Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A brief Muppet rant.

These are Sesame Street characters, but the image of Muppets arranged in a mass grave feels apropos.

I haven't seen the Muppets, but I read an early draft of the script. I regret to say that I appreciate the Muppets on a deeper level than Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller.

I didn't make it all the way through--it was too painful--but I counted a whopping total of three jokes in the first act: on pages ten, sixteen, and twenty-one. There's a fourth joke on page twenty-five, if you count the phrase "freedom fries" as a joke.

Without exaggeration, there are more non-sequiturs than jokes.

For some reason, it keeps insisting they're puppets, not animals.

The Muppets, who are perennial underdogs, spend the first act being rich, successful, and wholly unsympathetic.

The best part is when they sing a great song from another Muppet movie.

It relies heavily on the beat where there's shitty writing, and a character breaks the fourth wall to acknowledge how shitty it was. The trailers were full of this, too.

There's a parody that fails so thoroughly that the script feels obligated to name the original work in parenthesis.

There's a speech about how the Muppets lost their relevance because they're too wholesome. Kids today want violence. (Henson took up puppetry so he could blow up his characters.)

It's great that this is drawing interest back to the Muppets. I cherish the franchise. But it's heartbreaking to see them handled so poorly. And I'm in pretty good company, here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Grist for the mill.

I wish you heard the conversation those people were having. It could go in a script.

What were they talking about?

Not a fucking thing.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Superman: Red Son has a great premise.

The planet Krypton was gonna explode. Two scientists put their baby in an escape pod and shot him into space. The baby landed in Kansas, and he was raised to be Superman, an American icon.

Red Son takes place in an alternate reality where Superman's escape pod was launched a few hours later. It's small difference with major ramifications: he landed in Stalinist Ukraine, where he was raised to be a communist icon.

I love that. What a simple way to subvert a quintessentially American character!

And it's a pretty different world. Instead of being a ruthless capitalist, Lex Luthor is the world's smartest scientist. And he's married to Lois Lane. And Jimmy Olsen works for the CIA, instead of the Daily Planet.

Interesting! Why did Superman's Soviet upbringing cause Lex to pursue more academic endeavors? How could Lois fall in love with an emotionally negligent supervillain? What idiot allowed Jimmy Olsen in the CIA?

Unfortunately, writer Mark Millar doesn't explore the ripple effect of his premise. The characters' names are familiar, but the characters, themselves, aren't.

Luthor has been depicted as a machiavellian CEO for thirty years, but in Red Son, he's an evil Mr. Fantastic. This change in personality is never explained. Millar might as well have written him as a polar bear.

And with that, Red Son's great premise is squandered.

We like alternate realities because we like to speculate about whether or not we've made the right decisions. The whole point of writing an alternate reality is to compare it with the reality it's based upon.

If you're not gonna compare the realities, then it shouldn't be an alternate reality, to begin with. Take pride in the fact that you're telling an original story, and don't get distracted with cameos, allusions, and general fanservice.

I'm disappointed that I have to write this down. Like, it's a good theory, but it feels a little like saying, "If you're producing a movie, you should make sure there's stuff for the audience to look at on the screen."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Why Valencia?

My ex's boyfriend entered this video to win a scholarship to his college.

His community college.

Where he's pursuing an AA in Engineering.