Release Date: November 23, 2011
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Director: James Bobin
Screenwriter: Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Alan Arkin, Jack Black, Billy Crystal, Zach Galifianakis, Kathy Griffin, Ricky Gervais, Emily Blunt, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Animal, Walter
Genre: Comedy, Family
MPAA Rating: PG (for some mild rude humor)
Official Website: Disney.com/Muppets
Back on the big screen once again, the Muppets showcase much of the old gang in brand new material, voice acting, and puppet mastery. However, while everything about “The Muppets” is new and technologically advanced, the same genius, charm, love, and character in this most recent cinematic installment of the Muppet legacy is just as fantastic it was when I was a child, if not better.
I wouldn’t call this film a “reboot” as some reviewers seem to be doing, but rather a Muppet rejuvenation for a new generation of viewers who might have never had the chance to see the frog, pig, bear, and chicken on TV or movie screen. What better way to do that than by calling back to the moments that made the previous Muppet films so lovably funny. Condensed as far as it can go, the film is a fantastic display of the best optimism and human characterization that defined all of Henson’s best work.
In a nutshell, the world’s biggest Muppet fan, Walter, his brother Gary (Jason Segel) and Gary’s girlfriend, (of 10 years) Mary (Amy Adams) learn of a dastardly plot by oil tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to destroy the Muppet theater for the oil which lies beneath. The trifecta find Kermit and convince him to reunite with the old gang to put on “one last show” to help raise the money needed to save the theater. The question is, can they do it in time?
The film’s basis is one of cultural irrelevance. Sure, they’ve stuck around on the viral side of the life, had a few movie shorts here and there, and few films to help keep the Muppets alive, but there hasn’t been anything to remind us of the Muppet legacy. This film brings us back to those days, delivering that same type of corny humor that only the Muppets can produce audience laughs with.
We start down this nostalgic escapade with a musical number, “Life’s a Happy Song,” combining as much of the hilariously hokey 80′s mentality into the intro as possible. The best aspect of it all being the opening dance number in the streets with all of Smalltown’s citizens joining in the random fun. (until the three protagonists leave of course.) We continue down the journey with Walter and the Muppet’s, reliving Gonzo’s crazy antics, Fozzie’s hilariously bad jokes, Ms. Piggy’s karate chop action, the Swedish Chefs unintelligible culinary ramblings, and Dr. Teeth and his band giving us one last hoorah with Animal going nuts again!
Not only that, but the live actors are almost like Muppets themselves; Jason Segel and Amy Adams were almost born to play alongside the Muppets, having no fear of making fun of themselves in the best of ways. But even more impressive was the performance by Chris Cooper. Has anyone EVER seen him play anything OTHER a straight man, bad guy, or down to earth farmer with the natural frown? Now, all of the sudden, he breaks out into a rap, complete with a bouncing dot sing-along and all! Nicely done Mr. Cooper! And of course, seeing the exceptionally tiny cameos by so many famous actors and actresses, especially Mickey Rooney, who most likely grew up loving the Muppets as well was a fantastic sight to see.
Certainly, however, the TRUE stars of this story come from the mouths of the Muppets…the voice talents of Frank Oz and Steve Whitmire. Whitmire has the uncanny ability to voice Kermit, Beaker, Statler, and Rizzo almost as well as Henson himself. And Frank Oz, in this reviewers opinion, is the master of voice acting, bringing his famous Piggy, Fozzie and Animal voices back for all of us to hear again.
But the moment that brought the film together was the brief, yet heart warming musical number where Kermit comes out on stage singing his marquee song, Rainbow Connection. Later, the joy is amplified with the strangely successful song “Mah Na Mah Na” during the credits. Life truly is a Happy Song in the Muppet’s world.
For those of us who grew up with the Muppets, those two moments, along with many others throughout the film, will put yourself in such a state of nostalgic joy that even the roughest and toughest will have trouble holding back the tears. This film is a reminder that, not only will puppets remain as one of the most lovable forms of visual family entertainment, but also that these specific characters are timeless and will never become relics.
9 out of 10 stars