Saturday, November 26, 2011

TGD Movie Review: The Muppets

As I've mentioned here before, my antisocial tendencies lead me to avoid venturing out with the family to see movies on their opening weekends.  The last time I did so was an extremely special exception (*cough* Captain America *cough**cough**hack**hack**wheeeeeeeze*).  Whoa, don't you hate it when you fake cough and end up choking on your own spit and coughing for real?  Yeah, me too.

Anyway, another exception presented itself over the Thanksgiving holiday and my wife and I took our sons plus their plus one to see The Muppets yesterday.  We braved the Black Friday crowds, I stared at my shoes a lot and we arrived early enough to not have to fight for a seat.  And it was worth it.

You have almost certainly seen the trailers for the movie as Disney has put the Muppets everywhere in anticipation of their triumphant return.  Yet it is just that hope of triumph that has resulted in the trepidation of many on old fan.  You may have even read of the myriad of concerns from "inside sources" and Muppet legends, most notably Frank Oz, over what they initially considered to be disrespect for the characters in the upcoming movie.

I was concerned as well.  When I read the concerns of Oz, I added them to my existing pile of concerns and dragged them about with me as I began to buy into the Muppet doomsday prophecy that the negative Muppets publicity was beginning to swirl into.  After trying to grin through so many movies that failed to live up to my hopes (*cough* the second Fantastic Four *cough* Green Lantern *cough* Tron: Legacy *cough**cough*), I was afraid Hollywood would stick a dagger into my heart and pierce right through the one section that I had not managed to harden over the years, the same portion that leaves me mesmerized by the theatrical performances of a society of puppets.

A short time into the movie, my fears were quelled.  Jason Segel did respect the characters.  There was no resentment between the Muppets as the negative pub claimed, except from Miss Piggy over Kermit's emotionally distance (which is totally consistent with the old Muppets).  Fozzie was still essentially a lovable failure.  They all worked together to make people laugh.  Silliness and plot gimmicks ran rampant.  The characters constantly acknowledged the fact that it was a movie.  There were no cheap laughs, none cheaper than the original Muppet Show and Muppet Movie.  The characters simply took an opportunity to inject one-liners as they always had.  It was all about the original concept of comedy, not shock, but timing.

So, without any further ado, let me get to the meat of the review...

The Plus Side: Two words: wholesome entertainment.  The "fart shoes" joke featured in one of the trailers was as low as the Muppets ever stooped.  If that's below your moral code, I suggest you stay home, order the box set of David & Goliath and then permanently seal the discs into your DVD player so that you are unable to watch anything else.  The Muppets makes an attempt to give kids more credit than most forms of entertainment do these days without taking itself too seriously (Kermit is interrupted in classic Muppets fashion just as he begins a monologue on this at one point during the film).

It will also keep the adults interested.  During Kermit the Frog's first musical number, I leaned over to my wife and told her I was about to cry.  This was from the wave of nostalgia I felt sweeping over me, and I was not kidding.  Thank God I picked up some extra napkins.

There is even a portion of the film that amounts to a half episode of the old Muppet Show.

The Down Side: Not enough Gonzo.  That's the only problem I had, personally.

The Wrap Up & TGD Rating: From start to finish, the Muppets will warm your heart and then make you laugh just as you start to get too choked up.  It's funny, cheesy, wholesome, classic fun for the whole family.  If you are looking for a perfect holiday family film, especially one that isn't all about Christmas, this should be your choice.


  1. I freely admit that I wept openly during that first song of Kermit's. Also, during Rainbow Connection.

    I enjoyed the movie immensely. I agree with your "Down Side" and would add two of my own.

    The first is that I wanted more Pepe. I was disappointed that they included so many Muppets while not really having parts for most of them.

    The second was pointed out by a friend of mine. I will quote him. "There was too much feel-goodness and not enough wackiness."

    Overall, though, I liked it and have seen it twice already.

  2. Pepe and Bobo the Bear are the only two characters I noticed from Muppets Tonight. I always liked Pepe, but I think they made a conscious decision to distance themselves from the Muppets Tonight cast to keep people from thinking of Clifford (I'd have to watch it again to see if the dreadlocked host of the 90s show appears in the background somewhere). I think the fact that Pepe appeared at all is a testament to his lasting power. I also loved the random appearance of Beauregard and his single line.

    And I don't think there was a lack of wackiness so much a a slight surplus of sappiness. I suppose that comes form the perspective of someone who bought into the Muppet love fest though because I missed the fuzzy bastards so much.

    Glad you enjoyed it too and I'm jealous you've seen it twice.