2/20/12

THE MUPPETS - REVIEW


I'll come right out and say it: I didn't really grow up with The Muppets.

Oh sure I saw the odd show and the odd movie, A Muppets Christmas Carol is almost unavoidable every December, but I was never much of a fan. I mostly watched The Muppet Show for the guest stars but going into this Jason Segel homage I was nonetheless familiar with all the characters and was looking forward to seeing those furry bastards again.

And with all the praise this new outing has been getting I must say I was left somewhat underwhelmed and overall disappointed.

Now, I like Jason Segel as much as the next guy: his "Dracula Puppet Musical" at the heart of Forgetting Sarah Marshall made the film and he's a lot of fun in most films he's in but this just isn't a very good Muppets movie. Don't get me wrong: it's cute, heartfelt and decent in parts but everything that doesn't take place during the reborn Muppet Show itself mostly falls flat and feels a tad awkward. The film is completely self-aware and takes the piss out of itself several times but in that kind of "We're awesome lol" type of way. The in-jokes work once in a while but they get old pretty quick.

*musical number*

"Hey, we just had a musical number LOL"

*waka waka*

You've got your obligatory cameo appearances but most of them frankly come off as weird more than anything else. Was that Mickey Rooney sitting on a bench? Um... ok. Hey! It's Sarah Silverman, she's gonna mention her vagina, surely! Nope. Grrrr, do something, famous people! I remember Pierce Brosnan spitting out fire for crying out loud. And that was on TV! Oh well, there are some fun cameos here and there to be fair: Jack Black lets himself get Muppet-napped about halfway through and The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons pops up as a completely appropriate human version of the film's brand new Muppet.

You've got a lot going on for such a small film: Jason Segel and Amy Adams have this relationship building-up to a 10th year anniversary which you know from the get-go is not gonna well, Kermit meanwhile is trying to get the gang back together Blues Brothers-style and new Muppet Walter is too star-struck to adapt to a life with his furry idols. There's random musical numbers, obligatory montages and a Muppet Show about halfway through which single-handedly saves the movie.

As soon as that new show begins, you're in safe hands. These are the familiar Muppets we know and love doing what they do best. The film finally gets the charm, laughs and heart it sorely needed. It's nothing we haven't seen before but it works.

Man, I sound like those two grumpy old Muppet guys...

I guess I'm being harsh with this movie but it's only because the critics sucked its muppety toes so much. Really, in itself it's not bad. Kids will no doubt enjoy it and I wouldn't mind checking it out again one day if it pops up on TV. There are funny moments throughout and you can tell everyone involved really cares about those characters. Maybe I've outgrown these guys, maybe I just didn't find this new story that thrilling, maybe I'm just too nostalgic about the old Muppet movies. Who knows? It just didn't blow me away.

I guess I was expecting something a little more grown up...

I mean, think about it: how old are Muppet fans today? A bit too old to enjoy the baby humour of the final "Mahna Mahna" montage perhaps. But then I guess the goal was to introduce a new audience to those guys... in which case I would have suggested re-releasing The Great Muppet Caper?

Not THE definitive Muppet movie then and hardly one to remember but for what it is, it's harmless enough and younger viewers should lap it up. One for die-hard Muppet fans and new recruits.

(WARNING: Beware of the Chris Cooper rap. Beware.)

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