Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Muppets!!!

The Muppets
Director: James Bobin
Stars: Besides Jason Segal and Amy Adams?  Uh...The Muppets!!!

It's unnatural how much I liked this movie.  Seriously.  The only bad thing about this movie is that it was only 98 minutes.  Jason and Amy did a great job as did Chris Cooper as the bad guy.  The cameos were fun and even though there were a lot of them I kind of wanted more.  At one point in the movie I paused my enjoyment for a second and realized my childhood was up there on that screen.  I grew up watching The Muppet Show at 7:30pm.  My mom thinks it was Monday nights.  For some reason I feel like it was Fridays.  It's probable and in fact likely that we're both wrong.  But it was a staple for me for a few of the years it was on (I was 1 when it premiered) and made a gigantic impression on me.  I went to the movies when they came out, I had toys, Underoos, and lunchboxes.   I love the Muppets.
Hello, childhood!  Good to see you again.

But before we get to it I want to give a shout out to the Toy Story short at the beginning, Small Fry.  Poor Buzz, always getting lost or left behind.  It was adorable and included some folks from the recent Toy Story movie.  I won't go into the story except that the group therapy thing was very cute:

Ok, back to The Muppets.  This is going to be difficult to write because I don't want to get all spoilery on you guys.  You should really go see this movie.  It was pretty darn great.  I laughed, cried (ok got a little choked up) and loved every minute of it.  The music started almost right away and so did the bopping of my head and tapping of my foot. 

Walter (l) and Gary (r)
The deal is: there are two brothers, Walter and Gary, who love the Muppets and help get them back together in order to save the Muppet theater from the big, bad, rich tycoon, Tex Richman (Chris Cooper).  Big, bad, Richman wants to knock down the theater because there's oil underneath.  In downtown Los Angeles.  Oooohkay.  It matters not!  Chris Cooper raps! Plus?!?! There's an 80s robot who drives.

Kermit, Walter, Gary and Gary's girlfriend, Mary, head off on a road trip(!) to find the rest of the gang.  Fozzie is stuck in a gritty Muppet cover band in Reno, Gonzo has reached success selling toilets, Piggy is the plus-size editor for French Vogue and Rolf was busy napping on his porch.  They even get chased down the road by Sweetums (one of my favorites) who exclaims, "Not again!" 

Will they all get back together?  Will the show go off without a hitch even though they haven't performed together in years?  Will they raise the $10 million they need to save the theater from the big, bad Tex Richman?  Will Gary realize he's a Muppet of a Man who needs to make Mary his fiance?  Will Kermit get over his commitment phobia and make an honest pig out of Miss Piggy?  Will I get over the outfits they had Piggy in? 

Designer quality...I kid you not.  They thanked Zac Posen and Louboutin at the end of the credits and I hope that her clothes and shoes, respectively, were designed by them.  However that suit in the upper right is Chanel.

There were lots of sweet messages about finding out who you are, believing in yourself, and how we need to get away from our bitter, sarcastic lives and go back to what's good, sweet and comforting.  However none of it was meant to bash you over the head to tell you how wrong your life is.  It mostly served as a reminder of what life was like before we had reality TV.  This is director James Bobin's first big-screen gig and he did a fine job indeed.  Prior to this, Bobin directed the episodes of Da Ali G Show and Flight of the Conchords.  Also, Bret McKenzie, one of the Conchords, served as music supervisor on The Muppets.  No wonder I liked it so much.

Oh!  There was one bad thing and it was a total Disneyfication.  They kept slipping in a billboard for Cars 2.  That pissed me off but I don't hold it against the Muppets.  Instead I'm going to focus on how they successfully paid homage to Muppet movies of the past without an obvious sentimentality for the past itself.  Ok, so there was a little sentimentality in one performance and really would only affect us children of the late 70s and early 80s.  Remember how I said I got choked up a bit?  Well tears maybe did escape my eyes a little when they sang Rainbow Connection.  It took me right back to when I was 5 years old and watched The Muppet Movie on a heavy rotation.

I would recommend skipping this next part and just enjoy the movie organically without knowing who is in it.  It'll be hard to avoid as I think they're all listed on IMDB and will be talked about in reviews.  It's too bad.  I loved having some of these people just pop up, sometimes without any dialogue.

**********SPOILERY BITS AHEAD**************SPOILERY BITS AHEAD**************

The topic of the cameos:  Yes, there were a bunch of them but none of the actors outshone The Muppets.  Let's see, there was: Mickey Rooney, Alan Arkin, Dave Grohl, Kristen Schaal (LOVE HER!), Jack Black (playing himself), Emily Blunt (playing her Devil Wears Prada character), Ken Jeong, Troy! (aka, Donald Glover), Sarah Silverman, Jim Parsons, Zach Galifinakis, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Rico Rodriguez (aka Manny from Modern Family), Bill Cobbs, NPH, John Krasinski, James Carville, Judd Hirsch and it's possible I missed someone.

The beginning of the credits has some of the stars singing the Mahna Mahna song.  I had been waiting for that song/character (did you know his name is Mahna Mahna?) to show up so I was glad to see it.

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