MOVIE REVIEW: The Muppets
Growing up, there were three tapes that were in constant rotation in and out of my VCR: Superman, Disney’s Robin Hood, and The Great Muppet Caper. Sadly, The Muppet Show was just before my time, so it’s only been in recent years (as they’ve been released on DVD) that I’ve been able to go back and watch that. But I did grow up with Sesame Street and a tape that I made Mom and Dad play every time we got in the car that was all the greatest Muppet, Fraggle, and Sesame Street songs to date. I’ve seen all the Muppet movies, even the ones whose existence I refuse to acknowledge (I’m looking at you, Muppet Wizard of Oz). Suffice to say, I went into the movie with very high hopes.
In a word, the movie was delightful.
The reviews we’ll be posting on this site will be spoiler-free, so I’ll stay light on the plot points. But this movie serves not as a relaunch of the Muppet franchise. It takes all the wonderful movies and television shows of the past, dusts them off, and then looks to the future with a happy song in its heart. This is a return to the classic Muppet movies, before the Muppets were adapting classic literature (not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you — A Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island are my favorite versions of those stories).
There have been grumblings online by “Muppet purists” that this movie is more Jason Segel and Amy Adams’ movie, with more focus on Walter (a new Muppet) than the classic Muppets we already know and love. Their complaints are valid. The original Muppets don’t enter the story until the 20 or 30 minute mark, but once they are there, they steal the show and take over the movie, pushing all those pesky humans into the background.
It’s actually really interesting the way it happens. In the movie, the Muppets are only able secure an hour and half on television after they promise a celebrity host. One wonders if this wasn’t exactly what happened in the making of this movie. We haven’t had a true-blue Muppet movie since 1999’s Muppets From Space, and before that, 1981’s The Great Muppet Caper. A Muppet movie was a gamble for any studio, even Disney. By putting two bankable stars on the poster and as the joint leads of the film, they were able to get a wider audience’s attention. In other words, they already had my ticket. But by putting Jason Segel and Amy Adams in it, they got my wife excited to see it — and to be fair, Segel and Adams were great, delivering earnest and silly performances that complimented the Muppet tone well.
Hopefully this movie will bring about more Muppet movies, perhaps even ones with Kermit, Piggy, and Gonzo in the leads once again. I would love for the Muppets to be part of the entertainment landscape once again. If we can’t have more movies, how about bringing the television show back again? I would watch every single episode of a Muppets TV show.
It’s a terribly fun movie. I had a smile on my face the entire time (especially during the amazing “Man of Muppet” song) and I literally left the theater humming “Life’s a Happy Song.” That’s the sign of a good musical.