In Theaters Review of The Muppets: Believe the hype—one of the best movies of the year has arrived. A must-see for fans of the ’70s TV series, their parents, AND their kids. So it’s basically a must-see for everyone.
Oh, how I used to love The Muppet Show. That Miss Piggy… I tell ya, there was something about her no-nonsense attitude and blunt, take charge nature that resonated with me even as a young girl. (This connection resulted in the purchase of a very cool 18″ Miss Piggy hand-puppet doll that I’m sure my parents still have hidden away in a closet somewhere. I need to find that thing now!) The songs, the bad (on purpose) jokes, the awesome guest stars, those two old dudes (Statler and Waldorf) who’d heckle the rest of the gang… they just don’t make shows like that anymore. Nor has there been a movie based on the Muppets for a long, long time. That’s why I was eager to see what direction The Muppets would take and if it would be able to revive the passion I once had for the wonderful universe Jim Henson created.
My only trepidation was related to Jason Segel’s deep involvement with the franchise’s reboot (he not only stars in the film, but also co-wrote it with Nicholas Stoller). I’ve just never taken to the guy. I don’t find him funny or charming, but rather just barely tolerable. However, once I learned that he was co-starring alongside Amy Adams—who’s one of my Top 5 favorite actresses—I felt better. Surely this Academy Award nominee (three times over) wouldn’t attach herself to a project that would destroy the memory of something her own generation held so dear, right? Another plus was that James Bobin (Da Ali G Show, Flight of the Conchords) was on board to direct.
In The Muppets, Segel and Adams play Gary and Mary, a couple who’ve been dating for quite some time. They plan to spend a milestone anniversary in Los Angeles, and Mary couldn’t be more excited for their trip… until she learns that Gary’s brother Walter (brought to life by Peter Linz) is going to tag along. It’s clear that Gary has always prioritized spending time with his brother (who’s the world’s biggest Muppets fan… probably because he actually is one but doesn’t realize it) over everything else, but Mary’s determined not to let Walter’s presence stand in the way of a wonderful vacation. After all, Gary promised that they’d at least spend a romantic dinner together—alone—one night of the trip.
But their best-laid plans soon go awry when a conversation overheard during tour of the old Muppets Theater (now in ruins) reveals that evil oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) plans to destroy the theater in order to drill underneath it for black gold. Unless, that is, the Muppets somehow come up with $10 million, and quickly. The thing is, the Muppets don’t even know about any of this.
So of course Walter (and by default, Gary) feels its his duty to warn his heroes about Richman’s intentions. They quickly track down Kermit, but the frog doesn’t exactly give them the reaction they’d expected. Kermit would hate to see his old theater destroyed, but he hasn’t spoken to any of the other Muppets in years. Yep, even Piggy.
Will Gary, Mary, and Walter convince Kermit that he MUST do something? Will they be able to find the rest of the original crew? Will they be able to pull off a fund-raising show after having not performed on stage for decades? Or will evil triumph?!?!
Now, what do you think? It’s The Muppets!
While I figured that watching all of the furry and felt-covered friends from my childhood reunite would be a touching experience, I really wasn’t prepared for exactly how much The Muppets would affect me. I welled up several times over, and then a Kermit-Piggy duet of “The Rainbow Connection” finally pushed me over the edge. I’m trying really hard not to sound like an old biddy here, but I do think there’s something to be said for the innocence and goofy humor and straightforward messages about loyalty and friendship that the old Muppet Show had on display week after week back in the mid-’70s. And now, thirty years later when we’re bombarded on a daily basis by scandal and bad news and depressing statistics and fools on reality TV, to say that something like The Muppets is a nice chance of pace is a ridiculous understatement. It’s not just a change of pace, or a breath of fresh air, or any other cliche I can come up with–the movie is necessary. Essential. Critical, even. Yes, I’ll go as far to say that it’s a critical reminder that it’s possible to both make (directed at Hollywood) and enjoy (directed at the movie-going public) a movie that has musical numbers and kid humor and self-referential, sarcastic adult humor and action and suspense AND an important message.
So would you enjoy The Muppets if you’ve had absolutely no exposure to its characters in the past? Absolutely. Sure, it makes the film a lot more fun when you recognize some of the minor players you once loved but then totally forgot about (There’s Sweetums! There’s Beauregard!), but it’s not like you’re not going to understand what’s going on or have any less fun watching the choreographed dance numbers or listening to the corny jokes.
There are a lot of films competing for your attention and dollars this holiday season. Not all of them are appropriate for movie-lovers of every age, and 85% of them weren’t created with the passion and heart behind The Muppets. I am a bit worried that the extensive marketing for and exhaustive hype of the movie will actually deter some folks from seeing it (“Enough with The Muppets already!”). So let me end on this note: You owe it to yourself, your kids, your parents, and heck, even your grandparents, to head to the theater and spend some time with Segel, Adams, and their colorful friends. You will leave a happier person. When’s the last time I’ve been able to make a guarantee that bold? (Answer: Never.)
Do you love love LOVE The Muppets?
Then you’re in luck! Some of their best films are returning to Redbox in the next few weeks.
Set up reminders for the release of: