The Muppets-attachment0

The Muppets

Movie Information

The Story: Kermit the Frog and gang must reunite to save their old theater. The Lowdown: A sufficiently warm-hearted nostalgia trip that will play best to diehard Muppets fans.
Score:

Genre: Musical Puppet Comedy
Director: James Bobin
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones
Rated: PG

If you carry plenty of nostalgia for The Muppets and have been expectantly waiting for them to return to the big screen, you will be more than satisfied with this loving and respectful reboot of Jim Henson’s foam-filled creations. The Muppets is exactly what any self-respecting Muppet fan will want out of the movie. At the same time, the film holds little else of value for anyone who wasn’t weened on Kermit and company.

My only real childhood Muppet encounters were Kermit the Frog’s occasional appearances on Sesame Street. Perhaps screenwriters Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller anticipated this sort of generational divide, setting the story in a world where The Muppets are mostly forgotten, washed-up former stars. After a bit of extraneous set-up involving Segel’s very human Gary and his brother Walter (voiced by Sesame Street alum Peter Linz), who’s quite obviously a puppet (perhaps their milkman was Howdy Doody), the plot kicks in. After stumbling upon the diabolical plan of an oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), who wants to tear down the old Muppet Theatre, it’s up to Walter, Gary and Gary’s girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) to reassemble the Muppets and to put on a telethon. From there, your enjoyment of the film is wholly dependent on how much you’re on its wavelength of jokey Vaudevillian musical numbers and meta-humor.

Saying that, there’s nothing really wrong with the movie. The film is enjoyable, mostly due to lead Jason Segel, but less because of his schmaltzy character in the film and more because of his co-written script. This is a man who has regularly gone on record about his love of The Muppets, and this care is evident throughout the movie. Most of the best humor is drawn from inside jokes and postmodern fourth wall-breaking, all of it driven by a sense of wistful nostalgia. And that’s the whole point. Perhaps reboot is the wrong term to use for The Muppets, as its actually more of a reintroduction, as the whole purpose is to remind the world about The Muppets.

While the jokes are occasionally clever—and usually work better when there’s a degree of subtlety at hand—the litmus test really comes down to whether or not you can honestly care for the trials and tribulations of a foam pig, or if you can stomach the idea of hearing “The Rainbow Connection” for the billionth time. Fans will certainly be pleased, while everyone else—despite the film’s pleasantness—will still be left wondering what the big deal is. Rated PG for some mild rude humor.

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5 thoughts on “The Muppets

  1. Ken Hanke

    I think it requires a vested interest in/fondness for the Muppets, though. I have neither. I don’t object to the movie, but I have no interest in seeing it.

  2. Edwin Arnaudin

    It’s generally a good time. The benefit show itself is somewhat of a letdown after a strong build-up and Segel and Adams are bubbly but flat. Perhaps only the likes of Michael Caine, Tim Curry, and…um…Charles Grodin can truly hang with the Muppets? Thoroughly enjoyed the “Flight of the Conchords” songs, though.

    I agree that you must WANT to see the Muppets to enjoy the film. Plenty of children (who likely know Elmo far more than Kermit) were naturally at my screening and I wonder what they thought of it.

  3. Ken Hanke

    An interesting point. The only Muppet from my childhood was the dog (Ralph?) on the old Jimmy Dean Show (pre-sausage business). I think this has some bearing.

  4. Vince Lugo

    Jim Henson would have been proud of this film. The real trick here was updating the Muppets for a post-Facebook, post-American Idol, post-Twilight world while still retaining that indefinable something that makes them unique and at the same time making people care about them again and remind people why they ever cared in the first place. In this regard, Jason Segal and company have succeeded marvelously where Disney has failed in the past few years. Seeing them redo the Muppet Show intro sent a shiver down my spine. However, I feel that the novelization (which was presumably based on an earlier draft) has a better ending than the film, in which the Muppets need one more dollar to save the theater and Statler and Waldorf give them that dollar because they felt that Walter’s act was worth it. After heckling them for so long, it would have made for a really poignant and moving conclusion. That minor quibble aside, the film as a whole is a fantastic piece of work and absolutely the best Muppet production since Muppets Tonight ended its woefully short run. It would be nice to get a new Muppet Show out of this (they already built the theater set, after all), but failing that, hopefully we won’t have to wait another twelve years for the next movie.

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