Before the end of 2011, a lot of kids probably weren’t very familiar with the Muppets. That’s a shame because for many people, they were a huge part of our childhood. Even looking back on the movies now, they hold up remarkably well.
Thanks to the efforts of Jason Segel (he acts and co-wrote) the characters have been resurrected on the big screen. What grandiose title was the film given that reflects their journey to the potential viewer? Perhaps as a clear statement of purpose, it was merely called ‘The Muppets.’
Gary (Segel) and Walter (voiced by Peter Linz) are two brothers living in a small town called…uhhh…Smalltown. The main difference between the two is the Walter was born a Muppet. Yeah, I don’t get it either. Anyway, they grew up fans of the Muppet Show and are now adults. It has been a long time since anyone has seen or heard from Kermit The Frog, Miss. Piggy, Gonzo or anyone else.
Gary is in a relationship with a teacher named Mary (Amy Adams) and to celebrate their tenth anniversary, he decides to take her to Los Angeles. Always inseparable, Gary also takes his brother along so he can fulfill a dream and tour the Muppet Theater.
Upon arrival, the theater is in disrepair. It is neglected and the Muppets themselves have been largely ignored by the current generation. Thanks to some exploring, Walter listens in and hears a business deal that will sell the theater to Tex Richman (Chris Cooper). His true goal is to tear down the landmark and drill for oil. If the Muppets can scrape together $10 million, then they can save the theater. What are the odds of that, though?
Gary and Walter go on a quest to track down the Muppets and reunite them so they can get the band back together and raise the money. It’s been a long time and they have all gone on to lead wildly different lives. Will they even want to relive their pasts? Will anyone care?
It’s worth mentioning that this is the first Muppets film where the humans have as much, if not more screen time than their puppet co-stars. Every other movie was really in the Muppets’ world and a few humans inhabited it. This is the inverse. At times, they really seem to be playing a supporting role. You could also make the case that the end seems a little rushed, but that’s an incredibly minor point.
This is still a product of people who are very passionate about all things Muppet. More than a revival of the old franchise, it’s also a celebration. It has been an awfully long time since there was a genuinely good Muppets movie. That’s even true if you were among those who liked ‘Muppet Treasure Island.’ For awhile there, it seemed as though the characters were condemned to be relics of the 70’s and 80’s. This theme is heavily explored by the story. Where do they fit in modern times?
The story also has a lot of fun getting us up to date on the characters and explaining what they have been doing all of this time. Absurd humor, timing and jabs at Hollywood are what fuel the chuckles here. As an added bonus, you get Chris Cooper rapping at one point!
As the movies and the show worked when they were at their best, children and adults can both enjoy this equally. This is one of the rare family movies that can honestly boast that. Some of the many cameos will go over the heads of young viewers, but that’s alright.
There is also a musical side to the film which acknowledges many current trends. Some of the music can be attributed to Bret McKenzie, best-known for ‘Flight of the Conchords.’ In fact, he won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Special features include: nothing on the one disc DVD edition. For that, you need to spring for the bonus edition which has a download code for the soundtrack and a blooper reel. You can also go with an oversized Blu Ray package which has even more features.
Maybe ‘The Muppets’ is a self-conscious victory lap. For a lot of people, it’s the first legitimate Muppets movie to be made in their lifetimes (the straight to DVD holiday specials and whatever else has appeared don’t really count) so to them, this is a very fitting introduction. For the rest of us, these little hand puppets have more personality than half of the working actors in Hollywood these days.
Rated PG 103 minutes 2012
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When J.J. Ellis isn’t writing as the Allentown DVD Examiner, his Decent Exposure Radio can be heard on the air every Friday night from 10:30 to midnight (EST) on WXLV 90.3 FM or wxlvradio.com!