The pop fore­cast

Miss Piggy, Ker­mit and the gang re­turn to the­atres,

Ottawa Citizen - - ARTS - CHRIS LACKNER

Here is what’s on the radar screen in TV, mu­sic and film for the com­ing week.

MOVIES

Big re­lease on Nov. 23: The Muppets

Big pic­ture: You had us at the word Muppets. Jim Hen­son’s trea­sured cre­ations aim to make a cul­tural come­back — both within the movie and within our world — in this new film that marks the re­turn of Ker­mit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo and the rest of their odd­ball gang. Co-star­ring Ja­son Segel and Amy Adams, the story finds the manic, wise-crack­ing pup­pets re­unit­ing for a telethon in or­der to save their old Mup­pet The­atre.

Fore­cast: In an age of Trans­form­ers, Lind­say Lo­han, Jersey Shore and the mind-numb­ing Kar­dashi­ans, we need some­thing that en­ter­tains with­out ex­plod­ing, im­plod­ing or over-ex­pos­ing. It may not be easy be­ing green, but we feel your pain, Ker­mit. Funny how a group of pup­pets made of felt and foam can feel far more real than many of our cur­rent hu­man celebri­ties. A warm wel­come back to “the most sen­sa­tional, in­spi­ra­tional, cel­e­bra­tional, mup­peta­tional” show on earth. This is what we call the Mup­pet show.

Honourable men­tion: Hugo. Martin Scors­ese di­rects this fam­i­lyfriendly story about an or­phan liv­ing in a Paris train sta­tion in the 1920s, who is drawn into a vis­ually stun­ning 3-D ad­ven­ture. As one char­ac­ter says: “It’s Nev­er­land and Oz and Trea­sure Is­land all wrapped in one.” Sure it is. But this is Scors­ese, af­ter all. My guess is the film ends with Hugo re­al­iz­ing the ad­ven­ture was all in his head and he’s crazy and im­pris­oned on Shut­ter Is­land.

TV

Big events: Ice Age: A Mam­moth Christ­mas (Nov. 24, FOX, 8 p.m.); Hap­pi­ness is a Warm Blan­ket, Char­lie Brown (Nov. 24, CTV, 8:30 p.m.)

Big pic­ture: Get in the hol­i­day spirit with two new Christ­mas spe­cials. Ice Age is based on the suc­cess­ful film fran­chise. When Sid the sloth is con­vinced he’s on Santa’s naughty list, the pre­his­toric gang takes off for the North Pole to have a tête-à-tête with the Fat Man him­self. Of course, a woolly mam­moth in a toy shop is akin to a bull and china. Af­ter they ac­ci­den­tally de­stroy Santa’s work­shop, its time for Sid, Manny and com­pany to save Christ­mas. Mean­while, the Peanuts crew re­turns to help Li­nus cope with the pend­ing loss of his fuzzy child­hood blan­ket.

Fore­cast: Ray Ro­mano will again prove how much less an­noy­ing he is when play­ing an an­i­mated an­i­mal; Snoopy and Char­lie will make you smile.

Hon­or­able men­tion: Web Ther­apy (Nov. 22, The Movie Net­work, Movie Cen­tral). A spe­cial pre­view day, this se­ries will be avail­able free online at movienet­work.ca and moviecen­tral.ca, as well as on many cable sub­scribers’ video-on-de­mand ser­vices. Web Ther­apy stars Lisa Kudrow as an ec­cen­tric, nar­cis­sis­tic ther­a­pist who treats her par­ents in three-minute weekly we­b­cam ses­sions. The cast of reg­u­lar pa­tients in­cludes char­ac­ters played by Jane Lynch ( Glee), Rashida Jones ( Parks and Re­cre­ation) and Courteney Cox. I as­sume Matthew Perry and David Sch­wim­mer were asked to ini­tial- ly help out their former Friend, but their fic­tional ther­apy ses­sions got a lit­tle “too real.” The se­ries will be­gin air­ing reg­u­larly in early 2012.

MU­SIC

Big re­leases on Nov. 22: Nick­el­back, Here and Now

Big pic­ture: Crit­ics love to hate them, but their many fans love to love them. Just in time to make Santa’s naughty list, Canada’s Nick­el­back re­turns with an all-new al­bum. Their lat­est sin­gle, Bot­toms Up, a power-chord-driven thumper de­voted to drink­ing and de­bauch­ery, prom­ises “Hell can’t han­dle all of us.” I agree. Spend­ing eter­nity lis­ten­ing to the band would be too cruel — even for Hell. Nick­el­back front­man Chad Kroeger has promised a heav­ier, more di­verse al­bum. To be fair, the sin­gle When We Stand To­gether of­fers a bal­lad that aims higher than the band’s usual “booze and bed­ding” lyrics, fo­cus­ing on our wil­ful ig­no­rance of war, famine and waste, and asks, “How can we fall asleep at night when some­thing is clearly wrong?” I truly ad­mire the sen­ti­ment (If only Kroeger had felt the same way about his mu­sic three or four al­bums ago). But true fans need not worry about Kroeger “go­ing Bono.” With tracks on the al­bum like Gotta Get Me Some and Mid­night Queen, there’s still plenty to grunt about around the camp­fire. Sam­ple lyric: “She’s gonna be my sex ma­chine/ She’s gonna climb all over me.”

Fore­cast: The ti­tle Here and Now amuses me, be­cause, ev­ery time Nick­el­back’s mu­sic plays, I want to be Some­where Else and 30 Sec­onds Be­fore the Song Started. But what do I know? The band has sold more than 30 mil­lion al­bums world­wide; I’ve sold zero.

The Muppets re­unite for a telethon to save the Mup­pet The­atre.

JOHN MA­JOR, THE OT­TAWA CIT­I­ZEN

Nick­el­back’s Chad Kroeger promised a heav­ier, more di­verse al­bum in Here and Now, but much of it is the same old ‘booze and bed­ding.’

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