Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Muppets Review

“It's time to play the music."
The Muppets are here, and they’ve arrived in style!

I love the Muppets. My childhood is filled with Muppet-y good memories. The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, Muppet Babies, and the movies – I watched them all, repeatedly. I always wanted to reenact the scene with Miss Piggy and Joan Rivers in the department store in Muppets Take Manhattan. It just looked like sooooo much fun!

When I first heard about this movie, I was really worried. I remember Space Jam, and what it did for Looney Tunes (not much). I didn’t want that to happen to my beloved characters. I started to feel a little bit better when I heard how much of a “Muppet enthusiast” Jason Segel was, but still weary. So, when I got the opportunity to go to an advanced screening of The Muppets this past weekend, I couldn’t turn it down. If it was great then I got early viewing bragging rights and if it sucked, I got a free movie.

I am happy to report it did NOT suck. In fact, it left me wanting more!

Mild Spoilers Ahead!!!

"It's time to light the lights."
The basic premise of the movie is an evil oil tycoon, Tex Richman, wants to tear down the Muppets Theater and dig for oil. The Muppets need to raise money to prevent that, and they are helped by Jason Segel’s Gary, Amy Adams’ Mary, and newcomer, Walter, Gary’s Muppet wannabe brother, voiced by Peter Linz.

What struck me the most about this movie is how respectful Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller were regarding this property. The movie is a love letter to the history of the Muppets. One of my favorite moments involves a wall of photos featuring the gang with the various hosts of The Muppet Show like Steve Martin and Julie Andrews as well as a picture of Jim Henson. There are many star-studded cameos, the fourth wall is broken repeatedly, it’s chock full of pop culture references – all the stuff that made the earlier Muppet movies classics. The nostalgia pours out the screen, and while there are plenty of nods to the past, you know you are definitely in the present with these Muppets. They’re a bit older and wiser (some of them) yet they are still the loveable gang we all know and love.

We all know no Muppet movie would be complete without music and again, the movie does not disappoint… for the most part. The songs are lively and make you want to join in. Amy Adams and Miss Piggy rocked “Me Party,” there's a barbershop quartet that's fantastic, and my absolute favorite original song was “Man or Muppet” with lyrics such as “if I’m a Muppet then I‘m a very manly Muppet,” and “if I’m a man that makes me a Muppet of a man,” and features one of the BEST cameos. A few classics are sung, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get chills and a little misty-eyed when they were.

There is however, one misstep. The evil oil tycoon’s rap, “Let’s Talk About Me,” reminded me of Spider-Man 3 and the unfortunate dance number. It’s not that Chris Cooper (the tycoon) didn’t give it his all but he is clearly not a rapper. It's the one time in the movie I felt they were trying a little too hard to be current. It did not work for me at all. Luckily, it was just the one song. 

I have spent the past few days trying to figure out how to write this review because all I really wanted to just say was “GO SEE THIS MOVIE!” Other than the one song and occasional overacting, the movie is great. Segel and Stoller outdid themselves. 

Sometimes, when fans write for their favorite franchises they concentrate on what they want and character content gets muddied (looking at you, fan fic authors) but not here. This is a near perfect blend of the past and present. It reminds us of the impact the Muppets have had and continue to have. It’s fun, makes you laugh, want to dance, and if you’re like me, maybe cry a little, but most of all, it makes you fall in love with the Muppets all over again.

"It's time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight.” 
If you’re a fan, see the movie. If you have no idea what the fuss is about, go see the movie. If you have young relatives who don’t know who the Muppets are, see the movie. In case you missed it, my message is see the movie. You won’t regret it.

*Maniacal laugh. Maniacal laugh. Maniacal laugh....*

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