The Muppet Movie

Movie Review: The Muppets (2011)
Summary: With the help of three fans, The Muppets must reunite to save their old theater from a greedy oil tycoon.
Spoilers: none

Someone decided to really treat us with the first Disney-produced Muppet movie since 1996. The result: a release of a dam-breaking flood of memories. The Muppets have returned and it’s like they walked through a time portal.

But truth be told, I went in wanting to like the movie more than I did. With any series’ resurrection comes the responsibility not just to be nostalgic, but to tread at least some new ground. It fails at the latter, but in the case of the Muppets, who really gives a care, right?

“Gary” (Jason Segel) and “Mary” (Amy Adams) are engaged—if in a very storybook sort of way. They appear to have come right out of the 1950s. Gary’s brother “Walter” (Peter Linz, voice) is only three feet tall. He’s always felt out of place in a human world, and for good reason, as he never ended up with a family decent enough to acknowledge that he has the body of a puppet, a piece of cloth with a man’s hand in it. He is the quiet and withdrawn type. He even dresses the part. Poor Walter.

But he has always loved the Muppets. And lucky for Walter, Gary is taking Mary to LA to site-see and spend some time together. Out of pity for his undying Muppet-fan bro, who has lived with him in the same room until age 40, he’s taking Walter to see the Muppet studios.

When they arrive, Walter finds the studios in a terrible state of disrepair. In Kermit’s old office, he overhears a conversation between “Tex Richman” (Chris Cooper) who plans to buy the old, delapidated Muppet property and turn it into an oil field. I guess it’s easy to figure, why not go democrat and portray the villain as a greedy oil tycoon? It’s a Hollywood favorite.

With this unsettling news, Gary, Mary, and Walter go in search of Kermit the Frog. When they find him, they inform him, thus sparking up motivation to find and reunite the Muppets. The added challenge is to find a way to raise the necessary $10,000,000 dollars to keep the property.

The Muppet movie is a comedy-musical first for those who grew up loving the show, but it leaves no one out and is aggressive enough to capture audiences young and old. Not all of that humor gets a pass, but, as stated, we're pulling punches. And with everyone periodically breaking into musicals – some of them flamboyantly street-wide – we don’t find ourselves wanting to keep a running deductive count. Spontaneous contortions and twitching from a cast in overly-spirited dances is very disarming to critics. It throws off our radars.

Cameo appearances are too many to count, including Jack Black, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Neil Patrick Harris, and Sarah Silverman. We have an old-fashioned villain in Cooper who serves as a laughably rough parody of mega-villains. He dresses up in white gear and practices fencing in his spare time and throws things at the TV when mad. But Richman can’t do the villain laugh. His henchman must do it for him.

Miss Piggy's Competition
It is heartwarming to get to see the Muppets again, and to see them jam out to songs we’ve heard a thousand times before. A few of these furry characters you might have trouble remembering, especially the big blobbish ones that just seem to show up to fill the screen and then are not seen again. But I guess the Muppets truly are timeless. And Miss Piggy is still a bitch. She even meets competition this time around.

The movie often lags under the load of an almost insultingly predictable story. But again, we're pulling punches. Mid-way thru, there is a brief cut-down on musicals, and that’s for the better because they get somewhat cartoonish and start to seem like karaoke night at a redneck bar. Not all of these songs are written with a creative touch, I’m sorry to say.

Does the new movie stand to be counted? It does. Will it draw up new memories? Well, it kind of already has. And the film is presented to us as a high-energy and oh-so-relevant entertainment commodity. It’s like it never left our TV sets.


Grade: C+ (2 ½ stars)
Rated: G (for some mild rude humor)
Director: James Bobin
Starring: “Gary” (Jason Segel), “Mary” (Amy Adams), “Tex Richman” (Chris Cooper), “Veronica Martin” (Rashida Jones), “Kermit” / “Beaker” / “Statler” / “Rizzo” / “Link Hogthrob” / “The Newsman” (Steve Whitmire), “Miss Piggy” / “Fozzie Bear” / “Animal” / “Sam Eagle” / “Marvin Suggs” (Eric Jacobson), “Walter” (Peter Linz)
Genre: Comedy / Family / Musical