It’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights, it’s time to meet the Muppets in the newest Muppet movie, simply titled “The Muppets.”
Written by and starring Jason Segel of “How I Met Your Mother” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” as well as Amy Adams of “Enchanted,” this film revives the Muppets after years of obscurity in film. The 1996 variety show revival “Muppets Tonight” only ran for two seasons and the recent Muppet movies (“Muppet Christmas Carol,” “Muppet Treasure Island” and “Muppets from Space”) seem to be more widely known from their home video releases rather than their theatrical runs, despite the success of “Muppet Treasure Island” which grossed more than any other Muppet film since the original in 1979.
After 12 years of the Muppets being away from the silver screen, Disney was rumored to be removing the “Muppet Vision 3D” attraction from Disney California Adventure park due to lack of interest, instead filling the 3D theater with a “Chronicles of Narnia” 3D attraction or possibly installing “Mickey’s Philharmagic,” a popular attraction from Florida. But then Jason Segel came along.
He signed a deal to write and star in the Muppets reboot. But being a good writer and not a hack like so many other film-remake writers of today, he rebooted the Muppets from the ground up without erasing the previous storylines.
The film begins with Gary (Jason Segel) and his brother Walter (the newest Muppet). Walter is the Muppets’ biggest fan and when he and his brother arrive in Hollywood on vacation, they find that the Muppet Studios and Muppet Theatre are scheduled to be torn down by oil baron Tex Richman (Chris Cooper). The only way to save the studios and theatre is to raise $10 million by the time the contract runs out – which happens to be in two days. Disbanded, the Muppets cast is scattered around the globe, with Kermit living a solitary life in Beverly Hills, Piggy as a fashionista in Paris, Gonzo as a successful plumbing supply tycoon, and Fozzie Bear performing in a Muppets tribute band called The Moopets at a second rate casino in Reno, Nev. The rest of the Muppets cast are also picked up along the way and they all reunite to put on a telethon and raise the money needed to save the theatre. This is a star studded, cameo filled, family fun film that parents can enjoy just as much as their kids. And with little throwbacks to other Muppet projects and sketches, many of the jokes are specifically for the parents and other fans who remember the original show and movies.
This is one of the best Muppet movies to date. The only drawback to this is that with the advent of digital effects, it is much easier to have the Muppets standing by themselves and digitally remove the Muppeteer from the shot. They are shown from the torso up as normal about 90% of the time in the film, but that 10% when they are full body, moving on their own, is just creepy. There is something comforting not being able to see their legs when they walk across the stage, but when you see their full body and know that the Muppeteer is not there, it is just unsettling. Perhaps this is because this reporter grew up with the Muppets being torso up or tummy down views, but rarely both shots together, and so became accustomed to that view. The only exception to this creepy factor is when the Muppets come together for the Muppet Man sequence in which they all pile together to fill a coat and pants and look like one giant man, much like many small creatures do in cartoons and kids shows. This was possibly the funniest part of the film, and not at all creepy despite the lack of obvious Muppeteering.
This film is sure to be an instant classic and one of the Muppets finest hours. Definitely not a film to be missed. Rated PG, I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. And keep an eye out for all the celebrity cameos throughout the film. Hobo Joe (Zach Galifanakis) is particularly funny.