The Muppets – Nice Nostalgic Trip, as Well as Spot the Mostly TV Star Cameos Experience, Don’t Know That it Will Attract New Generation of Child Fans Though
I watched this DVD purely as I am a fan of Jason Segel, as well as quite a few of the modern TV shows that I knew had actors in cameo roles in this movie. Segel has mentioned in the DVD extras of Forgetting Sarah Marshall (also in the GCCC Library collection) of his love for the Muppets and wish to one day make a Muppet film, so I really wanted to see the product of someone doing it for the love of it, not just the cash as is normally the case when old TV shows from the 70s are made into movies. I was a fan of the Muppets as a kid, although the fresh spin off show was Fraggle Rock (there was also a cartoon with the Muppets in diapers). The Muppet Show itself was well and truly into the rerun stage by my childhood, and some of the Muppet characters, especially the band, were sort of like they portray them all in this film, a bit dated, but I still liked and enjoyed watching The Muppet Show as a kid. Plus there was the odd movie out on video or on TV every now and then when I was growing up.
So I found this a nice nostalgic trip, where when each different Muppet would appear, I would remember a scene from the TV show or their other movies such as Sweetums picking up and eating a girl with her legs kicking as she went down his mouth. That’s a good thing about this movie, there’s heaps of characters, so you do get to see them all. However this is also a bad thing as other than Kermit (and Walter the new Muppet of course), in an effort to fit them all into the movie none of the characters really have much air time. I don’t remember in any detail but I’m pretty sure the other movies concentrated on say a group of ten Muppets (Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Rowlf and Animal plus maybe a couple of others) for most of the plot, with a lot of action and dialogue between the core group, with the other Muppets just having cameos or being in the group scenes. That’s not the case here, this film doesn’t really have much of a plot at all, it’s a just a really basic skeleton plot of a couple taking a holiday to LA, where the girl hopes her ten year relationship boyfriend will finally propose and ultimately spend more time with her and less time with his brother. Unfortunately for her, he has bought an extra bus ticket for Walter, the brother who is obsessed with The Muppets. So of course they have to visit the old studios. By trespassing where he shouldn’t be, the brother learns the ownership of the studios is about to be acquired by an evil oil man who wants demolish the place and drill for oil. The Muppets have a couple of days to raise 10 million dollars or ownership goes to him. Problem is the Muppets have all moved on with their lives, no one seems to care but Walter with the help of his brother and brother’s girlfriend are determined to make them care and one by one come out of retirement and do a one off show to raise the cash.
The overly simple plot and constant introduction of new characters works for an audience who are familiar with all the characters and have memories from their childhood. I don’t know though that it has enough substance for a new generation of kids unfamiliar with these particular puppets to get much out of it, or to make them want to know and see more, as a lot of the funny lines are the characters making fun of the past, or the subtle references to the sexual harassment and assaults by Miss Piggy on Kermit and things like this which aren’t in this film. Incidentally it hasn’t been diluted totally from the show that it was on TV by the PC movement. (There’s some plot spoilers here if you haven’t seen it yet) Miss Piggy does jump another Muppet taking him to the floor in a giant hug to make Kermit uncomfortable and leave her dressing room if he doesn’t want to watch them doing that act, when he had gone in there to beg her to move on from their past and perform a duet on stage with him. She also brutally assaults another pig who they have employed to perform her part when she changes her mind and now wants to be a part of the show, after the other pig tells Miss Piggy too bad, she’s here and is now doing the part. Gonzo also murders all his employees for no apparent reason instead of simply selling the business and negating the whole need for the fund raiser concert.
The cameo actors don’t for the most part have many if any lines which is a bit disappointing, they are also from mostly adult of TV sitcoms such as Community, Big Bang Theory, Modern Family and How I Met Your Mother so kids of the age the Muppets target market is probably won’t be that familiar with them so may get no enjoyment from seeing them on the screen at all simply because they don’t know who they are.
Jason Segel the main human character (Gary) pretty much plays the same character he does on How I Met Your Mother and every movie he’s been in so far throughout his career. Amy Adams (Mary) plays the neglected girlfriend, including performing a few choreographed musical type numbers such as Me Party extremely well. There’s a few catchy new songs in this movie such as Life’s a Happy Song and Man or Muppet done well by Segel, Adams and the Muppet voice actor singers, as well as few classics from past movies designed to help with the recall of memory flow such as Rainbow Connection. As well as the DVD, GCCC Libraries also have The Muppets Soundtrack on CD as a sound recording.
The movie’s villain and the other main human actor Tex Richman is a bit tacky and a cliche. There needed to be some sort of motivation besides being an oil man to give his actions in wanting to wipe the Muppets’ history from the modern day culture, some substance. A childhood flashback where Kermit or some Muppet ran over his dog or something to motivate him down his path of hate. I also found Walter’s special talent to be pretty average after it was being built up throughout a large portion of the movie.
What was really entertaining is the special feature The Longest Blooper Reel Ever Made, where the Muppets are playing their non character fictional actors stuffing up lines and interacting with each other. I guess I liked this so much because it was so much fresher, original and different to what the movie itself was going for.
On its own this movie is unlikely to bring The Muppets a fresh generation of fans who have Shrek, Toy Story and other franchises to compete for their entertainment. In short if you’re old enough to have grown up with the Muppets, you’ll enjoy this trip down memory lane, although I don’t know how many times you’ll borrow The Muppets DVD again in the future, which you may have if it had a plot with a bit more meat to it.