In Theaters: “The Muppets” light the lights on such a comeback
The main character of “The Muppets” played by Jason Segal has a brother named Walter. But the strangest thing about Walter is how he is a brother and yet a puppet. The only thing he can connect with is how big of a Muppet fan is he like his brother Gary. However, Walter is different from most Muppet fans, because he is in a Muppet movie. One that fans and viewers have been waiting for since the disastrous release of 1999’s Muppets from Space that tarnished by a group of fans for its “making them hip” and a low box-office gross of $16.6 million that questioned their return to the big screen.
Well, that time is now as the Muppet Studio is in big trouble. A tycoon (Chris Cooper) plans to get the deed to the place and drill for oil, as its proven by geometric readings. With plans to tear down the beloved place are in play, there is only one thing Walter and Gary can do; get back the Muppet gang, perform a telethon and raise enough money to get back the studio. And in a nutshell, that is just scraping the surface on one of this weekend’s family film debuts. And surprisingly enough, its one that everyone can enjoy. Even one who has never seen the any of the Muppets can sit back and enjoy what this movie has to offer.
One by one, its interesting to see what our favorite puppet bunch has been up to this time as we get treated to Fozzie trying to find success in a night club, Animal going through anger management with Jack Black, Gozo being financially successful in the plumbing industry, everyone’s favorite and pampered Miss Piggy being a popular fashion designer and many more. In fact, the movie spends little time setting these guys up that we are left to guess this movie thinks we know these characters well enough to do without introductions. Some Muppet fans maybe ok with this, but for those who are new and never seen a Muppet movie, I feel its best you see a few episodes of the show instead.
The Muppets as a whole is really a big screen reboot of the classic show that aired on CBS. And while that is not a bad idea, the film is packed with in-jokes and homages to the franchise as a whole. Again some of that might go over the head’s of newcomers and non-fans, but there are plenty of breaking the fourth wall jokes that will keep them entertained as well as its array of guest stars that either add some notable moments like Zach Galifianakis stealing the last act as Hobo Joe and then there are those who are more for showing up like Whoopi Goldberg or Judd Hirsch in the background. The one downfall most the Muppet films seem to have is balancing the scale between the celebrity appearances and the Muppets themselves. One example is Great Muppet Caper where our time was felt more focused on the human cast while the Muppets fought to dominate over their presence and performance. While there is an equal balance between that, most of the appearances feel pointless, but not enough as some bring a good moment or joke to the platter.
And speaking of balance, the one problem I had with The Muppets was the balance between Walter joining the Muppets and Gary’s plot as he tries to have a relaxing time with his girlfriend (Amy Adams.) While Amy delivers a lot of the humorous moments, at times it feels like there are two movies in one here as Gary’s muppet brother tries to help and be a part of the zany bunch and Gary doesn’t know if he should be with the girl of his dreams or help his puppet of a brother. And to add that on, we got the Muppet bunch trying to raise $10 million in the final act by putting on a telethon of what they do best; make people laugh and entertain them with their witty vaudeville style acts, which themselves are a great throwback to the old days of crazy sketches and funny performances of popular songs.
Speaking of songs, The Muppets is loaded with seven numbers that are played throughout the film. Non-musical lovers, be warned. However, the songs themselves aren’t too bad and are evenly spread out so they don’t feel too cluttered between each other. Some of them even get to poke fun at themselves or the way the plot is going. At times, the lyrics can be witty and catchy like the opening number “Life’s a Happy Song” and some can warm your heart like “Pictures in My Head” as Kermit remembers the old days and wonders if that is possible. However, a hip-hop number from Chris Cooper can feel right out of left field and serve slightly no purpose till the punchline makes it worth kind of keeping in. I’ve been noted that some songs were longer and their original version is present on the soundtrack, so obviously some force of editing was at play here.
Despite that, The Muppets is none the less a perfect film that is worth seeing the movies for. It has plenty of charm, whim, and humor to keep anyone entertained. Even if you are unfamiliar with the original characters or their previous work, you will still have your ticket price worth either way. Few films come around with that nostalgic feel that makes you know all is right in the world and this is one of them. If you are going to take a trip to the cinema some time soon, I’m guaranteed you won’t be disappointed once you decide on this hilarious and heart warming feature.