Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Movie Review: The Muppets

I'm not even sure why I'm writing a review of this movie. You've all already made up your mind whether or not to see it. Most of those who want to see it already have. But here it goes anyway.

I heard there was a new Muppet movie coming out and that it was being made under Disney ownership. I was expecting another "Muppets From Space" or "Muppet Treasure Island". Because, frankly, Disney can't come up with fresh ideas to save their life. And Jason Segal wrote it and made himself a major character? Who does that?

Then a friend saw an advanced viewing. He said it was good. On par with the original. I trust him. He says it's worth seeing and I'll see it.
Then other friends saw it. They said it was damn good. On par with the original.
Life stepped in. I missed weekend after weekend.

Yummy and I finally got our acts together and went to see it. The timing was tricky. To get to a showing that fit our schedule we had to go to a bad part of a bad city. The theater isn't generally bad. They have good popcorn. It's in good condition. They're just in a bad location. We got two of us in an evening showing for under $20. No stadium seating. The lights don't come up between shows. And, this time, the heat was out. We sat in our big coats and shivered for two hours.

And we loved it.

You can't help but love the Muppets. It was completely different than any other show on TV. Barely controlled chaos. They used a philosophy similar to Monty Python. If you don't know how to end a sketch you blow something up. But they're not just talking gloves and slapstick humor. They each have a personality of their own. Each personality is a caricature of a real person's personality. Each has their own psychological problems. And you love them for it.

Even my parrot, Gandolf, loves them. Specifically the Swedish Chef. She'll blather on in mock swedish for 15 minutes when she's in a good mood. Not parrot babble. Mock. Swedish. Und shee awlways und wif der bork bork bork.

The movie starts with a couple of brothers. Young Jason Segal and Walter the felt boy. As kids they watched The Muppet Show together. To Jason they were funny. To Walter they were where he belonged. When they grew up Walter tagged along with Jason and Amy Adams anniversary trip to LA. Walter just wanted to see Muppet Studios. But it was run down. Partially in ruins. Decaying.

Jason wrote himself into Walter. He wrote everyone who ever watched the Muppets into Walter. I dare you not to tear up when Walter is standing in Kermit's office and looking at the picture of Kermit and Jim Henson hanging on the wall.

Walter finds out about a plot to level Muppet Studios and drill for oil. Our heroes set out to find Kermit and tell him. From there it becomes one of the great movie cliches. You need to get your TV characters on screen? Make them have to raise the money to save the whatever. But, what story hasn't been done to death? If you tell it well then it doesn't matter what story you tell.

I know I didn't want the movie to be about Jason and Amy. But in the effort to fit what was originally (I'm told) a 3 hour movie into less than 2 hours some things got trimmed. You see several times where Jason volunteers them to do something and Amy kind of gets this look on her face. She gets a speech, a song, and bit at the end about their story. The one where he's neglecting her and she just wants to spend time just the two of them. It parallels the story of Kermit and Miss Piggy. They've not seen each other for years because Kermit was never able to say that he needed her. In the end, they both figure out what they needed to do.

And then they play the Muppet Show theme song. And you find you're really glad you still have those tissues in your coat pocket from last winter.

Yeah, I'll be getting it on DVD.

I may try to finish writing up scripts for my idea for a science show starring Dr Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker.

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