Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Muppets

Are you ready for an emotionally layered Kermit? Or for a Gonzo with regrets? The Muppets can't be everything that its star/co-writer Jason Segel and his collaborators want it to be, but it does work as a celebration of the too-long away Kermit and friends even if it won't make anyone forget The Great Muppet Caper. Kermit, rumbling around in a mansion and seemingly unaware of what year it is, reunites the Muppets after he learns a corporate raider (Chris Cooper) has his eye on the oil underneath Muppet studios. The idea that Kermit might have missed us is perhaps the movie's strongest conceit, and his ballad of regret at the way he has failed his friends is the musical high point (save for a reprise of "The Rainbow Connection). Fozzie, Gonzo, Scooter, and the rest all show up to help put on a elaborate telethon, but the Muppet everyone is waiting for is of course Miss Piggy. Piggy is in glorious form, but we don't see enough of the Kermit-Piggy relationship because of time spent on a framing story involving small-town Gary (Segel), his girlfriend (Amy Adams), and Gary's brother Walter. Walter is the only one who doesn't know he's a Muppet (he's played in one scene as a human by a well-chosen familiar face), and I think the movie could have had more fun here but instead the Gary-Walter dynamic feels more like a How I Met Your Mother episode where Ted and Marshall learn to appreciate each other all over again. Also, does anyone want to see Jason Segel crying in the rain? That said, Segel's obvious affection for the Muppets is responsible for them being on our movie screens again and that's a good thing. The box office success of The Muppets means (I hope)  that Kermit and friends will be back on screen soon, and the movie wisely sets up a situation where the troupe will have to climb back to the top. The Muppets' reboot may not be on the scale of Star Trek, but I'm hoping future installments will be this attuned to what makes them special.

(This picture is from the original Muppet movie, but I just like it. )

1 comment:

Dan O. said...

Longtime Muppet fans will undoubtedly have more fun than young ones, but for the most part, it's a witty, delightful romp, that shows you that you can still be funny, without ever being mean still in 2011. Good review. Check out mine when you get the chance.