Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Toto Review - Muppets Most Wanted

So it was time for another trip to the movie theater with Dorothy.  She smuggles me in her basket, I sit on her lap and promise to be good or else I don't get any popcorn.  This particular trip was more than a little taxing, since there were plenty of misbehaving kids running around like hooligans throughout the theater.  Do you have any idea how HARD it is to stay still on Dorothy's lap when there are mini-monsters climbing over seats, and throwing nachos in the air, and reaching out, trying to pet me with their grubby grubby paws?  CONTROL YOUR CHILDREN IF YOU TAKE THEM TO THE MOVIE THEATER, PEOPLE!  That's what I wanted to say.  But I didn't, because people don't understand a talking dog, but... MOVING ON.


Muppets Most Wanted is the story about how the Muppets meet up with a shady concert promoter, played by Ricky Gervaise, to go tour Europe with the Muppet Show.  What they don't realize is that Ricky Gervaise is partnered with Constantine, the World's Most Dangerous Frog, who happens to look a lot like Kermit.  So Kermit is shanghaied by Ricky and Constantine, and is trapped in a Russian gulag with a Russian warden played by Tina Fey, while Constantine and Ricky Gervaise conspire to use the Muppet Show tour as a ruse to steal stuff from various museums all in a bid to eventually steal the crown jewels of London.

That's essentially the plot, but since it's a movie with Muppets, the plot is pretty much an excuse to string as many gags and funny songs together as possible.  You could make a pretty good argument about how this entry into Muppetland is missing some of its spark, which is what happens when you separate Kermit from his gang.  Don't get me wrong, this movie is packed full of jokes, celebrity cameos (blink and you'll miss truly hilarious turns by Tom Hiddleston, Josh Groban, and Lady Gaga, among others.) Muppet cameos (my favorites included the yellow Hugga Wugga "You Are My Sunshine" Muppet, and a pivotal plot point by Bobby Benson and his Baby Band) and very funny songs.

But for me, it's all about the DOGS!  THE DOGS, PEOPLE!  TALK TO ME ABOUT THE DOGS!

Okay, well, I love Rowlf, for obvious reasons.  It feels like Rowlf gets no love from modern day Muppet audiences, which is unfair.  Rowlf was actually one of the original Muppets, making his first appearance even before the Muppet Show ever came into existence, as a guest star on The Jimmy Dean Show in 1963.

I love Rowlf because he's somewhat the voice of reason, if anyone would ever ask him.  You look at him and you know - the dog has seen a lot. But he's content to stay in the ensemble and inwardly chuckle at the chaos going on.

But sadly, Rowlf is not in this movie much.  Whoever's in charge over at Muppet headquarters continues to insist on pushing that dumb nobody Muppet Walter front and center.  

Nobody likes Walter, okay?  NOBODY LIKES WALTER THE MUPPET.  Look at that line up over on the left.  Don't your eyes kind of twitch and think there's a blank space in the middle? Get Walter out of the movie, and give the screen time back to Rowlf and Fozzie.

Having said that, I was pleased to see Miss Piggy's dog Foo Foo back at her side.  That dog can do a lot with a simple ear twitch.  Or two.  Or simultaneous ear twitching.  That's really tough to do, people.

In short, Muppets Most Wanted is fun for the fans, and pleasant enough for friends of the fans.  And if you're a dog, you'll have a good time too.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ask Toto #52

Dear Toto:

My owner takes me walking in parks a lot, and I love every single second of it.  But I notice that we run into quite a few dogs who aren't on a leash.  I don't know how I feel about this, I'm very conflicted.  Part of me wishes I could be free like them, but then part of me wishes they would play by the rules.  Any thoughts?

- Conflicted In Griffith Park.

Hi Conflicted!

Boy, I hear you on that for sure.  it's the classic The Rules Don't Apply To Me conundrum.  Humans love the idea of them and their dog romping around the trails on hikes, and they don't necessarily realize that just because their dog is well behaved off leash doesn't mean other dogs are.  Most owners who know their dogs are gonna get snappy keep them on a leash, but then here comes a dog off leash and suddenly you have a nightmare.  A nightmare you wouldn't have if everyone simply followed the rules.

Not to mention the fact that if you let your dog off leash in Griffith Park (or any park, for that matter) then you run the risk of encountering not very nice park critters like snakes or coyotes or stuff.  It may feel like your owner is encroaching on your sense of freedom by having you on leash, but they're really keeping you safe.

As to the rule breakers, you can console yourself by knowing they're most likely coming home with dirt, burrs, and fleas all over them.

thanks for the question!

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