Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Muppets (2011) Review

The Muppets latest foray into the realms of cinematic adventure has created a lot of media buzz, and rightly so. The Muppets are back! Or are they? They’ve been away from the silver screen since 2005’s TV movie The Muppets: Wizard of Oz, and are now in the hands of Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), the man who also co-penned their new challenge, to raise $10 million and save the Muppet Theatre from the evil oil tycoon Tex Richman (brilliantly named, played by Chris Cooper). Segel has made no secret of his love for puppetry, (check out the end scenes of Forgetting Sarah Marshall if you want confirmation) and has on many occasions proclaimed his quest to work with The Muppets on a grander scale. Amy Adams does well as Segel's love interest Mary, but it's tough to compete for romance when you're in the presence of Kermit and Miss Piggy.

So The Muppets go about a very Muppet reunion after years of living their separate lives all over the world, and put on one last show to raise the moola. Cue various montage scenes, a few barn yard animal lead songs, and the heart strings pulled in any direction possible. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Muppets and have strong pangs of nostalgia every time I see the show-the trouble is this movie is relying too much on the nostalgia, and not enough on the new character Walter (voiced by Peter Linz), who given the chance could steal the show, and bring The Muppets into the next generation.

The difficulty is maintaining that fine line between acknowledging the nostalgic appreciation many have for a show that shaped childhoods all over the world, and hammering home how great The Muppets are. They are great, they are the best, but we don’t need most of the movie to tell us this. Dare I say it, Walter is what saves this movie from becoming a self indulgent farce when you’re given the keys to the kingdom. He plays Jason Segel’s little brother and their story growing up together as boy and puppet (for he is not technically a Muppet) is heart warming and explored well. The songs are fun, kids will get a kick out of the dance scenes, and there are a few in jokes the older ones will appreciate without any harm. Cameos are in abundance, and I get the impression some are more influenced by current popularity rather than an appreciation to be a part of The Muppet empire (Selena Gomez springs to mind). Scepticism aside, it’s a decent offering of a hard to hit franchise-the original characters are put on a pedestal from the get go and are impossible to reach, but should they be? For one puppet, it’s worth trying. For mere mortals, it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Mark Hoppus Interview: Nylon Guys Magazine

Originally published for Nylon Guys Magazine 29th November 2011

Photography by Willemijn Barker-Benfield

With another Blink 182 album and a FUSE television show under his belt, Mark Hoppus is one busy guy. And now the rock star and new London resident is adding another project to his agenda, the movie The Other F Word. The documentary, out this month, follows Hoppus and other punk icons as they embark on their craziest adventure yet: fatherhood. NYLON’s Willemijn Barker-Benfield spoke with Hoppus about how Blink has changed over the years, why he’s too fickle for tattoos, and the reason he hasn’t ditched his punk attitude with parenthood.

So I hear you moved to London?

Mark Hoppus: I did. It’s great, it’s very different from what I grew up with. I grew up in the middle of the desert in California, and London is the polar opposite of that. I live in Mayfair now. Not a bad spot, we’re very happy with where we live.

How did you get involved in The Other F Word?

I was asked a few years ago if I wanted to be a part of it. I don’t know how exactly it came about, but I knew it was based on the book that Jim Lindberg had written called Punk Rock Dad. It seemed in the past few years, men that are in bands that have children are proud of that fact, and I used to talk with Dave Smalley from Down By Law, about doing a band that was all dad’s that were punk rockers, so I definitely wanted to be a part of it from the first time I heard about it.

How did the punk lifestyle change for you when you became a dad?

It really focuses your world view into a very small area. You really want this life to be something good, and you want to be a good person and you want to be a good role model. Growing up punk rock you just wanted to say “Fuck you!” to the world and make a lot of noise. Then when you have a kid, you want to say “fuck off!” and make a lot of noise in a much better, positive way… It’s interesting to see how different people are as parents, even though we all come out of the punk rock scene.

It’s refreshing to see that everyone’s different.

I think that being a punk rock dad is awesome. I think that being a father and coming out of the punk rock scene, which isn’t necessarily just about “Fuck everything”, I think the ethos that I took away from punk rock was question things, don’t just take everything at face value. Find your own way in life, and I think that if you have a good foundation – this is what I look at for my son.

So you have your TV show at Fuse in New York City, (Hoppus on Music), how did you get involved in TV?

Fuse called about a year and a half ago, and they said they were wanting to produce a cool music talk show. Something that was funny, irreverent, that focussed solely on music, and I was a little suspicious at first, I didn’t know what that meant. They wanted to do cool, brave, different things and it felt like a good fit so I said absolutely, so I’ve been flying out here every week for the past year and three months or something.

How do you find the transition from being a musician, and doing that still, to interviewing musicians?

I love it because it’s so different from what I do in my normal job, and I love promoting new bands and talking to other artists about music, and I love to be silly and funny and chop it up about music. We always have great guests, we always have great performances. Yesterday we had The Joy Formidable here who just blew doors off the place.

Tell us about your new Blink 182 Album, Neighborhoods.

The new Blink album is great- knock on wood-everyone reacted really well to it; I’m really pleased with the way everyone responded to it. The tour we’ve just finished was one of the best tours we’ve ever done. I’m very excited to go and tour the UK and Europe next summer. We leave tomorrow night, I film the show here, fly to LA and then the next day we shoot a video for our song called ‘After Midnight’, and we’re continuing to work on new Blink stuff as well.

How did the new record change from the last Blink records, was there a different process to how you’ve made it?

This one we didn’t have a producer because our dear friend and producer Jerry Finn passed away a few years ago, and there wasn’t really anybody that could fill his shoes in our minds, and I think that it was very necessary for us to produce it on our own, as part of our own internal band healing process. We recorded together in a studio and also in separate studios. Tom lives in San Diego, he has his own studio there, Travis and I at the time were living in LA, and Travis and I had a studio in Los Angeles, so we would get together work out song ideas and arrangements, and then we’d break apart and work on different things, then come back together and compare notes. It was good in that I feel like great things happen when the three of us are in a room, but at the same time I feel we need individual time to explore different ideas and then come back. So it was different then before where basically everybody was sitting in a room waiting for their chance to play.

Do you have a tour ritual that you follow before a show?

Before I go on stage I brush my teeth, that’s the last thing I do before I walk out on stage. I start stretching an hour before, I start warming up my voice, I start listening to music, I have a drink about an hour before I walk on stage, and that’s my routine.

What kind of music do you listen to before you go on stage?

I listen to Ministry, because you need something to really pump you up. I listen to a band called Far, I was listening to The Naked and Famous on this last tour, sometimes Genuine, sometimes Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, sometimes The Descendants. Upbeat music that makes me want to go out and make a lot of noise and be weird.

Tattoos go hand in hand with the punk scene; did you feel pressure to get tattooed?

I didn’t get tattoos for the longest time, and I only have two tattoos. I have my sons name on one wrist, and my wife’s name on my other wrist, and I’ve contemplated getting tattoos, but I’m so fickle in what I’m into at any given time, that depending on what period of my life I was in, I would have tattoos of Star Wars, of pirate ships, of haunted houses, of weird art, it would have just been a mess. It’s interesting when you look at people and you see they’ve got one sleeve done at one point in their life, and a bunch of different stuff done at different points in their life, and it must be a great scrapbook of memories for them, but to me it looks like you didn’t think it through at all.