Why My Son (Age Two and a Half), My Husband (Age 34), and I (Age 32) All Love the New Muppet Movie
Our Muppet Story
The Muppet Show ended in 1981, a little before my prime TV viewing time (I was only 2 in 1981, and while I may have been perfectly willing to watch it given the chance, I was not). But Kermit the Frog, Ms. Piggy, and to a certain extent the other main muppet characters were still a part of my growing up experience. I always remember loving Kermit the Frog - what a great character!
My nieces were so excited to take my son to his first movie, and when the Muppet Movie came out in fall of 2011, we decided it was the perfect one. We all went together and amazingly he sat mesmerized in my lap through the entire show. The two times he talked were when the mean Ms. Piggy (of the knock-off Muppet band, the Moppets, who play the bad guys in the movie) showed up: "I no like dat mean Piggy." And again when Kermit and Ms. Piggy started singing the Rainbow Connection (spoiler alert!): "It da song about rainbows!". He knew the Rainbow Connection from a CD we have with pop artists singing kids songs - I highly recommend it, as an aside. It also has a great version of Mahna Mahna by Cake!
My husband and I both loved the movie too, and we now own the DVD and have watched it a couple more times for special movie nights with our son, and we bought the soundtrack and listen to it all the time. We were discussing why we are all such huge fans, so I thought I'd break it down for kids and adults below.
Why Two Year Olds (Toddlers) Love the New Muppet Movie
We were pretty psyched, I have to admit, that our son was so into the movie. We don't watch many movies with him (but we feed him tons of chocolate daily, so don't worry we're not winning any parenting of the year awards), but we thought it would be fun to have one that we all liked to watch on occasion.
His favorite parts:
- The songs - there are a bunch of songs throughout and he loves music. He also loves guitars and banjos so it's a bonus that Kermit plays the banjo, though he doesn't do it a whole lot in the movie.
- The "funny puppets" - there is just something really funny about silly puppets to young kids. He hasn't been able to break it all down for me, but he loves them. It's pretty remarkable when you think of how fun and alive they are able to make these really fairly simple puppets.
- The overall silly-ness - they make funny sounds (now he loves to say "waka waka" like Fozzy Bear) and do silly stuff and so do the grown-ups in the movie, and he just loves it.
- The lack of anything overly scary - this is really appealing because obviously you don't want to end up giving your small kid nightmares! The only part that was a little scary to him was when Walter (a muppet) tries to get over an electric fence and gets shocked. It wasn't too disturbing, and you can see that he's ok immediately, so my son was over it right away too. He also didn't like the knock-off band of muppets, the Moppets, but they don't show up too much, and they just basically talk in scary voices.
As an adult, if you have seen the new Muppet Movie along with your kid, did you:
Why Adults Love the New Muppet Movie
I think our reasons break down into why we love it as a movie that our son can watch, and why we would probably watch it on our own, even without him!
As parents we love it because:
- All of the reasons above why he loves it! We want to foster his interest in music, and silly-ness, and not show him a movie that will scare him.
- Sharing some of our past with him - we both have fond memories of the muppets and it's really fun to relive that ourselves while seeing him discover it anew.
- It has good messages - I'm not sure how many of them he's picking up at this point, but I see a number:
- As the mother of a son, I really love that all the men in this movie (human and muppet alike) are nice, caring, creative people. They are not aggressive or mean at all. Jason Segel has pretty much cornered the market on being the sensitive dude and making that socially acceptable (even desirable) and I am happy to have my son watch him.
- I like how Kermit reaches out to people and handles rejection. I won't spoil the entire plot, but he does this nicely throughout the movie.
- The ending (now I really won't ruin it, I promise) sends a nice message about what's important in life.
- The overall message is pretty anti-capitalist, which I know won't appeal to all parents, but it appeals to me. Of course I recognize the irony of this message embedded in a mainstream movie that made tons of money.
- I like that it uses puppets and live actors, not cartoons. I don't think there's anything wrong with cartoons, per se, but I like that he gets to see real faces and emotions on the people, and there aren't tons of special effects.
Why we love it as adults:
- It's really, genuinely funny - We love Jason Segel from most of his movies and How I Met Your Mother. He's funny without being cruel or mean. Most importantly, he's funny.
- The music is great - five of the songs were written by Bret McKenzie, of Flight of the Conchords. They are super funny and also super great musically. Check out this NPR interview of him about the songs if you have the time.
- Fun celebrity cameos - there are tons, but some of our favorites are Jack Black (not a gigantic fan, but his role in this movie is perfect), Neil Patrick Harris (small role, but we love him), Feist, and many more.
- It's positive - this is probably tied up with us being parents, but we just enjoy watching things that make us happy in the very little leisure time that we have. It's fun, funny, and has an overall positive outlook on life. This makes it worthwhile for us to spend our little free time watching.
- It allows you to reminisce - it makes you feel a bit like a kid again, while still appealing to your adult sense of humor.
The New Muppet Movie as a Gateway Drug to All Things Muppet
Once we watched the new movie, we had to go back and watch some of the old ones. The one we got hooked on was the original Muppet Movie from 1979. Just try to watch the clip of the opening scene below without wanting to watch the rest of it. Greatest line from that scene - agent from Hollywood in a row boat in the swamp tells Kermit the Frog that he's lost. Kermit's response: "Have you tried Hari Krishna?". The humor seems as much, if not more so, designed for adults, but our son still loves the movie. There are also some amazing celebrity cameos, like Steve Martin as a waiter for Kermit and Ms. Piggy. It will certainly make you nostalgic for your childhood.
Side note - our son was a little too scared by the Muppets Take Manhattan, so if you have kids under 3, I'd probably stick to the new Muppet Movie or the old original Muppet Movie.
I also have not gotten into the original Muppet Show, but this is just a matter of not having the time, not a lack of interest! I have heard it's amazing, and the clips I've seen really make me want to watch it.