The Muppets (2011) ***1/2


**SPOILERS**

The Muppets (2011) isn't quite the home run that some are making it out to be, but it's very enjoyable and clearly made with love. The great moments were really great and the rest were serviceable. Unfortunately, there were a lot of "meh" moments and plot points as well.

1. The mansion
A lot of people are mentioning this - Kermit wouldn't live in a mansion. Just doesn't feel right.

2. Walter
He's fine. I don't hate him (like Kermit's nephew Robin, whom we were blissfully spared from in this film), and the film actually didn't focus on him too much, which is good. But he doesn't have a lot of personality.

3. References
While I love Gary Numan, WTF does "Cars" have to do with anything? Because Kermit says, "We drive"...? Kind of a stretch. I don't think Jim Henson would have used the Cee-Lo song. It's clever to a certain degree, but it's unnecessary. The barbershop singing Nirvana was used to better effect, IMO.

4. PG Rating
As far as I know, this is the first Muppet movie to ever feature anything but a "G" rating (I've seen the first 3). I didn't even realize that The Muppets was rated "PG" until after I had watched the film and looked at my ticket. Why would a Muppet movie be rated anything but "G"...? The Muppets have always been family entertainment, or more appropriately - made for all ages. That's one of the things that I love about The Muppets - there's no "dark edge" or raunchiness to them. They always been about delivering "pure" entertainment, without pandering. The ability to grab your heart and make you feel eternally young is what The Muppets do best.

Further:

I have never seen anything else that Jason Segel has been involved in. Frankly, none of it interests me. James Bobin (Da Ali G Show, Flight Of The Conchords) does a fine job of directing, though I'm not sure that I recognize a particular "style" to his work, despite being a huge fan of FOTC. Speaking of The Conchords, Bret McKenzie was the "musical supervisor" for The Muppets, and his stamp is all over it. The ballads are very reminiscent of FOTC songs.

Chris Cooper is a good villain ("Maniacal laugh. Maniacal laugh."), and I liked the cameos by Alan Arkin, Mickey Rooney, Kristen Schaal, Dave Grohl and Neil Patrick Harris. Jack Black contributes zero value to this film for me and I'm surprised that he is "uncredited". Whoopi Goldberg also contributes zilch and she should have gone uncredited.

Despite all these concerns/critiques, I had a big smile on my face for most of the film and legitimately teared up during "Rainbow Connection". There were moments that I actually forgot that I was watching a Muppet movie not made by or with the involvement of Jim Henson and Frank Oz. But The Muppets never becomes a truly excellent film, like The Muppet Movie or The Great Muppet Caper. Truth be told, I'm more of a fan of The Muppet Show than anything else, so I enjoyed the references to the Show.

Also of note: there is a Toy Story short (Small Fry) attached to the beginning of the film and despite not being a fan of CG animated feature films, or Pixar and having never seen any of the Toy Story films, I enjoyed it.

Comments

  1. Anonymous11/28/2011

    But they totally address the mansion's origins, and give, to my mind, a decently plausible reason for him to be living in it.

    I'm not going to say it was perfect. It was definitely a loving translation of the Muppets into the modern paradigm of "what is entertaining", but that's kind of the point of the movie, and pretty explicitly addressed in one speech by the villain.

    There's not enough Gonzo, and I'm inclined to believe that it's more entertaining for those of us who grew up with Muppets than for kids who are seeing it for the first time after suckling on Dora and the Disney Channel's endless feeding trough of crap.
    But when they're starting the telethon, the first notes of the theme song play and the lights and sign go up, I started welling up like a weenie. Is it THE BEST of the Muppet movies? Probably not. But did I still enjoy the crap out of it, and do I feel comfortable recommending it to other fans? Absolutely.

    - Kate D

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  2. Kate,

    I would recommend it to other Muppet fans as well, for sure. Again, it's lovingly made and well-intentioned. It could have been total crap. It's likely to make my Top 10 films of the year.

    In fact, I would rank it as the third best Muppet film (above Manhattan!), out of the four that I've seen.

    Another thing that I didn't mention is that it's hard for me to hear the voices being done by people other than Henson, Oz, Nelson and Hunt (Goelz is the only one involved).

    Here's another odd omission: "Scooter is very prominent in the movie, yet no mention is made about his rich uncle who owns the theater."

    From here: http://www.chud.com/75552/the-muppets/

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