The Muppets (starring Jason Segel)
THE MUPPETS is easily one of the happiest movies I’ve ever seen. It’s not only happy because of the lively characters and positive messages, it’s happy because it makes the audience smile. As Gary (Jason Segel) and Walter were belting out their first song of the film, I noticed an odd sensation come over me, one I haven’t felt while watching a movie in years. It was a warmth and happiness that simultaneously transported me back to my childhood and exposed me to new characters all at once. I felt my eyes get watery and I could feel my lips turning upwards in a goofy grin. I was not only watching THE MUPPETS, but I was watching them with more heart and depth than I’d ever seen them before.
Gary and Walter (the only new Muppet to appear in the film) are brothers that travel to Los Angeles with Gary’s sweetheart, Mary (Amy Adams), to visit the Muppet Studios. But when they get there, they discover that an evil oil tycoon (Chris Cooper) is planning on buying the place and destroying it. The only way to save the day is for The Muppets to raise $10 million in only a few short days. That sets them off to reunite Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy and the rest of the gang to put on one last fundraising show to raise the money and save Muppet Studios.
The question of “old school” Muppets vs the “new school” Muppets is one of the most absurd controversies we’ve seen surrounding a movie and one that will be easily dispelled once you see the film. Producer/writer/star Jason Segel obviously has a tremendous respect for The Muppets and all of the filmmakers took great care in making sure the golden years of The Muppets were well preserved and acknowledged. This was evident in the songs, the pictures hanging on the wall of Muppet Studios and the classy banner of Jim Henson that was seen in front of the Studios as the characters entered. In the film and in real life, The Muppets are making a comeback and no one knows this better than Segel, who took on the challenge of bringing them back to relevance. There’s a fine line between paying homage to the past and updating something for the present, but Segel pulled it off beautifully. Kids that are being exposed to The Muppets for the first time will understand their history and will fall in love with the characters, just like we did when we were children.
But this is not just a bunch of singing, wise-cracking Muppets. Unlike the last couple of Muppet films (MUPPETS IN SPACE, MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND), which couldn’t get past the idea of having Muppets on screen, this Muppet film has heart. There’s a story and a message in the film that we haven’t really gotten in other Muppet films. But here, you walk away from the film inspired by things like The Muppets coming together as a family to overcome an obstacle, or Walter overcoming his self doubt to help out his friends. Not only that, but the relationship between Gary and Mary serves to further the plot and Gary ends up growing as a character as well. No character is wasted and although they couldn’t get to all of them, chances are good your favorite Muppet will make a recognizable appearance.
Although I’m not a Muppet expert by any means, I do consider myself a fan of The Muppets, so this was an easy sell for me. But I left the theater impressed with THE MUPPETS not only for bringing back our beloved characters so wonderfully, but for giving us our characters in an intelligent, heartwarming film. The name will sell tickets, but the heart and love that went into making this film will make it remembered.