The Muppets (2011)

the muppets IMDb

Muppets Most Wanted is finally in Australian theaters, so we’re breaking from alphabetical order and reviewing The Muppets early. Enjoy!

There is a sweetness to this film that a lot of other movies just can’t capture. It makes sense that the Muppets are owned by Disney now because their animated films are some of the only films around that have the heart that the Muppets do. The characters are funny and the film also has a great message about not giving up. No review of this movie would be complete without mentioning the music. Bret MacKenzie rightly won an Oscar for the music here. They are some of the catchiest tunes I’ve heard in a movie. I love the opening number ‘Life’s a Happy Song’ and ‘Man or Muppet’ as well as Muppet classics like “Rainbow Connection” and “Mahna Mahna.’ You can’t help but sing along to these songs, they are so catchy. I’m sure they will be stuck in my head all day tomorrow.

Writers Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel have rejuvenated this franchise for a new generation. They have crafted a movie people of all ages can enjoy. I am well into my 30s and can’t help but enjoy this movie. There is just something about these characters I enjoy. The film follow Segel’s character Gary and his brother Walter (a muppet voiced by Peter Linz) as they travel to Los Angeles with Gary’s girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) to celebrate Gary and Mary’s ten year anniversary and tour the Muppet Studios. While there, Walter uncovers a plot by the dastardly Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to knock down the studio and drill for oil. He can only do it if the Muppets can’t get ten million dollars to him, though. Walter, Gary and Mary set out to find the reclusive Kermit and convince him to put on a reunion show telethon to raise the money they need. Kermit must gather his former Muppet friends together one last time to save the Muppets Studios.

You can’t mention a Muppet movie without talking about the celebrity cameos. There are plenty in this film. Some of my favourites are Jim Parsons as the human version of Walter. His cameo is great and seems so perfect after watching him basically play a human muppet for seven years on The Big Bang Theory. Jack Black and Dave Grohl also have memorable cameos. There are so many more, but I can’t mention them all here. You should just go and watch it.

This is a fun movie for all ages. It has funny, classic characters and some memorable new ones with a lot of heart. The film is worth seeing just for the soundtrack. The songs in the film are brilliant and so catchy. This was a great way to introduce a whole new generation of children to Kermit the Frog and friends.

Rating: A 

This is another movie that I cannot be objective about. The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock were a huge part of my childhood. I was absolutely giddy when I heard that this movie was in development, especially when I learned that Jason Segel was writing the script. Anyone who’s seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall knows Segel is a huge Muppets fan, so I knew Kermit, Miss Piggy, Rowlf and the gang were in good hands.

The Muppets is beyond wonderful. Established fans will recognize the irreverent comedy and general wackiness that these felt creations are known for. New fans get a great introduction to their world, complete with hysterical cameos by contemporary actors and pop stars. Adults will love the references to The Muppet Show and previous films, and kids will just love it all. We watched this in a theater filled with young kids right up to grandparents and everyone was laughing hysterically. In fact, every time I watch this movie I still laugh at all the same jokes. It’s just that good.

The real highlight for me is the music. Most of the songs were written by Bret McKenzie, one half of Flight of the C0nchords. This is probably the best songwriting choice since Elton John was tapped for The Lion King. You can definitely hear the Conchords’ style in some of the tunes, but McKenzie’s quirky lyrics and sense of humor are a perfect fit for the Muppets. The standouts are the opening number “Life’s a Happy Song,” and Oscar winner “Man or Muppet.” Both songs showcase McKenzie’s musical talents and knack for emulating various genres. While the original songs are marvelous, the soundtrack is given extra flavor by mixing in old hits like Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down By the School Yard” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, as well as Muppet standards “Rainbow Connection” and “Mahna Mahna.”

Of course, there are some great celebrity cameos here. It’s a Muppet tradition, after all. My favorites are the brief appearances by Dave Grohl and Jim Parsons, but Jack Black and Zach Galifianakis are also standouts in their larger roles. My only complaint about The Muppets is that there weren’t any cameos by Muppet Show favorites like Steve Martin, although he and others who guest starred on the television show are mentioned and shown in passing. But I guess this is one of the things that makes the Muppets so great– they effortlessly reference pop culture and showcase the personalities of the day. It helps them stay relevant, and this movie proves they’re still able to charm audiences after nearly six decades.

Rating: A

(For more background on Muppets, I highly recommend the “How Muppets Work” episode of the Stuff You Should Know podcast. It’s from 2009, so this movie is only mentioned briefly as it was just in development. There are a lot of interesting tidbits on how the characters were created and some secrets of how scenes with Muppets are filmed.)

7 thoughts on “The Muppets (2011)

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