The Muppets (2011)

Directed by James Bobin
Written by Jason Segal & Nicholas Stoller

Many people have loved the Muppets for ever and ever and they have been a huge part of their childhood and imagination even as adults. However, they have been missing from action for some time now, though they have had a couple straight to video films. I for one, am not one of those crazy Muppet people, though I do have a certain appreciation for them. My history is not completely without them, as I can recall watching their show as a youngster (it must have been re runs). I even had a Fozzie Bear stuffed animal, but my memory was still fuzzy when I entered the theater today to see the new film.

The plot of the film is pretty basic really. What we have is Gary (Jason Segal) and Walter (voiced by Peter Linz), who is himself a puppet. The two are brothers, somehow, and upon discovering the Muppets, Walter naturally becomes a huge fan, finding solace in characters that are like him. They live in Smalltown, USA, literally, and they are both getting older, with Gary having a serious relationship with Mary (Amy Adams). It is their 10th anniversary and have decided to travel to Los Angeles, with Walter. While there they visit the run down Muppet Studios and Muppet Theater. Walter overhears millionaire Tex Richman’s (Chris Cooper) plan to tear them down when the Muppets default on their contract. Walter and Gary must rally the Muppets, headed by the famous Kermit, to raise $10 million dollars to save the theater and the name of the Muppets forever.

Like I said, the plot is simple. The down and out Muppets must rally together for a one off show to save their livelihood. That is not the main attraction of the film. The main attraction of the film is definitely the Muppets themselves. Kermit and Miss Piggy are the big names, but honestly they have never really been my favorite and they don’t shine here either, though Kermit’s musical number is fun. I cannot even really say which is the best here because they are all so fun to watch. I will say the Swedish Chef was criminally underused. I take that back, Walter is the best Muppet on display here. The new guy to the party really brings the whole thing together nicely in a character that is very easy to relate to for me. You can’t help but pull for him.

The human aspect of the film is charming too. Amy Adams is a charmer and I could watch her do just about anything and love it. But Jason Segal is excellent too. He co-wrote the film with Nicholas Stoller, who also collaborated on such projects as Yes Man, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek. His, and Segal’s brand of comedy is not for everyone, featuring some rather raunchy moments. Despite that reputation, the two deliver a wonderfully childish, humorous and heartwarming film. There are great musical numbers, complete with dances, which bring joy and laughter to the audience. That is what makes the film work.

The film is a unique experience to say the least and one of the best I have in the theater all year. It was one of those films that made me grin ear to ear almost the whole way through. And yet, I struggle to call the film truly great as I have so many other films. It is overly simple. Yet the charm of all the characters, and caricature of the villain, is enough to create a really good film, and one worth enjoying with as many family and friends as possible. I’m not sure where it will rank when the year is over, and I am sure there will be plenty of films above it, but The Muppets is a great film, and a joy to behold. It hearkens back to when the Muppets where much more popular and delivers nice commentary on what is considered entertainment nowadays. But I will say this, as long as there are humans with hearts on this earth, there will be a market for joy, laughter, and happiness. That is what the Muppets are.

One comment

  • This is a light and refreshing film for the entire family. The jokes are well-written, the story line is old and predictable (which actually adds to the magic of the film – as it keeps you from getting distracted by complicated plots and focus on the Muppets, the songs and the fun moments – of which there are plenty)… and the duration is just enough to keep little ones focuses and entertained.

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