I used to watch reruns of the Muppets and Sesame Street religiously when I was young. I’ve seen every Muppets movie. It’s fair to say I’m the target audience for the latest Muppets movie. Also, I like Jason Segel and Amy Adams a lot, another bonus, as well as Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords, who wrote all the original songs for the movie (and won an Oscar for “Man or Muppet”!). OK you get it. I had been waiting for this movie since I first heard about it. But I’m also a tough critic. The Muppets are best known for their balance of pop culture references, old school comedy, celebrity appearances and their borderline inappropriate humour. I was also ready to not like this film based on the overly cutesy Glee-like musical trailers, blegh, but I would give it a chance because they’re the Muppets. I was pleasantly surprised.
We meet the two brothers Walter (a puppet) and Gary (Jason Segel), and Gary’s girlfriend Mary (amy Adams). Walter is obsessed with the Muppets and jumps at the chance to join Gary and Mary on a trip to Hollywood to visit the Muppets studio. When they arrive they discover that an evil oil tycoon (Chris Cooper) is planning on tearing down the studio unless the Muppets can get 10 million dollars together in a couple days. The brothers and Mary find Kermit and they all set out to get the old gang back together for one last show to save the studio. Cue the montages!
Compared to the other Muppet movies, they really took this film in a different direction, mostly in that there is a lot of focus on the original show. It feels like the team got together and went through all of the Muppets history (and puppet closet!) to come up with what’s really a love letter to the show. There’s old footage, old characters, and recreations of the old set and feel of the show. This Muppets movie is really for old fans, and their kids. There are of course lots of currently popular stars but that isn’t the focus; the focus is nostalgia with a sense of humour. Now don’t get me wrong, Muppets movies are notoriously silly, a little shallow and thinly plotted, and this one was no different but this one felt a lot more aware of it and pushed it, evident in the campaign prior to the films release (i.e. multiple internet spoof trailers and Miss Piggy’s fashion magazine spread).
Walter, the token “new” Muppet (mandatory for all Muppet movies), is an OK addition. He learns all about the Muppets past and what it means to be a part of the gang. By the end of the film everyone is just so happy to be together that all problems they experience along the way solve themselves, a classic Muppet movie ending, and a little forced. The show at the end of the film is worth the rent though and is a great throwback to the original show but with relevant nods for the younger audience members.
All in all its a Muppets movie for classic Muppet lovers (which was apparently not my sister who said “meh”). I would watch any Muppets movie and it was about time for a new one. Ignoring most of the more forced parts, it was a pleasure. B
EXTRAS: A special “intermission” when you pause the movie, blooper reel, making-of featurette, deleted scenes, screen tests, spoof trailers, audio commentary and Easter eggs.
Starring Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Rashida Jones, Chris Cooper, Jack Black and the Muppets. Directed by James Bobin. 103 minutes. G
By Isa Montagnese
Dream cast: Gene Wilder. That’s it.