Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's Time To Meet the Muppets

The Muppets
Director: James Bobin
Cast: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Jack Black, The Muppets
Released: November 23, 2011
Viewed in theaters: November 28, 2011

This is my history with the Muppets. When The Muppet Show was on air, I wasn't even born when it premiered and way too young to watch it when it ended. I have seen episodes either from re-runs or videos, but even then it's been awhile. I am very familiar (and love) the theme song because I have it on my iPod. It's a very catch song (and they do play it in the movie). How can you not love it?

I remember watching the animated series Muppet Babies, which thinking back now, doesn't make any sense because the Muppets are puppets and puppets can't be cartoons. But I digress. And of course I'm sure I've seen many movies the Muppets have starred in, but the only one I can remember seeing  is A Muppet Christmas Carol which I saw in the theater nineteen (!!!!) years ago. Oh, and of course I watched Sesame Street when I was a kid and Kermit was on that show often if I remember correctly. I go back and forth on who my favorite Muppet is, but I have a soft spot for Rowlf. He's really adorable AND he's a piano playing dog! You guys, I totally want a piano playing dog. But I do love Kermit. And Gonzo. And Beaker. And Animal! ANIMAL!

At the beginning of the movie, we are introduced to brothers Gary and Walter. Gary is played by Jason Segel, who also co-wrote the movie. Walter is a muppet. Don't ask me how they're brothers. We never meet the parents, but it did make me wonder how that would work. It's like when I read Harry Potter and wondered how Hagrid's father could be a human and his mother a giant. And these are for kids! I didn't know why they didn't make Gary and Walter best friends, but it was funny when they did a montage of them growing older, Gary would keep getting taller and taller and Walter would stay the same height.

"Maniacal laugh! Maniacal laugh!"
Being that Walter is a muppet, he is a fan of the Muppets. He's ecstatic when Gary invites him along to the trip to Los Angeles he's planned with his longtime girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams, who doesn't have much to do besides be adorable). They go on a tour of the Muppet Studio but find it's abandoned and dusty and while hiding, Walter overhears an evil oil tycoon (aptly named Tex Richman (played by Chris Cooper)) telling his cronies his plans for tearing the entire studio down because there's oil underneath. If you've ever wanted to hear Chris Cooper rap, this is the movie for you! Yes, you read that right!

Walter relays the news to Gary and Mary and they find Kermit and convince him to get the Muppets together to try to save their studio. The entire gang (Fozzie! Miss Piggy! Gonzo! Rowlf! Animal! Scooter! Beaker! Dr. Bunsen! Swedish Chef! The two old dudes from the balcony! And the others!) reunite and put on a telethon to help raise money. The show is reminiscent  of The Muppet Show, only it's called The Muppet Telethon. My favorite moment of the telethon was when the chickens squawked Cee Lo's F--- You (Cluck You?) Now I will never be able to listen to that song without hearing a bunch of chickens clucking.

It's a sweet movie, but not overly saccharine. There's plenty of laugh out loud moments that don't resort to stupid and juvenile jokes, but not all the jokes work all the time, especially the meta jokes. The only meta joke that did make me laugh was when they were going across the country finding all the Muppets and after they had picked up three or four of them, one of them suggested to Gary that they do a montage to make it go faster. There's also an ongoing gag with Kermit's butler, '80s Robot.  I loved how everyone calls Kermit "Mr. The Frog."

I really didn't care about our human leads that much, but since they were there they had to have a plot. It's just Mary thinks Gary is finally going to propose to her, but he becomes so busy with helping the Muppets with their Telethon that he forgets that it's their anniversary and blah, blah, blah. Their story coincides with Kermit and Miss Piggy who have been separated for awhile (Miss Piggy was found in Paris as the editor of a fashion magazine where she became like the Meryl Streep character in The Devil Wears Prada, in fact Emily Blunt plays her assistant), but they reconcile in the end.

There's plenty of celebrity cameos, but not as many as I thought there would be. There's your Whoopi Goldberg for the older folks and Selena Gomez for the youn'uns. I don't think Jack Black would be counted as a cameo. Even though he plays himself he has a big role in the movie as the Muppets kidnap him because they need a celebrity host for their show.

I forgot to mention this is a musical, but you probably already knew that. Of course a movie about the Muppets wouldn't be complete if "The Rainbow Connection" and "Mah Na Mah Na" weren't sung. I may have been too young to watch The Muppet Show, but even I'm familiar with those songs. The main song of the movie is called "Life's a Happy Song" and it's just as cute and jovial as you would think it is. I also loved Amy Adams rocking out to "Me Party". ("I'm having a me party! A party by myself! Me party! I don't need no body else!) Kermit singing "Pictures in My Head" almost got me choked up. Okay, I'll admit it: even though I didn't cry, I did get a little choked up a few times during the movie.

Obviously if you're a fan of the Muppets or grew up with them, I definitely recommend this movie. It is really cute and brought back memories of my childhood. I kind of want to see it again!

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