Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Muppets review

"The Muppets" has received a lot of praise since it came out and, in my opinion, it's completely warranted. Never mind the actual content itself, the fact that there's a movie out that manages to make both kids and adults laugh while successfully reviving a dead franchise... that's unbelievable to me. After all those terrible bastardized CGI remakes of all those great cartoons everyone my age or older grew up on, here's a movie that stays true to its form and keeps the irreverent and offbeat humor alive which was what made the old Muppets tv show and first few movies so fun to watch.

Much of the credit has to go to Jason Segel and his crew. This was Segel's dream project for the longest time and you can see just how much care and attention he paid in order to make this movie work. That love is there in all of the scenes as the movie doesn't waste a minute without making a great joke. There is so much to laugh at in this movie, so many cute quirks, and just enough self-referential jokes that really makes this a joy to watch. It does so many things so well that by the time you're hearing chickens doing a cover of "**** You" by Cee-Lo Green, you're laughing yourself silly.

So "The Muppets" opens up telling us the story of Gary and Walter. They are brothers who grew up in Smalltown, USA. Walter is a muppet, Gary is a human... but the movie makes you accept the fact that they're brothers without mentioning anything else about it. As they turn into adults, Walter's obsession with the Muppets show grows exponentially. This takes us to present day where Gary plans on taking his girlfriend Mary to a trip to Los Angeles to celebrate their 10-year anniversary. Walter, of course, is coming too which excites him because he'll finally get to see Muppets Studio.

When they get there though, they find out the studio is all run down and is about to be sold to an evil oilman (Chris Cooper). The Muppets would have to raise $10 million in order to prevent this from happening. Finding this out, Walter and Gary decide to convince Kermit the Frog to get the gang back together for one last show in order to raise the money.

Seeing all the characters being re-introduced is like a trip down memory lane. All of your favorite characters appear from Fozzie to Gonzo to Animal to Beaker and ultimately to Miss Piggy. The movie is actually quite brilliant in the way that it reintroduces these characters as it's a good starting point for the young ones watching the movie as well as it is fun for the fans to see these characters once again.

One of the main highlights in the film are the musical numbers. They do a great job of incorporating new musical numbers with some old classics (Muppets Show Theme, Rainbow Connection) and the new musical numbers work on so many different comedic levels, it's a real riot. When we do get to the classics, like with Rainbow Connection, it's one of the sweetest and most poignant moments in any movie this year. The Muppets is about enjoying the past in a gleeful, nostalgic manner and at the same time being able to embrace change and move on to the future. What "The Muppets" sets out to do isn't just to write a different chapter in the Muppets canon, but to make a whole new book altogether. This is one of the few films I've seen lately where I can't wait to see a sequel. They did so many things right and they were firing on all cylinders that I can easily see them having plenty of material for a second and third movie with these guys.

Obviously not everything about "The Muppets" is picture perfect, but you know what, this is a better movie than it has any right to be. Before it came out, you wondered why it was getting made. Now that it's out, you can't imagine the world without it. The fact of the matter is that this movie DID need to be made because I really do think we were starting to forget about these guys. Hopefully this film will make them that much more impossible to forget.

Rating: 8.5/10

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