Ty Burrell

Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig in the Skeleton Twins

The Skeleton Twins is the kind of movie that you can watch and know, with 100% certainty, that it premiered at Sundance. It features big-time comedic actors turning in subdued, “against type” performances in a story heavy on melancholy and dark themes, which wraps up said themes in a suspiciously tidy fashion that runs counter to real emotional insight. It’s perfectly suited for the limousine liberals who flock to Park City each year, looking to be engaged but not challenged in any big way. All of this might sound harsh (because, well, it sort of is), but The Skeleton Twins actually isn’t bad — just aggressively average. Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader plaly Maggie and Milo, twins who were once thick as thieves, but who haven’t spoken in ten years. They’re brought back together after Milo unsuccessfully tries to kill himself (and hearing news of this interrupts Maggie’s own suicide attempt). Milo moves in with Maggie and her husband Lance (Luke Wilson) to recuperate, and the two brood over their lives and what exactly went wrong with them.

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Muppets Most Wanted

One problem facing Muppets Most Wanted is that it follows up 2011’s The Muppets, which saw everyone’s favorite gaggle of vaudevillian weirdos taking part in a giant reunion in order to save both their theater and the rights to their name. The Great Muppet Caper (which this film cribs more than a little from) was content to put the Muppets in a genre plot rather than try to top the origin story of The Muppet Movie. Most Wanted again tries to pluck the heartstrings, separating Kermit from the rest of the Muppets and putting him in a crisis as he thinks his family has abandoned him (when really they’ve only failed to notice that he’s been replaced by a doppelgänger… which isn’t much better). But it can’t match the emotional tug of seeing the Muppets getting back together. Escalating the stakes with each new sequel doesn’t really work for this franchise. At this rate, the next Muppet film might actually kill someone off (psst, if that does happen, please get rid of Walter).

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Mr Peabody and Sherman

If a boy can adopt a dog, surely a dog can adopt a boy – at least, if said dog is a certified genius that graduated as the “valedogtorian” from Harvard, is a captain of industry, and advises some of the world’s top political leaders. And if he’s also capable of building a time machine. Oh, and also if he’s just desperate for his own home and family, having never been adopted from the puppy farm. Fine, really just that last one. In Rob Minkoff’s Mr. Peabody & Sherman, the Lion King director takes on the classic comedy of mismatched father-son duo, Mr. Peabody (the dog) and Sherman (the kid), with some impressive rewards. Loosely based on a segment from the sixties-era The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, the animated outing follows the adventures of Peabody and Sherman as their personal time travel machine, the WABAC (pronounced “way back”), stirs up some unexpected complications, sending the duo and a new pal careening through time and space.

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Muppets in MUPPETS MOST WANTED

Listen, I know that people are frustrated over the constant barrage of sequels, remakes and adaptations in popular film. And yes, Muppets Most Wanted does technically count as a sequel. But sometimes harsh criticisms can get a little too harsh, like the latest claim that the next Muppets film won’t be nearly as good as 2011’s The Muppets, that the Muppets have no real fans, and that Disney is just killing time with this one “while they wait for Tom Hanks to make Toy Story 4.” Ouch. You might be wondering who would level such a complaint against a near-universally beloved group of terrifying puppet creatures, and… ok, it’s the Muppets that have picked a fight with Muppets Most Wanted. It seems many a Muppet is upset at being drafted into another unnecessary sequel, and the group has decided to air its complaints with the public at large. But they’ve done so by breaking out into joyous song and dance (the way all sequel grief should be expressed from now on), and their list of grievances is also Muppets Most Wanted‘s opening number, which has just debuted online.

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Ty Burrell. Stephen Colbert. Patrick Warburton. Leslie Mann. Mel Brooks. One would think, with that caliber of cast, that truly great comedy could be the only result. But, as the trailer for Mr. Peabody & Sherman suggests, even the greatest of comedy minds can occasionally be led astray by a talking dog and his time machine. The average Mr. Peabody & Sherman cartoon would see the canny canine and his pet boy traveling back into the past to right some historical wrong, and the film version is essentially the same thing on a grander scale. Sherman uses the WABAC (pronounced “Wayback”) machine to impress a girl and accidentally explodes history. Now, the titular duo – plus one suitably impressed girl – go on some grand Bill & Ted-style adventure, rounding up various historical figures for some reason that’s not inherently obvious in the actual trailer. Burrell seems to have his “intellectually distinguished dog” voice down pat, and the rest of the cast (from what little can be gleamed from the trailer) are doing an equally OK job considering the quality of lines they’ve been given. The amount of poop jokes may be a bit too high for the average consumer, but something tells me this isn’t really being made for a distinguished, non-poop-joke-enjoying crowd. Check out the trailer below:

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diddy muppets most wanted

If you’ve ever wanted to see a Muppet sing “Moves Like Jagger,” here’s your chance. The teaser trailer for the sequel to The Muppets has arrived, and Muppets Most Wanted has some familiar faces and some very famous faces partying down while also entangled in an international crime spree. The world’s most conniving criminal is apparently Kermit’s doppelganger, who takes his sidekick (Ricky Gervais) around the world causing mayhem as they get chased down by the rest of the Muppets crew, along with an intrepid Interpol agent played by a mustachioed Ty Burell. Tina Fey also pops up as a no-nonsense Russian prison guard with a penchant for fantastic fur hats. Not much of the plot is revealed in the teaser, but it does show the broader aspects of what the movie will be about: big, flashy musical numbers, corny jokes and the triumph of the good guys over the bad guys. It’s a Muppet movie – it wouldn’t be complete without any of those things. I find it interesting, though, that Disney is marketing this as a sequel to The Muppets. Shouldn’t it be more of a standalone film, when there have already been so many Muppet ventures?

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Jack Reynor

What is Casting Couch? It’s a casting roundup that’s knee deep in nostalgia as it reports on movies based on comic books and toys from its childhood. Due to a little bit of inspiration from the Internet, Michael Bay gave Mark Wahlberg a pretty big part in his upcoming fourth Transformers movie. It’s always been understood that Wahlberg was playing a placeholder character though, who would pass the franchise off to a couple of young kids who would be pushed into the forefront as it went forward. Well, today Bay announced that he’s found the male half of this new duo. Apparently little known Irish actor Jack Reynor is his guy. Bay says that he saw Reynor in an Irish movie called What Richard Did, which a quick Googling tells me has nothing to do with acting opposite giant robots, so let’s all hope he knows what he’s talking about.

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Kevin Hart

What is Casting Couch? It’s a handy one-stop source for all the casting news that broke while you were sleeping in over the weekend. Not only are Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart two of the most hilarious comic actors working today, they’re also two of the most famous funny people on the planet. So the fact that they’re going to be teaming up for a new comedy from Key & Peele showrunners Ian Roberts and Jay Martel is potentially big news. The pitch they’ll be working from, which Deadline says Warner Bros. is currently negotiating to acquire, is for a film called Get Hard, which will cast Ferrell as a yuppie investment banker who gets sentenced to a maximum security prison, and Hart as the streetwise guy he hires to teach him how to handle life on the inside before he has to report in 30 days. Montage fans should take note, because it sounds like this is the sort of movie that’s going to have a lot of them.

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George Clooney

What is Casting Couch? The day’s casting news, all in one place, because you’re a very busy person. At this point we don’t know anything concrete about the secret project Brad Bird is directing over at Disney. It’s largely being developed under the code name 1952, but for a minute it was being called Tesla. It’s rumored to be a science fiction film involving aliens, but in what regard isn’t clear. It’s said that Disney is thinking of it as a major tentpole release, but why it would have such mass appeal is being kept under wraps. All we have is rumors. And the latest rumor for the pile, courtesy of Variety, is that The Facts of Life star George Clooney is currently negotiating to star. If this proves to be true and Bird lands Clooney, that would be a pretty big step toward making this the blockbuster sort of feature that Disney wants it to be. And, generally, what Disney wants, Disney gets.

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Jennifer Garner in Butter

Editor’s note: With Butter finally hitting theaters tomorrow, here’s a re-run of our AFI FEST review, originally published on November 8, 2011, to spread all over your movie theater popcorn. Jim Field Smith’s Butter has been packaged and sold as its own consumable commodity – as some sort of smart, politically-minded satire. Butter is certainly funny in spats, but smart satire it is not, as there are no hard lessons taught or learned within the film. It may be too easy to say that Butter goes soft by its end – but the wording works here, both in terms of a mildly clever food pun and as an actual critique of how the film flip-flops with its tone and message before settling on an easy conclusion. The world of competitive butter-carving is hilarious and bizarre, a fine setting for a straight comedy that culminates with a character incredulously summing up its ridiculousness – “you put it on toast!” – but everything in Smith’s film is just too obvious to transcend basic laughs.

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Jennifer Garner in Butter

What exactly is Butter? Is it a mock-heroic portrayal of a small town woman’s overblown political aspirations? A domestic story about a man addicted to strip clubs? An inspirational tale about a hard-luck orphan discovering talent and motivation? From what can be discerned by watching its new trailer, Butter would appear to be all of these things. And it would also appear to be a semi-comedic look at the world of competitive butter carving (which is a real thing, and totally worth a Google). At first glance all of that seems likely to be, both figuratively and literally, pretty messy. Can one movie pull off packing in this many disparate plot threads without losing focus and collapsing under its own weight? And are we really expected to watch a comedy about people carving butter that isn’t being brought to the screen by Christopher Guest and his usual cast of players? No, under most circumstances Butter wouldn’t look like a movie worth giving a chance at all – but just look at that laundry list of great people involved.

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Editor’s note: Goats lands in limited this week, determined to gnaw on theater chairs, popcorn buckets, and actual moviegoers, so give our Sundance review a read before heading into that situation. This review was originally published on January 27, 2012. Ellis (Graham Phillips) has grown up in a less-than-average household. Ellis lives in Tuscon, Arizona with his mother Wendy (Vera Farmiga), a free spirit who relies on Ellis to make sure their bills are paid on time while she seems to still be “finding herself.” Add to this Goat Man (David Duchovny), who tends to their pool and garden (as well as his own “garden”) and lives on the property with, you guessed it, his goats. Despite this rather unusual upbringing, Ellis seems more than well-adjusted and the film focuses on his recent decision to attend an East Coast prep school, Gates Academy, which his father Frank (Ty Burrell) also attended. Considering Wendy refers to Frank as “Fucker Frank,” it is clear this decision is not one she is happy about.

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Goats Movie 2012

Goats, the directorial debut of acting coach Christopher Neil, looks crunchy. Vera Farmiga plays a New Age mom concerned more about appearing mainstream than how her son might be faring, and David Duchovny plays a bearded free spirit who hangs out with goats all the time. He once saw one born inside out. True story. However, the film really focuses on Ellis (Graham Phillips), who has to deal with a hippie mother, a spirit animal of a father figure and a real father (played by Ty Burell) who hasn’t been in the picture until Ellis heads off to a boarding school. It looks more lighthearted than leaden drama, and hopefully Farmiga’s character is as big a cartoon as this trailer makes her out to be. Even if it ends up being cheesy, Duchovny and his inability to use stamps seems to be reason enough to give it a look. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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At one point, Robert Downey, Jr. was set to voice the genius time-traveling dog from Rocky and Bullwinkle fame, but now according to The Hollywood Reporter Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell will be filling in for his vocal chords. Burrell started in movies with Evolution (raise your hand if you remember it and/or still have a poster for it in the bedroom closet at your parent’s house) and went on to bit roles in stuff like Dawn of the Dead (2004), National Treasure: Book of Secrets and The Incredible Hulk. Of course, he’s reached a far bigger audience on the ABC show that’s won 39 awards and been nominated for nearly one hundred more. Now, he’ll be playing a dog. It’s the dream, people. Lion King director Rob Minkoff will be directing Mr. Peabody and Sherman, the story of a brilliant, talking dog and his young human being sidekick who hop into their WABAC machine in order to explore history. In the movie version, they’ll be hot on the trail of someone who’s stolen a time machine and is changing historical events with wacky results. It seems like a perfect fit for DreamWorks Animation, and it’ll be interesting to see how they pull off the absurdity of history constantly changing with our heroes locked in it.

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Editor’s Note: This article will be updated in real time as the winners come in during the Primetime Emmys broadcast. Winners will be highlighted in bold and you can check out the winners that were already announced at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. The very first Emmy Award was given to a ventriloquist named Shirley Dinsdale who worked with a puppet called Judy Splinters. Is that significant? Of course it is. That fact coupled with the design of the award itself – a woman holding an atom – represent the true heart of television’s most significant celebration: artistic inspiration, scientific technology, and wooden humanoids that only talk with a hand shoved up their back. Ponder that while you bask in the glory of the victorious. Here are the winners of the 2011 Primetime Emmy Awards.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr puts on a wizard’s robe, wears a colorful scarf and dances around in the woods with his magic wand yelling, “Stupify!” And that’s just to celebrate the release of Fair Game in his home town. He also takes a look at this little independent film that few people have even heard of, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I. Sadly, a bizarre mishap with his wizarding skills causes a boulder to fall on his hand and pin him for 93 minutes, which was actually quite fortunate because it gave him just enough time to watch 127 Hours.

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