love these guys and yearn for more opportunities to hear Fozzie’s terrible standup bits, or you deem these furry critters as relics of a bygone era where their humorous antics felt fresh.

The post Muppets Now Review: Here Come the Muppets… Again appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

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The Broken Hearts Club said gay love stories aren’t tragedies anymore

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Dean Cain in Broken Hearts

Dean Cain in Broken Hearts
Photo: Mimi Carven/Online USA (Getty Images)

Watch This offers movie recommendations inspired by new releases, premieres, current events, or occasionally just our own inscrutable whims. As part of Y2k week here at The A.V. Club, we’ve listed the 25 best films of the year 2000. These are some of our favorites that didn’t make the countdown.


The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy (2000)

After decades of slow progress in LGBTQ representation on screen, the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the late 1980s and early ’90s set things back. Almost all gay stories became tragedies centered around the devastating effects of the virus. (Even Broadway’s celebration of the sexually liberated, Rent, revolved around AZT breaks.) Drag became the first way to reintroduce gay men to audiences through stories that weren’t as sad as 1993’s Philadelphia. Over-the-top offerings such as 1994’s Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, 1995’s To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar, and 1996’s The Birdcage provided representation, but they mainly avoided anything involving romance—or, God forbid, sex. It wouldn’t be until 2000’s Broken Hearts Club that American audiences were given a film that treated young gay men the same as their straight counterparts. It was such an oddity that they had to put the genre in the full title, affixing A Romantic Comedy on the end of it.

He’s never admitted as much, but it seems fair to assume that Broken Hearts Club writer-director Greg Berlanti saw Sex And The City’s first season in 1998 and thought, “What’s the gay version of that?” Even the opening sequence of a quartet of friends at a café gossiping about men seems like a gender-swapped version of something from the pages of a Darren Star script. At this West Hollywood coffee shop, the central figures are Dennis (Timothy Olyphant), the aspiring photographer; Howie (Matt McGrath), the grad student stuck in an unhealthy relationship with his ex (Justin Theroux); Patrick (Ben Weber), the self-proclaimed ugly duckling; and Benji (Zach Braff), the bleach-blonde party kid. But these are just a few members of the film’s large ensemble, which also includes Cole (Dean Cain), the heartthrob actor; Taylor (Billy Porter), the flamboyant diva-worshiper; Jack (John Mahoney), the elder statesman and owner of the restaurant that employs half the group; Kevin (Andrew Keegan), the “newbie”; and Anne (Mary McCormack), Patrick’s lesbian sister who asks him to donate his sperm so she can have a child with Leslie (Nia Long).

If this sounds like a ridiculous amount of characters, it is. Broken Hearts Club is a true ensemble piece that probably would have made for a better TV series than movie, which tracks given that this was the first feature from Berlanti, who started as a writer on Dawson’s Creek in 1998 and was just 28 when he was promoted to showrunner two years later. The future Arrowverse mastermind juggles myriad storylines with ease, providing a slice-of-life story of a group not much different from his own friends. In fact, most gay men living in West Hollywood in the late ’90s would probably find Broken Hearts Club more of a reflection than fiction—and that’s what makes the film so important.

“There is not a single film in the cinematic canon that paints the portrait of a gay man that any of us would aspire to be,” Howie complains during another café conversation. “What are our options? Noble, suffering AIDS victims; the friends of noble suffering AIDS victims; compulsive sex addicts; common street hustlers; and the most recent addition to the lot, stylish confidantes to lovelorn women. Just once I would like to see a gay character that is not sick, has not been laid in about three months, and is behind on his student loans.” While most wouldn’t aspire to be any of the lost and lovelorn characters of Broken Hearts Club either, it was still refreshing to see gay men on screen who enjoy sex and only deal with death due to heart disease.

When Broken Hearts Club premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2000, it drew a lot of comparisons to 1970’s The Boys In The Band. It’s a fair assessment, given that both are ensemble pieces centered on a group of gay friends; the parallels between them served as a sad example of how far the HIV/AIDS epidemic threw gay cinema off its course in the three decades that separate the two films. A generation of gay men were raised to fear their sexual desires and avoid relationships that could only end in tragedy. But just as the characters of Broken Hearts Club find solace in each other, gay viewers could watch the film and see themselves—or at least a possible future for themselves. “A lot of people ask me when I first knew I was gay,” Dennis says in voiceover at the top of the film. “The fact is, I don’t know. I can’t remember. But what I do remember, what I can recall, is the moment I first realized it was okay. It was when I met these guys, my friends.”

Availability: The Broken Hearts Club is available to rent or purchase from Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, Microsoft, Fandango, DirectTV, and VUDU.

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5 Movies That Were Surprisingly Dangerous To Film

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You might think that with the extraordinary budgets, barring the occasional stunt accident and the like, movie sets are generally reasonably safe places. While, for the most part, they are, making a film is such an unpredictable process that a shoot can get surprisingly unsafe for any number of reasons. 

When it does, the people involved usually have no choice but to suck it up if they want to earn your money …

5

On The Total Recall Shoot, Everything Made People Sick

Filming in Mexico “weeds out the strong from the wimps,” according to Schwarzenegger. He was speaking from his experience filming Total Recall on location in Mexico, where the air, water, and food on set were so bad that it was basically impossible not to get sick. Production designer William Sandell described breathing the air like, “Breathing 2 packs a day of cigarettes.” That was one of the easier things to deal with. Just about everyone on the shoot fell ill, meaning one of the more important things on set was being consistently aware of how long it’d take you to run to the nearest restroom to, “Drop Quaid off at Mars.”

Sometimes, people would get so worn down by the rampant disease that they’d have to be evacuated or take drastic measures to keep going. One producer — with a reputation as one of Hollywood’s toughest guys — couldn’t handle it and was flown out for treatment. Near the end, director Paul Verhoeven got so sick that he kept an ambulance on standby on the set to instantly give him fluids he needed to continue directing the movie. 

TriStar Pictures
All this was made possible because one man refused to go to the hospital.

Only two people didn’t share this hell: Schwarzenegger and co-screenwriter Ron Shusett. Shusett was so incredibly careful about not catching anything that he’d only brush his teeth with bottled water, and he insisted on getting a B12 shot every week. Everybody made fun of him, but their laughter soon turned into anguished cries muffled by the bathroom door. On the other hand, Schwarzenegger had food flown in from Los Angeles, cooked for him by a private chef in his own trailer. Eventually, Schwarzenegger’s chef got ill, so he had to eat with everyone else, which is when judgment day came back for his bowels.

He’d later make the same face on the toilet.

4

Return Of The King Was Shot On A Literal Minefield

One morning on the set of Return of the King, a New Zealand army officer showed up as everyone was digging into first breakfast. He carefully explained that they might find rockets and bombs during filming, and should definitely make sure not to touch or kick them or dig any holes. It’s not clear how they responded, but it’s a hell of a thing to have to take in before you’ve even had your coffee.

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17 things you never knew about The Real Housewives

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The Real Housewives franchise has become a fan favourite because it gives viewers a look into their glamorous lives, and of course, because of the drama.

Over the years we’ve seen plenty of marriages, babies and unlikely friendships happen, as well as relationship breakdowns, among the scandals and iconic moments.

But behind the cameras there’s actually a lot that goes on. We’ve pulled together 17 facts about the franchises you may not know.

1. Andy Cohen can make or break a housewife. He’s an executive producer for The Real Housewives franchise and helps make casting decisions for the shows. It’s been reported that he cast his friend, Carole Radziwill, for The Real Housewives of New York.

2. The Real Housewives was almost given a different name. The Orange County franchise was the one that started it all and was nearly named Behind the Gates. The show wasn’t conceived as a franchise, instead it was meant to be a look at the lifestyles of those who lived inside the gated communities of Orange County. It was also a last-minute call to add “of Orange County” to The Real Housewives title — in case Bravo wanted to do spin-offs. What a good call that was!

3. Vicki Gunvalson is the “OG of the OC” and the original housewife. She was a main cast member from Season 1 to Season 13, and was demoted to a “friend of the housewives” in Season 14 of The Real Housewives of Orange County. While she is known as being one of the longest standing housewives, she has her son to thank for all of it. Rumour has it that Michael saw an ad in the newspaper about a new reality show, but when he went to meet up with the team behind the show they fell in love with his mum and that’s how she got her start.

17 things you never knew about The Real Housewives
Vicki Gunvalson is the “OG of the OC” but it was actually her son Michael that got her on the show. (Bravo)

4. The Housewives franchise has exploded over the years, now boasting 10 international versions. The Real Housewives of Orange County was followed by New York, Atlanta, New Jersey, D.C., Beverly Hills, Miami, Potomac and Dallas — although The Real Housewives of D.C. and The Real Housewives of Miami were cancelled. The franchise has seen international success with The Real Housewives of Athens, Vancouver, Melbourne, Sydney, Cheshire, Auckland, Toronto, Hungary and Johannesburg. A Bangkok version has been announced, but there is not a set premiere date for this show yet.

5. There have also been 18 spin-off shows featuring some of the standout housewives from the US instalments. It all started with Date My Ex: Jo & Slade in 2008. Jo De La Rosa was an O.C. housewife in Seasons 1 and 2, back when she was with Slade Smiley. The most recent spin-off series came from Atlanta, Porsha’s Having a Baby. Of all the spin-offs the two most popular have been Don’t Be Tardy, following the life of Kim Zolciak-Biermann and her family, along with Vanderpump Rules, focusing on the lives and drama of staff at Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurant, SUR.

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6. The Real Housewives of Orange County isn’t the only franchise that almost had a different name. Cast members Jill Zarin, Ramona Singer, Alex McCord and LuAnn de Lesseps were originally cast on a show called Manhattan Moms, which was about the cutthroat process of getting their kids into the elite private schools of NYC. But after the success of The Real Housewives of Orange County producers changed direction and added Bethenny Frankel into the mix.

7. The housewives have to sign a contract that says they can’t sue another cast member for anything that happens during filming.

17 things you never knew about The Real Housewives
Slade Smiley pictured with ex Jo de la Rosa on OC (L) and with current fiancee Gretchen Rossi and their daughter (R) (Bravo / Instagram)

8. Slade Smiley paid to be on the Real Housewives of Orange County after bidding on the opportunity in a charity auction. He started out as original OC housewife Jo de la Rosa’s fiancé and then moved on to date former OC star Gretchen Rossi — who he is still with today. He paid $2,500 to be part of an unnamed reality show — and his charitable deed is exactly how de la Rosa got on the show! “It was something that he wanted to do, we were engaged and as corny as it sounds, I did it for love,” Rosa explained on the 100th episode anniversary special.

9. Wine throwing is one of the signature moves a Housewife will pull out during an argument and it was Real Housewives of Orange County’s Tamra Judge who threw the first glass. At the time she was fighting with former cast member Jeana Keough and when things got really heated, Judge threw red wine in her face. Since then Brandi Glanville, Danielle Staub and many other wives have taken to chucking vino.

Stream Season 7 and 8 of The Real Housewives of New Jersey for free on 9Now.

10. Reunions typically air in two or three-part specials, broken up into hour long specials. But there’s a reason there’s more than one episode. According to E! Online, filming a reunion actually takes up to 12 hours.

11. The reunion is no doubt the most dramatic conclusion of a season and walk-offs have become very common. There are plenty of reasons wives have stormed off set from being too upset, angry or just for dramatic effect. It was Real Housewives of New York‘s Ramona Singer who was the first to walk off at a reunion, simply because she didn’t want to continue the conversation. The cast were discussing fellow wife Alex McCord’s nude photos when Singer made her exit. At the time, she said she had to use the restroom, but it was later revealed Singer was uncomfortable with the racy subject manner and the possibility of her daughter being somehow affected by the topic.

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12. The franchise was inspired by the iconic fictional TV drama Desperate Housewives, according to former OC housewife Gretchen Rossi. “Desperate Housewives inspired the Real Housewives franchise,” Rossi told Hollywood.com in 2012. “Honestly, I feel I owe a lot to [Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry] for creating a show that inspired a real-life version.”

13. In 2015 Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Teresa Giudice was sentenced to serve a 15-month stint at Danbury, a correctional institution in Danbury, Connecticut. The prison was the inspiration for the facility featured in Orange Is the New Black.

14. There’s a reason the housewives are always dressed to impress. Former New York housewife Kelly Bensimon said the producers told her they wanted her to look like herself — so she looked natural while riding horses with other cast members. It seemed that was the wrong decision and next time she was on camera she was told to have her hair done and more makeup, since she was a supermodel. The ladies are told to bring the glam, so it’s no surprise there are so many glam squads.

Stream Season 11 of The Real Housewives of New York for free on 9Now.

Why the Real Housewives are the ultimate reality TV stars
The Real Housewives of Potomac cast. (Bravo)

15. The cast members can earn a staggering amount appearing on the show. In the beginning, the Real Housewives earned a reported $7,000 each season. Now a housewife could make $40,000 to $60,000 for her first season and up to $200,000 during her second season. Housewives who have been in the cast for years do very well for themselves. It’s been rumoured that each year housewives like Vicki Gunvalson rake in $750,000, Teresa Giudice, $1 million, Kandi Burruss, $1.8 million; and Lisa Vanderpump earned $2 million when she was a part of Beverly Hills.

Stream Season 11 and 12 of The Real Housewives of Orange County for free on 9Now.

16. Friendships between franchises have been around long before the ladies were on TV. Real Housewives of Dallas‘ Brandi Redmond and Stephanie Hollman and New York’s Sonja Morgan and Ramona Singer were friends before their shows ever started. Soap stars Lisa Rinna and Eileen Davidson, both from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, have known each other for years. And then there’s the family links, like sisters-in-law Teresa Giudice and Melissa Gorga of New Jersey.

17. There’s been royalty among the cast. Real Housewives of New York’s LuAnn de Lesseps was a Countess, until her divorce that is. Once LuAnn de Lesseps got a divorce from the Count, she wasn’t really a Countess anymore, though she does continue to call herself the Countess.

Stream Season 7 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for free on 9Now.

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