I don’t really know much about the Muppets. I watched the cartoon “Muppet Babies” when I was a kid, but that’s about it. So I thought going into this that I may be uneducated. Aside from the few references that went over my head, I really enjoyed this movie, without much knowledge of the Muppets in general.
The basic premise is that Jason Segal and his girlfriend of 10 years Amy Adams are going on a romantic getaway to Los Angeles. They end up bringing Jason’s adorable brother Walter, who is a puppet. Walter’s never felt like part of human society, so he’s a huge Muppet fan and is dying to visit the old Muppet theatre. Well, turns out that the theatre is about to be demolished and only a reunion of the Muppets could make enough money to save it.
The movie works on a lot of different levels. Jason Segal’s writing brings a dry wit to it and you can sense his admiration for the Muppets (just look at the Dracula bits of Forgetting Sarah Marshall). When you bring in the musical stylings and self-referential humor (akin to Amy Adams’ other big Disney endeavor Enchanted), this movie comes together perfectly. I laughed and I cried (more than I’d like to admit). Even though I had no relationship to these characters before this movie, I had no problem becoming instantly involved in their lives.
The star of the show is Walter. It’s a shame he’s not even advertised because he is the emotional core of the story. When looking for movie posters or pictures, I didn’t even see him on any of them. His journey alone is worth the price of admission.
So what worked? Most things. It was funny, it was emotional, and it resonated with strangers to the canon as well as old fans. The amount of celebrities rangled in to do cameos and even pretty major parts was outstanding and showed the love that the Hollywood community has for this franchise. Walter’s storyline and emotional arc gave the story a fresh feeling but there was enough of Kermit/Miss Piggy/etc to satisfy lifelong fans.
I think I was smiling the entire time. Even with tears running down my face, I couldn’t help but smile. That’s a good sign.
What didn’t work? You know, I can’t find a single fault. I feel awkward giving such a high score to a movie that I expected to be mediocre, but it caused quite an emotional response from me, had me laughing, impressed me with its wit and self-referential and light-hearted treatment, and it even sought to be more than people expected. That last thing is usually were I dock that coveted 5th star. “It was just an action movie.” “It was just a romantic comedy, it didn’t try to do more.”
Well, The Muppets did more. They surprised me and they gained a new fan. Thank you for the pleasant afternoon and I’d encourage any of you that need a little dose of sunshine amidst the clouds to check this movie out.