Movie Review: The Muppets

Mike Finkelstein decided to take a trip back to when he was five years old. Suddenly, he saw Kermit the Frog! And there’s Miss Piggy! And Animal! And Beaker! And Rowlf! His heart just exploded from happiness. Here is his review of “The Muppets.”

Mike Finkelstein decided to take a trip back to when he was five years old.  Suddenly, he saw Kermit the Frog!  And there’s Miss Piggy!  And Animal!  And Beaker!  And Rowlf!  His heart just exploded from happiness.  Here is his review of “The Muppets.”

PLOT: Gary (Jason Segal) and his Muppet brother, Walter, have been fans of The Muppets ever since they were little boys.  When the two, along with Gary’s girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams) decide to take a trip to visit the old Muppet Studios, they’re shocked to learn that oil tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) plans to rip down the buildings to drill for oil.  Hoping to save the land, the three seek out Kermit the Frog and the rest of the Muppets to put on one final show.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  Yay!  Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Beaker (I could go on and on, as I’m sure you can)…all these characters have a special place in our hearts, and after more than a decade long absence, they are back on the big screen in all their ridiculous glory!

Just in case you didn’t know, Disney bought the Muppets back in 2004, and since then, they’ve driven the franchise straight into the ground.  Sure, we got a few appearances and straight-to-DVD/TV movies here and there, but they were essentially gone.  Then, one day, Jason Segel (who was known at that time for movies like KNOCKED UP and FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL) told Disney in a meeting that he wanted to make a Muppet movie.  They laughed.  He pushed and wrote and pushed some more, and finally, they caved.

Segal was exactly what Kermit and the gang needed.  He, along with Nicholas Stoller, wrote a simple story about two brothers (including a brand new Muppet named Walter) who were huge fans of the original Muppet show.  When they find out the theater is going to be torn down by a rich oil barren (Chris Cooper), they try to get the gang back together to save the day.

The story may not be anything too complex, but if you know the Muppets, you know it doesn’t call for it.  A self-admitted Muppet fanatic, it is obvious that Segal put his heart and soul into this movie.  This is a Muppet movie made for fans BY a fan.  It is playful, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and you could just imagine Segal taking those opening scenes of childlike wonder straight from his youth.  The love is apparent, and that’s all you need.

Not convinced yet?  Let’s go through what makes a Muppet movie great…Inside jokes?  Check.  Constantly filling the screen is memorabilia from old movies and episodes.  You’re not just seeing a stand-alone movie.  You’re seeing a glorious history lesson.  Breaking the fourth wall?  Check.  They got everything from referencing the movie to traveling by map to picking up people by montage.  Celebrity cameos?  Check!  Jack Black, Whoopi Goldberg, NPH, and many more show up (including Selena Gomez and Rico Rodriguez beautifully poking fun at themselves).  Everyone is in on the jokes, and it only makes the experience that much more fun.  Life lessons?  Check.  Be yourself, and you will find your place in life.  Love those around you and work together, and you could do anything.  Is there anything more important than that?

And then, there’s the music.  Every Muppet showcase has to have music, and we get the pleasure of some amusing diddles like “Life’s a Happy Song” (complete with obligatory flash mob), as well as some beautiful, reflecting tunes such as “Man or Muppet”, and Kermit’s love song to his friends and memories, “Pictures in My Head” (that one broke me).  Throw in “We Built This City”, three chickens clucking Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You”, and classics like the Muppet theme and “Mahna Mahna”, and you better make sure you’re in a row with enough room to get you up and dance along  Do do doo doo do!

It could have been very easy for Disney to say no to a new Muppet film.  It could have been easy for them to ask Segal to add in more risqué or dirty humor, like so many other children’s flicks do today to appeal to adults.  Luckily, they did neither.  No matter how old you are, this is how the Muppets should be remembered…with Gonzo shooting himself out of a cannon, Beaker getting exploded, and Ms. Piggy screaming “Kermie! Kermie! Kermie!”  If this film was made for just a profit or because Disney needed another reboot, it would have fallen completely flat, trying too hard to make the franchise something it wasn’t.  Jason Segal and Nicholas Stoller have created an absolutely beautiful, life-affirming film that is a tribute to and celebration of the man who created it all, Jim Henson.  But the biggest treasure of all, to me, is not the memories, but the guaranteed smiles and wide eyes of all those little kids’ who get to experience our friends for the first time ever.  Congrats, Jason and Nick, you did it right for them.

GRADE: B+

Mike’s LIKES:

1) OLD FRIENDS ARE BACK: Oh, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, and all the rest.  These are all classic characters and all old friends, and seeing them back on screen again just made my five-year-old heart melt.

2) MADE BY FANS FOR FANS: From the first moment that Walter and Gary appear on screen, you could tell this film was written from the heart.  It’s easy to imagine Jason Segal and Nicholas Stoller acting exactly like the two brothers when they were kids, and that love is apparent in every scene.

3) INSIDE JOKES/BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL: The biggest laughs of the night had to come from all the jokes about traveling by map, picking up characters by montage, and cleaning to music.  Every inside joke about a character and the old movies just made me smile even more.

4) CAMEOS: Neil Patrick Harris, Whoopi Goldberg, Alan Arkin, Jack Black (pretty much in a supporting role), Zach Galifianakis, and so many more filled the screen to pay homage to the Muppets.  Oh, and by the way, one specific cameo that hasn’t been mentioned completely blew the rest away…

Mike’s DISLIKES:

1) LITTLE LONG: With all the fun that was had and all the childhood memories, the movie did seem a little too drawn out.  My friend and I were actually surprised that the film only ran 103 minutes, and not closer to two or even a little more.  Maybe that’s just the impatient grown up in me…

EXTRA FACTS:

1) The ripped picture that Miss Piggy and Kermit put back together is a photo of them getting married from THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN.

2) The first Muppet film that Frank Oz was not involved with. Oz performed and voiced Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear, Animal, Sam the Eagle and Swedish Chef, among many others, in all the TV shows and movies.

 

Movie Review Monday: The Perfect Host

Movie Review: New Year’s Eve

Movie Review: Safety Not Guaranteed

Movie Review: Argo