Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Muppets

Full disclosure: the Muppets aren't really my thing. Yes, they're cute, and when I was little, I was a fan; I should be a fan, because I grew up in the '90s. Spontaneous singing and dancing can be fun, too, especially when the creatures doing the singing and dancing are cute. However, contrary to the views that make up the 100% on Rotten Tomatoes the movie currently has at the time of this writing, I thought the movie was cute but still not really my thing. I fully expect staunch Muppets fans to gasp in horror at this, and perhaps throw rotten tomatoes at me. Disney hopes there are enough Muppets fans around (or that they can make new fans of it) to fill the theaters for this movie, and fans of the Muppets will probably like this film and still see it anyways, regardless of this review.

To celebrate their ten year anniversary, Gary (Jason Segel, Bad Teacher) takes girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams, The Fighter) on a trip to Los Angeles. However, he can't leave his little brother Walter (a Muppet, though he doesn't know it) behind, as Walter is obsessed with the Muppets and wants to see the Muppet Theater in L.A. When they get to L.A., though, the Muppets Theater is empty and deserted. Walter sneaks into what used to be Kermit's office, and overhears a conversation between some other Muppets and the evil oil tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper, The Tempest), who has told the Muppets that he is going to make their former theater into a museum, but actually plans to knock it down so he can dig for oil there. Walter, Gary, and Mary have to find Kermit and together round up the rest of the gang, as they need to make $10 million to buy the land outright so that Tex won't demolish the theater.

There were a lot of song and dance numbers that were cute, and a lot of cameos, including Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Jack Black (as himself), Whoopi Goldberg, Alan Arkin, Jim Parsons, and more. I liked that the movie knew it was being "campy" - at one point, Amy Adams says "This is going to be a really short movie!" and Jason Segel begs for a rest, since he says he is tired from doing that "last dance number."

What was interesting to me is that the movie itself was not really a "stand alone" movie. Disney is banking on nostalgia, and people already knowing these characters  and their traits and personality quirks; Kermit and Miss Piggy are pretty famous, but I didn't know who some of the other Muppets were. The movie critic for Rolling Stone says that "the challenge Disney has with The Muppets is to show a new generation what the fuss was all about," and he agrees that they do this, but in my mind the film was more about bringing back the old characters that everyone loved, and showing them that they can still be funny in a modern-age, 2011 movie.

Maybe see this film. If you are a fan of the Muppets, or have kids, you/they will most likely like this movie. I think I was probably in the minority of the people in the screening I went to who didn't completely love it, and this was evident by the way all the kids were yelling "Mahna-Mahna!" after they left the theater (and, I admit, that part was pretty catchy). However, I've seen better animated/kids movies in the past few months than Muppets, and perhaps that's why, ultimately, I was disappointed in it.

The Muppets is in theaters today, November 23rd, and is rated PG with a runtime of 110 minutes.

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