I recently watched two films written by, and starring, Jason Segel. Let me be clear at the outset that I am not a Jason Segel fan. I know he is a popular guy and I have no doubt that he is a wonderful human being, but I do not appreciate either his acting or his writing. Despite numerous recommendations from friends, I have never seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Watching Segel’s most recent efforts will not inspire me to do so.
While not a Segel fan, I am an Emily Blunt fan and she coincidentally appears in both of these films. Unfortunately, Blunt’s solid efforts did not save either film (she only has a cameo in The Muppets). Neither did the fact that I am a fan of the muppets, though that fact also did not prevent me from giving mediocre ratings to every muppet film ever made (The Muppet Christmas Carol was my favourite, but even that got only ***).
The Muppets starts very strong, with a couple of great early songs that made me think I was watching a winner. But things slide downhill from there and the film degenerates into a lot of silly and boring dialogue and a fundraising plot that seems to exist just to give all the muppets a role (the plot: a rotten millionaire wants to buy the muppet studio so he can drill for oil, so the muppets need to find enough money to save the studio). I liked the villain (Chris Cooper) and his henchmen, but didn’t find Segel’s performance endearing. Even Amy Adams failed to impress this time. As for the muppets, none were particularly inspiring.
Having said all those negative things, it may once again surprise people when I say that I did enjoy watching The Muppets and give it *** and recommend it to all. My negative reaction probably relates more to the high expectations created by the wide critical acclaim than to the film’s qualities. I don’t know what I’m missing but for me this is just a very ordinary musical comedy and therefore a disappointment.
But not as big a disappointment as The Five-Year Engagement, which also received general acclaim. This is another comedy drama that gets silly and boring in a hurry. Not only was I unimpressed by Segel’s performance, I also had little sympathy for his character and therefore did not really care about the relationship at the heart of the film. Nor did I find the plot interesting. It’s about a young couple who get engaged but then have their wedding-plans delayed. This doesn’t mean much, since they live together much of the film, but the film is more about what happens when Violet (Blunt) wants to study in Michigan and Tom (Segel) is forced to leave his prestigious job in San Francisco and try to survive in the Midwest. This part of the plot fell flat for me and therefore so did the film.
The Five-Year Engagement has a number of precious moments and I enjoyed Blunt’s performance, but for me it was another over-rated romantic comedy and this one gets only **+. My mug is down. BUT I should remind readers that comedy dramas are far from my favourite genre and those who like comedy dramas may enjoy both of these films much more than I did (e.g. Kathy very much enjoyed both of these films).