Muppets Most Wanted (2014 PG) is fun for kids. Cameo appearances are thrown in for adults to enjoy, but often they were too quick to appreciate, and mostly they were cameos of old male actors.
The trailer has all the best jokes, and tells the plot well: An evil frog escapes from prison and changes places with Kermit to use the traveling Muppet show as a cover for a big jewel heist.
In my favorite sequence, Russian prison guard Nadya (Tina Fey) forces Kermit to put on a show with the inmates. He has them perform “I Hope I Get It” from the musical “A Chorus Line”. Here is the version from the 2012 Oxygen network reality show “Glee Project Series 2”.
Watch for Kermit and the dancing inmates’ fun scene in this otherwise average movie.
Russian Gulag inmates Ray Liotta, Jemaine Clement, and Danny Trejo sing and dance. From The Muppet Mindset blog.
Alfred Hitchcock directed suspense-filled films, such as Rear Window (1954 ) and Psycho (1960). He relied on unusual camera angles, a race against the clock, and a creative soundtrack to build suspense.
Christopher McQuarrie directed Jack Reacher (2012), a suspenseful film about the race to find the real killer before the real killer finds the good guys (Tom Cruise and Rosamund Pike).
Director Christopher McQuarrie with star Tom Cruise on the set of Jack Reacher
Watch these two directors at work here. Listen for the music, watch the camera angles, feel the urgency.
North by Northwest
Spelling bees are not really interesting for anyone other than the families of the contestants. They are rather dry and repetitive.
But a movie about an underdog who stands a chance to be the best in the nation, despite everything standing against her, does make for an exciting and inspirational movie! Akeelah and the Bee (2006 PG) succeeds.
Akeelah (Keke Palmer), a middle schooler from a rough LA neighborhood is identified as a potential great speller by her principal (Curtis Armstrong). Principal Welch encourages her to spend time with reclusive coach Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburne), even though her mother (Angela Bassett) is too busy to support her. Her classmates mock her, and she struggles to even attend practices and spelling bees, yet she has a gift that she is willing to work to develop.
Here Akeelah makes it to the national finals in Washington DC:
Spelling bee contestants are allowed to ask three questions: The definition, the language of origin, and to have it used in a sentence. If they start spelling again, they must not change the letters already spoken. After spelling, they state the word again. If incorrect, a small bell is rung, and the speller is eliminated and must leave the stage.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a musical that takes all the traits of spelling bees – competitive parents, quirky spelling rituals, lonely students, and strict rules – and make it all pretty funny! My daughter’s high school theater department staged the production.
Watch this clip that shows how funny they make the questions spellers are allowed to ask: Funny Spelling Bee Questions
Fun movie! Funny musical!