Title: The Muppets
Director: James Bobin
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Gary Cooper, Rashida Jones, Jack Black, Muppets: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Animal, Scooter, Beaker, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Swedish Chef, Rowlf, Waldorf, Statler, Rizzo, Sam Eagle, Beauregard, Dr. Teeth, Lew Zealand, Camilla, and introducing Walter (voiced by Peter Linz)
They’re all here folks! “The Muppets” is the greatest pop-culture reunion since Led Zeppelin rocked the O2 arena just a few years ago. Writers Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller worked-in every creation from the brilliant mind of Jim Henson, in this warming 105 minute musical screenplay.
Now all of us have our favorites. Of course we get a steady dose of Kermit and Piggy; Fozzie is featured as well. Could we have used a little more Gonzo and Rizzo for comedy purposes? Probably. Was Animal held in check longer than he should have? Perhaps. In the end though, the self-aware script accomplishes a great feat in giving every Muppet a moment; which will have people looking forward to watching this again as this will should become a part of their home movie collection.
Gary (Jason Segel) and Walter (voiced by Peter Linz) are brothers who live in Smalltown. The inseparable siblings have done it all together and are as tight as can be. The only difference between them is that Walter is a human-looking Muppet. So when he discovers the classic television program, The Muppet Show, at an early age, he becomes fascinated with Kermit (voiced by Steve Whitmire) and the eclectic and charismatic gang of animals, creatures and humans that have dazzled audiences for years. This wonderment has stuck with Walter all the way to adulthood. Knowing that, Gary surprises Walter with a trip to Los Angeles that he is taking with his long-time girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams).
Upon arriving at the famed studio, the three of them get quite a shock. The studio lot and theatre is abandoned and a shell of its former self. It seems that society has moved on without The Muppets. Knowing that the property is vacant, a shrewd oil mogul (Gary Cooper) plans to buy the land and tear down the iconic landmark. Walter stumbles upon this and learns that unless The Muppets can come up with $10 million by a certain day, they will not be able to stop the construction; therefore, wiping out the last remnants of his heroes.
Walter, Gary, and Amy immediately go on the hunt for Kermit the Frog, with the hopes of talking him into reuniting the whole gang to put on one last show to save the studio.
The story-line on the screen mirrors what seem to be the intentions of the writing duo: Bring back The Muppets! The artificial humor that entrances younger audiences today is missing one thing: Substance. Everything is over-produced and characters are too edgy in a lot of products out there. The Muppets signify a type of humor and message that is not only relate-able, but it can also entertain all audiences just as well, if not better, than the processed art we see today. And no one has even come to close delivering this type of message in an innovative way since Jim Henson. So while Segel and Stoller are paying homage to the entertainment of yesteryear, they’re also doing something that is now different from the norm.
Now did they squeeze more songs (mixture of originals and covers) in than they had to? A little bit (Camilla’s version of a Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You” while initially funny, does drag). Some of the joy of watching The Muppets is hearing their take on situations via their dialogue with one another. Try to recall the planning scheme to foil the heist from The Great Muppet Caper or the sneaking into the high security laboratory sequence in Muppets from Space; instances like this are noticeably sparse. Doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, yet it does miss opportunities for some clever moments outside of the self-aware movie making punchlines (traveling by map, Rowlf complaining why he didn’t get his personal montage, Gary Cooper instructing his two Muppet henchmen to do a maniacal laugh as they plot, etc.). So what that all means is this plays closer to the first movie from 1979. And although there is a plethora of musical numbers striking out all over, they are lyrically well-thought out tunes, and the camera focuses on the Muppet characters for the most part (unlike Muppet Treasure Island where humans stole too much screen-time).
Overall, the people behind this comeback of “The Muppets” do a more than satisfactory job in bringing them back to life. The whole gang is present and ready to make you rock, laugh, and feel something pure. Segel, Stoller and director James Bobin put forth a solid effort in blending the throwback tactics that made Kermit and company famous along with a subtle update to win over people who have yet to experience this colorful cast.
By Joe Belcastro