: The Muppets
I vaguely remember the Muppets’ TV show, but I’m sure I only watched it a few times. When I first heard about this film I was the opposite of excited, feeling like it was just more retro-retread from unoriginal Hollywood. But it really is fun, feel-good nostalgia.
The film’s humor is very fourth-wall, self-referential type, the kind you either get and love or hate. Characters wink at the camera and talk about being in a movie. Some of the classics include things like “travel by map” (where an animated line on a map shows where the characters go).
Some of this humor takes time to adjust to, so that the first few minutes of the movie are a little flat and odd as you aren’t sure exactly what’s going on. Characters are deliberately stereotypical, people break out into song just like in a musical, and the self-awareness of people can be a little confusing (such as the hilarious bad guy, oil tycoon “Tex Richman,” who just says “Maniacal laugh” instead of doing it). But once you relax and just go with it, everything starts to click.
The plot is absurdly simple: the Muppets old studio is in danger of being torn down for an oil well so they must regroup and put on one last show to raise the $10 million needed. We get to track down all the old Muppets and find out what they’ve been doing (such as Fuzzy being part of a crude Muppets clone act in Las Vegas). The plot’s a little thin at times and I worried they wouldn’t have enough material for a whole movie, but somehow they managed. Things pick up once the telethon starts and that’s definitely the film’s best part. (Once they play that Muppet theme song, you really get into it.)
Speaking of music, there are some new numbers that are pretty good. I liked the “Everything is Perfect” song and “Man or Muppet” was the best filmed. (While I liked Amy Adams’ “Party of One” concept, the whole segment felt too much like filler.)
Overall, this was surprisingly enjoyable. It reminds me a lot of the Brady Bunch movie where the shtick was that the family was still stuck in ’70s mode even though it was the ’90s. In this case, the film acknowledges that the Muppets aren’t popular any more and don’t fit into today’s world… and then proceeds to prove that wrong. Great fun even if you’re the biggest Muppets fan.