When returning to the Hundred Acre Woods this summer for their new feature, I was amazed by how pure and unique all of the personalities were for all of Pooh Bear and his friends. I think the same for the Peanuts crew and the Muppets. Since they don’t fall into the simple character descriptions of “Hero”, “Best Friend” or “Love Interest”, they are more realized and able to endure throughout the ages.
It has been a long time since a proper Muppets feature length film. Ones like Muppet Treasure Island and Muppets in Space have some nice moments, but nothing too memorable. There have been a number of TV specials where the Muppets are acting out beloved stories like It’s a Wonderful Life and The Wizard of Oz. It’s been too long since the Muppets have been what they are best at: entertainers.
That is what Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller, Bret McKenzie and director James Bobin really understood. The Muppets isn’t just a reunion of some of the most beloved characters in the past 50 years, but a reminder of their relevancy through the ages. No matter how cynical the world gets, Fozzie Bear’s jokes can still make you laugh…even though they are horrendous. Their songs are sweet and their spirit is contagious. The Muppets are there to make you smile, whistle and want to give someone a hug.
The Muppets uses some of the structure from The Muppet Movie to bring back an incarnation of The Muppet Show. A new Muppet named Walter travels to LA with his brother Gary (Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams) to have a vacation and meet his beloved heroes. After so many years apart, Muppet Studios is in danger of being destroyed by the evil Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) unless The Muppets can reunite and raise 10 million dollars.
That means it’s time for a road trip, catchy songs, and plenty of celebrity cameos. Sure there are a couple of flaws in the structure but I cannot even begin to care. IT’S THE MUPPETS. When I wasn’t laughing, I was smiling ear to ear. When I wasn’t doing that it was because Kermit was singing “The Rainbow Connection” and that means it is your duty as a heart-pumping human to stare wide-eyed in amazement.
The only thing I can say (almost) negatively about this movie is that I’m ready for the big stuff in what’s next. So much of The Muppets is about reminding the world why The Muppets are still necessary that I now want a Muppets movie with wall-to-wall jokes and gags. Better yet, bring back The Muppet Show. Air it at 8PM so kids can watch it with their whole family. Looking at the number of celebrities more than happy to do SNL or a Sesame Street cameo, there will always be material for episodes. It doesn’t need to be about plugging a new movie; all you need is a group of people willing to make children of any age smile.
The Muppets accomplishes that goal and that is why I’m likely to go back to the theatres this weekend to see its magic.