Saturday, June 15, 2024

“Knives Out” for Frank Oz, aka Yoda and the Mentor of Muppets, Has Rare On Screen Role, with Lines, in Hilarious WhoDunit


I guess only Rian Johnson could persuade Frank Oz to take an onscreen role in a comedy.

But the director of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” had the upper hand; Oz has been voicing Yoda, the rabbi of “Star Wars,” since 1977.

Oz has not only played Yoda through all the “Star Wars” movies, he’s been the motivating reason why the Muppets have gone on to fame and glory in their movies and all their TV shows following their introduction on “Sesame Street.” Oz began his career as a puppeteer, and now may be the most famous of all time. Oz has also directed some classic movies including Steve Martin’s “Bowfinger,” Kevin Kline in “In and Out,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “The Muppets Take Manhattan,” and “The Dark Crystal.”

In “Knives Out,” which wowed Toronto Film Festival audiences this past week, Oz plays the only normal character, the estate lawyer for the crazy Thrombey family. Their patriarch (Christopher Plummer) has died– either by murder or suicide– and Oz’s character presides over the reading of his last will and testament. Daniel Craig plays a mysterious investigator hired to solve the crime– with a Southern drawl, no less, he is hilarious. Among the suspects are Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Don Johnson, and Toni Collette. Ana de Armas plays Harlan Thrombey’s loyal nurses aide.

On screen previously, Oz has a couple of walk ons or cameos long forgotten. But his turn in “Knives Out.” whichopens November 27th, is his first real role with lines and a purpose. He’s only 75, so maybe this is just the beginning of a new career!  “Knives Out” already has a near perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes. But a wise choice to have Yoda advising a nutty, wealthy family. As usual he’s the voice of reason!


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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