Segel / Stoller Weekend
On pure coincidence, I saw both The Five Year Engagement and The Muppets this weekend, not noticing that they were both scripts by my new favorite writing team, Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel. Their Forgetting Sarah Marshall was my favorite of the outstanding Apatow family of films (with possible competition from the ringer Superbad). Now it's The Five Year Engagement. Here are some thoughts:
1) 5YE is probably my favorite romantic comedy since High Fidelity. I liked it better than Bridesmaids, even though it wasn't as roll-on-the-ground funny. 5YE simply has so many of my favorite things, e.g. Chris Pratt, who has inspired me to break out a full-update of the Man-Crush List (coming soon).
New rule for film-makers: If you want your movie to get a glowing review from me (which, you definitely do!) cast Chris Pratt. He has officially reached the Joseph Gordon Levitt level of can-do-no-wrong. He's almost as funny as Jack Black and almost as dreamy as Ryan Gossling (sorry ladies, you no longer get him all to yourselves!).
2) The Muppets is my second favorite Muppet movie after Christmas Carol. When you adjust for nostalgia, this effectively makes it number one, but I simply have too many VHS coppies of Christmas Carol lying around my mancave for it to be a fair contest.
It was basically Blues Brothers meets UHF. I was going to jokingly throw There Will Be Blood in there, since the villain is an oil baron, but that doesn't figure prominently into the plot, and I don't want my world-famous film-venn-diagrams to become a joke (i.e. Hunger Games is basically 1984 meets Survivor).
The Muppets is more or less the feel-good romp of a life-time. A relatively simplistic story, but I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. It's probably the most heartwarming and feel-good flick I've seen since Waking Ned Devine, the film from whence the banner-head of this blog derives. I enjoyed my favorite sensation in all of arts-appreciation, which is goose-bumps and chills to the point of tears. This is a confusing feeling for me, which is probably why it's my favorite. I've mastered a thorough understanding of all the other feelings (so far) and this one remains somewhat mysterious to me, which is probably why it always feels fresh and new. It probably has to do with the semi-erotic nature of the relationship between any artist / chef / professor and his audience / diners / students.
You might say, "Don't you feel taken advantage of when a blatantly sappy movie like The Notebook is intended to make you cry, and then you just give yourself over to its demands, reacting exactly as expected? Yes, but I like it. The phrase "Taken advantage of" has such a negative connotation, which is probably dually connected to both victim culture and unfortunately big egos. The movie didn't assault me, I chose to see it. And any feelings on my part of not wanting to seem predictable are always bad instincts left over from college, i.e. not wanting anyone to be smarter than me. We participate in entertainment to feel certain feelings. If it's scary, we want to be scared, if it's sappy, we want to cry. If it's suspenseful, we want to not know what happens next. And if it's unfathomably vibrant like Rhapsody in Blue or Handel's Messiah or Waking Ned Devine or The Muppets I want to feel that ghost in my spine come to life and fill my god-void with post-evolutionary chills until I don't know why I'm crying.