The Muppets...A Review by Robwrite

The MUPPETS (3.5 stars out of 5)

Anyone--such as myself--who watched when the Muppet Show first aired in 1975 would have never suspected that they'd still have some life left in them in 2011, but Muppet fans can rejoice to know that The Muppets is the best film featuring the irresistible eponymous critters since the Muppet Movie. (1979) This is a sweet and delightful film that will not only entertain kids but will be a nostalgic treat for older fans who grew up with the Muppets.

Many people (Myself included) have felt that the Muppets have been missing their heart and soul since the untimely death of their creator Jim Henson in 1991. Later films like The Muppets Treasure Island (1996), Muppets in Space (1999) and The Muppets Wizard of Oz (2005) have seemed like pale shadows of the earlier films or of the original Muppet Show. This film seemed doubly troubling since Frank Oz--Henson's number two man and the voice of many of the Muppets--decided not to be involved. Could a Muppet film possibly be any good without either Henson or Oz? Amazingly enough, it is!

What's so clever about this latest installment is that it acknowledges that time has gone by and that the Muppets are no longer hot properties. Many young children who see this film will probably not be familiar with the Muppets at all, except maybe the ones on Sesame Street. This lack of social relevance in modern times is utilized in the story. (In the film, someone asks Kermit if he is one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.)

The story starts with a pair of brothers, one is a human and one is a Muppet. The Muppet, named Walter, has always felt odd and different from the people around him. The one thing that made him happy was watching his VHS copies of The Muppet Show over and over. He felt a connection to them and became the world's biggest Muppet fanatic. As his brother Gary (Played by Jason Segal of How I met Your Mother, who also co-wrote the screenplay) grows up, Gary gets a girlfriend named Mary (Amy Adams). The trio go on a trip to Los Angeles together, where Walter gets to visit the old Muppet Studios, where the Muppets made their TV show and films. Sadly, the place is a run-down wreck and almost no one takes the studio tour anymore. While there, Walter learns that an evil oil tycoon named Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) has bought the land where the studio stands because there is oil underneath it. He plans to bulldoze the place unless the former owners, the Muppets, can come up with 10 million dollars in one week to buy him out.

Walter convinces Gary and Mary to come with him to warn Kermit the Frog of Richman's plans. Kermit is living alone in his big mansion with his memories of his glory days and nursing a broken heart over losing Miss Piggy. Walter convinces him to gather the old gang together to save the theater for posterity.

We find that Fozzie Bear is in a Muppet tribute troupe called the Moopets, working in dive bars in Reno; the Great Gonzo runs a plumbing company, which he eagerly blows up to rejoin his old pals; Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem are playing for donations in the subway, except for Animal who is in an anger management program along with Jack Black; Miss Piggy is working in France for a fashion magazine focused on plus-sized women. (They decide to save time by gathering everyone else using the expedient power of a montage) In a gag reminiscent of the Muppet Movie, big Sweetums misses the car and has to run the rest of the way.

The Muppets plan to put on a reunion show (A cameo by Mickey Rooney is a tribute to those old 'Hey kids, let's put on a show' films he made with Judy Garland in the 40s.) aired as a telethon to raise the 10 million to save the studio. They can't get any networks to back the obsolete act until a fluke of luck provides them a one-time opportuniy. They fix up the old theater and try to recapture the old magic, but Richman has plans to sabotage them. Will they be able to raise the money?

It's a treat for long-time Muppet fans when the old theme song finally plays, complete with Gonzo failing to play the trumpet note. Lots of familiar shenanigans are revisited. Even those perpetual hecklers Statler and Waldorf are back in their old theater box again. Poor abused Beeker gets some of the best laughs. Jack Black is shanghaied to be the special guest star, despite not wanting to do it. And the song "Rainbow Connection" is just as enjoyable to listen to as ever.

This film is far more poignant than other Muppet films. When Kermit sings about missing his old friends, it is genuinely touching. Even Kermit's conversations with Miss Piggy about their shattered romance are done in a sentimental way. Another sentimental subplot is that of Walter and Gary realizing that their life-long togetherness (they still sleep in the same bedroom) is coming to an end since Gary now has Mary and Walter has discovered a place where he finally feels he belongs.

The underlying message of the film is not that change is bad; it's that things of the past which were once considered valuable should not be forgotten because someone or something new has come along. This is represented by the cameo appearances. Old-time cameos (like Judd Hirsch) and the young cameos (Like Selena Gomez) work together to help the Muppets with their telethon. There is room in the world for the old and the new.

It's good to see the Muppets back in top form again and this is a nice tribute to them and to the late, great Jim Henson. Fun, harmless entertainment for the whole family.

Recommended.


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Comments 24 comments

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

I might see this when it comes out on DVD. I loved the old theme song. I have always know the Muppets and Seasame Street. I was 8 when Mr. Hooper died. I think the most recent Muppet movie-whether for TV or the big screen-that I like is the Muppet Christmas carol. I haven't seen The Muppets at all since the original theme song was changed. For reasons I do not understand, some of my friends were fans of Elmo-even though we were in high school. I saw an anniversary show a couple years ago on S. street and recognized virtually none of them. I was upset by this. I was fine though until I saw my absolute favourite: Count Dracula-walking behind the table briefly. Then I started crying.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

HI Flora; If you like the Muppets, you'll like this one. It's fun and touching. It doesn't have Elmo and the Sesame Street muppets (Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Elmo, Bert & Ernie, and the rest. Count Von Count was my favorite, too). It's just the cast of the Muppet Show and films. (Although Kermit was in both.) I didn't know Elmo was popular with High School kids but I know that the Muppet Show was big with High School kids in the 70s.

I don't know the new Sesame Street Muppets but I still have an affectionate recollection of the Muppet Show. I own the first three seasons on DVD and I'm waiting for the rest.

Rob


Jon Kohan profile image

Jon Kohan 5 years ago from Pittsburgh Pa

i wasn't really a fan of the muppets growing up but when the first trailor came out it looked very promissing and i'll probably take a trip to the movies soon to see it based on your recommended review. thanks for the write.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Jon; Its probably better if you're familiar with the characters but I think non-fans can find something to enjoy in this good-natured family film.

Thanks for reading,

Rob


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

oh, yes. Count Vont Count was his other name, though I think my friends called him Count Dracula. I knew you would know which character I meant. Even as a child I understood and appreciated the play on words of his name.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Flora; My friends and I used to love imitating Count Von Count when we were kids whenever we were counting something.

Rob


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

I'm waiting for this to come out on DVD Steve but you make it sound like it is worth seeing. I will watch Muppets Christmas Castle over Christmas of course so maybe The Muppets may do well at the cinema in the UK given its release date. Voted up.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Jools; I think its worth seeing and I think it might do pretty well over the hoiliday season. Judging from the reaction of the crowd in the theater I was in, the moms ande dads enjoyed it as much as the kiddies.

Thanks for stopping by,

Rob


Xenonlit profile image

Xenonlit 5 years ago

Thanks for the review. I, too will wait for DVD or premium broadcast, but will never lose my love for those delightful creatures.

I saw the muppets as guest judges on a cooking show a while back. They were so hungry that they ran around and started setting the table to hurry things along.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 5 years ago from The Garden State

I'll most likely be waiting for the DVD release, but I hope "Muppets" turns out to be a big hit.at the box office. It would be nice to see the characters make a comeback after languishing for so many years.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Xenolit; The Muppets are everywhere lately. They even appeared on WWE wrestling a few weeks ago. It's good to see them getting some attention again.

Rob


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Freddy; I'm also hoping that the Muppets film is successful. I get tired of lame or crude comedies being made all the time and it's nice to have a nice, harmless, family comedy that appeals to parents and kids.

Rob


Rachelle Williams profile image

Rachelle Williams 5 years ago from Tempe, AZ

As a child of the 80s, Oh how I loved The Muppets! I'm glad to see they are back!


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Me too, Rachel. I grew up with 'Sesame Street' and I remember when "The Muppet Show" first came on. I hope the film does well.

Rob


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 5 years ago

I've been hearing some great things about this movie, thanks for this review I may just check it out. Voted Up, Useful, Awesome, Beautiful, and Interesting


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Thanks Carl. I really enjoyed it. It's a fun family film.

Rob


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

Thanks for the outstanding review Rob, I agree with you about how it was a smart move to talk about how the Muppets have lost some street cred over the years....it sounds like a funny movie. My kids however have shown no interest in the film...which is strange because at 5 and 2 they seem to be the perfect age for this movie. Voted up and useful...as with your other reviews...I am attaching it to my Top Films of 2011 hub..


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Cogerson; I think your kids would probably enjoy this. Too bad they don't want to see it. If this was 30 years ago, they'd probably be bugging you to take them to see it.

always good to hear from you,

Rob


marwan asmar profile image

marwan asmar 5 years ago from Amman, Jordan

I actually saw the first episodes back in 1975. Looking back it now seems they were great days. In subsequent year I moved off the Muppet Show but I still remember Kirmet the frog and Miss Pigy. Cheers


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hello Marwan; I remember when it debuted in NY. I loved it then and I still enjoy watching the DVDs once in a while,

Thanks for commenting,

Rob


Angela Jager profile image

Angela Jager 5 years ago from Maquoketa, Iowa

The Muppet movie looks like its going to be good. Can't wait to see it.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Angela; If you're a Muppet fan you'll love it.

thanks for reading,

rob


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 5 years ago

Pretty good review as always. I just finished watching the movie earlier today, and I have to say that you sum it up very nicely. Anyway, keep up the great work as always.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Thanks Steven; I'm glad you liked it as much as I did. Good to see the Muppets getting some love again.

(I love your icon, by the way)

Rob

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