November 26, 2011

Disney’s The Muppets Movie Review


Formula, trite, hilarious and laugh out loud funny, Disney’s The Muppets is a combination of 1980s schtick and current comedy. Co-written by Jason Segal, who also stars in the movie as Gary, the story stays true to what made The Muppets part of the family when they were TV darlings in the late 1970s. Amy Adams is the perfect balance, as Mary, to a cast that includes a multitude of cameos from celebrities most parents will easily recognize. And we’re introduced to Walter, Gary’s brother, who is, well, not like the other kids in Smalltown.

First things first – go see the movie! It’s not a film that will teach you anything or make you ponder the plight of anyone or anything. It’s a movie that will make you laugh and bring back memories of watching The Muppet Show in your living room as a child. All the characters are there, not having aged one bit – Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Beaker, Gonzo, Animal, and a host of ‘minor muppets’. And all the goofy gags are sprinkled in too.

Jack Black plays a small but important role, which I think missed the mark. He really could have been used better and the interaction funnier. Then again, I thought Nacho Libre and School of Rock were both very good. He is such a versatile actor and his sarcasm, wit and physical comedy would have added a great deal if it had been used better. Jack Black does a great job with what he’s given though.

Watching the movie it was easy to predict what would come next, which is why I say it was formula and trite. I say that in a good way. The Muppets franchise is very formula. I don’t expect out-of-the-box routines. Although, with so much more technology and all that has happened in the years since they’d last been together I expected more references to pop culture and current situation than were there.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a movie without Kermit or Miss Piggy. The love story was spot on, albeit a very minor part of the movie. I’m glad it was included because it’s that romantic tension between the two that really is the cohesion for The Muppets. That being said, Miss Piggy could have had a better back story. She’s the editor of Plus-Size Vogue in France! That could have been a bit more developed than the 3 minutes it got.

Enter the trite again with Kermit singing The Rainbow Connection and Miss Piggy appearing at the end. Again, I say that in a good way. If the movie did not include such a sappy rendition it just wouldn’t have been true to the history of The Muppets. And speaking of trite, let’s not forget the hokey musical numbers that are both lame and hilarious at the same time. Amy Adams really goes all out to take the sappyness we’d expect to a very muppetational level!

Without giving away the end, let’s just say it left me hanging. I realize the movie wasn’t about how it ended, but I just needed to know did they or didn’t they save the theater. There was too much attention paid to the bad guy at the end, although it did include a very typical muppet moment with Fozzie Bear banging his head and altering the tote-board.

I saw the screening and it included quite a few little and young kids, many of whom talked through the movie and asked a million questions. Annoying, to say the least. But it demonstrated that while the Muppets themselves are universal the story was probably over their head and definitely geared toward the parents who grew up with these characters. Even tweens, talking after the show, didn’t seem to understand why some of the gags were funny. Well, they’re funny only if you’ve watched the Muppets before and understand the relationship between the characters. For example, Animal being in an anger management program isn’t pertinent if you don’t realize how crazy Animal is. Gonzo blowing up his plumbing business is only funny if you understand that Gonzo’s many attempts at blowing things up is part of the Muppet franchise formula.

The Muppets movie is rated PG due to ‘some rude humor’. DUH! It’s the Muppets, of course there is rude humor. But, really, there isn’t much in there that I’d say you’d object to the average 5 year old seeing. Nonetheless, don’t go thinking this is one of those bland, milquetoast kind of movies with cute little muppets. There movie obviously wasn’t written for kids, but for the grown-ups who grew up with Muppets.

Go see the movie! It is funny, despite being something that feels like you’d have seen while sitting on your living wearing your pajamas before heading off to bed when you were a kid. I think Jim Hensen would be proud!

Manah Manah!

Disclosure: I was invited to a press screening and did not pay to see the movie. I was not required to write about the movie as a condition of the invitation. This post reflects my views and opinions and was not reviewed or edited by a third party. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.



Mara November 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Did you take your daughter with you? What did she think? I took my boys (8 and 6) and they loved it, even though, like you said, they didn’t get the references necessarily. Of course, 6 and 8 year old boys think blowing stuff up is funny, period 😉

We all walked out singing, so I’d say it was a hit! Very cute and enjoyable.

Sara November 30, 2011 at 11:26 pm

So glad you liked it, Mara. And your boys too! I did not take my daughter because she and my husband wanted to see it together.

Leslie Gerkens December 18, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Actually, they make it clear that The Muppets get back their studio/theater & their name in a newspaper headline shown at the end of the film, after Richman gets a bowling ball to the head courtesy of Gonzo.

Sara December 18, 2011 at 10:24 pm

The newspaper goes by pretty quick but the feel of the movie doesn’t give you a sense of if they got the theater back. I definitely think the ending was a bit weak and went more for the gag. By then it was like being hit over the head – we get the gags! Enough already!

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