Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Muppets - Movie Review

This was an interesting movie experience for me, as I was able to take my nephews (6 and 4 to this)., so I'm going to have multiple perspectives this time out.

I'll warn up front that this review might be a little spoilery.  I did like the movie, but I'm not sure how I can talk about The Muppets without spoiling a few plot points that aren't shown in the trailer.  Keep in mind that I've only seen the trailer that disguises this movie as an awful looking romantic comedy and then slowly introduces the different Muppets as cast members.  That was one of the best surprise trailers I've seen in a long time!.

As The Muppets is now a Disney property, the movie opens with a Pixar short  featuring the Toy Story characters.  This was very entertaining though and a good way to start off.

The Muppets is a movie about two brothers, Walter and Gary (Jason Segel).  While it's apparent to you that Walter's a Muppet, this isn't something that seems to be noticed by anyone else.  It's like having a Muppet in your family is just a random occurrence that isn't a big deal at all.  I kind of wish they would have explored this aspect of the story more, like how does one have a Muppet as a brother, but it wasn't really what the movie was about.  Walter grew up idolizing the actual Muppets and watching them on TV, hoping one day he could meet them or become one of them.

Anyway, Gary is going on a vacation to LA with his girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams).  As Gary is very close and protective of Walter, they bring him along. Since they are going to be in LA, they plan on visiting the old Muppet studios.  However, after arriving to the Muppet studios, they find it's run down and has been neglected for decades.  The Muppets will lose the studio to an evil business man (Chris Cooper) if they don't raise ten million dollars before a certain date.  I think you can kind of guess where this is going at this point.

I really liked The Muppets, but not just for the nostalgia.  It's very self-referential, or meta, with it's humor.  Everyone in the movie is keenly aware of the fact this is a movie, and there were previous ones.  I thought this aspect really worked for the film.  The musical numbers were also treated in the same vein.  Normally, I get a little annoyed when a musical number starts, as they can be really cheesy, but with The Muppets I was won over every time.  Either the lyrics are funny or the actions of the characters were cute.  All of the actors seemed to really commit to their musical numbers.

Jason Segel really can't sing or dance all that well, but he has such enthusiasm for the material and the Muppets that it's really hard not to like him.  Plus, he co-wrote the screenplay, and you can see the love he has for the Muppets himself.  Just watch Forgetting Sarah Marshall for another example of this.  In fact, when I heard they were making new Muppet movie, it was Segel's involvement in the project that encouraged me.

Amy Adams, who I've always joked is the living embodiment of a Disney character (just watch Enchanted to see what I mean), continues with that here.  She really puts a lot of energy into her dance numbers. It doesn't hurt that she has great legs either!  Seriously though, go watch Enchanted if you haven't seen it already.  It's great!

I heard a complaint about how some of the cameos in the movie were odd and that younger audiences might not recognize or identify with them, but I thought that was kind of the point.  One of the central themes of the movie is that the world at large has moved on from The Muppet Show and they aren't culturally relevant anymore.  In fact, one character outright tells them that nobody cares about them anymore.  The Muppets have always had odd cameos on their shows and films, haven't they?

Director James Bobin did a really good job here.  As a former writer and director for The Flight of the Conchords, I can see how his direction seems suited for musical comedy.  However, he was also a writer and director for Da Ali G Show, which kind of makes me wish at times that maybe they had made a more 'adult' version of this movie.  I'm not talking X-rated or anything like that, but there were more than a few times my mind would go to certain places when one of the characters would setup a joke.  As the audience for the original Muppet movies and shows have grown up, it might have been funny to see them go there.

My nephews seemed to really like this and they told me so after.  They laughed throughout the movie.  At times, they would laugh at some of the things that I thought were corny or silly.  There's a sequence where the chickens do a rendition of Cee Lo Green's "F-You".  It's the once scene that I really cringed through, but my nephew laughed the hardest at this part.  It makes it easier to watch something like that when you see kids enjoying it so much.

The Muppets is a movie that has a lot to offer to a wide array of people.  It was interesting to see that the audience was about 50/50 couples and then couples with kids.  Those of you that have kids should feel confident that they'll enjoy the film and if you're nostalgic for the Muppets, then you'll like it as well.  Then again, if you don't have kids or weren't already nostalgic for the Muppets, then why would you see this movie anyway.  Overall, it's a very sweet movie and I wouldn't be surprised if you find yourself maybe a little teary-eyed at the end.

This movie is a pefect matinee with the kids, but if you paid full price, I don't think you'd feel like you wasted your money.

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