Sunday, November 27, 2011

Movie Review: "The Muppets"

When a new installment of a movie franchise is released after a number of years have elapsed since the last one, there is always concern whether the new movie will be able to capture the magic of the series. Where The Muppets is concerned, the answer is a resounding yes.

It has been nearly 13 years since the last movie starring the Muppets, the middling Muppets from Space. The world certainly has changed since 1999—puppets, when they exist at all, are edgier and more satirical (think Triumph the Insult Comic Dog or the characters from Mystery Science Theater 3000 or Crank Yankers)—they don't wonder why there are so many songs about rainbows, they don't sing with chickens or tell corny jokes. And it is precisely that world that The Muppets is set in, which probably adds to its appeal.

Gary (lifelong Muppet fan Jason Segel, who co-wrote the script), his Muppet-obsessed brother, Walter, and his girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams) set off for a trip to Los Angeles to visit the famed Muppet Studios. When they arrive at the rundown landmark, Walter overhears the plans of evil oilman Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to tear down the studios and drill for oil...if the Muppets don't raise 10 million dollars in two weeks. Walter and his pals track Kermit down, and it turns out that the Muppet crew hasn't been in touch for a long time. Kermit is at first reluctant to try and track everyone down, but eventually joins Walter, Gary, and Mary on an expedition to reunite the old gang and put on a telethon in the old Muppet Show model to raise the money. But things aren't as easy as they seem—there's one key holdout among the Muppets, no network wants to give them a chance because they're no longer relevant, and then there's the matter of finding a celebrity host...

Will the entire Muppets gang reunite? Will they be able to raise enough money to foil Tex Richman? (Cue maniacal laugh...) Will they be able to find a celebrity host? And will Walter decide whether he wants to return to his home in Smalltown or join the Muppets? Well, needless to say, there's not a lot of suspense to be had, but that doesn't detract from a second of the movie's appeal. It's campy, funny, corny, and heartwarming, from the celebrity cameos (Selena Gomez, Modern Family's Rico Rodriguez, John Krasinski, Neil Patrick Harris, etc.) to the kitschy musical numbers, but ultimately, the movie had me from Statler and Waldorf's first insults, not to mention The Rainbow Connection.

Having eagerly anticipated the Muppets' return for months, I can say that the movie wasn't quite as great as I had hoped, but it was tremendously enjoyable. Definitely a fun trip down memory lane...

No comments:

Post a Comment