Monday, November 28, 2011

The Muppets

            I love The Muppets.  I’ve loved the Muppets since I was a kid, I love them just as much, if not more, now.  And a few years ago, I had an idea, something I just kept in my head, for a Muppet movie.  It would be a simple movie, where all the Muppets have to do is put on a show at their theater, but at the same time, it would be the Muppets’ big return to the screen.  The Muppets is my idea put on screen.  Only it’s better than I ever could’ve imagined.
             The plot is so simple.  Gary (Jason Segel, who also co-wrote), Mary (Amy Adams), and new Muppet Walter travel to Los Angeles, and Walter wants nothing more than to see the site of his dreams, Muppet Studios…only to find it’s completely run-down, and oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) wants to tear it down.  So he finds Kermit, they get the gang back together, and they put on a show to save the theater.
            What this movie really has is two things: the heart and the laughs.  The heart is really what’s most important.  This is a Muppet movie.  This is not “The Muppets take on A Christmas Carol”, this is the Muppets as the fans always want to see the Muppets: they’re themselves.  You know how Kermit is going to be, you know Gonzo’s going to be weird, Fozzie’s going to tell bad jokes, and Animal is…well, AN-I-MAL.  Even with their voices that little bit off, the movie loses nothing from the lack of Jim Henson and Frank Oz.  These characters have been so well-defined ever since The Muppet Show that just getting to see them be them again is a joy to watch, and that’s what Jason Segel did: he wrote a script that came from a love of the show and the characters, and it shows every second.
            And there are also plenty of laughs.  The plot itself comes from that sense of self-depreciation that the Muppets has always done so well, along with plenty of self-awareness.  They comment on important plot points, musical numbers, montages, anything they can find.  The fourth wall will be casually broken for a joke, only to be immediately repaired as if it was never brought up.  And in that true Muppets fashion, it just hits you with so many jokes and so many things going on from background events to celebrity cameos that even if one joke falls flat, you barely remember it because you’re laughing at the next one that’s come along.  And then it twists right back to the love of the Muppets that touches your heart and brings a tear to your eye.
            I could nitpick.  I could say that there are some sequences that just don’t work, and some Muppets I wish we had gotten more of (there’s barely a scene each for Rowlf and Swedish Chef!).  Or I could say that this is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.  I feel like everybody is saying this, but The Muppets are back.  And watching the movie, I just didn’t want them to go again.

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