Who ever thought that The Muppets would make a successful comeback? Not many of us jaded fans, as we believed that Kermit and friends would never find their way back to stardom. But Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I Love You, Man), a self proclaimed fan of Jim Henson’s creation, has worked with Disney, owners of the product, to nudge the group of a frog, a bear, a pig, a dog, a whatever, so forth and so on back onto the silver screen, 12 years after their last movie theater film, Muppets From Space, was released.
As a self proclaimed Muppet fan myself (although who knows the range of fandom between me and Mr. Segel), this new Muppet movie, simply titled The Muppets, is not only one heck of a resurrection for the gang, but also a testament to what makes the Muppets what they are. It’s pretty much Jason Segel’s love letter to the felt and furry franchise, and while many were doubting if a man with a Muppet obsession could pull it off, well, I’m happy to say they were wrong.
In any case, The Muppets is a movie that uses the gang’s fading from stardom as the story arc to move it along. The film begins when we are introduced to Gary (Segel), and Walter (a puppet voiced by Peter Linz), two huge Muppet fans. The difference with Walter is, however, is he identifies with The Muppets because he himself looks kind of Muppety.
When Gary plans a trip to Los Angeles with his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) to celebrate their ten year anniversary, Walter is invited along too so that the three of them can see Muppet Studios. Upon their visit, Walter sneaks away into Kermit’s old office. As he roams around, he has to suddenly find cover as an evil oil baron, Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) and some Muppets come in to discuss the contract of the studio. Seems that Richman knows there’s oil underneath the studio, and he plans to demolish it to make way for drilling. Walter runs to Gary and Mary with this news, and the trio sets off to find Kermit. When they finally arrive at his house, a desolate mansion in the woods, it is made known that Kermit and his gang split on bad terms. When Walter tells Kermit of Richman’s plan to rip down the studio, Kermit plans to get the Muppets back together to raise 10 million dollars to win back their land. How? By putting on a show of course!
It would’ve been a heartbreaking turn of events if Segel failed to recapture what made these characters so great. However, clearly his hard work (of being a dedicated fan) paid off, as The Muppets is the movie Muppet fans have been desperately waiting for. It is funny, heartfelt (no pun intended), emotional, nostalgic, and a film that all ages can enjoy.
On the human cast side, Segel grabs a ton of laughs sometimes with or without at the Muppets’ expense. The actor also looks like he’s having a ball, and I definitely fed off that vibe. Meanwhile, Amy Adams is absolutely adorable here, and I have to admit, girl has great pipes, as she does get in a tune or two. She reminded me a lot of her character from Enchanted, only downplaying the princess role. And in the bad guy territory, Chris Cooper does well as the nemesis of the Muppets. His rap also had me in stitches.
Speaking of which, The Muppets here each get their time to shine. And the film takes good care of their personalities that started all the way back when Henson and company created them. They are the heart of this film, of course, so bringing them back in the year 2011 unscathed is severely important, as a Muppet movie that made mistakes with the core characters would be very unfortunate. Thankfully, it’s not the case.
Mr. Segel, I salute you; The Muppets is an amazing return to form for Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, etc. The film has rocketed to the top of my “Best of 2011” list, and it’s not bias. Well, maybe a little, but no film has made me laugh so hard this past year that I’ve seen. And no film has gotten me so emotional, either. The Muppets is a trip down memory lane, but at the same time, a brief glimpse into the future of these characters. I can only expect great things, because The Muppets is a phenomenal resurrection of a brand I hold near and dear to my heart. I loved this movie.
Ten 80s Robots out of Ten.