I, like many people my age I’m sure, was a huge fan of the Muppets growing up. While I missed the initial Muppet Show and movie, I was able to see them in reruns and recordings, while shows like Muppet Babies and the Muppet Christmas Carol introduced me to Kermit and the gang in my childhood. When it was announced that The Muppets was coming to theaters, I was definitely excited. When I saw that not only was Jason Segal starring in it but also was writing the screenplay, I was all in.
The film centers on Gary (played by Segal) and his brother Walter, who is a puppet. Walter’s whole life is about worshipping the Muppets that he still watches on video, so when Gary and his girlfriend Mary (played by Amy Adams) decide to go to Los Angeles for their ten year anniversary, Gary decides to take Walter along for the ride so he can see the Muppet Theater in all its glory. Unfortunately, once they arrive they realize the Theater is rundown and in disarray from being out of use for years. Worse yet, while on a tour of the grounds, Walter overhears a plot from evil oil tycoon Tex Richman (played by Chris Cooper) that he will tear down the theater and drill for oil unless the Muppets can raise $10 million to buy it back.
With this vital information in hand, the trio tracks down Kermit the Frog and informs him of the dire situation. Realizing the only way to raise the funds in time is to reunite the Muppets and put on a show, Kermit and his new friends go about the business of collecting Fozzie Bear, Gonzo and the rest of the crew. But even if they are able to get everyone back together, does anyone even remember the Muppets anymore? Will the Muppets be able to save their Theater? Will Animal ever play the drums again?
My children didn’t want to see this film (if that isn’t indicative of the film’s theme, I don’t know what is), so my wife and I saw it without them. Still, I was surprised by not only the broad age range of people who were in the theater with us, but also how much every one of all ages seemed to enjoy the film equally. There is something there for everyone: a heartfelt story, lots of great songs, and tons of cute (mostly) and cuddly puppets doing what they do best. It is a formula that seems timeless.
The film is funny in a genuinely wholesome way, using self-effacing humor and a cartoonishly evil bad guy to move the plot along. If Cooper had twisted a pencil-thin mustache in his fingers after tying Miss Piggy to some train tracks, he couldn’t have been more of a caricature. Segal and Adams are over the top 99% of the time, but just as with Cooper it is intentional and done brilliantly, eliciting spontaneous laughter (unlike when Cooper commands his minions to maniacally laugh, which also elicits spontaneous laughter).
Still, it is the Muppets who are the front and center stars of the film, with Walter being a welcome addition to the crew. I thought he blended in nicely with Kermit and the rest of the crew, as I half expected him to be forced down our throats at the expense of the characters, but he is there when needed and disappears just as well when it requires. While I would have liked a little more Gonzo and Swedish Chef, there is plenty of Kermit and Miss Piggy drama to go around, plus enough bad Fozzie jokes to last a lifetime. While Kermit is still the star, I like that there was enough material for everyone to get some time.
Overall, I loved this film. The jokes were funny, the songs are memorable (I bought the soundtrack as soon as I got home), and the story is very good. If you aren’t someone who grew up with the Muppets, this film will make you a fan; if you were a fan from childhood, this film will remind you why. 4 out of 4 stars
This review is part of carstairs38's Fourth Annual All Things Disney Write-Off and sleeper54's Lean-n-Mean X Write-Off.
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Movie Mood: Family Movie
Viewing Method: Other
Film Completeness: Looked complete to me.
Worst Part of this Film: Nothing